New User Questions #FAQ #HowTo #Parameter

Cliff Cessna

Hello! I recently discovered this program and decided it would be helpful for drawing out my HO Scale layout I'm starting in my basement. I've gone through all of the Demo's, but still have some questions for things I presume are pretty basic.

1) In the Demo's, the list of turnouts used included Peco, but my version of the program (5.1.1) seems to only show Atlas. I have both Peco and Atlas turnouts that I plan to use in my layout. Is there a way to find Peco's in the program from an existing parameter file or do I need to download additional parameter files?

2) When I already know what radius I would like a curve to be, what is the best way to draw the curve? So far, I've tried creating a curve from an endpoint, connecting two tangent tracks, and drawing a circle radius, but each have faults in the method. For starting from an endpoint, it's hard to point your cursor exactly at the other end to get the specific radius. For connecting two tangents, the program seems to choose the "best" path but no way to adjust the radius. Finally, for drawing a circle, I can get the radius perfect, but then there is no easement.

3) Any other tips for newbies like myself, for things I may encounter as I begin to draw?

Thanks in advance!!

Russell Shilling

For the curve radius I draw it close to the desired radius, then use Properties dialog to set the radius. 
Russell Shilling

Adam Richards

Welcome Aboard!

Parameter Files

  • The parameter files are enabled by File->Parameter Files->Library. 
  • You can search for Peco, for example, select the ones you want and select and "Add" them.
  • Once you close the Library, you should have the files you added listed and those that are in the layout scale will be marked with a green "dot". You can "unload" those files you don't need (like the Atlas ones) here.
  • Then Close that window and the definitions from those files will be shown in the HotBar. You can scroll left and right if there are too many for the screen. 
Curve Radius Precision
  • The curves you draw are limited by the precision of a pixel at your zoom level, so a way to gain more precision is to Zoom In to 1::1 first, create a small curve of the precise radius you need, and the Move/Rotate/Modify to extend it as needed. 
  • There is a function at work (I discovered today) that constrains the radius in Add Curve and Modify Curve to 1/8" increments (or the metric equivalent) to try and help you be precise, but at larger zoom numbers this makes the search for the precise radius frustrating as each pixel jumps to either larger or smaller radius than you need. The trick is to draw at 1::1 but create yourself a track that uses a lot of screen real-estate (a longer track in display terms). Then, as you move the end or the middle, 1/8" radius intervals will be more pixels apart and it is a lot easier to stay precise.
  • It is an reasonable suggestion that we should have a desired-radius input box on these functions to snap to that if the add command is close to it, just as we have on Join Track now. I'll add a Feature Request for that.
As has been suggested, you can also set the radius of an unconnected curve once defined in Properties (?). 

Other random tip,
Assuming you don't need exact radii or are using sectional track everywhere, embrace the Cornu Curves for much of what you do. You lay down the basics and just join the tracks up. It is flexible and so as you reposition turnouts or even fixed radius curves sections, the Cornus adjust to suit.  (Full disclosure, I wrote the Cornu feature!!). 


Adam Richards

  • It is an reasonable suggestion that we should have a desired-radius input box on these functions to snap to that if the add command is close to it, just as we have on Join Track now. I'll add a Feature Request for that.

I added a little feature to the Add->Curve where you can add a precise "requested radius" that you are aiming for into a box at the bottom when you select the command.  Then when you drag the curve end if you are close to that value, it will be "sticky" and the blue radius dot will be filled in, and when you release that precise value will be used.  The way suggested of setting the curve via Describe/Properties also works, of course.

This mirrors the new Join Track behaviour where for non-Cornu easements (including "None"), you can suggest the radius value of a closing curve and if the resulting track as you drag is close to that value, it will stick to it. This is also signalled by a blue spot. I understand some users want to roughly plan track using a minimum working radius to see what is possible first. 


Dave Bullis

Re: fixed radius curves
I use the Circle Track command for this.
Set the desired radius and then drag the circle around on your layout.
Then use the Join command to attach to the circle (turning it into a curve)
This is usefull for seeing what will fit on your layout.