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The new TCS Withrottle UWT-100 Wifi/LCC enabled throttle arrived last week. This throttle was advanced ordered during the NMRA-Mid East Region convention in October 2019.
The TCS blog entries on MRH regarding the trials and travails of bringing a new electronic device to market can be found here: https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/37985 and https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/blog/20164.
There are other blog entries regarding this device on MRH, just search for TCS Withrottle in the search box in the upper right corner.
TCS has identified a need and fulfilled it well. My son and I gave it quite the workout this past weekend. We have a HO scale Digitrax powered layout. We are also well versed in the other various throttles out there. We have a ProtoThrottle (love it), UT-4 (hard to love), DT-400(don't want to love), and the assorted used Android phones that we use for throttles via the JMRI Withrottle functionality.
The human factors engineering aspects of this throttle was well done. It is relatively light to hold, can be held in a natural grip without undue fatigue, and comes with a lanyard to wrap around your wrist to prevent those "uh-oh" moments when gravity takes over.
Setup and initial use was a snap. We did not refer to the manual once for the 1st use, this can be taken with a grain of salt as both of us work in the information technology industry and gravitate toward hobby tech devices.
The device easily found the JMRI Withrottle instance on the home network and after entering the network SSID password, we were good to go.
A handy feature for those who participate in round robin ops groups is the ability to save multiple networks. Once you are setup for a person’s layout, you can save it for future use. This is really going to help out in the throttle inventory situation for layouts where throttles are in short supply, as long as they have LNWI or JMRI Withrottle up and running.
I remapped one function key to be the independent brake and that was the first time I had to crack the manual open.
The JMRI roster recall function is a really nice feature. Having the most recently used locos available for re-selection is helpful and the ability to see the entire JMRI roster is a bonus. Consisting was intuitive to use and after doing one consist, the process to do so was easy to remember.
The thumb wheel for the throttle is well placed and ergonomically feels very natural. After a few minutes using the throttle it became instinctive and we did not have to look down at the throttle during switching.
The only settings we changed were: 1) Mapping the brake key to the 1st soft function key, 2) Shortened the Throttle Auto Power Off time to 5 minutes, and 3) Reduced the Back Lighting Brightness. The last two changes were done to conserve battery life.
In short, it is an innovative and well designed product which addresses a need for throttles that can be used regardless of the DCC vendor and command station in use.
This article first appeared on model-railroad-hobbyist.com
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