Test Track Project
The test track was a compact N-scale computerized model railroad. The major components of the test track were the layout, a drawer full of electronics, and software running on a laptop computer. Detailed information about the test track can be found by following the links on the left side of this page.
The test track was not only a valuable development tool, but it provided a tantalizing preview of the new coffee table. The same type of virtual control panel will be used, albeit more complex in its track plan and controls. The coffee table layout will be about three times the size of the test track, and there will be about three times as much electronics, but the technology will be the same. To reduce costs, much of what you see in the above photo will be reused in the coffee table.
Note: The test track no longer exists; it was dismantled in July 2006. The development effort is now focused on Coffee Table #3. The test track Web pages provide more of a historical record of intent, rather than an accurate description of what was accomplished with the test track. Some planned activities were skipped, and others—not documented on this Web site—were added.
Why Build a Test Track?
The purpose of the test track was to provide a facility for developing and testing all of the hardware and software features that will eventually be included in a full-size coffee table train layout. In some cases, several potential solutions for a particular problem were configured on the test track with the intent of eventually selecting the best alternative. For example:
What Became of the Test Track?
An unfortunate side effect of building the new coffee table was the destruction of the test track. The laptop computer, electronic modules, power supplies, scenic items (including the police car and fire engine), the TrainCam, and much of the internal wiring will be reused in the new coffee table. However, the trackage and the box that housed the test track electronics were scrapped.