Using SigScribe4 - Simple Tutorial

This tutorial is designed to give the user familiarity with the basic techniques used to create a SigScribe4 design. In this Tutorial, we will design a simple single-line junction.

You may find it helpful to open the Symbols Panel. Click here to open it now.

Note that while you are working on this Tutorial, you will be frequently switching between this window and the SigScribe4 window. Remember to return focus to SigScribe4 by clicking anywhere within its window before attempting any SigScribe4 operations, otherwise you may wonder why things don't work.

On this page:
Creating a file
Contextual Menus (Popup Menus)
Changing a Lever
Drawing straight horizontal track
Drawing points
Drawing other shapes
Adding an FPL
Adding signals
Adding signal detail
Protecting the Signal Diagram
Specifying Levers
Protecting the Lever Frame
Connecting Levers
Defining routes
Setting interlocking

When you start SigScribe4 you will see a 'Flash Screen' (Mac and Windows only) followed by the 'Open SigScribe4' Box. Click the OK button to continue.


You will see the main screen of SigScribe4. Note the three Panels.


The upper Panel with the grid pattern represents the Signal Diagram. Each square is called a Tile. Move the mouse around this Panel and you will see that the multi-colours marker follows the mouse.

The lower left Panel represent the Lever Frame. Six white Levers are shown. Move the mouse around this Panel and you will see that a grey rectangle follows the mouse.

The lower right Panel is currently blank but is used to display detail information about individual tiles.

Creating a file

To create a file for your design, open the File menu and select Save. Alternatively use the Control-S key combination (Mac. uses Apple-S).

In the File dialog, specify a name for your file and click the Save button.

While working on your design, get into the habit of often saving your work. SigScribe4 does not do this automatically.

Contextual Menus (Popup Menus)

Contextual Menus are available within the Panels. They can be triggered as follows:

  1. Mouse right click
  2. Mouse Control-click (Mac. only)
  3. Mouse left click and hold for 0.5 seconds

Changing a Lever

By default, Levers are represented in the 'normal' position, that is, they are back, away from the operator. There are two ways to change the state of a Lever.


  1. Point at the Lever with the mouse and trigger the Contextual Menu. Select (click) Change from the options list.
  2. Point to the Lever and click while holding down the shift key.

Try both techniques. You will see that a reversed (pulled) Lever is represented as shorter.


Drawing straight horizontal track


In the Signal Diagram Panel, move the marker to Tile [1, 4], that is column 1, row 4. Now hold down the Alt key (Linux users may need an alternative as noted elsewhere), hold down the left button of the mouse, and drag the mouse to the right until you reach column 18. A yellow trail should follow the mouse. Now you can release the mouse button then the Alt key. A horizontal track should now be revealed. Note that if you release the mouse button before releasing the modifier key, you may instead simply trigger the pop-up menu.



Note that this technique can be applied only to horizontal track.

Drawing points

Move the marker to Tile [6, 4], that is, column 6 on the track just drawn.

Now hold down the Shift key. Move the mouse around and you will notice that the marker remains stationary until you release the Shift key.

To draw points, we define the required 'shape' by clicking the small coloured squares within the multi-coloured marker.

Back to [6, 4] with the Shift key held down, point to the green square on the left and click. That square should turn blue to indicate its selection.  Do the same with the green square on the right.  And again for the yellow square top-right.  This has defined the shape of the points. Now, still holding down the Shift key, click the magenta centre square. The points formation should appear.  You will notice the number 0 near the toe of the points. This will hold the number of the Lever that we connect to operate these points.

Drawing other shapes

Using a similar technique, draw a diagonal track at [7, 3]. This time, click the bottom-left and top-right yellow squares before clicking the magenta square.

At [8, 2], add a bend, clicking bottom-left yellow and right green.

To complete the track layout, use the Alt-drag method to draw a straight horizontal track from [9, 2] to [18, 2].


Adding an FPL

To add an FPL (Facing Point Lock) to the junction points, simply move the mouse to the points and trigger the Contextual Menu. Select the option to Toggle FPL. You will notice that the label now shows 0,0. The second 0 will hold the number of the Lever that we connect to operate the FPL.

Adding signals

We will protect the junction with three signals, one for trains approaching from the left, and one for each of the routes approaching from the right.

Move the marker to Tile [10, 4] and simply strike the V key on your keyboard. A signal symbol should appear alongside the track.


Do the same at [10, 2].

Repeat the process at [3, 4]. You will see that this signal is facing trains approaching from the right, but we want is to face trains from the left. Simply strike V a second time to place the signal the opposite way around.

Just for interest, continue striking the V key to see what happens. The symbols changes to a ground (shunt) signal, then to a "Shunt Limit' marker, then back to plain track.

Note that signals can be placed only on horizontal track.

When you have finished 'playing', the junction area should look like this.


Adding signal detail

Although we have specified the location of signals, SigScribe4 knows nothing about those signals. To specify the detail, double click on the symbol at [10, 4]. The Detail Panel should open.


Move the mouse within the Detail Panel and you will see that there is a 4 x 4 grid of tiles in which to specify signal details.

Move to the top-left detail tile and strike the V key. A colour light signal head showing a red aspect will appear.  You may choose to leave it like this, or you could change it to a semaphore signal by striking the V key again.  Note that if you had wanted a semaphore signal immediately, you would normally strike the H key instead of V.

Go back to the signal diagram and double click at [10, 2]. This time, move to the top-left detail tile and strike H. A semaphore should appear. If you prefer a colour light, strike V.

