railroad icon Model Railway Software

There is a variety of programs available to aid railway modelers in creating and operating their layouts. This page is a compendium of many of these utilities. Suggestions and corrections are gratefully received.

Waybill and Switchlist Generators

Free Commercial Products

Train Scheduling

Many timetable operators use stringline graphs to schedule their trains. These can be constructed using a spreadsheet such as Excel. One template (Strngline.xls) that is used by many operators sits in the Ops-Ind File Area of the Ry-ops-industrialSIG e-mail list [yahoo free membership.required]. To understand how the template works search the list messages using the key phrase spreadsheet timetable.

Control Systems

Control systems control engines, switches, signals, sounds and other accessories. They have evolved from mechanically switched systems through switching relays to direct control via trackwork (command control) or radio (r/c). Digital command control (DCC) is a standardized electronic protocol that allows multi-vendor solutions.

Most control systems use a mix of hardware and software to detect track occupancy, operate signals, align switches and control trains. The software uses either DCC, commercial bus protocols [eg. CAN, GrapeVine, Loconet, XpressNET] or homebrew designs. Hardware only solutions are also available.

Do-It-Yourself Commercial Products

DCC Devices

There are many devices and applications that can be added to a DCC control system.

  1. Sound: Loksound, Phoenix, QSI, Soundtraxx, Digitrax
  2. Decoders: DccDevices, DccDIY, MERG club, OpenDCC, Uhlenbrock
  3. WiFi Throttles: EngineDriver, RocRail, TouchCab, WiThrottle
  4. Interfaces: XnTCP
  5. Programmers: Sprog II DCC programmer
  6. Documents: DCC Curriculum, NMRA Vendor List, NMRA Recommended DCC Color Code

Computer Aided Design (CAD)

Layouts can be designed, drawn and simulated using CAD software. Resulting plans can be shared.

Clean schematics can be drawn and printed circuit boards laid out using CAD software.

Simulation Programs

V-scale or virtual train modeling can overcome space, finances and time constraints. Read VirtualRailroader eMagazine to keep up to date.

Calculators

I have written a few interesting tools including a couple for model railroaders as part of my experiments in JavaScript. You can download and adapt these tools for your own site if you wish. To download, use File - Save As and then modify the html form. Also be sure to download the JavaScript code. Please provide feedback on usefulness and extra features wanted.

Scale Speed Calculator is a small utility in JavaScript that calculates scale miles per hour for the most commonly modeled scales by entering time and actual distance traveled.

Scale Speed Calculator
 

Track Gauge Calculator is a small utility in JavaScript that calculates the prototype gauge for most commonly modeled scales of engine and tracks. It helps to choose a correct combo when narrow gauge lines such as 2 footers are to be modeled.

Track Gauge Calculator
Engine ScaleTrack ScalePrototype

 

 

Odds and Ends

A comprehensive article by Richard Schumacher on the use of computers in the model railway hobby.

A general listing of railroad related software.

Model Railway Timetable provides a station display system for visitors to your layout. It is similar to the Arrivals/Departures signage but can also display other information, pictures and sound as appropriate.

Railroad Tycoon I board game - a free download

Stan's Trains has an interesting handy converter utility for all scales and metric|British. There is also a fast clock display for operations.


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