Current Design Software???

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modelbob

Administrator
I primarily use 3rdPlanit for my layout designs. It can be a hassle to learn/use at times but the results are just plain excellent.

I also use CadRail on occasion, but not nearly as much.

I recently decided to do some more work on my garage layout project (I'm wondering where in the heck can I fit in a turntable?)

In playing around, I realize that both programs haven't had any significant upgrades in a couple of years or more. That seems odd to me, since the other Cad progam I use seems to do major updates every year or less.

Are there any "current" model railroad design programs out there? It sure seems like there would be something newer than 2004...
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Many moons ago (July 2000 to be exact), I used AbraCAData. I considered it a top-notch planning tool back then, but apparently they're not around any more (though they've sold their software distribution rights to an off-the-wall company called "Liquid Ate Her" or something like that...:confused: )

One of these years I think I'll transpose my track plan onto xTrkCad since that apparently has become the most widely used. But the layout is 85% finished, so for now I'll just run my trains...:D
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I bought 3rd Planit last year. It was the most counter-intuitive program I've ever used. I got fair with it, but I picked up XtraCAD to make quick example for a guy and found that I could design 4-5 faster than with 3rd Planit. I've never looked back. I've done multiple versions of 3-4 layouts and have fallen in love with XtraCAD. And the price is right.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Chip, does xTrkCAD have the ability to "import" plans created on other versions of software (3rdPlanet, Abracadata, Atlas RightTrack)?
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Ditto on that question! I used and was very pleased with 3dPlanit, but would like to import it into xtrkcad if possible. My drawing is too danged big to start from scratch.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Ditto on that question! I used and was very pleased with 3dPlanit, but would like to import it into xtrkcad if possible. My drawing is too danged big to start from scratch.
I would not let that get in my way. You are thinking in terms of how long it took you to draw it in 3rd Planit.

I have complete basement drawings in 3rd Planit that I have abandoned. Plans that took days with 3rd Planit take hours to replicate with XtraCAD. There is also a good tutorial that takes maybe 4 hours to run. But once you do, you can do about anything. I learned it a lot faster than I did 3rd Planit and 3P was my third layout design program.
 
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sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
What are the advantages of using a dedicated trackwork program vs. a traditional CAD program? I'm guessing mainly pre-populated parts :confused:

I'm already proficient with AutoCAD, but I'm wondering if I would be better off learning something like xTrkCAD for layout design. I think I already downloaded that on another computer, but I don't remember much about it. Just that it took a really long time to scroll through the list of track pieces at the top of the screen :rolleyes:
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
What are the advantages of using a dedicated trackwork program vs. a traditional CAD program? I'm guessing mainly pre-populated parts :confused:

I'm already proficient with AutoCAD, but I'm wondering if I would be better off learning something like xTrkCAD for layout design. I think I already downloaded that on another computer, but I don't remember much about it. Just that it took a really long time to scroll through the list of track pieces at the top of the screen :rolleyes:
You hit the nail on the head. The libraries.

And this is a biggy, the program will not let you connect track in a way that won't work. And you can set some of the parameters, track radii, whether or not you want easements, etc.
 

modelbob

Administrator
I bought 3rd Planit last year. It was the most counter-intuitive program I've ever used...
I have to agree. Sadly, that's not the greatest testimonial, as I have a degree in engineering, and I'm pretty fluent with TurboCAD. With 3P, I'm always scratching my head going "how do I..."

That said, it has some fantastic features that you don't find in any other CAD program, like the turnout layout etc.
 

modelbob

Administrator
What are the advantages of using a dedicated trackwork program vs. a traditional CAD program? I'm guessing mainly pre-populated parts :confused:

That's one feature. Sure, you can do an 18" radius curve in an instant in just about any CAD program, but try creating an Atlas #6 Turnout from scratch in AutoCAD and you'll see why having a built in design library is helpful...

Another advantage is in the way you can connect to existing tracks. It is very easy to just connect tracks together quickly. I do a lot of preliminary design work with the CAD program's library of snap track, just laying out pieces as a rough fit, to see what can go where.

It also does really neat tricks like connecting two tangents with a fixed radius curve. 3rdPlanit for example will trim or expand the tangents as needed, and put in either a fixed radius curve, or let you do a radius freehand. Some CAD programs can do that too, but in this case it does it with the built in track objects, rather than just a single line.
 
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modelbob

Administrator
Well I've been playing with XtrkCad, and I want to like it, but I'm having some real problems with it.

First of all, where do you get the most recent version of the dang thing? I've never seen any other site that tells you how great the program is but doesn't have a link to download the program! I poked around on the internet, and found a version but I'm not sure it's the latest.

I installed it, and found it easy and intuitive for the most part. I didn't read the manual, and I have done pretty well at getting things set up.

But, (and it's a big butt) the thing has crashed on me 3 times already. I don't know if it's the program or my laptop, but the two don't play well together. Unless I can find a new, more stable version, I'm going to have to pass on this one.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
What version do you have? The current version is 3.1.4

XtraCAD is now open source. The support is a user's group on yahoo. They are the one's that keep it alive now. You can download the program from there.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/XTrkCad/

It is also where you get support. I'd put up a post there before you give up.

The software has been released to the public domain, if you want to unlock all
the features of the software please go to the following menu File-->Register
and then in the Name: field put "Open Registration" and for
Key: "248890010702"
 

Trucula

Drum Driver
Many moons ago (July 2000 to be exact), I used AbraCAData. I considered it a top-notch planning tool back then, but apparently they're not around any more (though they've sold their software distribution rights to an off-the-wall company called "Liquid Ate Her" or something like that...:confused: )
I actually still have that in the box. I messed with it some but never even learned what all it could do. I know it was originally for Windows 95 but I don't know if it would work on other systems or not.(I am not that much of a computer wiz!) Been thinking about puttin it on eBay.
 

Alcomotive

Grandson of ALCO Bldr
well I just use ACAD 2007 and draw all of it in 3d including benchwork, the room etc..I have been doing this for years. I am a retired Architect and well I work for the government now but on my free time its MRR and designing that ultimate layout for me. :) I remember drawing on the o'l board.. gosh I be o'l timer LOL.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
That's one feature. Sure, you can do an 18" radius curve in an instant, but try creating an Atlas #6 Turnout from scratch...
Modelbob;

There is no need to "build" an Atlas #6 from scratch. Its part of the libraries. These are located under file/parameter files. The libraries all come preloaded so you will get many, many more templates than you need. Just uncheck the library(ies) you do not want to use and click then unload. The library will not show on the template bar. I just have the NMRA library loaded and there are only 12 items in it. The scrolling then becomes minimal. After "playing" with xtrkcad for only a week, I was able to come up with and refine a design of the layout I'm building. Using the "run Trains" option, I have even done some "operating" on what will be. great fun!

Below is an example of xtrkcad. This is my main level. There is a level above and below to be built as well.
 

modelbob

Administrator
Modelbob;

There is no need to "build" an Atlas #6 from scratch. Its part of the libraries...
There is if you use a generic CAD program, even one as advanced as AutoCAD. Sushob asked "why use a model railroad specific CAD program?" and I replied that if he didn't he'd have to create stuff that is, as you mention, already in the library of any model railroad CAD program worth using.
 




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