This software simulation of the Train Thing originated near the beginning of this project. For a longer discussion of the genesis see the introduction in the Documentation tab of the main menu. The simulator is one of a software developer's worst nightmares; A "one-time-use" or tool for personal use, that has a ribbon put on it and then given to the client. The simulator was written for personal amusement, then developmental use, so the GUI (Graphical User Interface) is a little clunky in places.

Depending on your browser when you hold your mouse over any of the options or help icons, a one-line window will open with a short explanation of that option.

Alongside many options is this small icon Question icon - link to contextual help. Clicking on the icon will open this contextual help document in a new window providing information about that option.

There is a Simulator Section on the Bulletin Board where, registered visitors, can ask questions, make comments, suggestions or report errors regarding the simulator.

Quick Start On the simulator drop-down menu, there is a screenshot video illustrating the following quick start procedure.

Semulator controls screen shot

  • From the Train Thing main menu, hold your mouse over the <Simulator> option and from the drop-down options click on <Run Simulator>.
  • You may resize this browser window to take up less screen space. See the illustration at left. Note: If you make the window too narrow, the elements near the bottom will wrap and be hard to read. Reducing this window's width will make room for the simulator display. 
  • Click on <Create Second Window> to open a second browser window filled with the Train Thing Display. Resize the new window so both windows are fully visible.
  • For now, you can skip over the {Display Labels} section of the Initialize Screen.
  • The {Configure Trains} section is where you set up a simulation run. You can configure the trains as described below or let the system randomly configure the trains by pressing the <Random Trains> button at the bottom of this section.
      • There are four paths that can be assigned to a "train": a small figure-eight, large figure-eight, small oval and large oval. Each path can be traced CW (Clockwise) or CCW (Counterclockwise).
          • To assign a train to a path, select a color from the <Select one> drop-down menu.
    • Click on the radio button next to CW or CCW to select a direction.
    • You may assign a path to 1 to 4 train(s) by selecting a train color for each path.
    • You MUST assign at least one train to a path by selecting a color for a path.
    • You MAY NOT assign a color to more than one path.
  • When you have finished configuring the simulation click on <Run Train(s)> to start the simulation. Ignore the <Repeat Similar Runs> option for now. (see Repeat Runs)
  • You will be switched to the Updating Loop screen. Here there will always be an <ABORT> button which will rudely stop the simulation and return to the Initialize State screen.
  • The simulator will progress from Stopped state, to Starting, to Transition, to the Run state. In the Transition state, trains will move from their initial CW figure-eight path to the path you assigned in the previous screen. When the simulator reaches the Run state there will also be an <End Run> button. Pressing <End Run> will change the simulator to the Return state. In this state all trains will migrate to a CCW figure-eight path in preparation for returning to the parking lot. When all trains are following a large or small CCW figure-eight path, the state will switch to the Parking state and in order trains will return to the parking lot. When all trains are parked you will be returned to the Initialize screen where you can start another simulator run or exit the simulator.
  • To exit the simulator:
    • Click on <End TrainThing> to close the simulator, delete the second window and return to the main menu.
    • Click on the appropriate icon in the top right of your browser to expand the browser window to full screen.