Davis-Murdoch Stone Company

August 2023

Updated Train Control

My simple On30 layout does not require a sophisticated control system


The first shelf layout I built in the early 90s had analog control, using a simple power pack to run the trains. In that particular application a power pack mounted in the center of the layout filled the bill, as I could control the power pack with my right hand to reach to the left or my left hand to reach everything to the right. I only ran trains solo, and only ran one train at a time.

As my layouts got larger, a simple power pack no longer suited my train control needs. A lot of my model railroading friends had
Digitrax systems at that time, so I got one for myself. I was generally happy with Digitrax, the command station ran literally for decades with few problems. My dissatisfaction with Digitrax grew when I began to program momentum into the CVs of my locomotive decoders. Guest operators began to spin the speed controllers frantically to get their trains moving and to stop. It was as if they were trying to wring the knob completely off, and the speed controller could not put up with much of that abuse before it would become faulty and unpredictable. I returned throttles to Digitrax on a regular basis for the same repair over and over again. They would be returned with the same cheap speed controllers as replacements.

Over time I had the opportunity to operate layouts with
NCE control systems. The throttles were set up differently and did not seem to be subject to the same issues my Digitrax throttles were having. So when I got the opportunity to buy a barely used second hand NCE system, I made the switch. The NCE system has worked reliably, and I have not had to send any components back to the manufacturer for repairs.

But my second hand NCE system came with only one throttle. That is adequate for troubleshooting electrical problems, programming CVs, and operating solo. But I wanted more throttles in order to be able to host group operating sessions. A requirement of any throttle used on my layout is that it allow quick and easy access to the stationary decoders I use to throw my turnouts. Accessing stationary decoders using simplified, compact throttles like I would prefer visitors to use is often difficult or impossible.

My search for a throttle well suited for a visiting operator led me to the
UWT-100 by TCS. The throttles themselves are relatively small and lightweight. They do not interfere with the function of my NCE system, so the throttle I already have is still completely functional.


The UWT-100 is cordless, interfacing with my NCE system through a WiFi panel which is almost-but-not-quite the same size and configuration of my old Digitrax UP5 panels, of which I still had a pile in a drawer somewhere.


I modified a Digitrax UP5 fascia panel to make it work with the
Wifitrax board. I can now mount it on the fascia of the layout, but the Status LED of the WifiTrax board is so bright and distracting I will either mount the board in an accessible but hidden location, or do something about dimming the intensity of the LED.