Cover shot

TouchCab has made the cover of Railroad Model Craftsman, August 2015 issue.

Thanks to Trevor Marshall for writing the feature about using TouchCab on his Port Rowan S gauge layout.

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Happy New Year

As you have no doubt noticed, 2014 was a quiet year for TouchCab.

There has been many ‘real life’ issues to deal with, but first and foremost, I have not had any inspiration for software development for a long time. Thankfully, TouchCab is in such a good state that most of the time, it is capable of fending for itself out there in the world. Having said that, it’s clear that it’s time for an overhaul, not least because Apple has issued new directions on how to construct the user interface.

So - larger screens (iPad), track plans and a refreshed user interface is what the next version will be all about. Of course, there are other things like minor quirks, various user requests and af few issues with command stations, not least the Märklin CS2, which I’ve had to abandon completely a while back.

As for track plans, I need a layout to work with during the development. As some of you know, I’m in gauge 1, which is 1:32 scale, which is way too large for use at my home. I do my model railroading in a club, and again due to the size of the club layout, it’s in storage most of the time and only on display at hobby shows and exhibitions. The club has now found a permanent place for the layout - at least for some time - but it’s not somewhere I just pop over for a quick test.

Instead, I’ve started construction of an N scale layout at home. This small scale allows me to build a layout that has all the features I ever wanted in a layout, and it has all the features needed for the further development of TouchCab. A win-win situation. At this time the lower of two layout levels is operating, and I’m working towards the top level.

A word about Android.
Many people have asked me - and they still do - if TouchCab will be available for Android.

The answer is no, as it has always been.

It’s not because I have anything against Android, I just don’t have the time and energy to learn a new language and the programming framework for Android.
I also don’t need another phone.

What I don’t understand is that someone hasn’t taken the opportunity to make an app - for Android or any other system - that gives TouchCab’s user interface a run for its money. Sending commands to and from a device when a button is pressed is not very difficult. Making a user interface that hides away the electronics and the DCC and just lets the user play with trains is something very different.

We have to remember that while many model railroaders are at home in the world of electronics, software and networking, there are many more who are not. Yet they are forced to understand the concepts of IP addresses and CV registers and heaven knows what else, just to run their trains. DCC is not bad at all, but if you’re not into electronics, it may be difficult to understand.
If this is not improved - and soon - it will scare people away, which will ultimately kill the hobby. If the digital world is made easily accessible, we can even have a chance to get the next generations interested.

With that in mind, I call upon all manufacturers to improve the user friendliness of their existing products, and I challenge everyone to make new hardware and software that makes us say: “Of course, why has nobody thought of that before?”

If you like the features of TouchCab, use them and improve them in your own product. Make something better. Make something that the average Joe can use right out of the box.
Make someting everyone wants to use, and maybe some of the geeky image can be dusted away from the model railroad hobby.

Happy New Year everyone