Rayman4449

MTH WiFi Control App & WIU (WiFi Interface Unit)

125 posts in this topic

MTH has released updated firmware for the WIU device, v1.1    

 

 

Details regarding the update:  WIU Wi-Fi Firmware v1.1 update

 

 

To update:

      - Download the latest WIU Firmware *Click Here*

      - Log in to the WIU with your PC (refer to pages 9-12 in the WIU user manual *Click Here to download* to guide you through the steps)  (WIU interface is called "LuCI")

      - Flash the WIU per the instructions in the User Manual

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The Wifi App itself had a new version released for both Android and iOS devices on Feb 3rd.  So if you're device doesn't update automatically, go to (for Android) the Google Play Store and update your Wifi App.

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I updated the firmware for the WIU device to v1.1 using the instructions in the WIU Users Guide.  By following the well written instructions exactly, I had no problems doing the update on my wireless PC laptop with the WIU plugged into it.

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Premium version of the App due date is now August/September 2016.

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Yes it will.  The Premium version of the app will fully replicate a DCS Remote

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I am hearing the delivery for the Premium version of the App has been updated to late December 2016 and will be demoed next week at the York show.

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Mike Wolf from the TCA Open House Fall 2016 (Just a day or two ago)

 

He reviews the Premium version of the Wifi App.   

  • About $300k has been invested to develop the app for both Android & iOS ($100k left) so that does not count hardware dev costs.  (@ 20:45)

 

 

 

 

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Thanks Ray for sharing the video.  Can't wait to try the WIU updated app!

 

Two things were of special interest to me- one was mentioned by Mike, and one was notable because he didn't mention it.

 

At about 4:25 minutes into his talk, Mike told us that the premium app will allow users to control conventional non-MTH engines, and he showed what the new screen display for this would look like.  (Although I couldn't see much detail because the video was shot from a distance.  All I could see was a vertical line with some markings on either side).  I'm guessing that this would just give the basic control of speed and direction by varying the track voltage.  This would be a fantastic WIU improvement!  Then I could run all my engines on my phone. What is unclear is if the TIU can be connected using the fixed voltage ports or if it will need to be connected using the variable ports for this new function to work.  Any thoughts on this Ray?

 

Notably missing was any mention lash ups which can't be done on the current version of the app.  I wonder if the premium app will allow us to do them?

 

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3 hours ago, John Carmichael said:

Thanks Ray for sharing the video.  Can't wait to try the WIU updated app!

 

Two things were of special interest to me- one was mentioned by Mike, and one was notable because he didn't mention it.

 

At about 4:25 minutes into his talk, Mike told us that the premium app will allow users to control conventional non-MTH engines, and he showed what the new screen display for this would look like.  (Although I couldn't see much detail because the video was shot from a distance.  All I could see was a vertical line with some markings on either side).  I'm guessing that this would just give the basic control of speed and direction by varying the track voltage.  This would be a fantastic WIU improvement!  Then I could run all my engines on my phone. What is unclear is if the TIU can be connected using the fixed voltage ports or if it will need to be connected using the variable ports for this new function to work.  Any thoughts on this Ray?

 

Notably missing was any mention lash ups which can't be done on the current version of the app.  I wonder if the premium app will allow us to do them?

 

Yes, that's the premium apps biggest advantage. Quoting MTH, "the app will do everything the remote does." So I would say that it will control the TIU just the way the remote does. All connections would remain the same.

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On the controlling by varying track voltage, that is what you saw with the line is you would adjust the voltage output from the TIU ports by sliding the bar.  That is actually a feature available today with the DCS Remote, but you have to use Variable port 1 or 2 and the input power has to be AC power.  If you wanted to control a G scale DC power engine you could use a big Rectifier Bridge or I think just a big Diode on the outputs of the Variable channel to convert the AC to DC.  The downside is there would be no reverse available.  It may be possible to devise a setup to allow you to flip the polarity with another button and as I have time i may look into it.

 

On the Lash-ups yes you will be able to do that as well.  Just like Joe said, you will be able to do everything with the app you can do with the remote today and maybe more in the future once they recover from this initial investment in the app development.

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Mike sure made it sound simple and easy, and it seemed like a great feature.

 

But If what you say is true Ray, then running conventional DC engines using the premium app would involve a major expensive and difficult modification to our electrical systems. Not only would we need to replace our power supplies, but we would need to educate ourselves on diodes, rectifier bridges, and polarity switches, then purchase and install them and hope that it all works.

 

Nobody is going to do this, certainly not me!  

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Wow. All you need is a bridge rectifier that can handle the amp draw. I realize you may not know electrical. I don't know much myself. There is no sense posting false info when we don't know what we're talking about.

Declaring that nobody is going to go thru this?????

