Tablets & Smart Phones – The Next Generation Of HO Train Layout Control

Model-Train-ControlControlling your HO Train Layout with mobile Apps

Model train layout control has come a long way, and is about to make a giant leap forward to revolutionize the way we interact with our layouts.

In the beginning… most of us in the model railroad hobby are old enough to remember the days of a simple 2-wire setup.  Attached to our track, a simple transformer and throttle control supplied DC power to the engine.  You turned the knob on the transformer, it sent power to the rails, and our model trains came to life!


mobile deviceWith the introduction of Digital Command Control (DCC) in the early 1990’s, the ability to control a model train engine individually and specifically was created.  You were finally able to easily and simply control multiple trains, even within the same “power block”!  It’s taken nearly 30 years for DCC to become the standard for HO train layouts, however, like the digital age it was created from, the technology has rapidly advanced.



Woodland Scenics - Model InventoryIn the next article of our series, we will test drive our first of four mobile device applications (app) that every HO train layouts owner should have on their smart device.




Making your model railroad prototypical

I recently posted this video on the Facebook page, and it got me to thinking, are we striving to make our layouts “too perfect”?  It seems that I’ve seen so many, mine included, that look too “clean” and perfect.  – more after the jump –


Unless you hand-lay your own track…and you’re horribly bad at it or worse, have no standards of quality, your layout will never look like that prototype… but what if that WAS the prototype era or locale you wanted to model?  Come to think of it, when WAS the last time you saw ANY prototype tracks that were as perfect as the majority of the tracks we put on our layout?

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Obviously, if you’re modeling a high-speed passenger train, you’re probably not going to want rough track, but on sidings and yard tracks, I think to add a real touch of realism, the track and roadbed you install shouldn’t be perfect, or even the best you can.  Clearly, our model trains don’t have the same type of suspension our prototypes do, hence can’t handle too wide of a variation in the rails, but some of the little things you can do when laying your track, can really add up in visual cues when running trains or photographing sections.

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Building A Model Train Railroad – What You Need To Know!

Model Railroad Hobbyist

Model Railroad Hobbyist

The Model Train Railroad have been around ever since people began building railways. Perhaps the biggest difference today from the very beginning of Train Layouts is that electricity is involved. These days there are plenty of choices and options for a Model Train builder to consider.

If you are new to building a Model Train Railroad, then there is quite a bit for you to be caught up on. Listed below are a few things to consider and learn.

• The importance of scale in train layouts is for you as the designer to choose how large or how small you want to build for a . This is the first and most critical step to creating a good model train. You will base the rest of your decisions off of this one scale. This would be described as the hinge-pin of a model train railroad and train layouts. Everything hinges on your choice of scale.

• What scales are there? There are including: G, O, OO, On30, S, HO, Z, TT, T and N scales. Every scale is based on a ratio of size from the original train to your model of that train. G scale is a larger scale of 1:22.5. This scale is very expensive because of its size and use of more materials. Most hobbyists do not use this scale because it is too large for everyday indoor use, unless you have the necessary space and want it for a garden area or on display at a museum. However, even though most in the hobby have a smaller size model train, G scale garden railways are becoming more and more popular. You just need the budget and space. HO scale and OO gauge in the UK are what at least 50% of those in the hobby model. HO and OO gauge trains and accessories are widely available and they are in the mid-size range so suit many. A smaller scale is the N scale, which has a ratio of 1:160. This is a popular scale for the efficient use of space. You can have a good size layout while using the least amount of space.

• What types of track is there? The different types of track consist of brass, zinc-coated steel, steel, and nickel silver. Brass has a good conduction for electricity, but at the same time it must be polished and cleaned or else it will oxidize and lose most of its conduction. The most popular material for track is nickel silver because it requires less cleaning. The material does oxidize, but the oxide that is produced is conductive, helping your track retain as much electricity as possible. Although nickel silver is not the most conductive like brass, it is a popular choice for the model railway hobbyist because of its lower requirement for cleaning.

So you have bought the Model Train set you have always wanted, but you can’t just end with the track, the locomotive and a couple of wagons. You need landscape and scenery.

First consider the landscape that you want your train to run through. No two Train Layouts are the same, so this is your opportunity to make your Model Train totally unique. Is it going to be urban with high-rise buildings and bustling streets? Or is it going to be more rural with residential houses and yards, and possibly farmland? This is what you must consider when you begin landscaping around your Model Train Railroad.

A good Model Train builder has a picture in his (or her) mind of what the finished product should look like and he (or she) is striving towards that. Have a mental image of what everything looks like together as one large Model Train Railroad and begin to work on it. Find trees, shrubs, buildings, people, and different elevations that you want to include in your Train Layouts.

This is an important step in completing your Model Train Railroad, so allow plenty of time for this step. Do not compromise your Train Layouts because you wanted to speed through this step. Enjoy the task of landscaping your Model Train because it adds character to everything you are constructing. The best builders of Train Layouts  take years to finish their Model Train Railroad, so just know that it is a long process, but one that you should enjoy.