Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WiThrottle for the Housatonic RR!

Quick update.  I have not done a whole lot on the layout recently, but I had some free time yesterday, so I dug out the Lenz USB interface I had stored away and downloaded a new version of JMRI DecoderPro onto our laptop.  I then downloaded the WiThrottle app for my iPhone.  The setup was interesting, since there is little documentation, and the drivers that came with the Lenz USB interface do not work with windows 7.  I managed to find some  drivers online and with some trial and error, I have it working.

This rocks!  I had the hardware already, so I could eventually use DecoderPro to program my decoders, so all I needed was the app.  The app was only $9.99 and that gives me two wireless throttles that I can use to control locomotives, make up consists, throw turnouts, etc.  Nice price and a nice app.

The throttle is very responsive and you can adjust sensitivity. I will still use my regular throttles, but it was a fun toy for only $10. Since I had the iPhone, USB interface and wireless network already in place, it was worth doing.

There are downsides to it. The trains go into idle mode and slow to a stop when you get a phone call or a text on the iPhone. Plus you have to change the computer's sleep mode setting, as the connectivity is lost when the PC with JMRI goes into sleep mode. These are minor issues. Using the WiThrottle will also drain the phone's battery fairly quickly. I used it for about 4 hours and ran the battery down by over half, whereas I can get two days of normal usage between charges.

I am still very happy with it. It is very intuitive. There are selections for two variations of road throttles and two yard throttle options, in addition to the dual throttle mode. It is really easy to switch between locos and consists

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