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Wireless DCC Control with an Android Phone

Posted by on Dec 21, 2014 in Miscellaneous, Tony's Tips |

Alan Anderson introduces another option on this new emerging DCC technology. Eventually, it may be more cost effective than purchasing wireless components from the traditional DCC manufacturers!

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I enjoyed reading Mike’s article on using the iPhone or the iPod Touch as a throttle using a computer, JMRI, a DCC system with a computer connection and a WiFi connection. One option missing in Mike’s article is using phones with the Android (Google) operating system.

I recently picked up a Samsung Captivate Android phone at Costco for about $20 with a 2-year plan. You can keep the things Mike indicated you for Apple’s products to get started. As a refresher, Mike’s list is included below:

What do You Need to Get started?

  • First, you need to have a DCC system that has PC interface options (RS232 port, LocoBuffer, etc.)
  • In most cases, a computer running Windows, Mac OS-X, or LINUX operating system. If your DCC system has an Ethernet interface like the Lenz, USB/Ethernet interface then a PC is not needed.
  • The JMRI model railroad programming and control freeware.
  • A local wireless network (WiFi) and router such as your DSL wireless modem/Internet modem.
  • And an iPhone, iPod Touch (any generation) or Android phone.

As with Apple’s products, an Android phone or tablet will also connect through your local area network using “WiFi” and not your provider’s cellular network.

Android has an app called “Engine Driver” from the Android Marketplace and it is free to download.

“Engine Driver” interfaces through JMRI and should work with DCC systems that JMRI can interface with. The key is that the computer must connect with your DCC system through a RS232 port, LocoNet or others. As Mike said, it does require that the JMRI software is running on a computer connected to your local area network AND DCC system. The computer acts as a communication server.

Run the Trains

I don’t have the space to describe the setup and tutorials yet it involves three easy steps.

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  1. Turn on WiThrottle in JMRI from the Tools menu. An IP address and port will be shown once the connection is made. (the screen shows xx2.168.0.4 as the IP address and 4957 as the port.
  2. Enter the IP address and port shown in JMRI into Engine Driver and your phone will show up on the screen as shown in the photo. (as ‘Engineer Alan’)
  3. Enter the locomotive number and short or long address and move the slider left or right to increase or decrease the speed.

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Now your operators can bring their iPhones, iPod Touch or Android phones and run trains on your DCC layout.