I've seen a site with a few layouts done on this software and they looks pretty much ok. I have to confess that I'm more of a pencil and paper type of chap but I'm running out of space to work and thinking of taking the plunge and designing the new layout (The Dormouse Line Mk7) on the computer but I'm a bit concerned about learning curves and the like. Also does it handle flexitrack well? I've tried a few software packages in the past and it's like banging your had against a brick wall.
... and that's to everyone who replied to my last. Nice to see the group isn't as dead as it appeared.
They all seem to assume you're using train set track and fixed curves. Even those which do flex-track seem to use it between pieces of set track. But if you want track that is all gentle curves I haven't found one that works for me.
If you want one for curves, then Templot is your application. It's quite a complex beast to get your head round and I know that a few people have given up on it because of this. But it is soon going to be free to download and use, so might be worth a punt. This is the download page
which is showing the software not yet ready for download but it is scheduled to be available in a week or two. The information will be available on the Templot forum.
I tried Templot, too. A wonderful case of "excessive precision"" IMO. Fact is that flex track forms a natural easement (spiral), and crossing/turnouts/etc can be drawn directly on the baseboard and built to fit. Just make sure that any curves are at least your minimum design radius, preferably a few inches larger. Sight along the track as you install/built it, and eliminate any kinks before permanent fastening.
In my experience, computer-aided layout design is vastly over-rated. It's also a trap for the unwary. NB that's it's computer- _aided_. The program isn't a substitute for drafting skills, it's an assistant. If you can't draw a decent scale sketch of your layout the old fashioned way, the computer can't do it for you. But if you can draw such a sketch, then for the typical layout (up to small bedroom size), paper and pencil is faster, and more than accurate enough. For the person who wants only to design his/her own layout, layout design software is a poor investment IMO. Even when it's free.
OTOH, if designing layouts is one of the sub-hobbies that appeal to you, the investment in money and time will be worth it. But that's another discussion, I think. I've found the free programs very quirky, since they written by one person to suit his own style of working. The "selct track pieces and plunk 'em down" types are not nearly as intuitive as you might think, and no two work the same way, so trying them out is really an exercise in finding something that feels comfortable for you. For serious planners, a commercial CAD program is much better: they all assume what may be called standard ways of working. But they also cost money.
IOW, OP's question is not nearly as simple as he perhaps thought it was. It implies (and demands) many ancillary considerations.
I know. That's why I referred to "excessive precision". ;-)
My template-free method: first lay the two outside running rails, adjusting them to get nice flowing curves (except perhaps in the frog area, we use straight frogs here.) Then locate the frog point, and lay first one, then the other frog rail (each filed to a point). Then the closure (wing) rails, the points (fabricated on the workbench, and slightly longer than needed, to permit filing to exact length), and finally the check rails. The closure rail begin where the flangeway between them and the running rails is 2x the minimum flangeway. Locate the frog point about 1/2-way between 2x min and 2x max gauge between the outside rails.
I used track gauges to hold the frog rails while they were being soldered, and to locate the closure rails. NMRA gauges ensured flangeways, check gauge, etc. were correct A a long-wheelbase 6-wheel bogie was used for testing. The only fiddly bit is the points, which I've made several different ways. The one that worked best was to solder tabs underneath, drill both the tab and the tie-bar, and tap the tie-bar for 00-90 screws (don't UK equivalent). The points are held to the closure rails by means of slightly sloppy railjoiners. Since the turnouts were built of fit into the flow of the tracks, there were/are no awkward spots.
I got to where I could build turnout in under 30 minutes.
But if, like me, you prefer to build as much as you can off the baseboard, then Templot does the job, including all the complex curves with easements. My current layout has had all its track built off the boards and I'm now in the process of laying it all down. With the situation of my layout - an oval cramped into a smallish bedroom, building the track on site would have been quite difficult.
I'm also building pointwork for a friend and have planned his layout in Templot with his input and sent him a full size plan. The turnouts I build will fit this plan exactly and he will build all the plain track to join them up.
But I do agree that it has a fairly steep learning curve and like most complex programs, requires a fair bit of application from the user to get good results.
I've had a play with it now and treated myself to an early Christmas prezzy
- CAD for the CAD illiterate, I was really surprised at just how quickly I got up and running with it. I've got some basic designs/layouts now - which obviously will need tweaking but as it'll be a month or two before I can start to build I'm in no rush.
Tried it before - demo years ago I gave it up as I only have one lifetime. And yes I know that for those who can use it it's a bit of a dogs dangly bits with regards to hand made pointwork and so forth but I don't (although I suppose I should try) make my own track.
I tried Xtrkcad but gave up pretty quickly, very unintuitive to use. AnyRail OTOH was dead easy to get the hang of. Flexitrack is fairly straightforward provided you can get your head round Bezier curves, which thankfully I had many moons ago using Micrographx Designer IIRC.