3D 4' x 8' Table design

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by LoudMusic, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Google is distributing a free version of SketchUp. It's a 3D modeling tool that is quite simple to use and fairly robust at the same time. In conjunction with Google Earth and thousands of users Google is building a pretty cool 3D world.

    But I use SketchUp to visualize train stuff. Because train stuff is more important than the rest of the world ... duh.

    I've posted this series of images in the HO subforum because A) I'm an HOer, 2) 4'x8' is notorious for HO layouts. Also, this isn't a suggestion on how to build a table, but rather a demo of what SketchUp can do. The legs on this table would surely snap off and your trains would be in for a world of hurt.

    I chose 1.5" pink foam and 2" blue foam for a specific reason. When you're carving away at the foam it's kind of nice to know how far down you've gone :)

    This is a table using 1"x2" framing and 2"x2" legs.

    A 4'x8'x0.25" sheet of plywood with the corners notched for the table legs.

    This is the plywood applied to the table frame.

    A close-up of the corner assembly.

    3'10.5"x7'10.5"x1.5" pink foam cut down from 4'x8' and notched for table legs.

    Pink foam in table frame.

    Blue foam, 4'x8'x2". No notching, no trimming down.

    Table with blue foam on top.

    Because more is better ...
  2. tverskaya

    tverskaya Member

    Looks very nice! Do you know in how far it's possible to sculpt further details in the landscape? Would be awesome to either import or design trackplans as well. (Although there are a few trackplanning programs which allow 3d modeling previews as well)
  3. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    It does indeed have import capabilities from popular formats. So if your 3D track planning software can export a standard format I'm sure SketchUp can import it.

    It has decent 'sculpting' capabilities, though anything outside of basic geometry begins to be rather time consuming. The fellow standing by my table was downloaded from the Google "3D Warehouse". There is a collection of poses.
  4. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Apparently no one else thinks SketchUp is cool.

    Here's another image. I've changed the upper frame portion to 1x4s and have one pink and one blue foam plank hidden in the center. Then I added the lower shelf for storing junk.

  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    You need to give this a bit more time... it's not even 24 hours yet. You've had 46 views, which is pretty good.

    Anyway - here's a few questions: Does SketchUp do dimensional data too? Could I draw up a module frame with measurements and angles? Print a plan?

  6. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Yeah, guess I'm being a bit jumpy ... the type of person that used to irritate me :)

    It does, but not the way I would have expected. Not in the free version anyway. Lets say you want to make a box to exact dimensions. First you draw a square and before you do anything else you key in the dimensions you want it to be, 2',2' for example. It will make it two feet by two feet. Then you switch to the "push / pull" tool and pull the surface up. Before doing anything else key in 2' and it will now be a box 2' x 2' x 2'. There is no way, that I've run across, to specify an object's dimensions after you've moved on. You can continue to push and pull and reshape it, but all entered measurements are the amount of CHANGE not the size of the final object. I guess it makes sense but it took me a while to wrap my head around that.

    Anyway, here is an N scale 4x4 coffee table layout, sorounded by objects provided by the 3D warehouse :)


    This is better than the Sims! :)
  7. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    I love it. Keep em coming!!:thumb: :thumb:
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Very cool... I just went to the site and ran through the first three tutorials. Fantastic! :cool:

    There is even a Mac OSX 10.3.9 version, so I can run it at home - although I might need highspeed to access some of the on-line resources.

    I think I will attempt to make a 3D mock-up of my planned town before I build. If all goes well, maybe I'll be running virtual trains instead...? Trainz or MS Train? ;) :D

  9. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Sitting here designing tables for the various rooms of my house I'm starting to wonder if I need to build them at all - it's so much fun in 3D CAD! :) (and cheaper too ...)

    I do need to get a copy of the actual train software packages. Any recomendations for both HO/N layout design and playing with 'the real thing'? I've got Railroad Tycoon II Platinum, but it's not as much fun as it could be.
  10. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    12 x 12 room using two 4x4 tables connected by a 2x6 and a 2x8. The more of these I make the more I think N scale is a good idea ... The train in the picture is 10 cars being pulled by 1 engine. Anything longer and it would probably look stupid on a layout this size, not to mention an overlap coming around the end loops.


    Quick math tells me that a train with about 90 fifty-foot cars would be roughly sixty feet in HO scale. Does anyone run full sized trains in HO scale?
  11. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    It depends on what your goal is. Model train lengths has become a passion of mine in the past year because of its implications on layout planning, design, and construction.

    Well-published track plan designer Iain Rice has given a couple of rules of thumb:

    - on a shelf layout, maximum normal train length should be 1/4 to 1/3 of shelf length.

