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Track planning software

6265 Views 23 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Les
I'm looking for input on track planning software.

First, it's got to be relatively inexpensive. MUST be user-friendly. (I'm dumb).

Second, it's got to have the ability to calculate using less than standard radii. The largest engine I forsee running might be an 0-6-0T, scatchbuilt, short w/b. Short, two axle rolling stock. Handlaid track.

Windows XP SP3 compatible. Printer friendly.

Must be able to give results for three gauges. F,O,&S, all Narrow gauge.

That covers everything I can think that I'd need.


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I'll try . . . /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif

Freeware, but not easy to use: XtrkCad http://www.xtrkcad.org/Wikka/HomePage

Easier to use, but not cheap: RR-Track http://www.rrtrack.com

Both allow you to freeform curves so you can go below standard sectional curves.

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You didn't say exactly what you were looking for in track planning software. I use RRTrack and can recommend it only if you use sectional track and are interested in a specific list of track required for a particular layout. In that situation it is excellent.

In my case, since I use flextrack or I am drawing railroads as built or I am simply sketching various plans, I find RRTrack virtually useless as it is clumsy and very slow with a long learning curve for any of those uses. This is because it is based on specific track libraries of commercial track.

Regards ... Doug
I us the XtrkCad, I have found it very easy, and also very easy to create custom libraries, add Libraries (Mine and others), print them, adjust heights, check angles, get parts list, cost, and much more.
Ok, tried most all so that means I am dumber than you Les!
Glacier Bill looks as if he is on a rendezvous.

Doug, Toad & all who were kind enough to reply:

Thank you all. I kinda thought there wasn't much out there. I did specify handlaid track, which is why I was concerned about the software's ability to use non-standard radii rather than be locked into a lookup table of preselected items.

I had a thought, was all, that if I could 'cal-kalate' possible track vs layout room, I could do something until said room is ready to start the benchwork.

But thanks for the inputs.

I did this on RRTrack Ver 4. It is fairly simple with a fast learning curve. This only scratches the surface of what the program can do.

I did this one for a friend who wanted to know how much he could squeeze in for his given area (around the pool in the center). Note that it labels all the track pieces and even tallies and gives costs (though the prices are now outdated).

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Not sure if this will help, if you type into google atlas track software you can download their updated track program at no cost.

Ole Toad Frog Your right, I was at rondy, I am using it for an avitar until I get a chance to make the one that will go on my Railline
In RRTRACK you can edit the track costs by opening the ini file with wordpad.

lgb.ini for LGB pricing. Arissto.ini, polag.ini, etc.

Be sure to keep a copy of the original in case you make a typo.

Can't say that this will fit your request for something that's inexpensive or that has an easy learning curve, but it will fit the bill for multiple scales and will print the templatesfor hand laying track.

CadRail works fine also.
It does have a learning curve, but not too difficult.
Les, you should include your bio stuff (location, etc.). :cool: If you are local to me (Santa Ana, CA) you can come over and use my RR Ver. 4 software and I'll even step you though it.

Despite the problems in RR Track's implementation of flex track, it is superior in the calculation of grades, a feature I regard as essential.

Check out RightTrack software from Atlas. It's free. I use the O scale tools - there is a flex track curve tool that allows any radius up to a 90 degree curve. The Atlas turnout sizes are #5 and #7.5.

If nothing else, this is good software for roughing out a track plan to see what will fit a given space. A 5 foot radius curve is the same in O scale or Large scale.

Jeff C
Posted By toddalin on 07/23/2008 1:53 PM
Les, you should include your bio stuff (location, etc.). :cool:" border=0> If you are local to me (Santa Ana, CA) you can come over and use my RR Ver. 4 software and I'll even step you though it.

I've been meaning to do that. My daughter was supposed to come over and help me out--I'm not much of a computer guru--and it hasn't happened. When it does, I'll have my mugshot, addr et al.

I'm in Florissant, MO, in the SW corner pocket where the MO and Miss meet.

Thanks for the kind offer, however.

