WiFi Throttles & USB

Fitting a USB charger to your layout?
PLUS   WiFi THROTTLES – using old iPhones!

  • they are  handy for charging a lot of “devices” these days – phones; tablets; pads; cameras etc.
  • or in my case it has a specific purpose – to charge my WiFi throttles.

I have become a convert to using mobile phones as throttles. I first tried Android phones but lately I have become convinced that old iPhone 4s models are the go!

This post is supposed to be about USB chargers so here we go:… wait a moment!
The setup below is out of date now!
A bit disappointing I suppose. But on the right is a little 2 port USB outlet powered by the 12V DC bus which runs around my layout. It is a something I picked up from a marine supplier.

It now looks like this:
and the charger is a more powerful model by Jackson and purchased from Jaycar Electronics. It still only just does the job, rated at a total 3.1Amps. If you can find a higher output unit, go for it.

On the shelf there are still 3 very old iPhone 4S mobile phones and my old Android phone which has … “carked it!”

The iPhones are ancient in the modern world of devices and each phone above  was donated by friends and family who had them stuck away in drawers and cupboards. They have the old 30 pin connector and nothing uses them these days. I did my research first and discovered that I could buy the USB to 30 pin cable for peanuts on the web. Get this:
On eBay of course and the cost? ……. $5 for 5 complete cables including postage!!
If you don’t believe me look at the eBay site. Back to the phones.

You need to get them to Erase All Content and Settings. This can done by:


  1. Going to Settings and tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  2. Then remove the SIM card as it has no use in a Throttle.
  3. Or best of all – look at the explanation on this site.

Android:    Look at the explanation on this site.

THROTTLES: you need to load an app into the phones:

Wi Throttle Lite on the iPhone
Engine Driver on the Android

(this will still be possible via WiFi using your App Store or Play Store.

This is what they look like used to look like when running on the device:

The people who kindly develop
Wi Throttle for iDevices have made a couple of significant improvements.

iPhone 4SWi Throttle Lite – this is what the “Address” screen looks like.

It is showing the Roster obtained from JMRI Decoder Pro which must be running in the layout room. The phone connects to this by WiFi and displays several screens. This the one shown as “Address” (lower middle).

I have scrolled down the list and selected 4201 then “Set” that selection. Next I will select Throttle circled in RED.



You can now select from 4 sub menus:

  • Recent selections
  • Keypad entry if you know the engine number
  • Roster of entries for selection
  • A list of Consists (ie previously coupled together locos)

It now looks like this – this one being the “Recent” list.

And this one – the Roster list.



The next Throttle screen looks like this:

This is the major improvement: in this version, to see multiple control (Function) buttons, you had to swipe sideways which was a little awkward.
NOW, the function buttons now scroll UP and DOWN which seems more intuitive

The selected loco is shown with a green background.

The throttle is a slider on the right.

Direction can be predicted by the arrow pointer at “Idle”

The BEST BENEFIT – you don’t have to remember F numbers and what they do!
The Functions are in text on the buttons (albeit abbreviated) and you can put them where you like.


The next screen is now revealed by a swipe UP and shows more Functions. As below.



This is the second page of Functions.

You can have more if you like, on another screen!

To be quite honest, I now rarely use the command station throttles on my NCE system.



Android Option called Engine Driver.

Once WiFi has been established, this is the next screen.

When you press “Select” a Roster list appears and you select the loco.


As below:






This screen lists the locos in the roster obtained by WiFi from JMRI.


Touch the loco to select it.


Previous locos are retained in a “Recent” list for convenience.






The loco is now selected and the window shows the loco number, directions with the current selection in green.

This throttle is a horizontal slider.

Both throttles have a few options in preferences.

Speed steps shown at top right.

The Plain language buttons are a feature and there is room for plenty of them .



I have only lightly covered the interface between JMRI and Wi throttles. Perhaps another blog post??  (if there is any interest)

Regards – Rick

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Rick Fletcher

Born in the steam era and developed an interest in railways when given a clockwork Hornby "set". Surrounded by steam when travelling to school (by train of course) and holidays were always by steam train as we had no car. How lucky was I?

4 thoughts on “WiFi Throttles & USB”

  1. Hi Rick,
    Another great post on evolving dcc control. I think its great to see that there are freeware software options available that can save modeller’s a lot of money when it comes to dcc controls. Especially when we seem to upgrade our mobiles every 1-2 years. I take my Samsung tablet along to the clubroom and use the Engine Driver app which is so easy to use and has built in wifi so you can easily walk around the layout. I am keeping my eye on the latest ESU CAB dcc controller (http://www.esu.eu/en/products/digital-control/cabcontrol/) which appears to be very impressive with a lot of great features, although is still quite expensive at the moment. For the time being I’m happy to continue using Engine Driver on my android phone/tablet and may switch to the ESU Cab controller when prices come down. Thanks for another great blog Rick. Regards, Nathan.

    1. Thanks Nathan,
      What really appealed to me was “This system was specially developed for use in North America and Australia.” It’s rare to see something targeted at Oz!
      I have seen Matt’s video a few times and I would like to have seen a better close-up on the screen and what the icons look like.
      Cost would be the biggest problem here as well. That’s why I like the old iPhone 4s – so far I have had all of them donated. They are also a good size for hand and pocket.
      Regards – Rick

  2. Hi Rick,
    I for one would be very interested in understanding JMRI to WiFi interface and how to set it up.
    I have my Dell windows 10 desktop in my layout/study room and have Engine driver App on my Android mobile. I will need to install JMRI.
    Another great post.
    We need to work out how to make your blog more visible to the great unwashed modeling fraternity.
    Most model railway enthusiasts seem to use Facebook these days.

  3. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for that – I will do a bit more on JMRI and WiFi. It works well but there are some quirky bits that are not explained very well. I have a few post-its on the wall to remind of some of the problems.
    Regards – Rick
    (will examine a link to my facebook page)

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