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Tips and Tricks

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Joined: 10 Mar 2006
Posts: 644
Location: Wisconsin, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 6:22 am    Post subject: Tips and Tricks Reply with quote

Several of us agreed that trolling through the forum for existing tips and tricks might be useful for new and old users alike. My apologies to any I have missed.

Put a bridge on your track and move it about to were you want it. It may disappear if you are going over water. So lift it with the control button on your keyboard. It is a tricky thing to get them in the right place, you got to lift move it around lift move it around. The buggers won’t sit still. When you get it were you want I usually raise them till the track disappears then just lower them a little bit so it looks like the track is sitting on top of the bridge. If you get what I’m going to call Flying Bridge Syndrome (FBS) you can use Abutment TS1 to fill in the gaps. You mess about the same to try to get it in the place you want. See pic’s. You can also colour the Abutments to match the bridge colour like in the picture of the girder bridge. If your using the double brigde and you get FBS use another Abutment TD1 to fill the gap.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=443)

Building the Track System
Joining Track
I have noticed if you can not get a track to join using the auto connect button because the ends of the track are not lined up. I find it is always best to do it on a corner as long as the corners radius is tighter than the straight bit you are joining to. The corner will usually always join if the radius is going to go wider. Hope you understand this I can not think of a better way to describe it.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482)

Here's how I made the connection on one of your tracks. I presume you could use this method for the others.

1. Prepare the track for joining. I trimmed the straight pieces away from the end of the 90° turn on which I will make the join. I've reduced the straight track on the other end of the turn so that it is slightly short of the section of track I will be joining it with. I've collected my assortment of odd lengths of track from the 'inventory' layout, and I've added my length of straight track to act as a guide.

2. Select/make a track shim. Select or construct a length of track from those small pieces brought over from the 'inventory' layout that fills the gap between your guide and the open end of the curve.

3. Add the shim to the layout. Add the shim to the other end of the curve. Add additional small pieces either at the end or between curved sections in order to align the straight and curve sections that are to be joined. I added one additional 'shim' track, my smallest, at the 45° point to make the connection perfect.

4. Auto Complete. Use Auto Connect to complete the join.

One final thought - don't forget to examine those pieces that auto-connect added to your layout as they may be useful additions to your 'inventory' layout collection.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=165&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15)

On Varied Terrain
The easiest way I have found to deal with the existing terrain when changing the layout is turn the terrain off (clear), rotate the view to directly overhead so you can still see the terrain layout, lay the track (it will usually be at the lowest level possible), then platform match the new rail to the existing rail. Your rail is now in place at the level you want. All you need to do now is adjust the terrain to match. This is the same technique I use when laying rail in mountains. I always build the mountain first, then lay the rail to try and contour to the terrain as much as possible. I think it creates a more realistic effect than building the mountain around the rail. After all, the mountain was there first in real life. The railroads had to work the rails around and through it.
(Badattitude77, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=244)

Note: This tip is based on the continued availability of LayoutViewer. If you set a slope grade using LV2 and want to use a different one then save your track change it in LV2 and open your track again and then you got the new grade slope
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482)

Template Track
An idea that I had some time ago, and this will probably work until/if we get a 'template save/load' facility, is to have a layout that contains every section of track that you've put together (crossovers, runarounds etc) and use that as the basis of each new layout, simply deleting the ones that you don't use.
(Governor of Waldovia, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=165)

I'm thinking about adding people and vehicles to that inventory layout as well. It gets tiresome editing clothing and vehicle colors so a ready-made inventory would take some of the pain out of that task, too.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=165)

Track Inventory
I've 'collected' various odd lengths of track and keep them squirreled away on their own layout. When I need a nonstandard size, I open that 'track inventory' layout and copy what I feel I need to the clipboard. Then I reopen the layout I'm working on and paste those pieces into it (from the clipboard).

(These nonstandard sizes are obtained by using autoconnect.)

It seems to be easier to autoconnect from a curved piece to a straight piece.

I'm not especially fond of the grid lines so I'll lay some long straights as a rule butting it along one of the sides I intend to connect. I'll then use those small pieces I've imported to adjust the other end until the ends match as a perfectly straight line.

I will often place these small pieces between various sections of a long curve since their overall effect depends on where they're placed within the curve.

