The PRR Middle Division in HO Scale has finally found a software solution to meet its needs!
Over the years, I've developed three specific needs for computer aided design (CAD) applications. However, each need previously required its own unique software, each with accompanying learning curves.
For my NMRA AP in Civil Engineering, I need to create a drawing of my layout. Heck, I want one regardless of the AP. I've been a registered user of 3rd PlanIt and have tried other free demos as well as open source offerings. I found them all clunky and with a cliff of a learning curve.
For laser cutting, Corel Draw is the standard. I want to have some custom structures cut, but I have to do the CAD work. Other solutions, like the Silhouette cutter, come with their own software. Why can't I just use one package for all three needs, and make it something easy to use?
Well, just prior to the recent RPM East, I was in touch with Robert Sprague. Bob has published many track plans and designed Tom Jacobs' Reading Crossline, still under construction. I asked him what he used and his response blew me away...
He uses MacDraft, from Microspot, on a Macintosh. I have and prefer a Mac, but the amazing thing was that more than thirty years ago I sold MacDraft! I was amazed that it still existed; chalk that up to poor marketing! It may have changed hands a few times, but back in the day, it was to CAD as PageMakerwas to desktop publishing.
I downloaded the free demo, then made the purchase, The learning curve is very short, but the program is packed with just the features I need.
One very helpful feature allows you to make multiple layers and set separate scales for each. For my room and benchwork layers, my scale is 1" = 1'. I will then have separate layers for track and another for scenery. You can selectively show and hide layers and print them accordingly. Above is my basement with three levels of benchwork shown. Blue lines are backdrops and green lines are fascia.
The shaoe of the railroad is a bit ineffecient, but that is because I gradually took over the basement from four separate rooms. If only I could click my heals and have a "do over"!
The drawing is hard to follow without an explanation, but that's not the goal of this article. The goal is to share my excitement for an excellent CAD product for the Mac! Check out the publisher's web site at http://www.microspot.com.
The program exports a DWG file, which is the same as used by AutoCAD, which is what makes it so versatile.
As for Bob Sprague, you can check out his work at https://www.bobstrackplans.com.