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Digitrax IR wireless - experiences

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  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Sweden
  • 97 posts
Digitrax IR wireless - experiences
Posted by nof on Thursday, March 13, 2008 5:51 AM

Hello all Digitrax users!

I have a Digitrax Super Chief system. The DT-400 throttle has, as you know, built in IR transmitter when delivered. I have been thinking of starting to use this feature but have a couple of qustions before buying the IR receiver(s).

1 - How do place the receiver(s) for a good performance. The receiver is designed to fit in the facsia, will that work?

2 - How long time can you use it on one set of batteries? Have you tried rechargeble batteries, what capacity and time before discharged?

3 - Have you tried more than one throttle? Do they interfere with each other?

I'm well aware of the advantages of radio but there is reasons for not going to radio now.

A - The cost.

B - There will probably be a two-way radio throttle / receiver released in the (not to distant) future. When so it's better to save the money for that kind of upgrade.

I'm looking forward to read your opinions and eperiences on this. 

Nils-Olov Modelling the tomorrow in N-scale.
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: SE Michigan
  • 885 posts
Posted by fmilhaupt on Thursday, March 13, 2008 6:33 AM

I recommend against installing the UR90 receiver in the fascia. Since IR is more-or-less line-of-sight, IR throttles work better when the receivers are mounted above the layout.

When we picked up a batch of UR90s for our modular layout (to use in a couple of places that were downright hostile to our radio throttles), we mounted them on posts to place them five or six feet off the floor. That put them at the right height for the way most of our crews held their throttles in normal use. We set them up at the midway points along each side of our layout.

Using multiple IR throttles hasn't been a problem for us. We haven't seen any real signs of interference between them.

The biggest problem we've had using our IR back-up system is that most places we set up the modules have us in the middle of a large room, so we don't get to take advantage of the IR signal reflecting off of walls or ceilings, which can make pointing the throttle at the receiver considerably easier. In smaller rooms with light-colored walls and ceilings, it's often not even necessary to aim the throttle- the receiver can pick up the signal from "bounce". In large rooms where we can't count on reflected signal, we have to think about pointing the throttles in the direction of the receivers.

We've gotten well in excess of twelve hours' use out of a set of batteries. Because we take a conservative approach to control issues, as a matter of policy we usually change batteries after 12 hours of use. I suspect that we could get considerably more use from the batteries, since the only time that the IR throttles use the battery power is when transmitting a speed change or change in function setting. Since it has an active display, the DT400 will use up batteries faster than the UT4s we use the most often, so "your mileage may vary" on this.


-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.

  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: Metro East St. Louis
  • 5,743 posts
Posted by simon1966 on Thursday, March 13, 2008 7:13 AM
My first wireless efforts with Digitrax on my own layout has been with the IR.  I can concur that line-of-sight between the throttle and the UR90 is important.  My train room is narrow with an around the walls style.  I simply placed 1 UR90 in the ceiling in the center of the train room.  It works fine for my needs, but does require some deliberate aiming of the throttle when I am at the ends of the room.  The solution would be an additional UR90, but I want to go radio and am also awaiting the duplex system when it comes out.  I use either lithium 9v or rechargeable lithium 9v batteries. I have never bothered to verify how long they last.

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site and our videos at

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