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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey folks,

do any of you use a computer to plan layouts? what do you use? how much do they cost and do you recommend it? how easy is it to use? your thoughts and experiences most welcome!
 

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Yep Xtrkcad

It can be downloaded from here

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=151737

There is no charge for it

If you are doing more than a small layout I think it's worth it as it means you can make changes as your thoughts change without starting again with pencil and paper.

It does take some time to get proficient.

It is worth running through the tutorials AND reading the documentation carefully.

Hint

To get started you need to set your scale and load the relevant manufacturers track type.

Regards

TimP
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
hi guys ... thx for that! ... ill be downloading it tonight! and then take rest of year to figure it out! lol thx for yr tip!.
 

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I draw everything by hand at 2mm scale then scale it up to the scale i need. I find that hand drawing my plans etc allows me to do things i cant do on the computer artisticly wise and also allows me to sketch the plans for every building as i go......

Nikki
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
hi nikki ... whilst out here in kansas city on holiday, i found a model store and had to go in - i bought myself a kato n gauge layout planning template - not cheap at us$25.00 altho they gave me $2.00 off for some reson at the till!...

i cant figure out how to even download xtracd thingy ... so i bought a pack of printer a4 paper and now i have this and some 0.5mm lead pencils, ill be drawing my layout like you do!.

iv seen a few of the computer programs to design layouts but they look like you need to spend 6 months on learning how to use them!. and i dont have 6 months, i want the tracks laid and trains running by then!

ill let u all know how the pencil and paper planning all goes!
 

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While I do sketch out my initial ideas with pencil and paper, when it comes to doing the detailed design, there is no substitute for a good computer layout design package. Most people cannot accurately differentiate between the geometry and space requirements of say a short 12º turnout and a long 10º turnout and that's where a computer package scores.

I've been using Winrail for years now and have gradually progressed from version 3 to version 7. Version 9 has just been released which has even more facilities such as 3D modelling. I find it very easy to use and the drawings can be printed out at 1:1 scale to give you a totally accurate track laying template. It's not free but is, IMHO, well worth the money.
 

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I have been using WinRail for some years and find it excellent. I used it to plan both 00 and HOm layouts. You can download a trial copy from their website (www.winrail.com) to see if you get on with it. It contains ready made libraries of track from all the major manufactures and you basically drag and drop the relevant items onto your selected baseboard shape and size. It also allows easy use of straight and curved lengths of flexi track. You can have multiple layers for baseboards, track, wiring etc. All quite straightforward to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
hi dave ...

just had a look at anyrail ... looks nice an easy - iv downloaded the trial version and will have a play - looks the easiest computerised track planning program iv seen so far!.

im really thinking about going to dachau this fri! .. its at the old do i / dont i scenario!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
hey munich dave ...

i took your advice and bought the Anyrail software and been palying with it tonight! ... nice and easy ...thx for the advice!
 

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Hello,
Frankly I believe computers are a waste of time, money and resources for layout planning (I have tried them). All you need is a pen and the back of an old envelope!
Much quicker, easier and accurate (in my opinion) just to draw a grid which you can call 12" squares, they don't have to be in any way accurate, and sketch your plan on it!
I have always done mine that way, it works and never really had a problem. All you really need to remember are point lengths (large points 6" in N, 12" in OO) and coach/loco lengths (about the same for a Mk1 or 2) you are away!
Good luck,
Greg.
 

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QUOTE (Expat @ 17 Oct 2010, 03:35) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Greg,

While I am not doubting your drawing abilities it would be interesting to see a 'back of an envelope' design that you have drawn and then see the actual layout that you eventually built from it.

Hello,
At the moment I am "between layouts", hence the planning. I use three coloured pens, a blue one to draw "the grid" and any water features, a black one to draw the tracks themselves and a red one for buildings etc. I suppose, after 40 odd years of using the method, that I am quite good at it.
The principal advantages over computers (to me) are ease of use (any old bit of paper will do), flexibility (you are not stuck with what others think you should use where buildings and suchlike are concerned) and if one "square" is a half inch long and the next three quarters so what? You still know that it will hold a large points crossover or two coaches and so very easy to work out what goes where and finally width of baseboard. I know from experience that a single track (in N) is 1 1/2 inches wide, three for a double, six for four etc (ok, not exactly, but "exact" isn't really needed) so if I am planning a run around at my terminus it will require a space of three inches by six foot six for an eight coach train, including pointwork and headshunt. Add platforms and we have a total area needed of four and a half inches (or six if platforms on both roads) by seven feet! So how does this "translate" into "real life"?
Quite nicely, because I have actually allowed more space than it really needs.
As for seeing the plan and the finished model this will take some time as I have most of the track needed now, but not yet started laying. However, a "dummy run" shows that there should be no problems with space.
I will continue to use the computer "for amusement" but serious planning? Highly unlikely!
Regards,
Greg.
 

