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Thread: Modelling topology without TransDEM

  1. #1
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    Question Modelling topology without TransDEM

    Is there anyway to model correct topology without TransDEM? The reason I ask is that I don't want my routes to be flat with no elevation changes. While the area I am modelling is relatively flat there are some changes in elevation. I don't have TransDEM, I heard of other programs that act like it, but I don't know whether they work like TransDEM. Is there any other way to model topology?

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    Hi.
    If it were me, I would find instructions for placing images under the route as a "template". Most people use Google Earth images; but with a little work, you could probably find a topographic map image to place instead. Either one would at least give you some indication on where to raise or lower the grid.
    Hopefully someone has an even better solution. Good luck!
    Ron

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    For a real route or a fictitious one?

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    As Ron mentioned, you can use the basemap objects.

    <kuid2:119912:60012:2> 1km Basemap I
    <kuid2:119912:60004:2> 1km Basemap A
    <kuid2:119912:60005:2> 1km Basemap B
    <kuid2:119912:60006:2> 1km Basemap C
    <kuid2:119912:60007:2> 1km Basemap D
    <kuid2:119912:60008:2> 1km Basemap E
    <kuid2:119912:60009:2> 1km Basemap F
    <kuid2:119912:60011:2> 1km Basemap H

    These are simple plain-objects that you replace the basemap name with an image of your own of the same size. It may mean scaling the image to fit because the expected image needs to be 1024 x 1024 pixels.

    Now keep in mind this is only an image, you then need to raise the land over it since there is no terrain associated with it. You will definitely need to use layers here to lock your images in place, otherwise, they get in the way of placing assets, and they have to be sunk down a bit into the terrain so that they don't get in the way and work needs to be done in wireframe mode. Once things are in place, the asset(s) can be deleted from the route.

    These are great for a small area, or small route because their placement is cumbersome and their use is awkward. This is the method also used to place model railroad plans scanned from books into Trainz, and user ModlerMJ wrote a program called Basemapz to import the plans and generate the baseboards with the tiles in place.

    The other method is the old HOG program, or Hand-of-God as it's real name is called. This is really old and requires using MicroDem, a PC-only program if I remember correctly, to generate the underlying topographic information from satellite imagery. Once you do that, you need to import some kind of associated map image in HOG and that will then generate the landscape. This method is not accurate and it's very low resolution because the imagery doesn't always align with the underlying terrain and weird things happen.

    There are some already generated routes like this that can be downloaded from the DLS that you can take a look at. Look for those by fishlipsatwork, for example. They are great for freelance work, but not good for prototypical modeling due to the inaccuracy of the terrain and maps. These were generated using the method above and the images are from the old TIGER-grant maps. The maps can be off by several meters or more putting the rails in rivers, over mountains, and other places where they shouldn't be. The same is with rivers ending up not where they're supposed to be as well.

    In the end, even for fictional work, Trans DEM is the best option even with its learning curve. These other methods aren't accurate, and cumbersome. Even if the route is relatively flat, Trans Dem will combine all the steps into one ready to build route, and even place track if you want it to. Your job then is to fix up the track and place your objects. Using Trans DEM, you can take a real landscape and maps, and modify the generated route to suit your own fictional needs. I have done this numerous times with surprisingly realistic results. This is great for generating what-if scenarios, as you the route-builder figures out a possible route through various towns, or between cities. Using this, you can sometimes see why a railroad chose the route it did rather than one that you have explored.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 106618

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    Quote Originally Posted by fant_autentico View Post
    For a real route or a fictitious one?
    A real one.

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    If you are after a handmade map, I would set up the topology using road splines. Set spline points to desired elevation and fill underneath. For a real life route someone with Transdem may be able to help

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    Quote Originally Posted by rs2007 View Post
    A real one.
    Look here............. https://forums.auran.com/trainz/show...hy-for-rookies

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    Post Deleted
    Last edited by MP242; August 7th, 2020 at 10:17 AM.
    Please, all I ask, please wear a mask

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    Quote Originally Posted by rs2007 View Post
    Is there anyway to model correct topology without TransDEM? The reason I ask is that I don't want my routes to be flat with no elevation changes. While the area I am modelling is relatively flat there are some changes in elevation. I don't have TransDEM, I heard of other programs that act like it, but I don't know whether they work like TransDEM. Is there any other way to model topology?
    I would urge you to get and learn TransDEM if you plan a route of any size. I created FDL Fond Du Lac Branch, a 30-mile long route,beginning about Christmas of 2009 and it was mid-2014 before it was finished enough to be presentable. It was 2015 or so before the terrain was complete and to this day I'm finding spots that are not finished, although they are not visible from the cab when running a train, so they don't need to be finished.

    I worked from the publicly-available topo maps and roughed in the contours (10'=3.05M for my purposes) using the terrain tools. The track went in first with vertices set according to the map, then the LEVEL TRACK tool raised the terrain. Then I set the contour height in the USE HEIGHT tool and eyeballed the contours in, occasionally using the ruler tool to get the distance from the track, building up from the lowest to the highest. Once the contours were in, they were smoothed by stringing Invisible Track from top to bottom and levelling with the LEVEL TRACK tool.

    Another technique used was to create the contour lines with invisible track and raise the terrain that way. It's more accurate and somewhat quicker.

    If your landscape is low-relief, just eyeball the elevations in and smooth them as above and it shouldn't be too hard to produce something satisfactory. I found the best invisitrack spacing to be 15 meters to prevent gullying, although in some spots you want that effect.

    Just remember, topo maps average heights out and do not necessarily show the minor sags and humps between elevations, so don't worry about being too particular. Work from a 10-foot contour if available.

    I still kick myself for not starting with TransDEM!

    :B~)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MP242 View Post
    Where is this "Real Route" located ?
    Its most of southern Ontario.

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    How much of southern Ontario? And there is a site for Canada where you could get DEM from. The other mapping sites only cover the US. You might get DEM overlap into Canada but TIGER data ends at the border if you look at a Niagara Falls DEM from the DLS you will see that road, rail, and river data ends at the border and the Ontario side is blank.

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    The SRTM data found at https://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/ covers most of the entire Earth.

    If you decide to use SRTM data, use this website which is an easier-to-use "front-end". http://dwtkns.com/srtm30m/
    Last edited by schweitzerdude; July 30th, 2020 at 10:27 AM.

  14. #14
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    Is SRTM better than the altitudes shown in Google Earth? Just curious as I am well underway and chose not to use DEM for the same reasons. I have no interests of adding any extra costs for a little bit of benefit that I can tweak manually.

    Thanks

    Sean

  15. #15
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    Depends on what you are trying to do. Small route, mostly flat, manual terraforming is fine. Large route, or route with varying terrain, TransDEM is the solution. Also if your route is going to be in a mostly level valley, TransDEM can provide background terrain to make things more realistic.

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