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Best way to document the graphical information on my layout

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PED
  • Member since
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  • 571 posts
Best way to document the graphical information on my layout
Posted by PED on Thursday, January 10, 2019 10:07 PM

I have reached a point that I need to find a better way to document my layout. I currently make extensive use of spread sheets and they work great for some stuff but do not provide the complete story. I would like to find a way to make notes on a layout image that supplement my spreadsheets.

I originally designed my N scale layout (Kato Unitrack) with RR-Track. It was simple and worked well for my needs at that stage. Now that it is operational and I am adding more stuff, it is getting more complex as I fold in blocks and other stuff. I can print out my layout with RR-Track and make it as big as I want. Same for the image of my layout in JMRI Layout Editor (and Control Panel Editor). However, I want something I can add notes to via computer and make a permanent record that I can edit or add notes and items to. The ability to do that in RR-Tracks as well as the JMRI panels is crude at best.

Looking for suggestions on a CAD style program (low cost and easy) that I can replicate (not design) my layout in, add notes, etc in a permanent record. I don't need to have a precise match to my layout but I want the track plan to LOOK like my layout so I can mark block boundaries, show where track feeders are, add notes, etc as a way to add some graphical style data as a complement to my spreadsheet and other documents.

Suggestions?

Paul D

N scale Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Southern Oklahoma circa late 70's

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, January 11, 2019 5:29 AM

I’ve used DesignCAD since it began it’s life as ProDesign (1985) and have been very happy with the program.  It’s low cost and very powerful.  It imports and exports all the high cost CAD programs as well as images.
 
I’m running DesignCAD 20, I think it has been replaced with TurboCAD, at 81 years old I’m not going to upgrade to TurboCAD.  TurboCAD is more expensive than DesignCAD.  I’m pretty sure you can still buy the $50 DesignCAD online.
 
This drawing was done in DesignCAD.  Click on it to enlarge it.
 
 
The MRC Prodigy Controller in the lower right is an imported JPG, the rest of the drawing is a Mel drawing.
 
Good Luck
 
EDIT:
 
Be prepared for a LARGE learning curve in any CAD program.  There are a lot of YouTube videos on learning CAD.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by rogerhensley on Friday, January 11, 2019 5:48 AM

A posibiliy. Requires a little drawing.

Roger Hensley
= ECI Railroad - http://madisonrails.railfan.net/eci/eci_new.html =
= Railroads of Madison County - http://madisonrails.railfan.net/

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, January 11, 2019 6:55 AM

I like Rogers idea, this is my layout done on DesignCAD.
 
 
 Click on the drawing to enlarge.
 
EDIT:
 
Another advantage of a CAD program is you can save your drawing to a PDF file for convince and emailing.  Most programs have a freebee viewer available so that someone can view your drawings without having to learn CAD to view your drawings.
 
I make a PDF and go full screen then do a control/printscreen to make a JPG.  That’s how I post my drawings to the forum.  Simple and fast.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
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  • From: somerset, nj
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Posted by gregc on Friday, January 11, 2019 8:14 AM

wouldn't it be great to have program, or webpage with a drawing of the layout that you could select various types of details to be displayed and be able to click on for more information.

details can be gaps in rails, power districts, location of components like reversers, circuit breakers, boosters, switch-machines, connections between components and track or panels, ...

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

PED
  • Member since
    April, 2016
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Posted by PED on Friday, January 11, 2019 8:15 AM

Mel- I have use CAD like programs many years ago but lack the inclination to relearn them. I am only a few years behind you. However, that may be my best solution.

Roger- what program did you use to make your drawing?

 

Paul D

N scale Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Southern Oklahoma circa late 70's

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Friday, January 11, 2019 9:47 AM

 If you have PowerPoint, you can use that. Or Visio - I've used Visio to draw control panels in the past, and you can draw all sorts of lines and curves, and assign text tags (and actually, it can even work a bit like a database that has sets of attributes for each object, so for example, you can have a representation fo the signals and for each one it would have a text box that conistently logs the name, the controller address, etc). I use Visio constantly at work to document computer networks, so I have access to it, otherwise it's not cheap.

                                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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  • From: Richmond, VA
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Posted by carl425 on Friday, January 11, 2019 9:55 AM

PED
I would like to find a way to make notes on a layout image

Why not do exactly that?  Take photos, load them into your favorite editing program (you could use something as simple as Paint, or PowerPoint) and put your notes directly on the photos?  This would have the side benefit of being in a format you can directly share online.

As has been said above, CAD carries a steep learning curve.  Why invest the time in learning it when you don't need the precision it provides?

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, January 11, 2019 10:28 AM

This thread has gotten somewhat interesting.  I never even drew a track plan, I had an idea, a simple sketch, and I knew the size of the area I had to play with, so I just built, but I would like to do a track plan, as I have an industrial area along with a transloading/small yard that I would like to make just a tad more switcher friendly, and I think actually drawing what I have would be a good start, in redesigning what I could do.

Mike.

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Posted by Renegade1c on Friday, January 11, 2019 10:33 AM

i second Powerpoint. You can import am image of your layout and overlay almost anything in power point. I did all my control panels for my layout in powerpoint. 

control panels

Also here is one of my old layout. I drew the track plan in Xtrkcad and overlayed the wiring diagram in Powerpoint.

wiring diagram

 

I have to admit powerpoint worked great for all the artwork on the control panels but I did switch to AutoSketch 10 for doing the wiring diagrams since i got it for free from my office. The other nice part is that Autosketch has is layers. I can different layers on and off for what I need to show. 


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Friday, January 11, 2019 11:06 AM

I also think this is an interesting thread.

I am a draftsman by nature. I started with paper and pencil on a large flat table and easily transitioned to CAD in the eighties. I look at drawing and sketching model railroad stuff as just another aspect of this hobby; every bit as enjoyable as anything else. And I think OP Paul and others do as well.

It seems to me that he and others are already pretty far along on the CAD learning curve. What with the spreadsheets and the JMRI Panel Pro and the CadRail and whatnot, it doesn't seem too far a stretch to get to where he's going, and I'd encourage him (and others) to keep plodding along.

I'd like to hear more ideas along the lines and topics already mentioned.

Robert

LINK to SNSR Blog


PED
  • Member since
    April, 2016
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Posted by PED on Friday, January 11, 2019 1:43 PM

I am very familiar with (and have) PowerPoint and have built a million briefings with it in the past. Also familiar with Visio (to build flowcharts at work) but do not have personal copy ($$$$). If I tried to use PP, I would need to break my 8x23 layout into pieces to draw it but I could do that. An interisting alternative to PP is Excel. You can do a lot of the same drawing in Excel as you can in PP. There are also free versions of Visio available that I need to examine.

Paul D

N scale Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Southern Oklahoma circa late 70's

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