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Rauda Scale Models Inc.







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These terrain models can be called a variety of names, from topographical maps, 3D terrain maps, to terrain models. Whichever name you prefer, museums and visitor centers use terrain models to inform the public about the surrounding area. National Park relief models generally cover the park itself showing the topography and graphics of all the major features. These graphic features typically are trails, roads, boundaries, points of interest, and labels for various topographical elements. Also, using fiber optics or LEDs, various items can be highlighted within the park. Motion can be achieved with the lights in a very cost effective approach by using micro-processors that we custom program for each individual project.

For over half a century, our talented model makers at Rauda Scale Models Inc. have been fabricating terrain models. For decades our source information was hard copies of USGS 1:24,000 contour maps that we would enlarge to model scale. Then using a trace router that Vigo Rauda invented in 1960, the machine's operator would proceed to manually trace every contour. This proprietary trace router, better known as 'The Secret Machine', was kept behind locked doors, in a room called the 'Secret Room'. With two exceptions, only a person with the last name Rauda has ever been inside of the Secret Room and seen the Secret Machine. The exceptions are Vigo's brother in-law, and a fellow named Gunars Tebergs who was a stunt man for the Soviet Film industry in the 1970s -1980s. Why did the operator have to be a Rauda? Well, competition was fierce in the model making profession, and Vigo Rauda did not want other model shops to copy the design of his machine. So, the secret machine was kept in the secret room.

In 2001, after 41 years of service by the Secret Machine it went into semi-retirement. That year Vigo Rauda purchased a 48" x 96" CNC router to machine the topographical models you see in this category. The CNC router achieves amazing detail and accuracy. If the area covered is large enough, even the curvature of the earth will appear on the 3D relief model. With this technology, we can machine a 3D relief model in 1 or 2 days, what would have taken the Secret Machine 1 to 2 weeks. As a side note, we still keep the Secret Machine locked up in the Secret Room and do still use it to machine simple site models for real estate development type projects.

More about our CNC process for terrain models:

Our CNC router capabilities for the raised relief maps is a 3 axis 48" x 96" x 6" table which can be used to cut materials such as wood and high density polyurethane foam.

For your topographical map you need to provide us one of the following pieces of information:
1. DEM file of the terrain to be modeled.
2. Longitude and Latitude coordinates with a map showing an outline of your particular topographical map.
3. A map with an outline of what the model will cover.

In most cases the 3rd option is the most common approach to convey the area to be covered by the 3D terrain map. The following is a great way to get us the needed topographic information: Step 1. Using Google Earth go to your area that will be represented by the 3D terrain map. Use the 'add polygon' tool outline the area to be modeled. Your area will be solid (probably all white). Now go to the 'New Polygon' window and select 'Style, Color' and click on the box 'Filled+Outlined'. A drop down will appear and select 'Outlined'. While the 'New Polygon' window is still open, you also can change the color of the line which delineates your topography, and make the line wider (more visible). When finished with these adjustments click 'OK'. To get this 3D terrain map information to Rauda Scale Models Inc.: On the left side of your screen you will see a sidebar that will have 'Untitled Polygon' with a checked box next to it. Bring your cursor over the word 'Untitled Polygon' and right click. A drop down menu will appear and select 'Save Place As.....”. Name your file and save it. It will be saved as a .kmz file, and this is what you would attach in an email and send to us. Once we receive this .kmz file, when we open it, it will automatically take us to Google Earth. Here we will see the area you have outlined for the 3D terrain map.

Now if this is too convoluted, another way would be to take a hard copy map that includes the area you would like the model to cover, and simply draw a box that roughly designates the terrain map area. Now you can either scan it, or take a digital photograph and email us the jpg..

If we are provided coordinates or a map with an outline, we will take that information and search our database to generate the required .DEM file needed for your 3D terrain map.

Call or email us any questions you have about the process to get started on your topographical map. If you already have a DEM file ready, email it to us and we can let you know if we need any additional information to get started. As a family-owned business now in the second generation, we have been making raised relief maps since 1960, and at this stage it is in our blood.