Monday, August 23, 2010


When I got home today, a package from a Tony's Trains was waiting for me. The Locobuffer USB had arrived.

The Locobuffer USB from RR-Cirkits is a nifty little device that connects Digitrax' Loconet to a USB port so that my train laptop can talk to the layout. While my Intellibox has a serial interface, and I spent quite some time on trying to get it to work reliably with the laptop and various software packages, I eventually gave up and ordered the Locobuffer USB.

What a difference. Plug in the provided Loconet cable to the layout, and the provided USB cable to the computer. Fire up JMRI, configure for Digitrax Loconet and Locobuffer USB. Exit and start JMRI again. Bring up a throttle window, type in a locomotive ID, pull up the speed slider and ... the locomotive starts moving. It took me longer to plug in the cables than configuring the software.

Nice. But what I really want is a wireless throttle, so I can control the locomotive without having to be near the computer, or the Intellibox. In JMRI select Start WiThrottle, and on my G1 phone download EngineDriver for Android from the Android Market. Reconfigure the firewall to allow connections to the train laptop from the wireless LAN. On the phone, type in the IP address and port of the train laptop. Connnect. Select the locomotive, pull the slider and ... the locomotive starts moving. It took me slightly longer to type this all up, than to do it.

It worked out of the box.

I'll have to spend some time to familiarize myself with all the options this opens up, and I'm sure I'm going to find some bugs along the way, but this looks very promising.

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