One other thought. If you are building yards or working with double track situations, liberal use of double-slips during the construction phase helps with track alignment and permits you to make greater use of the autocomplete feature since you aren't limited to just trying to make that last, final connection. You can put a portion of track down that has a double-slip at each end then add whatever switching you need in place of one of the sections between the double-slips and use autoconnect to finish it off. You may even be rewarded with some more nonstandard lengths of track for your 'track inventory' layout. When your track plan is complete, simply go through your layout eliminating one side of the double-slip at a time then use autoconnect to fill the gap.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=165)

If you are using the track inventory layout, and are finding it hard to get hold of one of the little pieces. Then take the track piece you want to join the little piece to, join it up select them both and take it to where you want to use it.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482)

Controller Track
Event Counter
Event Counters
I have a shunting example that uses a control track - with a second control track acting as a loop counter.
(jdgoss1, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=392)

Short Straight
Put all your controllers, signals, power supply’s and detach things on a short straight. Corners are no good they only allow power in one direction. I always do it put a controller on a long straight with lots of commands and find it is in the wrong place. Arrr all that editing I gota do again.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482)

There seems to be quite an interest in Control Tracks at the moment and so I have tried to write a simple tutorial to help those who are interested to get started. I have rather an old version of an HTML editor so it doesn't look particularly great but I do hope that the content will help.

The tutorial can be read at http://www.btinternet.com/~peter.reeve/controltrack/
(Pete the Porter, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=427)

Adding Commands
If you are repeatedly changing speeds or directions to a power source and it is not within a short scroll from the various controls modifying it, just bring the track segment the power source is on with you as you move about the track plan.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=165)

Block Signalling
When I play with model railroads, my main attention lies on the technical functionality of the layout. It should be a good simulation of a real railway. To give you a little inside of what I mean, I have constructed a little example: http://people.freenet.de/oliver.tell/rtr/signal1.zip

In the real world, the main purpose of a railway is to carry people and goods from one town or location to another. Main point is the security of the travel followed by the speed. Security is maintained in this way:
Each track is divided into sections. At a given time, only one train may occupie a single section. Each section has a signal (or two signals if bidirectional) attached to it to control it. If a section is not in use, its signal is set to 'Stop'. Each section has also a sensor to report its state: 'Occupied' or 'Unoccupied'. A section's signal can only be switched to 'Go' if the sensor reports 'Unoccupied" and the next section is 'Unoccupied', too. The last rule ensures that there is always one free section between two trains thus creating a kind of security buffer.

I tried to rebuild this functionality with my example. Set signal 'Approach' to 'go' and watch it. To keep the chain of control simple, I omitted the last rule (one free section between trains).

I must also admit that my layout is still not perfect. If a following train is stopped by the train ahead, operator control is needed that this train continues its schedule or it has to wait for the next following train but then a crash is possible.

/EDIT If you want to get more info on this topic, you can have a look here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_signalling /EDIT
(Zorro, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=51)

I use an expanded blocking method now. The block immediately behind the train is off, the second block is at a percentage of the 'normal' speed of that stretch of track, and the third block is back to 'normal' speed. I didn't like the visual effect of the faster train coming to a complete stop as it entered the block immediately behind the slower train.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=51)

As Dave has pointed out, signals can be used in each of the blocks to reflect power settings. However, do not try to use the signal to control the power of the second block (percentage of 'normal' power) since signals either set power off or 10 (full power). This also applies for the third block if 'normal' power is not 10.

Naming Conventions
So that I can easily recal the functions, I give them suitable names. P3acw is the command for changing P3 to an Anti-ClockWise direction.

Likewise, P3cw is P3 Clock-Wise. I did start labelling the ommand 'P3rev', to signify reversing the direction but this wasn't specific enough as it could mean either direction.

It just makes it easier to pick the right command when you need to edit one of several for a particular Control Unit.
(Governor of Waldovia, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22)

Power Control - Forward/Reverse
By which way the track is pointing you need to replace this file in the link so you know which way the track is pointing. When you high light the track it shows arrows, this is the direction the train will go if the power suppy on the track is positive . If your using version 1.2 then it needs to be a bit map if 1.3 then it needs to be the DDS file. The file goes in the Program Files\BrainBombers\Rule the Rail!\objects\bitmaps folder
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=301)

Signals - Pros and Cons
We know we can use a controller to turn on a signal but this turns the power supply it controls to power 10. If we use the controller to control the power supply instead of the signal then we can start a train at what ever power we choose and the signal still works.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482)

Workaround for Control Timer Limitations
Quote: It also looked like the control loco sometimes activated itself to get to the next step. Is that so?

