Starting a plan
Setting up size and scale
The first thing you need to do to start a new plan is to enter the size of your planned empire and select the scale (and gauge) of the track you plan to use. This is done via the layout options at Options>Layout
This will give the following dialog box:
For this tutorial, set the layout size to a room width of 96" and a height of 48". Enter a name of your choice for the layout title. Set the scale to "HO (1/87.1)" and the gauge to "Standard (16.5mm)".
If you want to modify the units to metric, you can adapt the parmeter in Options > Preferences > Units : Metric.
Finish the basic configuration by clicking on the OK button.
For our first layout, we're going to use Atlas Code 100 Track. XTrackCAD has libraries of many different brands of track available. To pick the brand(s) you're going to use, you need to select them from the Parameter File dialog. You get there via File>Parameter Files
You can select as many files as you want. To make things easier, it is best to unload all the parameter files you're not going to use. Do so by selecting the file and click on the "Unload" button.
Important remark : The parameter file will ONLY load the libraries ACCORDING to the scale / gauge you chose in Options>Layout.
For the first launch, the program is configured in N scale, so it will NOT show HO tracks until you modify the scale / gauge into HO.
For this tutorial, make sure that at least the Atlas Code 100 parameter file is loaded. This file is marked blue in the screenshot above. When satisfied. you can close this dialog by clicking on "OK".
If you don't see any parameter files listed in the window (and you won't, the first time you run the program), click the "Browse..." button and choose one or more parameter files to load. There is a descriptive list of the parameter file names available on the [ParameterFiles] page. If you don't see any files to choose, make sure the file chooser is pointing at one of the following directories, depending on your operating system:
- Mac OS X : /Applications/XTrackCAD.app/Contents/Resources/share/xtrkcad/params
- Linux: /usr/lib/xtrkcad/params
- Windows: (???)
Placing the first track piece
So let's get started. The hotbar shows a row of track pieces. Scroll to the left or right until you see the fixed length pieces. For the first piece, select a "Atlas #821, 9" Straight" by clicking on it.
To place it on the canvas, click onto the drawing area. The track piece will appear in blue color. As long as it is drawn in blue, you can move it around by clicking on any spot on your layout area. To coincide with the steps of this tutorial, the track section should anchor itself to (be positioned on) the right side of the cursor. If it's not, hold down the shift key then click the right mouse button to raise the rotation menu. Select 180°. The track will rotate 180°, which in effect anchors the cursor to the opposite end of the track.
Place your mouse pointer at x-position 24" and y-position 46". You can use the status bar to see the location you are at. In order to fix the track piece in place press the SPACE key once. The color of the piece will change, the endpoints will be drawn and your layout will look like this:
Getting around a curve
To continue, we need to set up a curve. So select a "Atlas #836, 22" 22.5D Curve" from the hotbar and click onto the canvas. Next, while holding down the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer close to the left end of the straight track that already is in place. Once you're close enough, the track will snap in place.
Chances are 1:1 that the curved piece will snap in place and curve into the right direction. As you can see on the screenshot above, it didn't do so in my case.
The fix is simple: while the track is still colored blue, press and hold down the 'Shift' key of your keyboard. Now click onto the new piece and it will bend in the other direction. Perfect! As above, press SPACE once.
Our plan should look like this now. So let's complete the half circle. Click onto the unconnected end of the curve and the next piece should appear. Press SPACE and click again. Repeat until you have an 180 degree curve as shown below.
Should the new piece not snap into place, drag (hold left mouse button down while moving the mouse pointer) it closer to the unconnected end before pressing SPACE.