Universal WiFi Throttle FAQ

The Universal WiFi Throttle is in final stages of development and initial production. Answers will be added as more information becomes available.
Jump to General Info | Updates | Battery and Power | Delivery | Other Questions
 


GENERAL INFO
What WiFi systems is your throttle compatible with?
The Universal WiFi Throttle is compatible with other existing WiFi systems on the market such as the Digitrax LNWI, MRC WiFi module, JMRI, and more. If you can control your layout with a cell phone (via the WiThrottle Protocol) our throttle will work on your layout too!

How many throttles can be used simultaneously?
The maximum number of throttles is not limited by the throttle itself. The limit is based on the WiFi base station (router) being used. A low-cost consumer-grade WiFi router will typically support up to about 10 - 20 connected devices. Commercial grade WiFi routers will typically support up to about 50 - 100 connected WiFi devices. The specific number will be based on the specific model and manufacturer. Popular examples of WiFi interfaces in the modeling community are the Digitrax LNWI and the MRC WiFi Module. The Digitrax LNWI supports up to 4 connected throttles while MRC WiFi Module can connect up to 8 throttles. The maximum number of throttles per layout can be expanded by adding additional WiFi modules.

WiFi Base Station (Router) Maximum Number of Supported Throttles
Digitrax LNWI

4 (each)

MRC WiFi Module 8 (each)
Consumer-grade Router (JMRI WiThrottle Server) 10 - 20 (typical)
Commercial-grade Router (JMRI WiThrottle Server) 50 - 100 (typical)
TCS Command Station (LCC) 4
TCS Command Station with external router (LCC) 10 - 100 (limited by the chosen router)

In LCC mode, the TCS Command Station (coming soon) supports up 4 connected throttles without the use of an external WiFi router. With the addition of an external WiFi router, the practical limit of the TCS Command Station is about 50 - 100 throttles, limited by the capabilities of the WiFi router itself.

How do I shut down the throttle?
If left idle, the throttle will automatically shutdown on its own after a user-configurable timeout. The user may optionally force a shutdown by pressing the menu button and selecting option 9 (Power Off).

What are these "user-configurable" buttons and how do I use them?
There are eight buttons on the TCS Universal WiFi Throttle that can be assigned functions by the user. These buttons are given functions by default, but unlike other buttons they can be re-programmed to activate a different function. The top four buttons (directly below the screen) even have descriptions on the screen that indicate what function assignment they have been given. You can access button configuration options via the menu.

How large is the throttle screen?
The screen on the Universal WiFi Throttle is considerably bigger than the displays on the Digitrax or NCE handhelds. Measuring 2 3/8" diagonally, the dynamic backlit display is large enough to show all of the information pertinent to the task you're performing - and more. 


UPDATES
Can the throttle firmware be updated by the user?
Yes, the throttle firmware can be updated either by the user or by TCS. The update occurs over WiFi, and no special tools are required other than a standard PC running the TCS update software. The throttle firmware can also be updated using JMRI. From time to time, TCS may provide optional firmware updates in order to add new features.

Will the TCS Software work on my computer?
The release version of the TCS Desktop Software application will work on Windows and Mac operating systems.


BATTERY POWER
What kind of batteries does the throttle use?

The throttle uses two AA size batteries and supports Alkaline and rechargeable NiMH chemistries.

How long does a set of batteries last?
Using rechargeable NiMH batteries, the throttle lasts about 14 hours under continuous use and constant full backlight brightness. This is the worst case scenario, and most users will in fact experience even longer battery life.

Why does the throttle not use a built-in rechargeable battery?
Several considerations went into the battery design of the throttle. TCS could have included a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with built-in charger, but lithium-ion batteries and chargers have a track record of sometimes being unsafe. While TCS does believe that it could have safely included a lithium-ion battery and charger in the design, the potential liability if something were to go wrong is too high for a small company like TCS.

Another consideration is charge time. The goal is to ensure that the throttle can be used continuously without the necessity to wait for a built-in battery to charge. Once the batteries become fully depleted, they can simply be removed and replaced in order to be back up and running instantly.

There are many quality, inexpensive, 3rd party rechargeable batteries and chargers in the market. TCS believes our customers are better served by using established mass market products rather than designing something similar in-house.

Why is there no separate on/off power switch?
The shutdown current of the throttle is very small (less than 50uA). After one full year in shutdown mode, less than 20% of the battery capacity is consumed by the shutdown current. This is in fact significantly less than the self-discharge current of NiMH batteries all by themselves. Given such a small shutdown current, there is no need to incur the additional cost and complexity of a mechanical switch. In addition, the lack of a switch reduces supply voltage noise and improves reliability and longevity.

With regards to Alkaline battery chemistry, if the throttle will be idle for more than 6 months, it may optionally be desirable to remove the batteries in order to limit the discharge.


DELIVERY
When do you expect to deliver pre-ordered Universal WiFi Throttles?

The expected ship date is October 2019. This date is our best guess and may change as things progress. For pre-orders placed by customers outside the US and Canada, pre-orders may take longer to ship due to CE compliance testing requirements. Regardless, we'll keep you updated on the details as the release gets closer.

Does the listed pre-order price include shipping?
No, the listed price does not include shipping. Shipping cost will be calculated at pre-order checkout and added to the total pre-order price. 

Will pre-order gifts ship right away?
Pre-order gifts will ship along with the Universal WiFi Throttle at time of release.


OTHER QUESTIONS
When will the complete TCS Command System be available?

We anticipate that the full system (base station and throttle combinations) will be available in 2020. 

What's the deal with the Mini Throttle?
Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about the Universal WiFi Throttle's smaller cousin. This throttle is still in development, and we're working on bringing it to market in 2020 as well. 

Where can I find more information about the Universal WiFi Throttle?
A great place to start is our Pre-Order Information Page which has many details and previews of the throttle. You can also find information about the pre-order process and place an order there! Be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel for throttle updates. And join our Mailing List for updates about everything interesting going on at TCS!

 

Thanks again for pre-ordering the Universal WiFi Throttle! We're excited for you to give it a try!
Visit our Pre-Order Information Page
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