Modelling in 3Dor: how to use XTrackCAD for creating three-dimensional views of your little model railroad world...
BackgroundJust after the release of XTrackCAD 4.0.2, a feature request was posted on the Yahoo mailing list and at once a hot discussion erupted. The original post simply asked for 3D viewing of layouts created in XTrackCAD. Some answered they want it too, some were in strong opposition.
Adding code for 3D viewing of layouts will result in a large amount of work, so unless enough developers are found, it is out of question. For now.
But another idea turned up. There are lots of programs which already do 3D Virtual Railroading. They just don't have an editor like XTrackCAD (which is more a layout design planning tool). This led to a post from Rodney Hill.
How to use your XTrackCAD layout for 3D viewThere are a couple of 3D-"Virtual Railroad"-Programs research papers out there. Such a program that is freeware, albeit not open source, is the railway simulation software Rail3d:
As per the Support page, Mark Goodspeed the author could be approached on this matter via the Rail3D yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/railway3d/ (registration required)
BTW - A few Rail3D users have simulated model railways (search yahoo group archives) but most are trying to simulate the real thing, for example there are tools to import DEM/SRTM Terrain data - 4.1 in: http://rail3dwiki.markhodson.nl/index.php?n=Main.OtherSoftware#toc16
Here's a sim of H0 gauge toy trains: http://rail3dwiki.markhodson.nl/index.php?n=Projects.Rail3dH0 The notes are useful to show the way that R3D could be used for this type of application. Note especially the part about "Using scripts for track laying."
And the (pleasant) sting in the tail is at the end: Update Jan 2007: Rail3dXTraktor "If you really insist on modelling model railways in Rail3d, you might like to know that Iíve built a little tool that can glean useful information from layout files created with the popular layout design program XTrackCad."
Thank you, Mr Mark Hodson.
All this is FREELY AVAILABLE - why not have a play ? The only cost is your time ;-)
The field is obviously open for further development....
The work flowAfter you have got and installed the Rail3D software and the XTrackCAD connector, you design your layout in XTrackCAD (or use an existing layout). You save it to a file and close XTrackCAD. Open Rail3D's importer and load your layout. It should allow you almost immediately to run trains on your tracks. You only need to work on the 3D stuff, like track elevations and landscape.
WishlistAt the moment, importing the elevation data into Rail3D seems to be incomplete. There may be some other minor issues. It might be a good idea to get developers from XTrackCAD and Rail3D to work together on the import feature, probably even adding export in the other direction. On the other hand, Exporting to XTrackCAD would need some features on the XTrackCAD side:
- support for storing information not related to XTrackCAD (so that landscaping features are preserved)
- Building and structures import (via "import parameter files"?)
- some other?