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I'll add my 2 cents. I use RR-Track and can agree that it is designed primarily for those who use sectional track, but it does provide adequate tools for creating custom curve and custom straight sections. The custome curve tool is a bit clumsy and is mainly trial-and-error but it does work effectively in the end. You just have to guess at the radius to use it but that isn't too difficult after you have used the sectional curves and can visualize different radii.
On then other hand, who says you have to *use* sectional track to build the layout just because you *designed* with sectional track? You could use the design to establish spacing and overall fit, grades, scenery, etc. But then you could use 100% flextrack to build the layout and make adjustments on-the-fly to enhance any part of it or get a better fit.
The comment about RR-Track being good for grade calculation is mostly accurate. However I have found that to create a grade your section of track cannot include any turnouts with branch lines or sidings, although it's possible I don't know how to use the product optimally.
I have posted a few of my RR-Track layout designs in MLS and other forums would say that toddalin's example is very typical, but it does not show you the 3D view feature which is *really* helpful to visualize the finished layout.
I think current cost can be found here: http://www.rrtrack.com/html/online_bundles.html . Personally I would recommend the $99 bundle. That gives you both Piko and Pola buildings as well as the more popular large scale track libraries (LGB, Aristo, Llagas Creek etc).
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i agree with your comments. And it comes down to the planned usage of the system. I (foolishly) acquired RRTrack but was disappointed - my primary usage is not designing a trackplan for myself from scratch and wanting a bill of track materials. I wanted to produce publishable as built drawings of existing railroads in our club plus I wanted a sketching tool for checking ideas. RRTrack is singularly poor at both.

I did laboriously wade through drawing two railroads one in large scale and one in HO (neither use sectional track and the HO does not use any commercial track) and have concluded it is more effort than its worth. for sketching ideas, I have reverted to the classic John Armstron squares method ... wayyy faster and easier.

But for those who wish to design from the ground up with sectional track in mind, then RRTrack will do the job - with a learning curve a bit longer than some here would have you believe.

Regards ... Doug
I agree with you, Doug. I bought RR-Track, but it's really designed for an indoor layout using sectional track. Building a railroad outdoors is something completely different. It's easy to accurately measure a basement room; outside it's a bit more difficult to locate existing plants and accurately figure the grades.
Using RR-Track soon became an exercise in frustration, especially since I was using flex track.
Quite frankly, for "sketching" purposes, I like the track planner in Trainz. It allows you to stretch a curve and move things around a LOT easier. Unfortunately, it's not very good at accurate dimensions. It's helpful for designing an operational layout as you can run your train around the proposed "layout" and see how things might work out in an operations session.
While I did do my plan in RR-Track, my plan did not survive contact with the outside. Changes were frequently made as I saw how the track moved through the environment.
If I had to do it all over again, I think I'd just use my garden hose to experiment with various ideas. I'd use my digital camera to "record" the various ideas and then just edit the photos with colored lines to indicate where I wanted switches and buildings.
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Bruce, Doug & all who were kind enough to take time to reply:

I went to the RRTrak site and read the stats. I will have 3 NG's on my layout: Fn3, Fn2 (I believe that is O gauge @1:20.3, I'm new enough that the numbers don't stick well, yet. Sadly, I'm old enough that they may never stick! And whatever "S" NG is called when built to the same scale.) In other words, one scale, three gauges. Anyway, I read all the data on the page. It seems to me that I have to buy a package for all three gauges which puts the price out of reach. Also, I don't like 'fiddling' with software because I'm no computer expert. And to do what I wanted with what they offered appeared to involve a lot of tweaking. I'll be handlaying all track.

The size of my layout isn't fixed to a final dimension, which is why I have a bit of leeway and wanted to see how things might be massaged. For that, a compass and a pencil will do with a much shorter learning curve.

What brought the question to mind is, the benchwork will be a deep 'U' shape. I was wondering if, by selective compression of widths, it might be made with a middle leg. (An 'E' shape). I doubt it due to the radii of the G gauge track, even though I intend to run short engines and rolling stock.

The layout, as presently envisioned, will consist of a lead mine (S NG), a logging operation (Fn2 plus dual trackage with the Fn3, a feature that's always intrigued me). The final site will be a RR yard. Lastly, after the actual track is laid, I hope to include a light rail line somehow. However, that last is far in the future. Perhaps impossible.

I sincerely thank those of you who took time to express your opinions.

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