Who we are

The People Behind ProTrak & Grapevine

ProTrak for Windows has been available since 2000, following similar software we have been developing since 1972. The old ProTrak, as the DOS program, was available from 1996 to 1998 under the banner of the former Sable Dynamics Research Ltd, an engineering firm I owned from 1987 to 1998.  ProTrak for Windows dates from December 1998. ProTrak is being constantly upgraded with new features suggested by active users.  

We are committed to the continuous development and improvement of ProTrak.

The essential “design” criterion for ProTrak is:  “Only the prototype“.  Everything is based on what the prototype does – or did in your era. (Nothing made up, no “model thoughts”)

  • ProTrak  is designed to totally integrate all aspects of: 
    • car-forwarding; 
    • train dispatching; and,
    • being a train engineer and/or conductor
  • ProTrak, from the beginning, also was designed to:
    • drive signals; 
    • drive switchmotors;
    • receive data from detectors and other devices; and 
    • calculate and control train speed based on grade, engine power and train tare and load weights. 
      • called either “drive-by-wire” or  “horsepower-modeling”.
    • along with all other aspects of railroad operations that affect track capacity

The ultimate goal is Total Operations — with “horsepower-modeling”…..to experience the Total Railroading Experience on a model.

The logic code (excluding the form definitions and Windows code) for ProTrak now exceeds the equivalent of 14,000 pages of text.  ProTrak is based on the long experience and functionality of:

  1. The former ProTrak “for DOS”, as that program did a number of things very well. It should have – it had a long history. ProTrak and its predecessor’s have always fully automated car movementsand the reporting of car movements. Internally ProTrak is a numerical (computer) model of how a railroad works. ProTrak for DOS was started in 1988.
  2. What was then entirely new code was based directly on earlier model railroad operations programs written and developed from 1983 to 1985for the Commodore 64 computer.
  3. In turn, the C64 GP/SW realtime programs were based on preset programs developed from 1972 to 1982in WatFiv and Fortran (4, 66) for an IBM mainframe and my first ‘personal computer’, a HP1000F.
  4. ProTrak for Windowsis Jim Moir’s 4th generation of model railroad operations software.

The C64 operations module of 1984 included provisions for communications with remote keypads and a remote VIC8, and interacting with the TTL-hardwired signal system. The then plain ol’ Mike Moir, while he was a PhD graduate student at the University of Alberta, developed the signal drivers, the remote keypads and the inter-computer communications. ProTrak for Windows has finally re-closed that gap on signaling and control with The Grapevine network developed by Dr. Mike Moir.

 

Both, this type of numerical-model/control software, and this type of network/control hardware, require high levels of direct professional expertise to design. Both Jim Moir (engineering, numerical modeling and software development) and Dr. Mike Moir (chemistry, process control and problem solving, microcode and instrumentation development) are professionals in their areas of contribution to ProTrak and Grapevine. 

Both are also long term and active model railroaders.