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Thread: Free; or, reasonably priced layout design software

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Central Minnesota, Park Rapids area.
    Posts
    1,399

    Default Free; or, reasonably priced layout design software

    At one point I did have Atlas' layout design software, this was a couple of confusers back and I no longer have it and I believe Atlas no longer has this software.

    I am interested in obtaining layout design software. I don't want to become a professional layout designer; so, "Cheep" or, better yet, "Free" is very important! Also, I don't want to have to spend "days" learning how to use.

    Is there anything out there?
    Mark D.

    Opinions given are my own and not meant to ruffle any feathers.
    Northern Pacific, really terrific!

  2. Default

    Mark - if you do a search on the forum for software there are a number of threads where this has been covered.

    I myself have used SCARM and I like it a lot. You can go here to find out more about it:

    https://www.scarm.info/index.php
    Gary P

    Central Manitoba Model Railroad

    http://thecmmr.wix.com/cmmr

    https://www.facebook.com/TheCMMR

  3. Default

    While I don't use it, Mixy (the developer) has a whole thread on this forum somewhere regarding SCARM that Gary recommends.

    Willie

  4. #4

    Default

    I used CAD programs when I was working, but I have some problems with the track design software. Biggest problem is the flex-track and bending it. Should be easy.

    I'm almost willing to have (pay) someone take a line drawing of mine layout and convert it to a professional looking track plan.

    Greg
    THE MILWAUKEE NORTHERN

    Transporters of Wood, Coal, Ore and Anything Else

    Est. 1983

    HO Scale

    __________________________________________________ ___________

    Where the SOO, Milwaukee Road, C&NW and Wisconsin Central Meet


    Charter Member of the Fallen Flags Model Railroad Club

  5. #5

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    I've played with Mixy's SCARM and it is an impressive program. It easily handles flex track for both straight sections and curves and has a huge library of components.
    Kevin

    General Manager
    Red Oak and Western Railway Company

  6. #6

    Default

    Hi,

    Define "reasonable" please.

    I have used a "not-free" program for years simply because it is the best program of it's kind.

    Unlike some of the "free" ones it has a learning curve and a newcomer best work through the tutorials.

    But it can do things that make the difficult parts of layout design possible.

    I've tried all of the "free"/"low cost" ones and they simply were not up to the things I wanted to do.

    https://www.trackplanning.com/

    I've kept my license up-to-date over the years and I consider it money well spent.

    Frederick

  7. #7

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    SCARM is what I use and it comes with two options, a free version (where your limited to 150 pieces) or a paid for version. The only difference in essence is you pay to have the restrictions removed and so you can run virtual trains.
    Cheers,

    Tony
    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

    http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/f...Indoor-N-Scale

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Central Minnesota, Park Rapids area.
    Posts
    1,399

    Default

    I have downloaded SCARM and like the other CAD programs I have been exposed to, I don't have any idea of how to even start drawing with it. I guess there will be a learning process with it. Any short cuts people can easily explain?
    Last edited by NP2626; 11-18-2017 at 04:19 AM.
    Mark D.

    Opinions given are my own and not meant to ruffle any feathers.
    Northern Pacific, really terrific!

  9. #9

    Default

    Mark,

    It is really simple. when you open scarm you'll be confronted with a blank "page" for the sake of a word. Down the left side you should have a list of track pieces for a given type of track, in my case Peco-N-80. At the top of the page (on the left) you'll see the Track Type Named. If you click on the little down arrow you'll get a list of all (or most) of the Track Manufacturers together with the codes they make.

    So once you have selected your track type Make and Code all of the track pieces made by that company will appear down the left side like this:



    All you now need to do is left click on the track piece you want and drag the piece of track onto the "blank page" then release the left hand mouse key thingy. When you release the mouse key the track will remain "red" until you click somewhere in the blank page.

    If you want to use the same piece of track again, all you have to do is click on the track piece and it will automatically connect to the other piece. If you want to add a "curve" click on the curve and two options will open for you - the direction of the curve. Click the way you want the curve to go and it will be added to the track plan.

    Option 2 (the way I do it) is to click and drag a piece of track onto the blank page as described above then do the same for every other piece of track you want to use. When you do that, you need to drag the new track section to one end of the previous section and move the "arrow" of the new piece over the "arrow" of the previous piece. When the arrow/s turn "green" release the mouse click and the track will automatically join/connect.

    Now, for "flex track" the same principles apply, EXCEPT it is flex so when you drag it onto the blank page and release it it will still move around. One end of the Flex will be "hooked" but the other end will flex so you can shape it. Once you have the flex the shape you want it to be left click and it will stay locked in the position you have chosen. When using flex track as you move the curser along the length of the track you'll see a red line appear as well - the track will turn red. The red bit is the bit that has been set in place but WONT be fixed in place until you click to do so.

    If you "goof up" and want to remove a bit of track you have put down, left click on it so it turns red then right click on it to give you a list of options including "cut".

    That is about as basic as I can get it mate and hope it all makes sense. If not, I'll throw together a video for you so you can see what I am saying. Try doing a small plan using "Sectional Track" to get the hang of getting the pieces onto the "blank page" and so forth first as they wont give you any issues.

    One other thing when using flex track - down the bottom of the screen you'll see a bunch of numbers. One of those numbers displays the "RADIUS" of the flex as you "bend it. So, if you want a 20" radius, lay your flex on the blank page, move your cursor to the end of the piece of flex or until the entire piece turns red then move your mouse downwards and watch the flex "flex". As you do that, watch the RADIUS figure down the bottom change, getting smaller the more yu bend the track. Keep bending the track until the R - RADIUS number reads 20 and bingo, you have 20" radius curve

    Let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any other questions and I'll do my best to explain things.
    Cheers,

    Tony
    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

    http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/f...Indoor-N-Scale

  10. #10

    Default

    Tony:

    Nice explanation of Scarm.

    Greg
    THE MILWAUKEE NORTHERN

    Transporters of Wood, Coal, Ore and Anything Else

    Est. 1983

    HO Scale

    __________________________________________________ ___________

    Where the SOO, Milwaukee Road, C&NW and Wisconsin Central Meet


    Charter Member of the Fallen Flags Model Railroad Club

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