Templot  ~  email Q & A

I am including here some replies to email queries received from users, on the basis that the information will be useful to everyone. These are in no particular order - this is just the quickest way of extending these web pages in the short term (some information is duplicated in different replies). I have slightly re-worded some of the questions to make them of more general interest.

In due course all this information will be contained in beautifully designed web pages which are a joy to behold...

Q.  Is there any difference between using the click-move-click mouse action and the normal drag action I'm used to?

A.  No, the end result is always the same. It's a matter of personal preference. I tried it both ways in the early days of Templot development and found it quite uncomfortable to be holding the mouse button down sometimes for quite long periods while making fine adjustments. And for those with slow processors the problem is worse.

If you try click-move-click you will soon get the hang of it. With nothing under the mouse being dragged there's no logic in holding on to it with the button. And you can take your hand off the mouse to make notes or refer to drawings or drink coffee or just ponder without losing or changing anything.

Sometimes you want to make only a very slight adjustment, and then I find it much easier to just gently nudge the mouse across the mat with one finger instead of actually holding it. You can't do that with the button down.

And you can also make fine mouse action movements in 8 directions using the number-pad keys. (If NUMLOCK is ON.) Press 5 for the first click. Press the other number-pad number keys to make the movement, and then press 5 again for the second click.

Once you have decided which method you prefer you can lock it. In the control room, select the appropriate program > mouse action menu option. This prevents Templot catching you out if you accidentally fumble the mouse. (If you lock the button-down drag mode, using the number pad keys for fine movement requires the 5 key to be held down while the others are quickly pressed, which is usable but not very convenient. Click-move-click is much better!)

Q.  One thing I managed to do accidentally last night, and I can't tell you how I did it, was that I managed to delete one of the turnouts in the crossover.

A.  You changed the current template. There is only one current template, it shows in different colours, and is the the object of all the various changes and adjustments which you make.

Once you are happy with it you store a copy of it, and then go on to make another different current template. Just storing it puts a copy of it in your storage box but does not make the stored template visible on the drawing.

For that you need to copy it to the background. You can store it and then copy it all in one operation by clicking the  control  >  store & background  menu item (or just press CTRL-V).

For a full explanation of the working of the storage box, click the  what ?  button on the box, or click here.

The make crossover tool which you used, first did a "store and copy" on the current turnout, putting it on the background, and then generated a fresh current turnout to form a crossover with the first one.

But it was up to you to decide whether you liked the second turnout, needed to adjust it or whatever, and to store it when you were happy with it.

But all is not lost. By repeatedly clicking the adjust  >  undo changes menu item (or pressing CTRL-U) you can rollback the current template register and find the one you have lost.

Q.  It would be useful to come out of and close an existing storage box, and then start with a new pad without actually quitting Templot.

A.  No problem. There are many ways to do this.

1. The quickest is to press CTRL-DELETE on the keyboard.

2. Or in the control room : click the clear button, or the background > clear all templates menu item.

3. Or on the drawing pad : click the control > clear all templates menu item.

4. Or on the storage box : click the box > clear all templates or the files > new project > clear all templates menu items.

If you want to you can then click the track > B-6 turnout reset menu item to get the usual startup setting on the pad, or the track > quick set... menu item to start with some other size of turnout.

Q.  Once I get the hang of this, and I purchase the full program, can I build up a database of standard turnouts which can be called into any empty pad, so that I don't have to generate them each time ?

A.  Yes, you can save and reload your designs and re-use templates from them to build up fresh designs. It's not often that you will want to copy a previous single template exactly, you will usually need to change the radius or length or whatever to suit the new location. Templot generates templates so quickly that it is often quicker to use a fresh one rather than to hunt about in your storage box or search through files trying to find a particular previous one.

But you may sometimes want to re-use a complex assembly of templates as a single unit, forming say a junction or station throat, as you build up several different trial versions of your master layout plan. It's useful to save such a group of templates as a data file in its own right. It can then be added to future plans as a complete unit.

Templot differs from other track design programs which you may have tried in that there is no database or library collection of pre-drawn components, and it is not really sensible to try to create one, other than perhaps a handful of plain track lengths and a couple of simple turnouts.

