Modellers have many tools and supplies that they swear by from their favourite knife through to a favourite brand of paint. One modelling tool which I couldn’t live without is my iPhone (other brands of phone exist!). Apologies to any Android owners, I don’t have one but the same apps will be available. Whilst this is not a definitive list, here are my favourite nine.
This was one of the reasons I wanted an iPhone, sad but true. It gives you the gradient in percentage which is great when you are laying track. My layout has a maximum grade of 3% although I wish I’d realised how much drag the curves would add when setting this. The grade above is 2.4%.
You can find a number of spirit level apps on the App Store but I use Spirit Level 3rd.
I have a number of these apps but the Woodland Scenics app is the best as most do not have the railroad scales such as 1/87. This is great both on the layout and when building kits up.
This is a follow on from the scale ruler but having a calculator to hand is invaluable when doing all those sums you need on your layout. It even does complicated trigonometry for when you need to work out the length of the other side of a triangle! It’s easy to find by swiping up on your home screen and pressing the calculator symbol at the bottom. It doesn’t even need you to enter your passcode.
Whilst we are on numbers, I love this app, Convert, for converting inches to metric (or vice versa). I think in feet and inches for big measurements but millimetres for small ones. This helps work out the difference!
I will admit to not using this yet but it’s on the list to implement some time. This is WiThrottle and I only have the free version.
There’s a lovely app, Fast Clock, that lets you add your own image – I’ve added my layout logo – and you can use it as a fast clock for your layout. It’s quite cheap and really useful if you want to run operations at speed.
Whilst we’re on time, I broke the clock in my loft, a fall out of the loft hatch does that to most things even if they do land on carpet, so my iPhone is my go to timekeeping device. I can even ask Siri to set an alarm to remind me to come down if I am meeting someone without getting my phone dirty.
My phone goes everywhere with me so it is my main repository for lists of magazines, paints, books etc. This is supposed to stop me buying the same thing again but I still forget to check and buy something twice. I also use it for my “to do” and “to buy” lists.
I started off with Notes (a native iPhone app shown above) but moved on to Microsoft OneNote as I had a PC at work and home that I could sync with it so they all gave me the same information.
I prefer OneNote as it has formatting and is much more powerful but still usable across all my devices.
When I went to China on holiday, my posh camera broke and I used my iPhone instead. It’s hard to tell the difference in the photos. You can take some amazing photos with your iPhone; it has great depth of field, i.e. more is in focus from front to back, it tags the photo with where you took it, it’s small enough and the camera is low enough to get great scale person high shots, it is easy to share and it’s always with me. What’s not to love! You can get at the camera by swiping up from the bottom, as with the calculator, so you don’t even need to log in.
One app I recently found was TriggerTrap. This connects your iPhone to your fancy camera to allow you to take photos which are voice activated or set off by motion etc. That’s invaluable when trying to take a photo with you in it, you can just yell “bang”! This is not cheap like my other recommendations as you have to buy a cable specific for your camera but it is fun to play with.*
The iPhone camera also comes with video or time-lapse setting. I took a time-lapse of me modelling and it was very funny. It’s often more fun to take videos than photos and I do find them useful for seeing what’s happening in my hidden areas of track.
These are easy to add to YouTube and share with the world!
The final use of my iPhone is to publish photos etc on Facebook or other social media. It’s great to share what you have been up to and to be inspired by others.
Do let us know any other uses that you have for your iPhone or let us know the Android equivalents.
* This is an affiliate link which means if you do actually buy something from TriggerTrap, they share a bit with me.