Tag Archives: software

About numbers and check digits

Back from vacation, I am ending a month-long hiatus. Despite my absence, my projects are moving along slowly but surely.

Last week, I got word that I will receive a quote for the benchwork of the Fessenheim project within the next few weeks, and I am hopeful that the parts can be lasered by the end of the year.

Yesterday, I was excited to learn from a colleague back in Germany that my DB class 260 and 333 shunters are now equipped with PROTO:87 wheels and will be sent for re-lettering at AW Cannstatt in Stuttgart.

Also, before vacation, I ordered a few decals from www.modellbahndecals.de in order to try re-lettering a few freight cars myself. The decals are printed and on their way via air mail from Germany. Since this will be my first attempt at re-lettering rolling stock, I ordered twice the number of decals necessary – just in case something goes wrong.

Finding appropriate prototype photographs with car numbers was no easy feat – I couldn’t seem to find suitable pictures of the Tds926 on the web. One problem is that the classification and numbering scheme was not always decipherable, or the caption omitted the check digit. That’s when I started looking for a solution to verify the UIC numbering scheme for freight cars.

It took a while to find a suitable tool, but the one I eventually discovered works great. It can be used to verify the check digit for both DB and DR engines, as well as for freight cars. Please note that your browser needs to have JavaScript enabled.

For more information on the UIC numbering scheme for freight cars, see the Wikipedia article on UIC wagon numbers.

A new look for eisenbahnstudio

A few months have passed since I started the eisenbahnstudio blog. When I first set it up, I went with the WordPress Default 1.6 theme by Michael Heilemann, which was ok for a beginner like me. My WordPress skills have improved and I have grown tired of the somewhat limiting template.

So last night, I spent some time leafing through the considerable WordPress theme library in search for a more modern look that still ties in the blue of the old theme but offers more possibilities. With Fluid Blue 1.7.2 by Srini G, I think I found a classy design which most importantly adjusts the layout to the size of the visitor’s browser window and offers a sidebar on the post pages as well.

Here is a snapshot of the old theme for comparison:

The original eisenbahnstudio template.

The original eisenbahnstudio template.

Hope you like the new look. As always, I welcome your comments.

Working with TurboCAD Mac Deluxe

In my May post about CAD software for the Mac, I promised to revisit the topic once I reviewed the 3D version of TurboCAD Mac. I have since purchased a copy of TurboCAD Mac Deluxe and used it to redesign the Benchwork for my FREMO project. The redesign was in part triggered by a comment from a FREMO colleague after he reviewed the 2D drawings.

The new drawings are using a construction method first used for the Black Forest FREMO:87 modules featured in the March 2009 issue of Continental Modeler. Instead of using cross beams to reinforce the module frame, this approach has a 6 mm board that is slid into a groove on all four sides to maximize stability. A beam is inserted in-between the center board and the track baseboard forming a sturdy double-t-beam – a measure to minimize track warping.

Exploded view of the Fessenheim module 1.

Exploded view of the Fessenheim module 1.

Getting used to the 3D workspace

Working with the Deluxe version took some getting used to, as I have never drawn in a 3D workspace before. At first, I used 2D outlines of the existing drawings and used the extrude tool to make solids out of them. One problem I kept running into as I was making adjustments to the outlines was that lines ended up on different z-levels. Keeping an eye on the coordinates in the bottom status bar and using the isometric view, I was able to get a grip on the issue over time.

After having spent a few hours with the software, I changed my MO and started building solid block primitives first. In subsequent steps, I made adjustments to the shapes by removing profiles from solids and adding solids together. This method increased my drawing speed considerably.

Helpful tools

Along with the line, move and mirror tools, I found the following tools most helpful.

  • Rotate about an axis – make sure the appropriate angle and axis is selected.
  • Create a solid block primitive – enter length, width and height… Done.
  • Extrude text or profile to create solid – make a solid based on a 2D outline.
  • Remove profile from solid – the most important tool to make changes to existing solids.
  • Add two solids together – merge two solid block primitives.
  • Model to sheet – easily create a 2D drawing of a solid.

Most missed feature

One thing that slowed down my work considerably was the fact that the software only has keyboard shortcuts for three out of the eight possible views: Top, Right Side and Front. Most importantly, there is no shortcut to isometric view, which I needed often to re-orient myself in the workspace.

All in all, I was happy with the workflow and tools offered in the TurboCAD Mac Deluxe. And at $129, the software offers an affordable way to get started with 3D drafting.

CAD software for the Mac

I have been on the lookout for CAD software to use on my MacBook for some time, but I hadn’t found anything suitable. In the meantime, I was using a Windows CAD program on a virtual machine, and that seemed to do the trick. When a recent software install mysteriously rendered the program on my virtual system useless, I was right back at square one. Now I really needed to find a solution that runs natively in Mac OS X.

After doing a little research on the web, I found www.turbocad.com – offering CAD software for both the Windows and Mac platforms. I decided to download their TurboCAD Mac Designer 2D trial version and gave it an extensive test run.

Using the import function, I was able to open drafts I had created with the Windows software, and I was up and running in no time. It took me a little while to get used to the user interface, but I was able to work with it efficiently after just a few hours. The feature list measures up to other comparable CAD programs, and at an MSRP of $69.95, it seems to be reasonably priced.

FREMO:87 H0 Pur® module piece in TurboCAD 2D.

FREMO:87 module end in TurboCAD Mac Designer 2D.

But before I decide whether or not to purchase the 2D version that I’ve tested, I plan to try TurboCAD Mac Deluxe 2D/3D, which includes 3D rendering capabilities for just $60 more – something that may be useful for more complex models. I’ll let you know how that goes…