The Rahr Laboratory

Welcome to the Rahr Lab. For those of you who are new to the lab, this page will help you get started. For those of you who have already made the Rahr Lab your home, you should read this page in order to get the rules of the lab straightened out.

Rahr Cartography/GIS Laboratory (013 Fairchild)

The Rahr Lab was established in 1991 in the Department of Geography as a facility specializing in the analysis and display of geographically referenced data. As a public lab -- accessible to the Dartmouth community, and available for use in support of teaching cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS) courses -- the Rahr Lab experiences heavy use throughout the academic year both from students and faculty/staff.

Currently, the lab is outfitted with 26 machines dedicated to GIS. Also available are a wide-format HP inkjet plotter, a flatbed scanner, and a Greenprint public printer. Departmental facilities include a high-capacity fileserver which is available to students for storage of mapping and GIS projects.

Software currently on the Rahr Lab machines includes ArcGIS, and a variety of statistical, spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation packages, as well as Web authoring tools.


The Rahr Lab is primarily for students in Geography courses. The doors are open during normal working hours through the week, but people who need access in evenings and weekends can obtain the keycode for the door nearest Burke Lab. Contact the Departmental Administrator, Kelly Palmer.

Food and drink are not allowed in the Rahr Lab. This is because experience has shown that the place gets really messy, especially toward the end of the term, if pizza boxes and soda cans are allowed to accumulate there, and the keyboards get sticky. There is a lounge at the end of the hall, which is a more convivial place to hang out anyway.

If you must leave your workstation for an extended period (to get something to eat, for instance) please do not leave your work materials strewn about the desktop.

If you are done with your work and are leaving the lab, Please turn off your monitor. Please turn off your monitor by pushing the power button located on the lower right hand corner of the monitor. This will help conserve energy.

Back up your work. The easiest way to do this is to save important files to a personal device such as a flash drive.

Please be gentle with the equipment. If you are unsure how to reload paper in the printer, for instance, ask. Using force to reinsert the cassette will simply break it and we will have to obtain (another) replacement.

Do not let entropy take over:

  • If you open it, close it.
  • If you use it, put it back where you found it.
  • If you drop it, pick it up.
  • If you empty it, fill it up.
  • If you make it messy, clean it up.



We support Windows Machines installed with the Dartmouth Standards Image and customized for GIS-related applications. Most machines are HP DC7900 towers. The most recent acquisitions are four HP Compaq 6200 Pro Microtowers. In addition to the aforementioned HPs, we also have Dell Optiplex 745s and 755s. All machines are optimized to run ArcGIS 10 under Windoes XP SP3. The use of these computers requires users to log on. The username is "public_user" and has a blank password within the kiewit domain. Please use this username and password to login and access the software.



Most Applications are accessible from the Start > Programs menu, except for certain Dartmouth-specific applications. These are available from the Start menu. Applications include, among others:

  • ArcGIS -- the current version is 10 (SP2)
  • ENVI 4.8
  • MATLAB R2011a
  • Microsoft Office 2010



Input/ouput devices available in the lab include: a flatbed HP scanner, a Greenprint printer and a 42-inch plotter. The scanner is only accessible from the local machine, but the computers themselves are on the network, so it is possible to transfer files to (and from) them for printing and further processing. The Greenprint printer is located next to the entrance at the front of the Rahr Lab. The 42-inch plotter is located upstairs in the Earth Sciences lab, but if you would like a map printed on the plotter please have the lab manager help you with this process.

Greenprint The Greenprint machine is a distributed printing system that helps the college reduce waste and speed printing times. The greenprint machine is located at the entrance of the Rahr Lab. For more information on the Greenprint machines please visit: Greenprint FAQs

The flatbed scanner is connected to a Windows machine at the entrance of the Rahr Lab.

The 42-inch HP DesignJet plotter is located in 113 Fairchild. Before attempting to plot using this device, ask the lab manager for assistance: ASA/LAB. Mention should also be made of the department's fileserver. This machine, named "geo-serv" is available to students doing research projects in Geography, and is particularly useful to teams dealing with large datasets, since we can set up accounts and directories that are accessible to all members of the project team. This computer is also on the Geography backup schedule, so data are protected from accidental loss.

Saving Your Data

Keeping things organized and safe from loss is a significant challenge when using computers in a public lab environment. The larger problem, perhaps, is being able to come back to a machine you've been using for weeks on end (in the course of a term project, say) and still finding your documents and data in the last place you left it. One suggested strategy would be to create a folder for your work that is not on the computer desktop. On Windows machines, try putting such project files in a folder with your name on it into the "C:\Workspace" folder. However, the best strategy for preserving your files will be to obtain an external device to store your information (for example, a flash drive).

You should keep in mind that files and folders left on the computer desktop are much more likely to vanish, or perhaps simply be examined by the idly curious. It is best practice to save any important files to a personal device.

Also, the Rahr Lab computers are wiped clean of data at the end of each term. So it is good practice to back up any project work to an external device.