    - regardless of scale, a 13ft (actual length) model train will be perceived as a long train when viewed at normal viewing distances. This means the viewer does not have an accurate feel for how many cars are in the train, or how long the train is, because both ends are beyond his peripheral vision. Note that this is about 24 40ft cars in HO, 14 in O, and 42 in N. If you don't believe this, visit a club running trains this long and see how accurately you can estimate the number of cars without counting.

    To these rules of thumb, I've added my own dealing with table layouts:

    - on a rectangular table layout, normal maximum train length should be less than the straight distance between the 2 turnback curves.

    Note that this is pretty short - for a 4x8 with 18" radius curves, we're talking less than 56" trains (7 cars plus small engine and caboose in HO). Passing tracks will often reduce this even further. Even a 4x8 in N with 13" radius curves ends up with 16 cars plus engine and caboose.

    Even on more spacious layouts train length has real impacts on design. Passing tracks must be as long as a normal train to be useful. The same with yard arrival and departure tracks, and especially staging tracks. Spacing towns or unrelated scenic elements closer than a train length makes our layouts look artificially small. And finally, maximum grades are effectively determined by train length and engine pulling power.

    So to answer your question, you can have realistic train lengths in HO but it takes a lot of space. Or you model a prototype that features much shorter trains. Or you accept shorter than realistic train length to gain other features such as increased switching oportunities, more scenic features, more towns, etc. Even in N, you will likely have to compromise at something well short of a 13ft long train (which is only 42 40ft cars).

    Last aspect to mention and think about, but might be a much higher priority to many, is the cost and/or time to build long trains, as well as the layout to support them.

    my thoughts, your choices
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    We sometimes run "full scale" trains on the layout at the modular meets after the formal ops session is over. It is relatively easy to do this, as we had (January 2006 meet) nearly 14 scale miles of mainline.

    On most layouts, I think that Fred is correct - as long as the ends of the train are either out of peripheral vision range, and/or disguised or blocked by scenery, the train will seem long.

  13. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Very good information. Thanks for sharing!

    I guess another way of looking at it is to watch at local crossings to see how many cars are in your vision at a normal viewing location. Replicate how we see trains, rather than how they may actually be.

    13 feet ... I'll keep that in mind ;)
  14. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    I've got it!

    Four 2x8 tables.

    Bolt together to form a 10x10 loop layout with a 6x6 central area (sucky duck under ...). Awesome home layout. Fits in average bedrooms, fits in the garage, stores easily (2x8x6ish area) ...


    Each of the four pieces can be used in a modular layout (which uses 2x4 sections). And if your club had the space you could link up your own modules together to get 16' runs or longer of the same scenery.

    So I've made the 3D model. Now I need to fiddle in a layout program and see what I can come up with that works in both locations.


    It could also be done with 2x6 sections, or even 2x4 sections. 2x6 could work well in a square formation, but 2x4 would be a bit cramped ;)


    I'm excited about this 10x10 rig. Should I start a new thread in an appropriate forum (modular / future layout / getting started) ?
  15. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I installed sketchup on my iMac G4 last night and sketched for about an hour. Very cool... There are a number of things I cannot figure out yet, like how to draw a cone (essential for the witch's hat stations).

    If you wanted, you can start a new thread in either the module forum (specific) or the track planning forum (probably more exposure there). I would also recommend that you make a "one post thread" with info about sketchup, and I will see if we can get it made sticky in Track Planning as a resource, like the XTrkCAD link.

  16. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Don't tell anyone else, but I'm a Macintosh administrator over about 35 Macs ;)

    The "Follow Me" tool will be your weapon of choice here.

    Draw a circle.
    Draw a line from the center point of the circle on a perpindicular axis up a ways.
    Connect the end of the line to the edge of the circle.
    Connect the new intersection on the edge to the center (this should make a triangle).
    Select the circle.
    Select the 'Follow Me' tool.
    Click the triangle.


    BAM! Cone-age! You can do the same steps using two circles to make a sphere.

    I strongly recommend the 3 built in tutorials and the 3 online tutorials to get a good grasp of the basics (exact measurements, etc) and then searching their forum for the rest.

    http://groups.google.com/group/Sket...p&q=sphere&qt_g=1&searchnow=Search this group

    I think I will create two new threads. I'll have to get my thoughts organized and some better examples worked up. Thanks for the pointers :)
  17. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member



    Of course, the pyramids could easily be done just by drawing lines, but the Follow Me tool saves a few steps - especially on that 37 sided jobber.

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