Friday, January 1, 2010

How I designed my layout - an overview

Lets cut to the happy ending :-) Here is the final design that I came up with:

But how did I get here? In the course of some ten odd postings on this blog, I have described the process I followed in coming up with this design. It therefore seems like a good moment to provide an overall narrative that ties it all together. Some background material first:

  • My model railroading background:I have been a model railroader for a long time. I describe some of my past activities in this hobby in this posting.

  • Capturing complexity: Some thoughts about why I enjoy the hobby of model railroading - its all about selectively capturing the complexity of the real world in miniature.

  • Operating styles: An analysis of the distinct styles of model train layout operation that I have encountered. I find it interesting that operating styles vary considerably between the US, the UK and Germany.

  • Inspirations for my train layout: My interest in railroads both model and prototype arises from long train journeys taken while growing up in India.

I started work on designing my current layout in earnest in October 2007 after I visited my friend Dale Schultz and saw his layout in person.

Dale has built a truly innovative layout that featuring a very high level of craftsmanship and full computer control. It is remarkable that Dale has written his control software entirely by himself from scratch. Motivated by what I had seen, I designed my layout in a matter of just six weeks. I kept a diary of my progress which was the basis for the next set of articles:

Having reached a design that I was happy with, I started construction of the layout in November 2007 - and its still under way as I write this in in January 2010. Here is a peek at the layout as it currently stands:

In the next few months, I will be describing the construction and control systems - stay tuned!

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