Yes. I do this to overcome the time delay 'limitation.' The one run of the switcher back to its point of origin takes longer to perform (because of yard limits) than the max timing limit. So turning the control engine on and moving it to the next stop control effectively doubles the amount of time I can delay the next command to the actual layout.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=367)

Navigating Your Layout
Sick of scrolling up 'n' down your track, I no I am with my track size of 10 x 20. Ok use the camera to get about. Click on a train or wagon were you want to go. Now you get off were you end up you can teleport your self about in a sec.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482)

Planning Your Layout
I layout the tracks as I want them and the controls that I think I will need. Then I set the ground default texture to a very light colour (the white marble is good) and then I take an aerial snapshot from directly above and print off the resulting bitmap (sometimes editing it slightly in paintshop pro). It gives a good plan on paper to continue the process of working out the sequences of controls. If using several control tracks I plan their sequence on squared paper.
(Pete the Porter, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=403)

You are also using scratches as i use. I do it before i set the 1st track on to the board in RTR. I name the objects to be controled first and then the controlerpoint on second. If i use controlertracks as eventcounters then i let locos only driving by hand to count the steps for required operation and add them to the scratch. If i have the complete scratch then i´ll build the controlertrack or not(if not required).
(Peter, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=403)

I may break a large, complex layout into its functional modules at some sort of atomic level (the smallest repeatable function) - something like those coal modules - before building the entire layout.

I would prefer to keep my notes on the computer but that's proved difficult now that I can't safely <alt><tab> between RtR and my notes. Planning generally involves some sketching and note taking but not as involved as yours or Peter's. Generally, the more complex the layout, the more thorough the planning.

I attempt to make control tags as descriptive as possible: <engine><control><device><action><speed><time>. This helps me sort through the various actions associated with a particular control
engine ID: 1, 2, 3, ALL (I,2, and 3).
control side: B or R
device ID: whatever you've named the switch, power unit, coupler, etc.
action: power-F(orward) or R(everse); switch-S(traight) or C(urve); etc.

An example: power unit P1 slowing engine ID1 to a stop from the red side of the control:
1R P1 F5
1R P1 F4 1
1R P1 F3 2
IR P1 F2 3
1R P1 F1 4
1R P1 Off 5
These generally display completely in the control edit menu.

I attempt to organize control action listings based on engine IDs and time delays so I can imagine the flow of that control when I go into control edit.

I do keep versions of my layout in order to roll-back should I end up going down a dead end as I generally cannot anticipate everything in a real complex layout.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=403)

Expanding on the use of engine IDs
The zip file at http://www.shotscan.com/ruletherail/8WaySwitching.zip contains 8 engines which automatically switch to their own siding/terminus. When you load ROA file, it will start in about 5 seconds. It will continune to go back and forth between single file and all parallel.

I learned that the three Engine ID settings can be all be used together. There are 8 different combinations of settings for the 3 bits. If you think of them as number values, thinking of ID 1 = to 1, ID 2 = to 2, and ID 3 = 4, you can add them up to get engine numbers from 0 to 7.

Controlled Objects like switches respond to ANY of the bits that are on in the Engine ID. If the switch control is set to ANY engine, then engines 0 through 7 will run the switch. If the switch control is set to ID 1 and ID 3, then only engine numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 will cause the action. I caused a wreck with all the trains in the parallel section of the layout. When I was done and cleared the wreck, all the engines took off to the left causing wrecks on the ID 1 switches.

It seems this multiple ID engine approach could be very useful in complex layouts. For example, you could use one ID (on or off) to separate freights from passenger trains. Then you could use another ID to separate Hopper Car Trains from Tank Car Trains and send them to the appropriate Freight Handling line. You could use that same ID to separate kinds of Passenger trains. And there's still one bit left.

It will take thoughtful planning to take full advantage of this feature. There are more than twice the number of Engine Numbers than Engine IDs. It seems that we can do more with the 3 bits we have than we previously thought possible.
(AZRoger, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=387)

Sounding the Whistle/Horn
Here's a tip that involves Crossing Gates:

Want to have your train sound the whistle/horn as it enters a station?

Simply place a crossing gate inside a building so it won't be seen and then have a control unit work the gate.
(Governor of Waldovia, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6)

Timing Issues
If you use locos with different speed then classify the group of locos with the same speed to a class for ID´s 1,2 or 3 to set timing for it.
(Peter, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=438&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15)

Lighting Buildings at Night
Lamp Posts inside of the garages with open doors.. Makes it look like the garage has lights inside at night.
(Dustiebear, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6)

Creating Sheer Faces
You might be finding it tricky to make steep-sided terrain using the relief/platform tools so here's a tip...
1. Lay a couple of track straights
2. Go to edit terrain, choose the relief tool and set diameter to a little bigger than the track you placed in step 1
3. Increase the terrain height massively (you might need to increase height/release mouse button/increase height etc). You're looking for a bit of terrain about as high as mount Everest
4. Select transparent mode then Ctrl+click your track to select it all
5. Go to the track toolbox then click 'platform'

