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Helix Needs Improvement

Started by TomB, September 27, 2022, 01:40:07 PM

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I'm stuck on designing helixes.  Unfortunately, it's very difficult with AnyRail.  Creating the model of a helix using the Helix command is simple, but it gets very complicated after that.  As a newbie, maybe I'm missing some points that could solve some of this for me, but here is where I get tripped up:

1. Once you create a helix, it's impossible to edit it.  One of the most important things missing is that it carries no apparent properties.  You can't click on it and see any details - radius, # of turns, etc.  You can SHOW the incline and elevations, but those get all mixed up in the multiple turns.  Similarly, you can cross-cut the helix in plan view using the SHOW Lower and Upper limits, but this is a poor solution.  I repeatedly have to blow away the entire helix and generate another one, if there is any editing needed.

2. There is no Elevation capability in AnyRail.  Yes, the 3D view allows you to "see" the helix in 3D, but there is no CAD system reference, no measurement capability, no coordinates.  You can't match the helix up to different levels of the layout unless you cut the plan view repeatedly with SHOW Lower and Upper limits, which is confusing at best.  If you could truly work in an elevation view, you could easily match the helix turns up with multiple levels.

I'm not trying to be negative, just posting some wishes for the Wish List.

P.S. A 64-bit version would most likely address a lot of this.


Indeed, from a top view it might be difficult when tracks fully overlap.
Once created, the helix is just a series of curves connected on a slope.

I'm not sure what you mean by an Elevation capability though. Can you please explain?

David Hoogvorst. Founder and Owner of DRail Software. Creator of AnyRail.


Quote from: David on September 27, 2022, 05:59:14 PMIndeed, from a top view it might be difficult when tracks fully overlap.
Once created, the helix is just a series of curves connected on a slope.

I'm not sure what you mean by an Elevation capability though. Can you please explain?

To construct an object using 2-dimensional drawings, multiple "views" are often employed: top view, side view, front view, and a 3D-2D construct usually called an "isometric."  In architectural drawings, the top view is often referred to as the plan view, which coincides to the typical environment in AnyRail.  The side and front views used for object/machine drawings are combined into a single word description of "Elevation" in architecture and defined by direction such as "North Elevation," "South Elevation," "West Elevation," etc. (As in, meaning the different faces of a building.)

In both machine and architectural drawing, "Sections" are also employed.  In architectural drawings, these are often used to dimensionally detail the construction in Elevation views.  These would typically show an entire wall, detailing and dimensioning all the way from the foundation components to the roof.  Sections in a plan view are analogous to AnyRail's "SHOW Lower and Upper limits," but there is no equivalent in the vertical plane.

An Elevation view capability with sections in designing a model railroad layout would allow one to show and dimension multiple levels from a side view of a layout.  You could check and detail the entrances to and from a helix from multiple levels, such as staging (bottom level), mid-level, and top-level, for a three-level layout.  You could probably do this in AnyRail for many things, by drawing details of layout benchwork turned on its side in the AnyRail environment, but the helix combines vertical and horizontal planes in one construct.

The issue becomes trying to match up critical entrances/exits of a helix at different levels of a multi-level layout design, while trying to keep track of grade and compass direction of the helix.  I am finding that quite difficult while using AnyRail.  Granted, I'm still a newbie, but I've been fiddling with it for over a year now.

P.S. This is probably better reserved for your 64-bit version, but I wanted to get a request in while you're still working on it. ;-)


Thanks for the reply.

AnyRail only has a top view in which it is possible to edit the layout.
The 3D view is only there to check if everything is done correctly.
These two together are usually enough for most of our users, but we know that in case of overlapping tracks, such as in a helix, it can be slightly annoying to work with.

Side-views in the vertical plane require a lot more, at least that all track elements have a 3D definition. At the moment this is not the case, so we cannot add a reliable side view with edit and measure functions.

We have plans to make it easier to create horizontal slices such as the 'Lower and Upper limits' show options do.

David Hoogvorst. Founder and Owner of DRail Software. Creator of AnyRail.


Quote from: David on October 03, 2022, 10:36:49 AMWe have plans to make it easier to create horizontal slices such as the 'Lower and Upper limits' show options do.

Hi David,

I think this could help people.  My thoughts are that perhaps the 'Lower and Upper limits' parameters could optionally be made available so that they were always on screen in some views, perhaps using either a slider or some other easy way to change the values, a bit like the mechanism already employed for rotation which offers easy to use increments.

Many thanks,



NOW that I have got the LAYERS working to the way I like with each level with THEIR NAME,
Then I started making my Helix, was to make the Bottom Level, with both ends with their Circumference I wanted, started with the START or ENTRY with 0mms then where the other end meet, I made that 100mms, then gave these ends a short bit of track and bent them outwards, the got the INCLINE setup, then TEXTED 0-100m Level in the center.
Once I was happy with this 1st level, I then COPIED this LEVEL and placed in the next level up(100-200mm) and so on till I was to the top level(500-600mm), now having completed the Helix, even though there was these little TAILS poking out at the START/ENTRY end I was then able disconnect these TAILS and join then all together, having around 1% incline I was very happy. At the 200mm-300mm Level I needed to CUT some away to fit some POINTS that where going to lead to the Back Wall and Side Wall with Track Added(around 240mm high) with a JOIN of the Helix nearest to where I wanted these points to be. the track taken away for the points to be fitted in their place, things got better, with levels above(400-500mm and 500-600mm) I done the same, it just happen to be 1/2 way around the Helix allowing me to add MORE TRACK for a SHOW TRAINS level on the wall, each having their own Point. At the 600-650mm or 1/2 a loop leads to a GENERAL STORAGE at 700mm all at EYE LEVEL or below, I will be happy with all finished.
more later perhaps


TomB, kiwi42 maybe this page will help:
go to Videos and select AnyRail tutorials 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39. The problems and how to get around them are described in great detail (step by step), including the multi-exit helix. Kudos to the author of the Steam Powered Radio videos. Very detail expanation how to use AnyRail.


Yes, thanks!  I've watched all of steam-powered radio's AnyRail tutorials - very helpful!

I have basically followed Kiwi42's logic and placed different sections of a helix on different layers.  It's still difficult, if not outright impossible, to edit the helixes.  You have to carefully define your entering and exit points on the layout outside the helix, then absolutely lock those points in space.  Even then, the only thing you can do is blow away the helix and then enter a new one, if you wish to edit it.  Similar to an easement, once created, you can't go back and edit the original parameters, only separate flex sections in space.

Combined with the fact that you can't do slice cross-sectional elevations, it makes it very difficult to visualize what's going on.  I'm going to have to resort to making a paper-doll model to get a better idea of what planar structure is possible at the intermediate levels.

I'm designing a single track helix that connects staging to a mid-level and top level layout.  There are reversing loops on all levels so that there's no backing a train down or up the helix.
 Bottom and top levels are only single entrance/exits to the helix, but the mid-level will have two.  That's got me puzzling how to visualize the plywood in that area.  I'm close to having something to post in the layouts section, so maybe I can get some help.