Layout Design Tools for New Layout: Computer Aided Design Programs

fatalxsunrider43 Apr 14, 2010

  1. fatalxsunrider43

    fatalxsunrider43 TrainBoard Member

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    We are still in the process of drawing, plotting, planning, pondering, and so on regarding our up and coming 20' x 20' round the room shelf layout in the garage. We are going to need 3 main lines...
    1 for ATSF/BNSF, 2nd one for UP, and 3rd for SP. We are going to do a main yard for ATSF, smaller yards for UP & SP, locomotive maintenance facility, passenger terminal, and more.
    So, I need to know what is the best kind of design tool to do this layout as efficiently as possible. What is the easiest, most fun CAD layout design program ? Any ideas or info will be most helpful, thanks !

    fatalxsunrider43
     
  2. BedfordRob

    BedfordRob TrainBoard Supporter

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    Quite a number of tools out there I believe. I've used XtrakCad in the past. Not sure it has the most intuitive interface but it is worth persevering. It comes with libraries of set track components which I found useful as I was using Kato Unitrack, even gave me a shopping list at the end (which initially almost have me a heart attack when I added up the cost).

    Handles elevations and gradients which I found particularly useful in ensuring clearance between lines and making sure I didn't give myself a gradient my stock wouldn't be able to handle. Even allows you to simulate running trains.

    There are others which I'm sure other trainboard colleagues will comment on.
     
  3. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    I'll second the vote for XTrackCAD. For the price, it certainly can't be beat. And it would be hard to beat at any price.

    It's worth the learning curve, IMHO.
     
  4. fatalxsunrider43

    fatalxsunrider43 TrainBoard Member

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    And the cost of such Software...???

    Oh look, a Yardbird ....LOL !
     
  5. Justinmiller171

    Justinmiller171 TrainBoard Member

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    You can get Xtrkcad at http://www.xtrkcad.org/Wikka/HomePage

    It is completely free, but i must warn you that it will take a while to get used to.
    After about a day i was figured out what all of the commands did.

    It is better than other programs such as Atlas's Right-Track program which is also free,
    but it doesn't have cool features like the ability to run trains on your track-plan.

    There is also a yahoo group for Xtrkcad at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/XTrkCad/
    They have new track libraries, Structures and some other stuff.

    I hope you have a good time designing your layout :tb-biggrin:
     
  6. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    This is the single most valuable ability I look for in design planning software.

    Many designes can look good and seem good, but after you've invested hundreds and thousands and finally built the thing, all hell breaks lose if you realize major design flaws when it comes to actually operating the thing.


    I've used several different software in the past but the price and possibilities of XtrkCad has stuck with me. I now use it exclusively.

    As others have said, it takes some learning to get the hang of it, but it's well worth the time.


    After you have some ideas planned out, share them here and spend a few days running virtual trains. Get as much input as you can before construction and your result will be one amazing layout. :)
     
  7. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    I'll add another vote for XTrackCAD. I tried it originally because it is free, but I quickly grew to like it.

    To get up to speed on the program, I recommend the Beginner's Tutorial on the XTrackCAD web site. After working through the first few lessons in the tutorial, I knew enough to start designing my track plan.

    To Justin who figured out all the XTrackCAD commands in "about a day": I congratulate you! After using XTrackCAD for more than a year, I feel as though I still have a lot to learn about the program.

    - Jeff
     
  8. patrickrea

    patrickrea TrainBoard Member

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    Another vote for xtrckcad. I use it on both Linux machines and Windoze.
     
  9. up mike

    up mike E-Mail Bounces

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    How do you post tracks plans I down loaded XTrackCAD yesterday and have a few ideas I would like to show you Guys for some help.
    Thanks Mike
     
  10. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    In XTrackCAD, under the file menu, there is a Export to Bitmap item. That allows you to export your layout as a .BMP file. From there, you can open the .BMP in an image editor, where you can re-size it, crop it, and otherwise adjust it if necessary, then save it as a .JPG or .GIF.

    From there, you can use this forum's Attach Files option to attach the image to your post.

    OR, you can upload the image to a free image hosting site, such as PhotoBucket.com. From there, you use this forum's Insert Image option to insert the image in your post.

    The visible difference between the two methods is as follows:
    When you Attach an image to your post, it is displayed as a clickable thumbnail at the bottom of your post. You click the thumbnail to view the larger version of the image.

    When you Insert an image, a larger version of the image appears directly in your post at the point where you inserted it. No need to click on a small thumbnail to view it.

    Take a look at this thread, where both methods have been used:
    Track plan for review - TrainBoard.com

    Post #1 (among others) contains an Attached image.
    Post #9 contains two Inserted images.

    I hope this explanation has been helpful.

    - Jeff
     
  11. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Actually there is no difference in the two methods. Attaching an image, using RailImages or TrainBoard Albums, or other hosting sites, all upload the image to a web URL.

    Attaching the image to the thread displays it as a thumbnail yes, but you can still embed that image full size in the post just as easily, if not easier, than using any of the other hosting sites.

    See post #5 of the thread you attached as example. :)
     
  12. up mike

    up mike E-Mail Bounces

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    Thanks Jeff I think I got it :thumbs_up:
     
  13. screen48

    screen48 TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the thread!
     

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