Templot generates templates as they are needed in an infinite variety of size and radius, and it is quite usual to draw a complete track layout in which no two templates are identical.

This is the only way to replicate the sweep and flow of curves through pointwork which is such an attractive feature of the traditional steam railway. And in model form where we are trying to create this effect in a restricted space, we may often need to tweak a radius or length here or there, even when the prototype might possibly have used two identical items in a similar location.

Q.  I find it a nuisance having to set my chosen track gauge every time Templot starts up.

A.  When you reload your track design .box data file the gauge and scale (and other dimension settings) for the last template loaded get copied to a new mint current template, so you don't normally need to change the gauge on startup, you just reload your current project, or let it reload automatically from your previous working session.

I know this is not quite the same as having your gauge/scale preference set automatically at startup, but usually in practice it amounts to much the same thing.

I normally keep in the box a couple of standard turnouts of the chosen gauge and some lengths of plain track with different sleeper spacings, so that I can just copy them to the current template when needed as the starting point for making the next template. These can be either unused templates (showing blue in the storage box), or you can arrange them along the bottom of the pad from where you can then just grab a copy of them as needed. If they are below the bottom page margin they won't get printed to mess up your drawing.

Grab them by clicking on them and selecting the copy to current item on the pop-up menu.

Q.  How do I attach a length of plain track onto the end of turnout ?

A.  Before adding plain track to your designs you need to set up the plain track rail lengths and sleeper spacings if you don't want the pre-set 45ft rails and 19 sleepers per rail-length.

(This is generally appropriate for pre-group main lines, for post-group secondary lines, and for branch lines into the BR steam era. For post-group main lines and all modern jointed track one of the 60ft rail settings would be more likely.)

See the  geometry  >  plain track lengths...  menu item and click the  ? help  button for the full words and music. You can choose from the options, or enter your own custom dimensions.

As elsewhere in Templot it's always useful to click the  custom  button if only to read the help notes for it. There are often 2 help buttons on the data-entry form which appears. A help flag on the current line for just that line, and a help button (ringed in blue when available) at the bottom giving a general overview of things.

You can also change the length and width of the sleepers if you are doing narrow gauge / concrete sleepers etc., or don't want the pre-set 9ft length with 8ft 6in inner marks. Select the  geometry  >  timbering  >  timbering data...  menu item. You can also add some randomizing to the sleeper ends if you wish.

As far as adding plain track to a turnout is concerned, you have 2 options:

Plan A. Extend the length of the turnout itself.

Plan B. Attach a length of plain track as a separate template using the peg and notch functions.


A. Extending the length of the turnout:

This is the easier way, but means that the added track will always be on the same radius as the turnout (unless you put it all on a transition curve - but that's a whole new subject).

You can lengthen the turnout at the toe end by adding what's called  approach track , or at the crossing end by adding  exit track . (To the  main road  only. You can't add exit track to the  turnout road  at the crossing. This always has to be a peg and notch job.)

(The terms "approach" and "exit" assume a facing turnout of course and can be misleading when applied to a trailing turnout. I'm not sure what to do about this - half the battle in getting Templot ready has been finding terms for everything which will be meaningful to everyone. For a while I had "entry" instead of "approach" but this is also used elsewhere and I wanted to have A and E separate prefixes for the sleeper numbering. As usual I have wandered off the subject...)

First of all the turnout you want to do this to must be the  current template . There are several ways to make it so if it isn't already. Here's one:  control  >  storage box  menu item. Then find the turnout by clicking the left-right arrows. Then click the green  copy to current  button. (If the box remains visible click  hide box . If the new current template remains hidden, press F12 .)

Here's another: If the turnout is a background template on the pad just click anywhere on it.

Or hold down the SHIFT key or put the CAPS LOCK on. Now as you move the mouse over the template's name label it will be highlighted. Click on the label.

Either way a pop-up menu appears. Click the wipe to current item.

You can now add approach track or exit track or both simply by changing the lengths in the  track >  lengths ...  menu item. If you add say 500mm of approach track, you should also add 500mm to the overall length so that you still get the full turnout length. If you add more than 500mm to the overall length, you get some exit track as well.

