So, I just purchased a TCS UWT-100 throttle. Had to have it shipped from the USA as there is no distributor for the product in Japan. This of course cost a pretty penning considering international shipping costs and import duties. So was it worth all the costs? I would have to say... maybe?
So let's look at the pros and cons. I'll start with the cons so I can end on a positive note.
Price - When compared to other throttles on the market, an MSRP of USD$299.99 (retailing between $285.99-$299.99) is a bit high. Digitrax's all new DT602D has an MSRP of USD$260.00 (retailing around USD$200) and NCE's Procab-R has an MSRP of USD$275.99 (also retailing around USD$200). While these throttles both use their manufacture's own proprietary radio system they are functionally similar to the UWT-100. So the question is: is the Wi-Fi connectivity of the UWT-100 worth the extra USD$100?
Limited Usable Features - While the UWT-100 has the potential to have just as many features as other similar throttles it is currently limited. It seems, right now, to get the most out of the throttle you need to be using an JMRI interface with your layout. I have been using the Digitrax LNWI and the UWT-100 has limited functions using this interface:
1. Cannot use the throttle for tuning off/on track power.
2. Accessory decoder (turnout) control is not supported via the LNWI.
3. Cannot use the UWT-100 to program decoders.
Ergonomics - I would say I have to agree with other reviewers that the UWT-100 has great ergonomics. It fits well in the hand and is easy to use. (I do think the throttle wheel is a bit stiff, but this may loosen as I use the throttle and it wears in.)
Ease of Use - Navigating the menus is pretty self-explanatory and intuitive. I was able to figure out most functions without having to look at the manual or the quick start guide.
Upgradable - My biggest con was that the UWT-100 has limited functions when connected to my system via the LNWI. However, this problem can be eliminated with future firmware updates to the throttle. And since the throttle uses Wi-Fi it's very easy to connect to my computer and update the firmware. No need to send it into the manufacture!
Universal - Of course its biggest pro is the whole purpose of the throttle, its universal! Since it connects with Wi-Fi it can potentially be used on any layout with a Wi-Fi interface and it is much more integrated into the world of standard home computers. Meaning it can help bridge the gap between modern interconnected electronics and DCC systems.
So the big question is would I recommend getting a UWT-100? Yes, but maybe wait a little while for the price to go down some and for more firmware updates that increase the usable features of the throttle.
I really like the idea of a universal throttle and I think TCS has done a great job in developing a product that may help the DCC user community embrace the idea of greater compatibility between manufactures. This in turn will hopefully put pressure on other manufactures to create their own line of universal products. In the world of smartphones and home computers, inter-device compatibility has allowed for an explosion of growth and available products. I really support the idea of having such a universal standard in the realm of DCC as well, so us consumers don't have to be stuck using one company's proprietary system. So great job TCS on stepping out there and developing the UWT-100!
So I'm attempting to start a blog page. We'll see what happens with this! I think for the most part I will use it to give updates about projects that I am working on.
Having been stuck at home due to "the virus" I've had some time to finally work on some DCC decoder installation projects I have been putting off. The biggest was installing a sound decoder into a Kato N scale D51 steam loco. For my first N scale DCC sound decoder, I think it went well. There were a few problems. The biggest being that the sound coming out of the speaker is quite low. I have a 16mm 8 Ohm 0.1 watt speaker, but there wasn't enough room to create a proper speaker enclosure for it, so the sound is quite muffled. I used the Loksound 5 Micro DCC decoder. It's a nice decoder, but I didn't realize I would need to have the ESU programmer to properly adjust the sounds. I think in the future I will use a sound decoder that is capable of being programed using JMRI Decoder Pro. I video recorded my instillation so at some point I hope to edit together a video about it for YouTube.