Layout Design Software

Well, its been a few weeks since my last post. The nice weather will no doubt take some time away from trains over the next few months, but I've still got plenty of projects to keep my busy.

One of those projects has been getting a new 'digital' recreation of my layout built on my Mac - so I can play around with some ideas for the layout that have been in my head.

Since I really wanted a track layout design program that was Mac OS X native, that limited my choices. I looked at Xtrakcad (and found it difficult to use on my PC), I've used RRTrack in the past (which was okay), looked at WIntrack (no Tomix library) but none of these had either the ease of use or Mac compatibility that I was looking for.

I finally ended up going with RailModeller. Despite its biggest drawback (no elevations or grades!), it works great on my Mac, has an easy interface, and very nice looking schematics.

An initial result of my RaiModeller efforts is the image posted above, which is my current layout (and what I refer to as 'Version 2') To see a bigger image of the trackplan/layout, click it and it will open at a large size.

RailModeller was easy to use (but my advice is before you buy, check out their free demo). However, some of the product descriptions were still in German (the Fleischmann and Tomix libraries are two examples) and -not sure if its me or the program- but there are places where the actual track I have on the layout just won't fit (keep in mind, I did this backwards. As the layout is done, I had to check the track on my layout then entered it into the design program). This forced me to take some creative license in some areas and, for example, leave out a 64mm straight, add a 29mm straight, and so forth (for the most part, the issue was in the lengths of the straight track areas, all the curves worked out fine!). So the image is not exactly what's on my layout (it may, in fact, be better!), but close enough....

One easy to use and useful feature is the 'color' changing feature. Unfortunately, it will only let you select one color per piece, so if you have Kato double-track sections, they will be one color when you may want to have separate colors for each track (I am sure there is a way around this in the Rail Editor program that comes with it, but that's a whole other project I don't want to get into right now).

That is pretty much it...to compare my track plan to the real layout....see this post!

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