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design software

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design software
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, February 23, 2002 11:06 AM
Hi everyone I'm another newbie with a question.I'm wondering if I should invest in some type of design software.I've been out of the hobby a long time and I'm starting from scratch so as far as this new technology goes I don't have a clue.However since I have this new computer I thought I could save myself a lot grief if this software can do all it promises.So if anyone out there has had the oppurtunity to use this stuff could you tell me if you think its worth the investment.thnks alot captmike
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, February 24, 2002 1:26 PM
Captmike: I've looked at a few and even downloaded one demo version, but, I guess I can't see the cost in purchasing it unless you plan on being in the model railroad layout design business. Most hobbiest are planning on one layout. I probably have more to do this than most, AutoCAD, AutoSketch and a large 36" HP 8 pen plotter. The thing is do I want to be in the design business or do model railroading. My layout is going to be small 2.5' X 12 with a 4' dogleg so I'm going to wing it all the way. I have a pencil sketch and I've done a little CAD on it, but it's more fun winging it! (chuckle) I got so worked up with the neat plotter, bought at an auction for $75, that I started thinking I'll buy a newer one that does color photos and sell custom backgrounds, that was till I found out the cost of the ink cartidges.... $250 each and you need 4, plus they only do 2000 sq. ft. It's kind of like another thread I was in on about buying an Alps printer to do white decals. At $450 used, they don't sell them new any more, you can buy a lot of custom decals. I priced them out and 5 sheets from my artwork would cost $65.... Walt
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, February 24, 2002 5:11 PM
If your planning on building your layout with just snap track then the Right Track software by atlas ( http://www.atlasrr.com ) works fairly well. it can be a bit annoying sometimes especially if you try to use the flex trakc feature but it has a couple of advantages like being free and is fairly easy to learn.
Personally I use AutoCad LT. It's got a steep learning curve and is hard to learn with out either a book or training but it's very flexible so you can do whatever you want. It's also expensive to buy even if you can get an educational discount through a school or university.
There's also other more model railroad specific software out there but I haven't used it so I can't comment.

Paul Davis
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, February 24, 2002 7:39 PM
AutoSketch is real good too and only cost $125. It has a lot of the features of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Biggest problem is you can't relocate rulers, they are always in the upper left hand corner. The second thing is you can relocate the 0/0 position but you need to know the coordiates you want to place it at first. Other than these two items I've found it great. You can also build a library of objects such as turnouts, etc...Walt
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, February 25, 2002 7:31 AM
I bought a SW package called QuickCAD at Menard's, no less, for around $25 US. It has filled all my needs for designing layouts, as well as making plans for structures, etc and coming up with free-lance heralds.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, February 25, 2002 8:05 PM
If you do decide to buy SW for track planning, I strongly suggest that you buy track planning software and not a general purpose CAD program. You'll waste more time learning the program.

And if you do decide to buy, I strongly recommend 3rd PlanIt by Eldorado. The program is excellent and the support is superb. The programs creator is a regular on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/3rdPlanIt/messages/
and support from him and others is nearly instanteous.

Download the demo and enjoy (http://www.trackplanning.com/).

Bill
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  • From: New Jersey, a founding member of the USSA
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Posted by Pruitt on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 6:26 AM
Before selecting any software, you need to decide what you want approach you want to take with it.

If you want "3D" renderings and cool pictures, 3DPlanIt is the way to go. If you want a detailed track planning package, then CadRail is the choice.

All the 3D packages, whether ElDorado's, Abracadata's, or whomever, suffer from the same problem - they're good for 3D visualization (ElDorado is better), but suffer when it comes to serious track planning and layout design. CadRail is just the opposite - it's a comprehensive design tool, but suffers significantly in the 3D rendering area.

CadRail takes some time to learn - more than other packages. It's an engineering-type tool, with a feeling and approach similar to major CAD packages like CATIA and Unigraphics. Its capabilities and accuracy are commensurate with that approach.

The 3D packages take more of a graphic artist approach to design. They are generally easier to learn, and are not as capable, nor as accurate, as CadRail. That's not to say they are deficient; they merely take a different approach.

Perhaps it can best be stated like this: The 3D packages are more for the artist; Cadrail is more for the artisan.

Both approaches are valid, and I'm not stressing one over the other. Model Railroaders tend to have a bit of both the analytical engineer and the graphic artist in them, I think. Decide which one you lean more towards, and pick the design program from that. If you're not sure which way you lean, try several demos. CadRail has one at their website: www.sandiasoftware.com.

Personally, being an aircraft engineer by trade, I prefer the "engineering" feel of CadRail. I rely on my own imagination for 3D "renderings" of what the finished railroad will look like.

Mark B.
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 7:17 AM
"If you do decide to buy SW for track planning, I strongly suggestthat you buy track planning software and not a general purpose CAD program. You'll waste more time learning the program."

The more specific something is, the less useful it is. And time spent learning something useful should never be considered wasted.

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