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A-Track Version 4.4.325 is Now Available

Following re-hosting to a new server on 09 February, and a change in how file security is handled, the Check for Updates facility in previous versions of A-Track will no longer work.

All users are, therefore, recommended to update to the latest version - Release 4.4.325 - which can be obtained via the link to the Download page above.


This is a minor update to the major 4.4.316 version of A-Track, released in November 2020. The update is necessary as a result of the website being re-hosted to a new server, with consequent changes to the IP address and the Check for Updates facility. The update also corrects a couple of errors associated with the display and update of Mimic panels.

The changes have no effect on the operation of A-Track as fully documented in the User Guide and Reference Manual for the 4.4.316 release. Details of all new features in the 4.4.316 through 4.4.325 releases can be found in these documents, available from the A-TRACK Download page or in the Help pages which are available at any time when running A-Track.

 

Features

The major new feature of the 4.4.316 / 325 releases is the incorporation of track block occupancy detection with continuous monitoring and display on Mimic diagrams of which sections of your layout are currently occupied by locomotives or rolling stock.

The A-Track module which handles connection to your NCE system has been completely rewritten, not only to improve reliability but also to allow you to connect to, and instantly switch between, multiple NCE Command Stations connected at the same time to your PC and to A-Track (such as a Power Pro driving the mainline and a Power Cab controlling your program track) – concurrent connections to as many as four NCE systems of any type are supported.

Whether you have more than one NCE Command Station connected to your computer or not, it is now posible to run two instances of A-Track at the same time on your machine. Although this facility is primarily intended to let you switch instantly between connected Command Stations, you can also use it to have one instance running and monitoring operations on your layout while you use a second (off-line) instance to edit your roster and decoder configurations.

Continuous monitoring of locomotive allocation, speed, direction and main functions, together with turnout positions on the layout and track block occupancy, using NCE Auxiliary Input Units (AIUs) connected via the Cab Bus has been significantly speeded up without any further impact on other program functions.

While turnouts and other accessories can still be operated via dedicated on-screen controllers, turnouts can be switched via a mouse-click on Mimic diagrams which represent your layout on the screen, showing all open and closed routes, and reacting dynamically to any turnout monitoring through connected AIUs.

Mimics also allow you to specify a route across your layout by selecting start, mid and end points. A-Track will then find the best route (if available), involving fewest turnouts, and let you set that route with a single mouse-click. You can save found routes as Macros if they are likely to be used frequently.

Editing and execution of the full set of 256 Macros can be run directly from A-Track or be transferred to or from a Power Pro system for execution from a handheld Cab, while any 16 Macros can be transferred to a Power Cab, Smart Booster or DCC Twin system, again for execution directly from a Cab.

An expanded range of Decoder Manufacturers is supported - Bachmann, Broadway Limited (Paragon 2/3), DCC Concepts, Digitrax, ESU (LokSound), Hornby, Lenz, NCE, Model Rectifier, MTH, QSI (Quantum), SoundTraxx, Tam Valley Depot, Train Control Systems (TCS), Zimo, and ZTC – fully updated from the latest manufacturers’ data.

A-Track comes with an interactive Tutorial, allowing you to get to grips with the program’s operation and features straight away. All features and functions are fully documented and explained with further information immediately available from the Reference Manual via the full set of Help pages – just press the F1 key at any time when running A-Track, and the relevant Help topic will appear on-screen.

 

A-Track Software and Associated Hardware

While the A-Track software is freely available for download (see below), and will run on any Windows PC, in order to be fully operational the software application needs to access an NCE Command Station and, through the Command Station, link to the DCC decoders in your locomotives on the model railroad track.

To make A-Track fully functional, you need to connect the PC which is running the software to the NCE Command Station. If you have an NCE Power Cab, Smart Booster or DCC Twin system, then you will require an NCE USB Interface unit connected to one of the computer's USB ports - see the Power Cab connection diagram and the relevant pages on the NCE website.

On the other hand, if you have an NCE Power Pro system, you can connect to the 9-pin RS232 serial port on the Command Station either directly to a standard PC serial port, if you have an older computer which is fitted with one, or from a USB port through any readily-available USB-to-Serial Adapter unit - see the Power Pro connection diagram.

A-Track has been tested to work well with a variety of USB-to-Serial Adapters from a number of manufacturers, including devices based on chipsets from Prolific, FTDI, Keyspan, Silicon Labs, and Microchip. Note that adapters based on the CH340/341 chipset, often found in very cheap devices, are not recommended.

If you are going to use either the NCE USB Interface or a USB-to-Serial Adapter, then you will need to install the appropriate driver software, as supplied by the manufacturer, on your PC in order to make the device functional. Usually this is simply a matter of following the instructions which come with the driver software, or are supplied with the unit. Some guidance on this topic is also provided in the USB-to-Serial Driver Installation notes, available from the Download page. Installation of driver software can be performed before or after installation of the A-Track program itself.

