Thursday, August 28, 2008

Flextrack is amazing

Once I figured out how to use the flextrack options in XTrkCAD, laying track made a lot more sense and was much more fun. The trick was to turn off easements. Easements are very prototypical. When you need to make a curve, the radius is gradually lowered, i.e. the curve gradually becomes sharper. In the real world, this prevents sudden movements when entering a curve and is used for streets and railroads alike.
However, I just don't have the space on my layout to do them properly, so regular curves have to do. Once I did that, laying flex track quickly was super-easy. The result is most visible in Talheim where I redid pretty much all the trackage. My goal was to allow for more shunting in this small station right in front of the operator, so I added a third track, and set up the tracks to resemble a timesaver. I would have liked the industrial spur to be a little bit more complex but again, limited space made this hard, given that I need to convey a believable sense of place for the industry. Depending on how the track alignment will work out in the end I might have enough space to do something more interesting, but still operable.

I'm still toying with the idea of controlling all switches and signals digitally, but this does become quite expensive, and I'm more interested in getting a train to stop automatically before a red signal (Hp0) with decent deceleration before the signal. This alone means I have to make a decision whether I want to use Maerklin's Motorola format, or switch to DCC and accept that any digital Maerklin loco I'd buy in the future would have to get a multi-protocol decoder.

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