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John, for DC power users (G scale/HO scale) we would be the ones who would have to use the extra components, not the normal O gauge user.  DCS was originally designed for O gauge which has traditionally been an AC power environment.  So for them they just use their existing AC power supply (because that is what they all run) and run their AC trains like they do if they were working a normal AC throttle. (Direction control of a train under analog AC is different than under analog DC)  You should be able to buy one of these (diode, see below) and put this on the Red terminal for instance with the line side of the diode connecting to the track and other side to the red terminal.  This will get you DC power to the track. This is what I use for powering DC power switches with the AIU... use an AC power supply and use Diodes to covert to DC in the direction/polarity you need to flip it back and forth.

 

You can pick up one rated at 6amps for $1.00.

 

8533_primary_225px.jpg

 

So to run under DC in one direction would involve this and an AC power supply (not sure the cost but since you are just running analog you could get away with something less expensive).  If you have a Bridgewerks throttle type power supply then you can just use the AC power supply terminals on the back.  As far as direction control of a DC engine, that is where it would get a little more complicated but I'm sure something could be devised but not sure off-hand how complicated it would be.

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Please excuse me Joe, I forgot that Bridgewerks has an AC outlet and that many of you have Bridgewerks.  So you are right, it wouldn't be that expensive for Bridgewerk owners to make the changeover.  The cost of an AC power supply is a big issue with me however, since I don't have Bridgewerks, and you can see my trepidation since I have no experience with diodes or bridge rectifiers.  I did not mean to post false information.  It just seemed very expensive and difficult from the initial info I got from Ray.

 

Ray: Thanks for photo of diode and clarifying additional info. But isn't there is still a problem if we need a polarity switch to change directions because we wouldn't be able to use the phone app remotely from a distance to reverse if we are not standing next to the switch, right?  

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Sure thing.  Yes that's correct, would not have direction control unless something was created that allows you to flip polarity.  I'm thinking something can be done (even allowing it to be done with the remote) but would have to see how easy it would be.  So with just a diode it's not a complete solution.

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I go to several forums and look at posts. Sometimes it's hard to tell the intent of the poster. I don't think it was fair to blast what MTH claimed in the video, out of context. No big deal otherwise. He was at York Pa talking about what his company has been working on. He was talking about the DCS system and that's used mainly in O scale with AC power. It does work in other scales very well. It does not require any more effort and/or expense than other systems. In fact, it does more than they do for less money.

 Did you know that you can run MTH G scale engines with AC? If their decoders are installed in other brands they will run on AC as well.

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I think the hobby is changing, especially in our scale (gauge one) from one where people could find an inventory availble in a catalogue, towards one where manufacturers (large and small) in which if you don't pre order you have very little chance of getting the product you want. This is now the case for Aster,Accucraft, Mth USA trains, and I think Bowande. So thats where we are at now, if things continue to go like that it's OK with me, but if it is just the premices of something worse then we should worry. In France some limited run pacifics made in China in HO run for over 350€!

 

Our age group is not growing and having teached to teen agers for the previous decade, I can assure you that they are more interested in their I phones than model trains.

That seems to be the motivation for Mike Wolfe and his firm to find ways to interest this new generation into our hobby. This is positive in a way, if it works! If it doesn't its just making things for us old analogue modelers more complicated than ever... And you will notice that you have to purchase the application... Always more money to dish out, just to get your trains running. Before all this electronic fad there were very few models that resisted my fixing them whatever condition they could come in, now there isn't much I can do, so we have to spend more bucks... That is one of the principal reasons youngsters don't go towards model railroading: Its already too expensive. This is just making it more so.

 

Give you one  perfect example: Before I blew both boards on my F3 A-B-A consist for the second time in three years, it had a horn. I found the Pennsy horn code and printed it, so that I could refer to it accordingly and hung it on a window near my track. Well the horn can't make two short beeps in a row, it needs an interval which is not realistic, if I plunge too long on the horn (like at the railroad crossing) it will make a short beep or two just after the - - 0 -, which wasn't called for and anyways, half of the time when I blow the horn, (Bert) it either doesn't blow or gets stuck for a very long blow, not called for. So who needs sound? When we run at exhibitions like last week at Montelirail, the MTH O scale layout gets on our nerves after a full day, not our steamers.

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It sounds like you have weak or even double signal at the track? When the horn sounds for longer than it should, like when it gets stuck from double commands, it will blast a longer horn than usually a double at the end of that. Track wiring with feeders feeding a block of track at both ends can cause that. Putting filters or bulbs on the rails can help with older TIUs.

There is a 2 horn sound for forward signal already but that might not be what you wanted? I'm not sure of horn crossing grade sounds in Europe.

Not sure how you blew 2 board sets? I have many that are over ten years old and still work as new. Maybe the failure rate is higher on the slave boards? I have 2 sets of them that aren't used very much.

I know that sounds can get irritating all day long. To me the sierra sound sets do that over here. I turn mine down in the basement so I can hear track sounds better to know if anything has derailed.