It is usually much easier just to change the lengths with the mouse actions, or using the  track  >  snap lengths  functions. First make sure that the red fixing peg is anywhere except the  rail-end reset CTRL-0 (zero) position (There are many options here - for now let's do  adjust  >  set peg options  >  peg on TP  menu item or just press CTRL-2. The fixing peg should jump to the  toe-point  (blade tips). )

Let's use the mouse actions to change the lengths:

Select F3 to change the length of approach track. Then click (and release) the mouse, then move the mouse from side to side. Click the mouse again when you have got the approach length you require. (You can't have a negative length of approach track, so if nothing seems to be happening look at the pad title bar and move the mouse a long way until the approach length figure starts to change.)

Now select F4 instead and repeat the mouse action for the overall length - you now get some exit track as well, or you can shorten the whole turnout back to just catch points. (The overall length can't be less than the approach length, so if nothing seems to be happening, etc.. as above).

( Templot does its best to make the mouse action adjustments correspond to the direction of mouse movement. Sometimes it gets it wrong and as you move the mouse, say to the right, the track extends to the left. This is where the human brain wins hands down - it seems blindingly obvious which way is which when you can see it, but it's not so simple when everything is just a list of numbers!

If you go to the  control room  and de-select the  program > mouse action > auto mouse direction  menu item (by clicking it), Templot will not even attempt to guess the direction and always use the normal direction. So you have a choice between "mostly right but sometimes unpredictably wrong", or "always the same and predictable, even if wrong". Which is the lesser frustration is a choice for the user! There is obviously some scope here for improvement in later versions.)

While using these mouse actions, try pressing the PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN keys. Page up frees the zooming to accommodate the increasing length of the turnout. This is only much use if the turnout is still on the datum point. Once it is part of a track plan, it is better to zoom out sufficiently (SUBTRACT key, number-pad minus key) to see what you are doing before you start.

When you have got the approach track you want, remember to store it again. Do  control  >  store this  or more usually  store & background  if you want it on the background drawing. The previous version of the turnout (without the approach track) is still in your storage box, but is now showing in blue as an  unused template, i.e. not on the background. It is a good idea to delete it if you are sure you won't be wanting it again, otherwise your storage box will soon get clogged up with unused templates.

If you accidentally change the current template before storing it, all is not lost. Repeatedly click  adjust  >  undo changes  or press CTRL-U until it reappears, then store it.

Now for Plan B...


B. Attaching a separate length of plain track using the peg and notch functions:

The peg and notch functions are very flexible and let you join just about anything to anything in perfect alignment. Full details are in the gentle geometry page, but here are some of the basics of using them:

1. Make the turnout the current template as above.

2. Put its red fixing peg at the position you want to connect some plain track (or another turnout). If you are adding at the toe end, this means the  adjust  >  set peg options  >   reset peg  menu item or CTRL-0 (zero) rail-end position. (Try running through the other positions CTRL-1 to CTRL-9, and there are a few more in the menu without keyboard shortcuts).

3. Move the pegging notch to be under the fixing peg,  adjust  >  notch options  >  notch under peg  menu item, or more usually just press the DIVIDE key (slash key on the number-pad, next to numlock). The notch (a white (or green) square) will jump to a position under the red peg.

4. Store this turnout again if it was wiped or deleted when copied to current. (This step is easily forgotten - control  >  store & background  menu item or CTRL-V).

5. Now make the template which you want to be connected the current template.

You may have an existing length of plain track in the storage box which you want to use ( control  >  storage box , select it, if it is part of your existing plan then on the storage box menus click options  >  on copy to current  >  copy over background  menu item, then click the green  copy to current  button. It would be a good idea to read or print out the storage box help notes - click the  what ?  button on the box, or click here.)

Alternatively, you can start with a fresh length of plain track (so using any new settings you have made for rail length and sleeper spacing). Select  control  >  reset to plain track  menu item, or CTRL-N. A CONFIRM message will appear. Read the INFORMATION notes as there are some points about plain track which are not obvious. Then click the green OK bar, and there is 2.5 rail lengths of plain track with its fixing peg at the CTRL-0 rail-end reset position.

