Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good news / bad news

I was a little chagrined to see some of my website articles published in the July 2006 Dispatcher's Office magazine published by the Operations SIG. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to support the OpSIG in any way I can -- it's a great organization. I had offered the editorial staff use of any of the articles from my site that would be appropriate. And I even edited a couple of articles specifically for print. The two articles I reworked for print publication with some new material and sketches were "Forget the Fast Clock" and a "Little Love for the Yard". (The links take you to the original web versions.)

But when the magazine came out, a number of other articles from my website had also been printed, complete with the promotional language I use on the website. I was more than a little embarrassed to see that in print, since it was never my intention to use the OpSIG to promote my commercial enterprise. (Unlike the shameless plugs on this Blog!)

In addition, one of the articles I prepared for print was garbled somewhere in the production process and came out a bit unclear. To see the yard operations article in the form I originally intended, just click here.

Oh, well. In the end, the good news is that the OpSIG members had something interesting (I hope) to read. And I'll get over my chagrin ....

Currently listening to: Sixty Six Steps by Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Tragedy of CAD-Too-Soon

The wide availability of inexpensive or free layout design software has led to a wave of model railroad layout designs being published on the Internet. Many of these are by relative newcomers to design and, all too often, the results are precisely-rendered disasters in the making.

I wrote about the symptoms and cure for CAD-Too-Soon-Syndrome on my web site. Best practice in layout design is not the result of good drawing tools, but instead the application of an understanding of design principles and thoughtful consideration of alternatives. CAD often short-cuts these steps and leads to deceptively good-looking designs which are unbuildable and/or will operate poorly, in my humble opinion.

New designs posted to Layout Gallery

I've recently posted two new designs to the Gallery. One is a neat HO standard gauge logging railroad in a space slightly less than 9'X11' -- a typical spare room. I really enjoyed working on this design and it shows what can be accomplished in a small amount of space, even with 22" minimum radius.

Click here to read the story of this layout.

Model Railroader Magazine is currently running a layout design contest for roughly this same space. I won't be submitting an entry myself this year (just too many other design projects underway), but I expect some entries will be based on a similar configuration.

The other layout I posted recently is my own small N scale switching layout based on trackage around San Jose, CA. This 18"X72" layout was designed around some track components I had on hand and has been a fun switching challenge. The layout reflects some elements of the WP and SP trackage around 5th and 7th Streets in San Jose.

Click here to read the story of this layout and its operations.

Currently listening to: Electric Blues Radio on Live 365

Newsletter moved to Blog format

In order to make the Model Rail Services Newsletter more timely, I've moved it to a Blog format as opposed to traditional web pages. Hopefully this will help me increase the frequency and usefulness of the newsletter.

Click here to see the older archived pages through 2005.