Open the detail Panel for the signal at [3, 4]. There are two routes associated with this signal. A train may proceed straight through the points, or take the diverging route towards the upper track. There are several options available. We'll demonstrate two of them.

The first option is to specify two semaphore arms. Using the H key, add semaphores as shown here.


The higher arm will correspond to the straight route, while the lower arm (to the left) will correspond to the diverging route (to the left).

A second option, more typical of colour light signalling, is to specify a single signal head with a route indicator. To do this, use the V key to place a colour light head in the top-left detail tile. Then in the tile immediately below it, strike the V key to show another similar head. For this second head, strike the H key repeatedly. The sequence of transformation will be: single-yellow distant, double-yellow distant, shunt head, route indicator showing 2. Stop at this symbol. What it does is to add a second route to the head above. In the real world, the second route may be indicated by an angled 'feather' of white lights, but this doesn't affect the SigScribe4 simulation. Further strikes of the H key would reveal route indicators 3 to 9. You should end up with this.


If you need to delete a tile at any time, use the Contextual Menu.

You will notice that the number associated with the signal at [3, 4] has changed from 0 to *. This is because there will be more than one Lever associated with this location.

Protecting the Signal Diagram

The definition of the Signal Diagram is now complete so we can protect it from accidental editing by selecting 'Protect Signal Diagram' from the Panels Menu. You will see that the Panel background changes colour to indicate the protected status. You will also notice that the marker is now a plain yellow square. You can still access detail views by double-clicking on tiles of interest.

Specifying Levers

The colour of a Lever relates to what it operates. For this Tutorial we will use red Levers for signals, black for points, and blue for FPLs. Check this web page for a more definitive list of Lever colours.

We will specify Levers 1 and 2 for the signal at [3, 4], Lever 3 for the FPL, 4 for the points, 5 for the signal at [10, 4], and 6 for the signal at [10, 2].

To change the colour of levers, it's a matter of moving the mouse to the particular Lever then striking H or V keys as required.

Move to Lever 4 and strike the H key. It should turn black.

Move to Lever 3. Again, strike the H key to make it black, then strike the V key twice. The first V will give blue/black, and the second will give blue.

To make the remaining Levers red, move to each and strike H twice.

You should end up with a Lever Frame like this.


Protecting the Lever Frame

The definition of the Lever Frame is now complete so we can protect it from accidental editing by selecting 'Protect Lever Frame' from the Panels Menu. You will see that the Panel background changes colour to indicate the protected status. You will also notice that the marker is now a yellow rectangle.

Connecting Levers

With the Signal Diagram and Lever Frame protected, we are now able to connect Levers to the various devices they control.


Move to Lever 1 and bring up the Contextual Menu. Select the Connect option. You will notice that a red rectangle now marks Lever 1, and a message appears on the button at the bottom of the window. Move to the tile on the Signal Diagram where you want to make a connection, that is, [3, 4]. Bring up the Contextual Menu and select Connect (left) or Connect (right). (The left and right options are relevant only for slips and three-way points.)


Because there is more than one device at this location, the connection cannot be made immediately, so the Detail Panel will open (if it is not already open). Move to the detail tile corresponding to the diverging route through the junction. If you have used semaphore signals, that will be the left arm. If you have used colour lights, that will be the route indicator (2). Bring up the Contextual Menu and select Connect. That completes the connection process for Lever 1, so click on the button at the bottom of the window.

You will notice in the Detail Panel the number 1 indicating a connection to Lever 1, while in the Lever Frame, the 1 indicated that Lever 1 is connected to one device.


Follow a similar process to connect Lever 2 to the other element of the signal at [3, 4]. This time you should be able to go straight to the Detail Panel as it is already open.

The Detail Panel is not necessary for any further connections since there are no other multiple elements on the Diagram (as would be indicated by *).

Connect Levers 5 and 6 to their corresponding signals, [10, 4] and [10, 2] respectively.

Connect Lever 3 to the points. Note that the indication is now 0,3.

Connect Lever 4 to the points. The indication is now 4,3.

Your junction should now look like this.


Defining routes

You now need to define the route associated with each signal Lever.


We'll start with 5 since it's the easiest. Move to Lever 5 and bring up the Contextual Menu and select Define Route. You will see the route marked on the Signal Diagram as a series of white dots. In the Lever Frame you will see a letter under each Lever indicating its interlocking requirement. N means that this Lever must be normal to release the Lever for which the route is being defined. X means that the state of this Lever doesn't matter. That's it for Lever 5, so simply click the button at the bottom of the window (I'll call this the cancel button from now on).


Now use a similar process to define the route for Lever 6. You will notice that the route stops at the points - not surprising since they are set the wrong way. To complete the route definition, simply change Lever 4 (Shift-click or Contextual Menu). From the letters under the Levers, you'll see that Lever 6 is released when 1 and 2 are normal and 4 is reversed. Click the cancel button.

Move to Lever 2 and select Define Route. Although this route is intended to go straight through the points, it stops at the points. This is because it is a facing move through these points and therefore requires the FPL Lever to be pulled. So pull Lever 3 and the route is complete. Click the cancel button.

For Lever 1, define the route with both Levers 3 and 4 pulled. Click the cancel button.

Setting interlocking

Now that all routes are defined, we can activate the interlocking simulation. Select Set Interlocking from the Interlocking Menu. You will notice a message on the cancel button, including the number of interlocking Slots required to build this Frame. You will also notice an F or L below each Lever indicating its current status - Free or Locked.

The design is complete. Enjoy your role as a signaller! And then enjoy developing your own designs.

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