6. This latter point is important, as the rail-length joint marks, sleeper spacings and sleeper numbering actually start from the opposite (right-hand) end. You will normally, but not always, want to attach the plain track at this end, so the first job is to move the peg there:  adjust  >  set peg options  >  peg on rail joint  or CTRL-1 does it. Or just click the peg indicator number at the top left of the pad to swap the peg from end to end.

7. Now comes the magic bit. Select the  adjust  >  notch options  >  shift onto notch  menu item, or more usually just press the MULTIPLY key (asterisk key on the number-pad). The plain track jumps onto the notch and appears to connect itself to the turnout. I said "appears to" because these two templates are still separate items, they are not actually glued together in any way. They just happen to be lying on the drawing in such a position that they line up with each other. (It is possible to move them about as part of a selected group as if they ARE joined together, see the notes for shift / rotate group.)

8. There is a chance that once again Templot has proved inferior to the human brain and has connected the new track facing the wrong way over the top of the existing turnout. This is easily corrected, just press the MULTIPLY key again. If you first help Templot by shifting and rotating the template so that it is in somewhere near the correct place, Templot usually takes the hint and gets it right first time.

If you now press the DECIMAL-POINT key on the number pad, the pad will centralize on the peg, and you can then zoom in (ADD key) to check that the tracks are perfectly aligned. Similarly if you select the  tools  >  examine peg  menu item or press the NUMPAD-0 (zero) key Templot will zoom in close on the peg, and pressing it again will zoom back out.

9. Now you can use the mouse actions to change the curving (F6) or length (F3) as you wish, or make any other changes you want to the plain track. Provided you leave the fixing peg in its existing position (you can move the notch away now if it's needed elsewhere), the plain track will remain lined up with the turnout.

10. Don't forget to store it when you've done. And before doing so you might move the peg to the opposite (outer) end (CTRL-0, or click the red peg indicator in the top left panel again), so that you are ready to add the next template again.

11. Handy Hint: If you now alternate between tools  >  make mirror on peg ( or SHIFT-F1) and clicking the peg indicator to swap the peg end, you can quickly build up a string of plain track templates all linked together and correctly aligned. This is a bit pointless(!) if the templates are straight or on a fixed curve, you might just as well use a longer single template. But it is very useful if the templates contain a transition or slew. This is the way to get a transition into and then out of a fixed curve, for example.

To interrupt this lengthy text a postcard has arrived on your screen from Worcestershire, UK...

Q.  How do I change the name of the storage box ? I thought I had found out how but the new name did not register.

A.  Click either the edit > box title... menu item in the storage box menus.

Or the session > project title... menu item in the control room menus.

The reason it changed back is that you reloaded the box from a file containing the previous title. Change the title AFTER reloading a file, not before. Then save the box contents again with the new title.

Q.  Can I change the position and colour of the name labels on background templates ?

A.  There are several different options for these available in the  pad  >  pad background options  >  background name labels  menu items.

You can change the font, font size, text colour, etc. If you select the  boxed over  option the labels are much more prominent, but tend to obliterate the drawing!

The  scaled  option means that the labels reduce in size as you zoom out.

To change the position of a name label do this. Click anywhere on the template, or hold down the SHIFT key and click directly on the label. A pop-up menu appears. Select the  move name label  item. The label will be highlighted with a blue border. Click and drag it to to its new position.

To restore a label to its original position, select the  restore name label  item on the pop-up menu. If you select  make label shape  the label will be converted to a shape in your background shapes list, and will then appear on the printed pages. You can also  rename...  the template from this menu, avoiding the need to open the storage box to do this.

Q.  Can I shape lengths of plain track in a similar manner to flexi track ?

A.  You need to experiment using the transition curve and slewing functions.

You can combine slewing with a transition curve in the same template.

Q.  Where I wish to assemble track segments on a fixed radius, how do I know my track joints are correctly aligned ?  I have been using the peg symbol as crosshairs, aligning one on top of the other.

