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Adding cars to a Template, Increasing the total Number of cars
Conductor Chris
post Sep 27 2013, 07:57 AM
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I am a relatively new user of Activity Generator and am slowly learning how everything works. I appreciate that the program is here.

I got to thinking I'd like things better if some of templates had more cars in them to reduce the instance of the same car being seen over and over when sidings are populated as "eye candy". I presume that the way to do this is to add cars to the .act file using activity generator.

My first attempt to do this resulted in me breaking something and the activities generated had no random cars added on sidings at all, just the placeholder boxcar used in the .act file. I'm not sure if my errors were from managing to put more cars onto sidings than they could hold or if I did something wrong that involved the two .csv files.

So I am getting ready to go back and do it again, more slowly and testing every step instead of rushing. I have a few questions.

First, is there any limit to the number of cars in an activity file?

One limit is what tracks are available to stuff these cars. If I put cars in the .act file on sidings that are not referenced in the .csv file, will that cause problems? Will it result in more cars placed by activity generator or make no difference? Can I put cars in a long consist that spills out onto the mainline and runs up it for awhile? Is there any limit to consist size?

What about cars used by AI trains? Do they get added into the database of cars used to populate sidings? That might be an easy way to go . . . add more AI trains.

If, instead of using single marker boxcars for sidings, I were to add several cars per siding, does that change how many cars AG will put there? I don't think so right - because that is controlled in the .csv file, right? So in theory, I should be able to add, say, 99 cars that spills out onto the mainline a long way, right? As long as the car in the activity is positioned in the right way, instead of the usual AG pattern of being positioned closest to the switch and pointing towards the end of the siding.

thanks.
Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Sep 28 2013, 07:03 PM
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I seem to be going around in circles here. I create activity files and they work, then stop working. The problem seems to be from the .csv files, but I haven't worked out how.

It seems that activity files stop activity generator from making random assignments if they have loose consists that are larger than the sidings which hold them (something I had accomplished not in the activity editor, but by copying and pasting consists into the .act file with a text editor).

As for putting long consists on mainlines in order to get those cars into the activity, I still can't tell if that will work or not -- that's the test I'm going round and round on.

Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Sep 28 2013, 07:54 PM
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More testing reveals that adding a long consist on a main line does not block activity generator from making random rolling stock assignments, however activity generator then makes an activity with a long consist sitting on the mainline, even though no pickup event is associated with that consist. THAT's no good!

Looks like I'm running out of options. This quest is not working.

The last thing to try is filling out every siding. However what I DON'T want to happen is for every siding to be filled out in the resulting activity.

Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Sep 28 2013, 08:36 PM
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OK, I'm at my wits end. Adding cars to consists on sidings using activity generator breaks Activity Generator's ability to make random rolling stock assignments.

HOW is it possible to add equipment to a template?

Christopher
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dgionet
post Sep 29 2013, 08:44 AM
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Hi Chris,

I have read the issue and will try to answer as best as possible. Adding variety of cars to the SLG-generated activity cannot be done at this level. This has to be done during template making. When creating the ACT file AG will use to create the activity, the template maker uses the rail stock expected to be used to put markers on the designated sidings. If the maker uses a limited number of boxcars for example, this will show once AG generates the activity. More cars installed during template creation wll increase also during activity creation.

To add variety to the cars once the templates are done, it will need editing of the ACT file and modifying of the SWLACT CSV file as well. This is a very delicate and complex procedure and need experience in template making. I have done this once after the templates were done to add hopper cars and took a lot of work and mistakes were made and had to restart and finally worked it out. Quite frustrating indeed. During template creation, in my case, I tryto have as required downloads sets of one type of cars, like Dean Kurowski's boxcar megapacks, etc. That adds variety of certain type of cars and avoids increasing the number of needed downloads.

Sidings car capacity is also detemined by the template maker as he determines the railcar's average length and AG determines the number of cars that can be set in these sidings according to the siding's length. The car capacity for each siding is registered in the SWLTDB CSV file. Of course, this number can be changed in the SWLTDB CSV file but must be aware that cars of different sizes can be put there during activity generation including some cars that are actually longer than the average car length. This can cause MSTS to be unable to load because it excedes the siding's length.

