Layout-design software

Track-planning software from RailModeller Pro
trackplanning
RailModeller Pro, v. 5.1.2
Layout-design software
Isle of the Kakapo
Price: $39.99
Website: www.railmodeller.com
Size: 9.2MB
Railmodeller Pro, from Isle of Kakapo, is a downloadable layout-design program for Macintosh computers (OSX 10.8 or higher), intended to aid in designing track layouts using commercial sectional track. The program offers over 200 track libraries, from 1:450 scale up through 1:22.5. For gauge-1 railroaders, track libraries include LGB, Aristo-Craft, Piko, Peco, Train Line 45, and several more. For the purpose of this review, I chose LGB. The resulting track menu appears to include virtually every track component produced by LGB, including things like the turntable, double-slip switch, uncoupler, and various bumpers. Components are listed by product number, description (in German and English), and a little diagram.

I found this program to be relatively intuitive and easy to use. The user is presented with a blank slate, the chosen track library on the left side, and an information sidebar on the right. Track sections can be dragged into the work area or quickly duplicated from sections already there. Sections can be rotated to any angle or will rotate automatically to the correct mating angle when “snapped” to an adjacent track section. Switches, crossings, and any available straight or curved sections are instantly available.

Despite the ease of getting started, the program offers a multitude of options that will take some digging into to achieve optimum results. For instance, a layout can be designed in 3D—that is, grades can be specified and one track can pass over another. A grade indicator at the bottom of the screen graphically shows the grade. The canvas size is infinitely and automatically adjustable, as is the grid upon which you work (or the grid can be deleted altogether).
An “inventory list” can be called up at will, showing how many of which sections of track your layout is currently comprised. The list is automatically updated every time you make a change.

There is literally no limit to the complexity of the layout that can be designed with the program. A tutorial is included under the “Help” menu. However, I found that the easiest way to learn the basics and also to see what the program can do is to watch the supplied links to YouTube videos prepared by the company. This series of videos quickly runs through the various capabilities of this extensive and powerful program. An obvious negative that I ran across while using it is that it cannot be used with flex track—only sectional. Another possible drawback, especially for garden railroaders, is that I was unable to find a way of overlaying the available space for the railway onto the grid. Thus, if you have an oddly shaped yard or space, you'll have to know the dimensions quite accurately to ensure that your trackplan will fit your space.

This is a well thought out, extremely powerful program. It’s beyond the scope of this review to explore all of its possibilities. If this is something that might be of value to you, or that you’d just like to play around with, a free, downloadable version, RailModeller Express, is available at www.railmodeller.com/express-edition-en.html  This has all of the features of Rail-Modeller Pro with certain limitations. Give it a try. If nothing else, it’s fun.

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