A.  Templot lines everything up for you if you use the pegging notch, you don't have to align them by eye on the screen.

Here are the basics of using the peg and notch functions:

First of all the template you want to peg onto should be made the current template. There are several ways to do this, but the simplest is to use the background pop-up menu.

(Your previous current template will vanish, of course. If you will need it again later you can park it in a parking bay (control > parking bay > park current menu items), or put it in the storage box, or simply rely on the undo changes roll-back function to restore it.)

Now put the fixing peg at the desired joining-on location, either by sliding it along with the mouse action (CTRL-F8 or just press 8), or by using the adjust > set peg options menu items.

Now move the notch to be under the fixing peg. adjust > notch options > notch under peg menu item, or more usually just press the DIVIDE key (slash key on the number-pad, next to numlock). The notch will jump to a position under the red peg, and "remember" the alignment angle.

If this template was wiped or deleted on copying to current, you will probably want to store it again. (This step is easily forgotten control > store & background menu item or CTRL-V).

Now make the template which you want to be connected the current template. You can either start with a fresh one, track > quick set... menu item, or retrieve it from the parking bay, or copy one from the storage box, or simply use the undo function to find it, that means repeatedly clicking adjust > undo changes or keep pressing CTRL-U until you find it. (If you go too far click redo changes or CTRL-D to backtrack.)

Now repeat the process of putting its fixing peg at the desired joining location.

Now comes the magic bit. Select the adjust > notch options > shift onto notch menu item, or more usually just press the MULTIPLY key (asterisk key on the number-pad).

The current template jumps onto the notch and appears to connect itself to the previous template. I said "appears to" because these two templates are separate items, they are not actually glued together in any way. They just happen to be lying on the drawing in such a position that they line up with each other.

(It is possible to move them about as part of a selected group as if they ARE joined together. [ see later reply ])

There is a chance that Templot has proved inferior to the human brain and has connected the new template facing the wrong way over the top of the existing template. This is easily corrected, just press the MULTIPLY key again.

(If you first help Templot by shifting and rotating the template so that it is positioned somewhere near to the correct location, Templot usually takes the hint and gets it right first time.)

If you now press the DECIMAL-POINT key on the number pad, the pad will centralize on the peg, and you can then zoom in (ADD key) to check that the tracks are perfectly aligned. Similarly if you select the  tools  >  examine peg  menu item or press the NUMPAD-0 (zero) key Templot will zoom in close on the peg, and pressing it again will zoom back out.

Q.  How can I copy individual templates to be the current template and then put them back in the storage box without them getting a new template number ?

A.  There are two ways of doing this.

1. On the storage box menus select the options > on copy to current menu item. You will see that you have several options to choose from. If you select copy over background the existing background template will not be disturbed when you make it current (the new current template will be a copy drawn superimposed over it).

Or if the template is on the background you can do the same by selecting copy to current on the background pop-up menu.

Then if you don't need to change it there is no need to store it again and the original one in the box will be unchanged with the existing number.

2. When storing a template you can click control > restore & background. The template will then be inserted in the box in the slot the last one was copied from, with the result that the template number remains the same. No templates will be lost, the previous template occupying this slot will be swapped to the end of the list.

Templot re-numbers all the templates when any are deleted from the box, so you shouldn't take too much notice of the numbers, give the templates names instead.

Q.  Would it be possible on a later version to have the pan and scroll arrows permanently displayed on the pad similar to Word?

A.  If you mean conventional Windows scrollbars, in a word, no. The trouble with these is that they have end stops, whereas Templot's drawing pad is effectively limitless.

In the latest version of Templot the panning controls are always available, or can quickly be made so by pressing CTRL-F10 or just the 0 (zero on the main part of the keyboard) key.

In practice I seldom use the panning controls. By far the easiest way of moving about the pad is to use the select pad centre mouse function. Just do this: Hold down the CTRL key. Click the mouse somewhere towards the edge or corner of the pad in the direction you want to move. Keep clicking until you are where you want to be. And if your mouse has a middle button, there is no need to hold the CTRL key, just click the middle button.

The further the mouse is from the centre of the pad, so the faster the pad moves. Each click causes the clicked location to move to the centre of the pad - with a bit of practice you can quickly move across the pad in any direction, or home in on the area of interest.

