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In traincontroller, when building my layout in the software, if i have a loop, is it best practice to actually make a loop, or can i make straight track in the software to make it less cluttered and tell the software somehow that the ends connect? I am new to all this stuff, just messing around with the demo software right now before even starting to setup sensors and signals.
 

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I don't think it matters how closely your track diagram in TrainController matches your physical layout. As long as you can mentally match the diagram to the layout, you should be fine. Take a look at the track diagram on page 93 of the TrainController Gold & Silver user manual. It shows a mostly linear layout like you are describing. This also brings up the point that there are 3 levels of TrainController (Bronze, Silver, & Gold) that have increasing levels of features. I originally bought the Silver version for cost reasons and then upgraded to Gold to get the features I needed/wanted.

Take a look at the "Connector" element in TrainController. I think it will do what you want to logically connect the 2 ends of your straight track, but I haven't used it, so I'm not 100% sure. I'm also not sure if this exists in the base Bronze level or requires a higher level of TrainController. In most cases, your loop should contain multiple blocks. I actually found my track diagram to better fit my computer screen by having it loop back around on itself like the actual physical track.

Hope this helps.
 
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