AI trains is also set by the template maker. The user could also change its content but with the rest at its own risk! Increased length or weight or mistake in changing the traffic train content could cause changes in the traffic pattern the user wish to generate. In my case, sometimes traffic timing is critical even to a few seconds to have an encounter as wished by the template maker.

Also remember that some sidings have limited capacity to have successfull meets and requires from the player and traffic trains limited consist length. Increasing consists length may make a meet unsuccessfull because one of the trains length is longer than the sidings length capacity.

As you can see, there is a lot of things to consider when creating templates. I haven't tackled all the issues here but in general, modifying the basic template files is a risky business and will have impact on the SLG generated file.

I am not sure to have answered all your questions but hope this reply helps here with some of your issues.


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Denis Gionet
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Conductor Chris
post Sep 29 2013, 06:45 PM
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Thanks, Denis. I guess it is time to learn more about creating templates. Which means wrestling with the uncooperative activity editor, which on this route (FJ&G) wants to crash often.

What you wrote is helpful to provide context and know I'm not missing something obvious.

I thought maybe I could make a new activity that had filled out consists in siding files and copy it back into the pre-existing activity file. But I can't figure out how to match one siding to another. It probably won't matter, I'll just redo all the sidings and then I know I've got them and copy them in. IF I can get activity editor to even do that. I have more admiration for original creator of the template!

Then I'll re-make the SWLACT file.

Thing about the FJ&G route is there isn't enough yard space to put enough cars to not have repetition when populating sidings -- unless I fill all the industry tracks with cars.

This is all experimentation for the purpose of learning and for my own use.

Christopher
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jrmeindl
post Sep 30 2013, 06:36 AM
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Chris,

I would suggest that you watch these two videos to get a better understanding on how Activity Generator works regarding car placement and how the cars get in the SWLACT file. Also, take a look at the user's manual. There are things in there that are not covered in the video tutorials.

http://www.skylinecomputing.com/VideoTutor...rial%202-1.html

http://www.skylinecomputing.com/VideoTutor...EventsEDIT.html

As for car placement, you can start a string of cars in the siding and let them cascade down the mainline for the template. I have done that in the past and it will work. It's not the placement of the car, it's the pickup event associated with that car that allows Activity Generator to identify the car and place it in the SWLACT file. When you actually make an activity with Activity Generator, it will only fill the sidings with the number of cars that are allowed by the date in the SWLTDB file. All sidings that you want to work must have a piece of rolling stock on it along with a pickup event for Activity Generator to identify the siding. One car placed on the siding is the minimum requirement. That is why you see only one car placed on the siding. All the rolling stock that I plan to use, I put in one general location. It makes it easier to swap or add cars later if the need arises. Be careful on how many you add to your template. Train Simulator will act funny if you have too many shapes loaded.

Jim
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Conductor Chris
post Sep 30 2013, 12:41 PM
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Thank you Jim -- most helpful to confirm you can have cars spilling onto the mainline in the .act file.

The video tutorials are quite good. Indeed they contain information in addition to the manual.

The problems I was having seem to be happening with the two .csv files. I'm not sure why they worked sometimes and not other times, but I am going to focus on getting my .act file the way I want, then go make a new SWLACT.csv file and get that the way I want, then drop in the original SWLTDB.csv file (with modified car types).

Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 3 2015, 10:35 AM
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I am still working on this problem.

I now cannot use the MSTS activity editor. Previous computer died and I'm on windows 8. My only option is to manually modify .act files

I am modifying the FJ&G template, going slowly and testing things out.
I am adding cars to loose consists on the .act file and then adding the cars into the ACT file.

I am able to manually switch cars by changing the .act and the ACT .csv file.

I do not seem to be able to increase the total number of cars that activity generator includes in the activity. Which is my goal.

If, for example, there is a siding with a capacity of 4 cars, but in the .act file only one car was used, I cannot add more cars. It doesn't throw an error, however the cars are not seen by activity generator, not used in activities and if you make a test car type for one of them and call for it in the TDB file activity generator won't find it and will throw an error. Likewise if there is a siding with a bunch of cars, for example matching it's capacity of 22 cars, no cars can be added - the same behavior is seen.

