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A quick, super easy and free method to plan a layout with realistic constraints using layout design software called Anyrail.
Here's a few things I have learned since starting to plan my new layout 6 months ago. Using the free download from Anyrail, it's easy to visualize and realistically plan a layout to scale. Here are the steps:
1. Download free trial version of Anyrail for windows. This demo lets you work with 50 objects on the grid. More than enough to plan the constraints.
2. Set up your grid and perimeter of the layout space you have to work with.
3. Using the place circle tool, place the desired curve radius onto the grid. You can move it around to help you visualize what different curve radii will look like and what you can fit.
4. Delete the circles and add the curves in using flextrack.
5. Once you are satisfied with all the curves in your plan, export the file as a .jpg image so you can print it.
6. Print off your new plan and now finish it by drawing in the sections in-between the curves including all sidings and spurs. What you will end up with is an actual scale drawing of your plan that will fit in the space you have designed it for provided all your measurements are correct. The key is to use the software to do the curves for you, that way you won't be doing it inaccurately by hand. It can even do perfect curve easements just like the 1:1 prototypes! But that's the subject of another video.
Happy Model Railroad Planning!
This video from oorail.com shows how I created a track plan using RailModeller Pro software for Apple MacOS X. The video walks through the steps that I used to create a track plan document for Chippenham Junction, an existing section of the oorail layout. Using a paper track plan and photos as a guide, the video walks you through creating the plan using the software.
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