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Simon's issue with the horn is that a short whisle/horn button press isnt short enough for him.   Your point is correct,  if you want two short retorts you simply use the SFS skey function (SFS=Sound: Forward Sound) 

 

The development of the wifi app is to keep up with the competition, keep up with the trends,  offer new options and also be more attractive to all end users.  MTH was looking at making updates to the remote and it became clear very quickly that smartphone/tablet software was the only logical approach to make any upgrade the remote interface.  The wifi is an option not a requirement and offers the option to forego the traditional DCS remote and go wifi.   Cost are basically the same.  If a person doesn't want to have both then there is no additional cash outlay so it doesn't make it more expensive.   On the board issues this has already been covered in another thread in great detail covering what was going on and won't get into it here in a thread about the DCS wifi control as this is not the place.  I'm like you too Joe anytime I don't want sound I simply press the sound off button.  It is the advanced control and sound with intuitive control that sold me on DCS and Protosound so for me the electronics were a key selling point. 

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I just had my first opportunity to run the WiFi app on a 7" tablet and found that size works good if you are wanting to use something larger than a phone.  Before the most recent DCS app update, the phones were a bit small requiring you to be a bit more careful and precise with what you select (but the lastest App update changes how the smaller detail items are presented on the phone so it's easy to see and select.)   

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19 hours ago, Rayman4449 said:

I just had my first opportunity to run the WiFi app on a 7" tablet and to me that is the perfect size for running trains with the app.  Phones are a bit small requiring you to be a bit more careful and precise with what you select but the 7 inch tablet provides a good balance between larger size but small enough to handle.  I plan to invest in a couple of these here very shortly.

 

Cool, I haven't used the MTH app, but with JMRI and Engine Driver I've also settled on a 7" tablet (Kindle Fire). There's enough screen real estate to run three trains at once, including the first two rows of function keys, but still small and light enough to be easy to handle.

 

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That is exactly what I was using and just ordered two from Amazon as their Black Friday deal is going on $33.33 each shipped. (Think sale runs through Monday or unless they sell out)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Fire-7-Inch-Tablet-8GB/dp/B00TSUGXKE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1480002585&sr=8-2&keywords=kindle+fire (Kindle Fire 7 - 8gb)

 

Note that to use the Kindle with the DCS app, 4 applications have to be installed manually because it currently needs Google Play Store installed and Kindle has its own Amazon store loaded, not Google's Play store. (It's needed to confirm the version you purchased.)  I can post the procedure once I get these in.  Remember that if you buy the Standard or Premium version of the app, it is tied to your account so it is accessible to all your devices free.  And now about 30 days away from the Premium version being released.

 

If a person goes this route, you can purchase a TIU, Kindle and WiFi(WIU) for only a little more than the original TIU and Remote set alone.  

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28 minutes ago, Rayman4449 said:

That is exactly what I was using and just ordered two from Amazon as their Black Friday deal is going on $33.33 each shipped. (Think sale runs through Monday or unless they sell out)

 

https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Fire-7-Inch-Tablet-8GB/dp/B00TSUGXKE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1480002585&sr=8-2&keywords=kindle+fire (Kindle Fire 7 - 8gb)

 

Note that to use the Kindle with the DCS app, 4 applications have to be installed manually because it currently needs Google Play Store installed and Kindle has its own store loaded, not Google.(It's needed to confirm the version you purchased.)  I can post the procedure once I get these in.  Remember that if you buy the Standard or Premium version of the app, it is tied to your account so it is accessible to all your devices free.  And now about 30 days away from the Premium version being released.

 

If a person goes this route, you can purchase a TIU, Kindle and WiFi(WIU) for only a little more than the original TIU and Remote set alone.  

 

Cool! Yeah I had to do the same thing to load JMRI Engine Driver. I noticed that sale and was impressed but skeptical... I think paid over $200 for my Kindle Fire about 1-1/2 years ago! But I got the 64 GB version (it doubles as a movie player for the kids for road trips) and also not every Fire (or tablet) had 5 GHz WiFi which is a must where I live because of so much interference on the 2.4 GHz band. I looked at this sale one and didn't see anything about it in the specs, so I'm not sure if it does or not.

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The one I was using (last years model) doesn't have 5ghz and I'm certain at this price point this years model doesn't either.  The Kindle HD8 (this years model) doesn't have the 5ghz (last years model did) so they appear to strip the 5ghz on these lower end models to keep the price down.  I have always looked for electronics that have the 5ghz too but in this case it's so inexpensive (and worked good wirelessly too) that I can't pass this up, just what is needed for a train only control device.  :)   I know you've probably done this but maybe there is another 2.4 channel that has less use than the others that you can set on your router.  I use an app "Wifi Analyzer" to see what channels are being used on what frequencies.  For others reading who are not familiar, you can then use this information to log into your personal wireless router to select a Channel number that isn't used by others around you.

 

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