You have a steep-sided narrow bit of terrain.
(PaulR, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=238)

Road Tunnels
You can create tunnel entrances for your roads with one short segment of track.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=151)

Smooth Slopes
If you got a high land and want to put a nice smooth slope to a low land, say for a road. Then use a length of track made of short striaghts and corners if needed (short straights work best for lifting and lowering). Place track where you want slope to be and lower the end to go down to the low land until it touches the low land. Then do platf button in build track window, delete the track and there you have a nice smooth slope.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=32)

Another trick is if you have a track going from low land to high land and you want to have a road going underneath that track connect three or more tracks, highlite them and shove them under the raised portion of the ramp at ground level and hit plateau.( see section 3.3 para2 ) You should then have a level surface to place a road on and the overpass R.R. will automatically create a train bridge.
(Smokey, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=32)

You'll need to be experienced with a graphics program, be able to open and save dds files, and work out which parts of the graphics file relates to what part of the assembled item.

These graphic files are not pictures of trains that you can simply colour in. They are hardly recognisable as the finished item. The software collects bits from all over the file and shapes/assembles it in the correct order so it looks like a loco or coach.

No doubt this would be easier if you started from scratch with a loco but there is the problem here of finding exactly what is what. Some areas are used twice, some areas have an Alpha channel that is similar to a transparency or 'onion skin'. Some locos have handed areas while others have areas that are universal. When you think you've got it sorted, you'll find that a section of (for instance a side) is also used somewhere else (for instance the buffer beam) this causes a part you initially thought to be unique, to be found elsewhere with unfortunate consequences.

It is not something for the faint hearted.
(Governor of Waldovia, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=40)

This might be a good time to share some of my technique. Note: follow the reference link for the full article.
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=337&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=135) and
(Chris, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=359)

You can follow the Gov's tutorials on skinning. They're found on his website --> http://www.ospreyweb.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/kmr/rtr/rtr-30.htm.

I have written a short, pictured instruction for easy installation of the new, fully working turntable. You find it here. (http://www.wleopold.ch/n_forum/viewthread.php?boardid=48&thid=28)
(Willi_Leopold, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=433)

I had a go with the TT before the test track I did and it was before BB put the 180 conroll. I had a train coming in and doing a 180 I had to use time delays and it took 6 to do a 180. You have to wait for the TT turning track to stop before you can turn it on more I think I use a 3 sec delay between each turn. So the 1st turn, wait 3 secs for next, then next was 6 secs, then 9 secs and so on till you get it were you want. Just a quick I can not remember if it was 4 secs so 4, 8, 12 so on. Or you could use a controll track to do time delays instead on 1 controller doing it all. Controller on the TT track triggers 1st turn by use of the control track, then the train on the control track after which time delay works moves over the 2nd controller on the control track and so on to the next. Hope his helps. If you are lost by now I am (lol) send us a email and I could do some examples of what I am trying to say.
(austindave, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=438&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0)

The turntable is as a switch or a signal. It will turn step by step. You´ll need 4 steps for 90 degrees,and each step needs 3 or 4 secs. The 180degree step needs 7 to 8 secs. in chevron you can set steps clockwise or anticlockwise. See the controlinfos from the Demo from Jürgen built.
(Peter, http://brainbombers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=438&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15)

Last edited by Chris on Sun Feb 25, 2007 6:51 pm; edited 11 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chris,
This index looks great,then all users can use it to navigate. Thanx Cool Smile
for next time and thanx Peter
如 如 Nothing is impossible if we make it together.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chris

WOW, real nice work. When You suggested this thread, I figured
it would be a good thing, but never imagined anything like this.
This ,as Tony the Tiger would say, is GRRRREAT!!!
Thank You for a first rate job!! This will definately be the first
place I look for answer to problems.

Thanks again..
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys,

Thanks. I'll keep adding stuff to the listing as I stumble across them or as people point them out to me.

Regards, Chris
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Chris

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Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 211
Location: Jacksonville FL

PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:54 am    Post subject: RE: Tips and Tricks Reply with quote


The idea of a tips and tricks index is a great idea.

And what you have done is great. .... I do have one worry or concern and that is I think the Index posting may get to large and start causing a problem for the forum.

Maybe we should ask BrainBom to setup a special header for just the tips and tricks. Sorta like the header here, the install run and uninstall header.

Then we could break the tips and tricks in areas like track, terrain,buildings, and controls.

Just an Idea

Happy Railroading

DonR aka Blazer9
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Don,

That's a potential solution. Let's see how Brainbom weighs in.

Regards, Chris
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