If you want to be more precise in using this function do pad > pad view options > select pad centre menu item or CTRL-F12. The mouse pointer changes to cross-hairs so that you can locate its position accurately (and have a readout of its position in the title bar). Clicking then moves the pad view to centre on the mouse location.

Don't forget that you can also move the pad view by mouse action. CTRL-F4 move pad, or just the 4 key. This mouse action is instantly available at any time by double-clicking on the pad, unless you have changed the adjust > double-click options setting.

Q.  It would be very useful to be able to specify which specific pages you wanted to print ie 2 & 3, or 4 on its own.

A.  I'm thinking that you haven't yet read the help notes for printing. Click the what? button on the print window. You can print any combination of pages by alternately clicking the next row, print page, and omit page buttons.

You can also print an index sheet of all the pages by clicking the print page map button.

Q.  My paper orientation appears to be out of sync. When I select Landscape (Sideways) I get Portrait (Upright) and vice versa.

A.  The paper orientation is confusing at first. The TOP of the printed paper template is shown at the LEFT EDGE of the screen view, so Portrait printing looks like Landscape on the screen. Nine times out of ten the drawing fits best if you just leave it at the normal portrait setting.

The reason for this confusion is that someone decided to make most monitor screens wider than they are tall, whereas A4 paper is the opposite. So to make the most of the available screen area we have to turn the paper through 90 degrees. Of course, you could turn the monitor on its side instead...

That was not intended seriously - turning your monitor on its side could block essential ventilation slots, causing a fire hazard.

Q.  Having had a play producing a crossover in S7 I appear to have come across the following problem. The crossover at 100% occupied 4 pages landscape. The print preview would only show three pages, not the full four. The diagram continued across the screen but there was no page border.

A.  Unfortunately I can't see your screen from here so I have to do a bit of guesswork to answer your query. Why not attach your  .box  data file to your next email so that I will have a better idea what the problem is?

The preview function is designed to show only the current template. Since only one of the two turnouts forming a crossover can be current at any one time, it drew only the page outlines needed for that one.

The  preview current pages  (or F10)   and  print current template  (or F11) functions are intended for printing individual templates for construction. To print a complete drawing comprising more than one template, click  print entire pad  (or CTRL-F11) instead.

When you do this the current template is printed with coloured-in rails, the remaining templates with outline rails. If you don't like this, or the current template is not part of the design, you can select the  print  >  entire pad options  >  omit current template  menu item to print the background items only.

Alternatively you can shift the current template down below the bottom page margin so that it doesn't appear on the print. (But don't then click print current template (F11), because Templot will complain that there isn't a current template in the print area.)

If the above notes don't explain the problem, perhaps you had part of the crossover overlapping the left or bottom margins. Although you can draw templates anywhere you like on the pad, nothing can ever be printed which overlaps the left or bottom page margins. Use the  shift group mouse action (SHIFT+CTRL-F7 or BACKSLASH) to shift all the background templates inside the margins, or the  move page origin  mouse action (SHIFT+CTRL-F10) to move the page margins.

In brief:  print current template (F11) gives you just one template with coloured-in rails.

             print entire pad  (CTRL-F11) gives you the whole drawing with outline rails,
                                               and optionally the current template with coloured-in rails.

(If you select the  print > black / white only  or the  print > printed drawing options > rail infill > outline only menu items you get outline rails regardless.)

Hiding the current template on the screen (CTRL-W toggle) has no effect on printing. Before printing the entire pad it makes sense to always press F12, to update the pad drawing so that you can see what you are going to get.

Q.  How can I move the whole track plan across the pad?

A. There are 3 things you might want to do:

  1. Shift or rotate all or part of the track plan relative to the grid.

  2. Shift or rotate the baseboard outlines if you have used the background shapes functions to draw them in.

  3. Move the page outlines, so that the plan stays exactly the same but the printed page joins are in different places.

1. To move the track plan relative to the grid :

First click the control > group select > group select all menu item (or CTRL-A) to create a selected group comprising all the background templates which will then change colour, showing you which templates will be moved.

Now you have to choose whether you want to shift them by eye with the mouse, or enter a specific dimension by which you want them to be shifted.