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Registration and Support

A-Track is supplied for you to use free of charge, and support to fix any problems you may encounter when using A-Track will also be provided without charge. However, a great deal of time and effort has gone into the development of A-Track so that, if only to get some feedback that this effort has not been wasted, you are invited to register your copy (or copies) of A-Track.

Registration has the benefit that registered users will receive priority in resolving any problems they report, or in attending to their requests for support.

When A-Track is initially installed it is fully functional, with no restrictions placed on any of its facilities, and it will continue to operate in this way whether you choose to register or not. After installation, when you run A-Track, you can register your copy (or copies) of the program directly by clicking the Register / Activate option on the Help menu, provided that the PC on which A-Track is installed has a connection to the Internet. Otherwise, visit the Registration page and enter the requested details.

The information required for registration consists of whichever first and last names you wish to use for yourself or your club, plus the A-Track Serial Number which is displayed by accessing the Register / Activate window from the program's Help menu (as described in the A-Track User Guide, available from the Download page) together with your e-mail address**.

An activation key code to complete registration (and to display your name, or that of your club, as the registered user of the program), will be generated automatically and returned to you immediately using your supplied e-mail address**.

Although every effort has been made to test A-Track as fully as possible, and to make the program resilient, it is impracticable to predict every situation under which the software will operate, especially given the complexity of modern computer operating systems, or to eliminate every last bug and error in the program code (and any programmer who declares otherwise is seriously deluded !).

Hence, if you find that A-Track does not behave as you expect under some circumstances (or even crashes), then, provided the PC on which A-Track is installed has a connection to the Internet, you can submit a Support Request or Problem Report directly by clicking on the Support / Report Problems option on the Help menu. Otherwise, visit the Support page and enter the requested details.

The information required to request support, or to report a problem, consists of your name plus the A-Track Version and Serial Number which is displayed by accessing the Support / Report Problems window from the program's Help menu (as described fully in the A-Track Reference Manual, available from the Download page) together with the version of Windows under which A-Track is running, your e-mail address** and details of your query or problem.

Once all entries are accepted, an acknowledgement message will be displayed, and you can have a copy of your submission e-mailed** back to you for your records. However, due to the limited resources available, it may not be possible to reply individually to your submitted support request or problem report. You will be informed, of course, when any necessary corrections have been incorporated in a future release of the software.

** Important Note : A-Train Systems will never disclose your e-mail address to any other person or organisation, and will only use the address either to send you a registration/activation code or to acknowledge your submitted request, and, on occasion, to let you know when an applicable A-Track software update is available.

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Downloading and Installing A-Track

A-Track may be downloaded completely free of charge for your personal or club use. Please note that the term "completely free of charge" must not be confused with "free for you to exploit as you wish". A-Track is copyrighted software, and not a public domain product. You may not distribute or sell A-Track either alone or as part of any commercial item, as set out in detail in the terms of the A-Track licence.

You have the option of either downloading the A-Track Setup executable (A-Track Release 4.4.3 - Setup File) and User Guide (A-Track User Guide - Release 4.4.3) as separate files, or of downloading all files as a complete Installation Package (A-Track Release 4.4.3 - Full Installation Package) which includes a copy of Adobe Reader. Note that, if an earlier version of A-Track is already installed on your computer, you should uninstall it before starting installation of the new version (this is done most easily from Start Menu / All Programs / A-Track/ Uninstall) or, in Windows 8 or 10, right-click on the A-Track tile on the Start Screen, then select Uninstall).

After downloading the A-Track Setup executable, simply run the file from the folder you selected as the download destination. Running the Setup file directly from the website (rather than choosing Save to download) is not recommended.

The Installation Package is downloaded as a single .zip archive for convenience. Once 'unzipped' to a convenient folder, you can either run the installer (A-Track4_Install.exe) directly from the folder, or copy all the unzipped files and folders to a USB flash drive (memory stick), or write them to a CD-R disk, if you wish to install A-Track on another computer (such as one without Internet access). Once copied to a CD-R, the A-Track installer should run automatically when loaded into a suitable CD-DVD drive - provided that the computer's autorun facility has not been disabled through its security settings. With the files on a USB flash drive, the installer will not normally autorun when the drive is plugged into a USB port, so you will have to locate and double-click on the installer file (A-Track4_Install.exe) to start the A-Track installation - as you should also do if a CD-R copy fails to run automatically. Again, as mentioned above, you are recommended to uninstall any earlier version of A-Track before running the Installation Package.

As an alternative, for anyone who does not wish to download the Installation Package and make their own CD-R copy, the complete set of files are available on CD from A-Train Systems for a small charge - see the Download page for details.

If, after you have downloaded and tried A-Track, you consider that it is of benefit to your model railroading activities, then you might like to contribute to the future development and upkeep of the program by making a donation. You can do this safely and securely via PayPal, using any credit or debit card, even if you do not have a PayPal account. Click on the button below to proceed -

 

 

Whether you wish to make a donation or not, any comments you may have about A-Track, good or bad, would be very much appreciated - please use the Contact form.

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Page Last Updated 05 March 2021