I got to thinking the missing cars are because the loose consists do not have an associated pickup.
But I believe I have successfully manually coded in another pickup and it is having no effect - the cars on the affected siding are still not read by activity generator.
As a test, I found a four car siding with a pre-existing pickup with only one car in the .act file. I added another car. This second car was not seen by activity generator.

Another approach would be to figure out how to just add the additional cars to existing sidings that Activity Generator can see which already have a pickup. So far I have not been able to make work either. It doesn't work, regardless of if the siding capacity has been reached or not.

My approach has been to modify the .act file, one change at a time and then drop the additional car into the ACT .csv file. But I never got it working in my earlier attempts at making new activities with the activity editor. Just to experiment I also tried the approach of directing activity editor to make a new ACT .csv file -- but this included none of my attempts at putting in new cars, landing them in the match errors . . . even when there WAS a corresponding pickup. Nothing new was seen by activity generator. Again, the same behavior as when previously creating a new activity using MSTS tools activity editor.

Because I am able to replace existing cars in the activity with other cars, I do not think there is a problem with how I'm listing them in the ACT .csv file.

Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 5 2015, 04:04 PM
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I believe I have found the problem: a couple of wrong .wag names. It seems that stopped activity generator from reading the consist past the incorrect wagon.
The odd thing is once I found the offending .wag files, it seemed to clear up the inability to recognize cars in one test consist that didn't have any errors.

I do seem to have had success hard coding pickup events. The hardest thing was figuring out how to create the right UiD number which involved me learning about hexadecimal numbers and how to convert to them. Fortunately, Excel does it nicely: in a few seconds I had calculated the appropriate UiD for all of the sidings, using the ACT .csv file. The formula is: =(HEX2DEC(DEC2HEX(B2)&0&0&0&0)) [cell B2 is the consist number is displayed in the .csv file]

I think I can now proceed with my goal. Hard coding is not the easiest route, especially tracking down this problem, however it is easier than using the activity editor when it only wants to crash.

Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 12 2015, 02:52 PM
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Success!

I have modified the FJ&G template available here to have 650 cars appropriate to the 1950's, all of which appeared on the route in the photographs of Eber Davis. It is generating activities successfully. I am happy.

At first, when I opened my newly revised activity generator template I got this notice in activity generator: "This is an old style template" and I no longer have the choice to select different paths. I figured out that this was because I forgot to update the file names of the .ctp and .pro files. All is well and I'm happy!

Thanks
Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 12 2015, 09:11 PM
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Well, I claimed victory too soon.

Activity master does not seem to actually be placing any of the cars onto industry sidings. It says it has placed cars (for example "Activity editor placed 17 cars to be worked; 90 cars placed in the simulation"). But when I go to run the activity, all I see are the same marker car strewn all over the landscape on every siding. And indeed, the activity file that has been generated has none of the cars activity generator said it placed.

The diagnostic file shows no pickups because none of the pickups it tries to make work because the sidings are all empty.

Hmmm
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 15 2015, 08:59 PM
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I tested two possibilities (and the problem persists):
- I created pickup events for every siding to be worked
- I changed the car type for all industries to A to eliminate the possibility of a problem there.

I also did a test to see if too long consists were the problem. As Jim says, they are not an obstetrical.
The test was to strip out the 99 car consists I'd added into the template .act file -- which got it working and properly placing random cars on sidings -- and then adding back one 99 car consist. It still worked.

I'm going to test it now by adding back each 99 car consist until it doesn't work any more, enabling me to get closer to the problem.

Is there a limit in the total number of cars that AG can handle? I've got 650 cars, but the produced activities only have around 100 total.
[I'm aware there is a 500 car limit with activities in MSTS, but that is not what is happening here.]

Is there something else that could be breaking the placement of cars into the .act file?

thanks
Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 17 2015, 07:27 PM
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I carefully added back each consist I had deleted and created an activity csv file each time. No problems.

I got to the point where I had re-created the .act file that was causing problems. But no problems.

The consists were copied straight from the one causing problems.

So it's working.
And I have no idea what the problem was.

There are 652 cars now and it's working, so it didn't seem to be a problem with a limit on cars.

Christopher
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Conductor Chris
post Mar 20 2015, 07:56 AM
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Switching in Fonda:

(Got a little problem with the texture not showing up in Open Rails. Hmmm . . . )
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