For the mouse action, click the adjust > mouse actions: group > shift group menu item (or press SHIFT+CTRL-F7, or just press the BACKSLASH key).

Now you can click the mouse and move the whole plan about as you wish. There are a lot of calculations involved, so you will need to move the mouse slowly and possibly wait for Templot to catch up.

For a specific shift dimension, click the tools > shift group by... menu item, and enter the X and Y dimensions for the amount you want the whole plan to be shifted.

You can also rotate the plan to a different angle. For the mouse action, click the adjust > mouse actions: group > rotate group menu item (or press SHIFT+CTRL-F8, or just press the FORWARDSLASH key). The rotation centre is the current position of the pegging notch, which you can set first if you wish.

Or click the tools > rotate group by... menu item to set a specific rotation angle.

When you have finished, click the control > group select > group select none menu item (CTRL-Y) to de-select the group and return the normal colours.

It is not necessary to move the whole track plan, you can move individual templates or groups of templates. To select a background template to be part of the group do this:

a. click anywhere on the background template, and a menu appears on the left of the screen.

b. click the group select (toggle) menu item to add it to or remove it from the group to be moved.

2. To leave the track plan as it is and move the baseboard outlines:

Click the control > background shapes menu item to show the background shapes window.

Click the mouse action move all button (to move them with the mouse), or click the shift all by... or the rotate all by... buttons to move them by a specified amount.

3. To leave the whole plan as it is and just move the position of the page joins:

Click the adjust > mouse actions: pad > move page origin menu item (to move them with the mouse), or click the print > page orientation / origin > set page origin... menu item to move them by a specified amount.

Q.  Is there any possibility of plotting a background centre line, which could be used as a planning reference line ?

A.  Simply draw a long length of plain track as a centre-line only template. Select the geometry > track centre-lines only menu item. You can use all the normal mouse actions to adjust the line, slide the peg along it to peg on other templates, etc., and have as many of these centre-line templates as you wish.

Don't use the normal generator menu switches to remove the rails and timbering, otherwise they are likely to re-appear if you do any background rebuilds.

When you have finished creating centre-line templates, de-select track centre-lines only again to return to normal template drawing.

You can then align the current template over the centre-line using the peg / align current items on the background pop-up menu, and slide the current template along it using the CTRL-F6 snake mouse action.

If you want to shift or rotate a group of background templates without disturbing these centre-lines, you will need to ensure that they are de-selected from the group, and then shift the selected group only [see later reply]. Or if there there is only one such centre-line template, you could simply use delete to current temporarily while you do shift group for all, and store it again afterwards.

Q.  I am quite enjoying experimenting with Templot. I do find that about two hours is the comfortable maximum time for a session.

A.  I agree. It's quite intense concentration isn't it to work on a complete track plan? Especially if you've already spent several hours on the computer at work.

Can I suggest the "Neath & Brecon" method? Print yourself a good collection of templates, all shapes and sizes. Then shuffle them about on the baseboard until you've got the perfect plan. If you want a turnout a bit shorter or longer or whatever, just go and print one.

The human eyeball and a few map pins work just as well as the peg and notch. You can mock up the signal box or whatever in card, stand rolling stock in position to check clearances, and visualize the whole thing far better than you can on the screen. If you're short of space, you just do the same thing with reduced size printed templates.

And it's all great fun. Especially with a glass of something in hand to aid the imagination!

Which is why I originally wrote Templot to produce just single templates. Anyway here we are with Templot now giving you the choice to do it either way. In the end I expect most users will adopt a hybrid approach, using Templot to build up a complete junction or station throat complex, etc., and then positioning it on the baseboard as a unit and linking in other tracks by eye.

Q.   Is there any possibility of a 90 degree turn as well as the 180 degree turns for the templates ?

A.  To rotate the current template select the adjust > shift / rotate current > rotate current by...  menu item. Enter 90 degrees in the box and press ENTER twice. This gives you an anti-clockwise turn. To rotate the template clockwise enter a negative angle, -90 degrees.

To rotate all or a selected group of background templates select the  tools > rotate group by... menu item instead.