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Hi Greg,

I asked the question really to find out how you take into account the varying geometries of points etc. It is all to easy to miss the angle by a few degrees which can have a radical bearing on what will fit and what won't.

If you are between layouts at the moment do you have the sketches and photographs of any earlier layouts ?
 

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Just to add I used the free-download version of Anyrail to plan mine, limited to only 50 pieces of track unless you buy the full version but I just planned mine in two halves!!


Have used Winrail in the past too and although just as good you only get a limited amount of OO track to play with and no other scales with the free version. As for XTrakCad it might be free but it's possibly the LEAST user-friendly piece of garbage I've ever attempted to use!!!


As Expat said, forget the pen-and-paper unless it's just for sketching ideas, a proper track-planning program is the way to go if you want to accurately see what will work and what won't work with track geometry in your given space


Paul
 

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QUOTE (Expat @ 17 Oct 2010, 14:16) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Greg,

I asked the question really to find out how you take into account the varying geometries of points etc. It is all to easy to miss the angle by a few degrees which can have a radical bearing on what will fit and what won't.

If you are between layouts at the moment do you have the sketches and photographs of any earlier layouts ?

Hello again,
Now I see what you are getting at. In simple terms, no. I don't tend to take pictures of previous layouts as I don't own, nor never really been interested in, cameras. Sorry.
Having sold off most of my N gauge stock quite recently and moved into OO I now find that the new N is better than ever and have been tempted back into it! Of course I have nothing to run my new locos on so a layout is needed.
My layouts are normally terminus to fiddle yard because these allow the maximum amount of operation in my opinion. As for "varying geometries" of points I never worry that aspect as I only ever use the same type, large radius Peco for the main layout and medium radius Peco in the fiddle - the geometry takes care of itself. Where I do use a smaller (i.e medium) radius on the main layout it would be in industrial sidings for example (if at all) but, again, as a self contained section; i.e. the straight track on the running line and everything off the curved (i.e. the pointwork) being to the same medium radius. Therefore the problem never arises.
However this does mean that my locos have few places to really run and so I also build a small "tail chaser" as well and this was sketched yesterday, in about 10 mins, on the back of a chocolate bar wrapper during the bus ride home. I know, from experience, that it will work. Basically it will be a six road set of loops (3 up/3 down) at the back and small through station with goods yard at the front. The board will be 4x8 feet (in N) and the front section will be double track, platforms capable of taking 4 coaches with ease (5 at a pinch), a three road goods yard and a bay on the down side.
The "front" will consist of one yard of gently curving Peco plain track in each direction, a crossover just west of the platforms, a point into the yard then another yard of straight track through the platforms. Leaving the station the line will enter a tunnel to hide the 3rd and 4th radius set track 90 degree curves and, after leaving the tunnel another crossover so locos can run round. Then into another tunnel and back to the loops. Then onto the 3rd and 4th radius curves at the other end and back to where we started. Simple.
This morning I spent about an hour trying to make it work on the computer using "AnyRail" and failed. I tried, I really did, but the computer says the design won't work because the mixture of set track and large radius is not compatable. As I said, in practice it will, my sketch "proves" it to me!
Ultimately, to each their own but computers make nice toys - for serious work give me a chocolate bar wrapper (or envelope) and pen!
I will try to get a sketch or computer drawn plan up for you but, as a "no hope computer dope", I hold out no real chance of doing so.
Please ask if anything else is on your mind over my methods,
Greg.
 

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Hi again Greg,

That sounds like a really good layout that you're designing and I might have a go myself to see if I can translate your description into a computerised track plan.

As regards "AnyRail reporting that the design won't work because the mixture of set track and large radius is not compatable", I'm wondering if that might me because you are trying to mix a Code 55 Large Radiius curve with a Code 80 Settrack one. If you use a section of Code 55 Flexitrack you can shape it into a smooth, infinitely variable curve so that it connects the two fixed points you are aiming to.
 

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Hello,
Wow, that was a quick reply. No, I really don't think so as it all came from the same menu (if that be the right word - probably not!
)
By the way, I should have added that they don't (yet) show 4th radius Peco pointwork on the computer (I tried to use 2nd/3rd) although it is available in the shops.
Just another example of "hi - tec" falling flat and low tech being streets ahead!
.
Regards,
Greg.
 
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