Make your own model railway

There are two programs with similar titles  – one is called “Make your own model railway”, or “MYOMR” and the other is called “Create your own model railway”. or  “CYOMR”

Both these programs are by German software houses, and feature German trains, stations, and buildings.

CYOMR is a CD packaged version of the “Brainbombers” program “Rule the Rails”. You can download this from:

CYOMR includes most of what you can download from Brainbombers, but it is all included on the CD which is distributed in the UK by Focus multimedia. If you get this CD, you don’t need pay a registration fee. Following the information given on the Brainbombers site, you can create your own layouts and trains.

MYOMR is a far more complicated and technical program than CYOMR. It is distibuted in the UK by GSP. A version is available for download.

I have not been able to get it to work on Vista. The reason for this post is that you do not want to order MYOMR by mistake thinking that it is CYOMR. The latter is much easier to use, and works on Vista.

Neither CYOMR or MYOMR allow you to plan a OO or HO scale model railway, as the title seems to imply. There is a program which does this – it is called “Hornby HVR2”.

HVR2 includes a track-planning facility which allows you to use Hornby track sections in creating a virtual layout. You can then print this out and use it to assemble a OO gauge layout from the trackplan.

HVR2 is not just a track planner – it allows you to run trains on your virtual layout in the way that CYOMR and MYOMR do, but it is less sophisticated.

HVR2 makes no allowance for clearances. The space through which a running train must past without colliding with a trackside feature is known as the “swept envelope”. HVR2 allows you to create a layout where passing trains would touch each other and lineside objects. 

HVR2 allows you to “mock up” a layout and gives you a general impression of whether your proposed trackplan will fit into the available space. It does not allow you to create a double track tunnel. You can have a gradient, but only of a fixed value. A layout made with this fixed gradient is too steep on a real layout, and gives you the impression that you can make a Hornby layout in a smaller amount of space than would really be practical.

There is currently no 3D virtual railway program which will allow you to control a real layout. Hornby say they have thought of doing this. The problem is that for most people, controlling a train using a control on a screen is more difficult than turning a physical knob.

Currrent DCC software is only able to use a 2 dimensional flat plan or mimic diagram.  An example of this is “Railmaster”. This is available as a demo download, but it only works with Hornby DCC.

A useful device in this context is the “Sprog II”. This is a small USB device about the size of a matchbox which can be kept on a layout, for example under a lineside hut or signalbox. It works with JMRI control software which is a freeware project. The old Sprog connected to a serial port and could only control one train, but the later versions of Sprog – the Sprog II can control more than one train, and if you get the higher power version, you can control a complete layout. The sprog cannot be used in conjunction with another DCC system, however, the JMRI software which is included with the Sprog driver CD can.

JMRI is a JAVA based program. It is a bit slow because of this, and it crashes on Windows if you get a short using the sprog, for example if you lay a pair of pliers across your tracks, easily done!  If you get a short, because of a derailment, let’s say, then you have to re-start your computer.  If you don’t re-start, then sprog doesn’t work until you do. You know if you have had a short because you get the dreaded blue doughnut going round and a requester saying “JMRI has stopped working”. 

There are two other programs which will work with Sprog II, but they are not freeware. They actually don’t work unless you pay a registration fee. So there is no point downloading them if you don’t want to pay.

One is traincontroller:

The other is Rocrail

I think these programs are only worth buying if you have a very large layout.

Just so you know.