You can also rotate templates by a specified angle with the mouse by watching the readout in the pad title bar, or by noting the peg angle details showing in the information panel.

Sometimes it is easier to enter a rotation as a unit angle. You can do this by using input conversion factors. When asked for an angle in degrees, you can instead enter a unit angle prefixed with a code letter n. For example, entering -n6 would cause a rotation of 1:6 angle clockwise.

There are many other conversion factor code letters available. For a full list and more information click the  what ?  button on the data-entry form. You can also specify your own input conversion factors. By doing this you could for example enter a radius dimension as the prototype figure in chains, when asked for a model dimension in mm.

Q.  Would it be possible to curve a template by setting the radius through the secondary road as an alternative to the main road ?

A.  This is not really on, because it's not a single continuous radius. The information panel shows you the resultant switch radius and resultant turnout radius after curving. Just change the main curving radius until you get the resultant radii you want.

Q.  Why can I not set the peg at the end of the turnout road?

A.  You can put the peg anywhere you want to. There isn't a direct means of putting it on the end of the turnout road because that location is variable.

First put the peg at the TVJP (CTRL-6 , vee splice-rail end). If that is not the end of the turnout road slide the peg along with the mouse (CTRL-F8 or just 8) until it is where you want it to be.

Q. How can I move both turnouts forming a crossover in one piece without them coming apart ?  I just want to move these two, not the whole plan.

A.  You can move a group of background templates independently of the rest. You must first select the members of the group. There are several ways to do this.

Here's one: control > group select > click backgnd to group menu item(CTRL-I). Then click on the name labels of the required templates.

You can now do mouse action shift group (SHIFT+CTRL-F7 or just BACKSLASH) to shift just the selected group. Likewise rotate group (SHIFT+CTRL-F8 or just FORWARDSLASH) to rotate them.

If you are feeling confident you can also move groups of templates and join them to other templates using the peg & notch functions. Click joining groups for more information.

Q. How do I control the position of an 'inserted turnout' ? I used the 'make split' tool on the exit track of a turnout, giving a new length of plain track on the old formation. Its peg appears at the turnout end. Insert another turnout in the plain track. The peg changes to opposite end and the turnout is drawn as if to form a running loop with the first turnout.

I want the second turnout at the same end of the template as the first, but how? The peg always resets to the wrong end and the turnout is facing the wrong way.

A. The tools > make split functions put the CTRL-1 joint end of the plain track at the join with the turnout, in order to get the best sleeper spacing and rail-joint positions. The track > insert turnout in plain track function always inserts the turnout at the CTRL-0 datum end, hence it is initially facing towards the first turnout.

This is what to do:

After inserting the second turnout (or before), click the tools > swap current end-for-end menu item. This swaps the CTRL-0 datum to the opposite end of a template without disturbing its alignment. If this is a turnout template, the result is that it is now facing the opposite way.

This will also change the hand, so you might then want to do track > hand > invert handing (or CTRL-X).

Then to slide the turnout into position within the (former) plain track length, you can use the CTRL-F9 maintain length mouse action.

There is another way of achieving the same result, using the align over background functions. You might like to try this instead:

Remove any exit track from the first turnout (F4 overall length mouse action).

Put it on the background (control > store & background menu item).

Create the second turnout as a new current template (track > quick set... menu item).

Click anywhere on the first turnout. Its menu appears. Click the peg / align current > align current over background > facing-facing menu item.

The second turnout (the current template) will be aligned over the first turnout. (If it is exactly the same size it will completely obscure the first one.) Now use the CTRL-F6 snake mouse action to slide it along to where you want it.

Then add approach or exit track to it as required (F3 and F4 mouse actions).

Finally, click the peg indicator to put its peg at a more sensible position, or press CTRL-0.

The make split functions are quick and easy to use, but the align functions are more powerful and permit any template to be aligned with any other. They come into their own when working on a large plan or superimposing partial templates. There are also some differences between the two methods in the way that any blanking or shove-timber data is propagated into the second template.

Thanks for reading this far. If you are still scratching your head, please click utterly baffled.


more notes here soon

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page revised  © 22-Sep-2005