DCC WiFi systems that connect to your existing WiFi network?

BigJake Jun 28, 2020

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  1. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    It looks like most DCC WiFi interfaces (Digitrax, Prodigy, WifiTrax[for NCE]) establish their own, dedicated WiFi network to which you connect your phone, tablet, etc., to run a throttle or other related application.

    While on that dedicated network, your phone/tablet/etc. does not have access to other networks/resources (other than via the phone's mobile data connection).

    Are there any systems or DCC WiFi interfaces, besides the Pi Sprog, or DCC++ w/R-Pi, that can connect to your existing WiFi network?
     
  2. Pieter

    Pieter TrainBoard Member

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    Roco can connect to your router and use it that way although you need their code to activate the lan port. Digikejs come with it builtin. Desktop Station come with unlimited connection built in. Wi-Fi. Pico Smartcontrol (not the light one) and Esu Cabcontrol.
     
  3. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    The very first one from about 10 years ago, where you connect your DCC system to a PC running JMRI's Withrottle server running over your home WiFi, is the most economical and full featured setup.

    All the DCC system manufacturers realize this and are coming out with their own twist on a WiFi plug and play option, but they tend to limit functionality to only letting you run a WiFi throttle.

    What are they good for? These WiFi attachments to your DCC system are mostly useful at train shows, where you can let people run a train with their cell phone on your club's modules. The Digitrax LNWI lets 4 people run on WiFi per module, for NCE the WiFiTrax also lets you run 4 throttles.

    But if you are at home, and want to use your existing home WiFi, absolutely nobody sells a product that outperforms JMRI running on a PC. It don't have to be big or expensive. You don't even need a monitor or keyboard. A tiny headless box and PC interface like USB or RS232 on your DCC command station is all you need.
     
    greenwizard88 likes this.
  4. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Pieter, thanks for the references; I've been checking them out.

    The Digikejs DR5000 wiki documentation mentions "WiFi is not recommended for controlling a layout."???
    The Roco Z21 looks promising, but I haven't figured out if it can connect to an existing WiFi network, or must host its own.
    The Desktop Station DSair2 is discontinued effective May 2020.
    The ESU Cabcontrol system can only connect to an existing network by Ethernet cable, not by WiFi.
    The PIKO SmartControl also looks promising.

    I've noticed many of the European systems tend to have a relatively high track voltage for N scale (15V).

    Robert, the two systems I originally mentioned both use JMRI running on a Raspberry Pi computer. Virtually any system that is compatible with JMRI could run JMRI on an R-Pi. The R-Pi takes up a lot less space than a PC, but I will likely use my laptop as a VNC terminal when necessary, for decoder programmings, configuring, etc.

    I also plan to use JMRI's Virtual Sound Decoder.
     
  5. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I had been using a $99 Kangaroo windows 10 PC as a headless box auto starting JMRI WiThrottle server and TightVNC, and used a laptop to VNC in when needed, The Kangaroo was the size of a deck of cards, but I want to go even smaller for my new T-Trak modules, and will look into the Pi.

    As far as the VSD in JMRI, I had been using it on and off at shows ever since TwinDad posted about it almost 10 years ago. It don't follow the trains or anything, but if you use a sub/sat powered computer speaker set under the layout, the bass sound travels everywhere and is a really great effect. I used it at the Niles N Scale club on open house days sometimes and people seemed to really like the effect. I am really surprised more people don't know about it, it just seemed to slip away into obscurity.
     
  6. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    The R-Pi is in that neighborhood size-wise (and a lot cheaper), a little bigger if you add the Pi Sprog hat on it, but then you have a complete 2.5 amp DCC command station & computer running JMRI. You can buy the pieces, or an assembled and tested unit.

    That's exactly what I was thinking about VSD, especially given the tiny size of speaker you can cram in an N scale loco (or even a trailing box car). Put a halfway decent amplified speaker under the layout, and away you go. A subwoofer would be icing.
     
  7. Pieter

    Pieter TrainBoard Member

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    Roco sell a router with Wi-Fi, but is the same as any other you can buy from a shop. Roco has a lock on the Lan port of their CS and their router come with a code to unlock it. You can also buy the code separate and use your own router. BTW Roco and Fleischmann is from the same stable so their CS only differ in brand name and colour on the items. Both also have wireless throttles.

    Digikejs Wi-Fi is aimed at wireless throttles/ smart phones/ tabs and not controlling a layout with train control software via Wi-Fi.

    Like RRay say they all now like to bring out their own versions of Wi-Fi systems, either build in or as an add on. From various articles and adverts it seems the Europeans are moving to use smart phones/ tabs or ESU type wireless throttles (Android) while the American side again to wireless throttle- knobs & buttons.

    Saw last month a German article where the writer were explaining of how to in stall Wi-Fi in and HO loco.
     
  8. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I have at least 25 open house weekends and a dozen train shows where I used the sub/sat for VSD sound, and believe me, there is hardly any treble, basically just the bell. Having a subwoofer makes the sound. You do not have to have it loud, even at low volume, the low frequency rumble is a great effect. As an added bonus, the sub bass sound is not directional... you cannot turn your head and isolate it as coming from a specific direction, where treble is very directional. So for at least Diesel trains which have mostly bass, the sound seems to come from where the eye sees motion of moving trains.
     
  9. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Pieter, thanks for the additional info and clarification. I read "layout control" about the Digikejs, and my brain said "train control". Now I understand. So the typical things that a smart phone throttle can do (including throwing swtches controlled by accessory decoders) should be fine.
     
  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, I hear ya, but there's another property of low frequency sound: it goes through walls really well too. And my wife does not share my enthusiasm for the FEEL of a locomotive's rumble!
     
  11. RCMan

    RCMan TrainBoard Member

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    There are two Wifi Connections on the Digikeijs DR5000CS. The onboard wireless is as you said for the Throttles.

    DR5000 also has a LAN port and this can be used on your home Wifi or a dedicated router.

    You set the DR5000 to "Bridge" mode.
    Mine is setup with a Cat 5 cable between the Computer LAN port and the DR5000 LAN port and my computer is using my home Wifi wireless.
     
  12. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the info Dennis. That sounds similar to the ESU Cabcontrol system's networking interfaces.

    Unfortunately I do not have wired Ethernet in the train room, and my laptop does not have a wired Ethernet interface. I might be able to make that work with a Raspberry Pi as the JMRI computer and the Wifi-to-wired Ethernet bridge.
     
  13. RCMan

    RCMan TrainBoard Member

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    That should work.
     
  14. chadbag

    chadbag TrainBoard Member

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    I use my DR5000-ADJ with it making its own WiFI network in order to keep the traffic off my home network. Just personal preference. I run with the Roco Z21 WLANmaus throttle in the Z21 compatibility mode and add the Digitrax LNWI for WiThrottle compatibility in order to add in phone based throttles.

    As I've not needed to access the internet from any of my throttles, I have not set it up that way, but as mentioned, I believe you can set it up to run on a normal network. (I've wanted to avoid any security issues of the DR5000 ends up with an access bug or issue -- don't need to open access to my home network through a faulty train layout, which gets updated less often than other normal internet connected routers/devices)
     
  15. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the information, and alternate point of view. Very good points, and food for considerate thought.
     
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