Wireless hand controller for model railway “TCS-RC”

Do you feel like in the Stone Age with current hand-controller for the model railway? Tired of controlling the trains and still pulling the cable behind you? That’s right, the revolution in model railroad control is coming!


This wireless controller called TCS-RC is primary intended for the Digital Command Station TCS and all its functions can only be used with this command station. However, this does not mean that it is not possible to use it with other command stations. The first to be available is the Roco Z21 protocol, which is compatible with the Roco Z21 command station (only with LAN versions) and is also compatible with other command stations such as the Digikejs DR5000. Other protocols such as Lenz XpressNet over LAN (Li-LAN or Li-ETH) and Lenz XpressNet over BLE will be added soon.

The controller is fully wireless and communicates with command stations only via WiFi. For long operation, it is equipped with a rechargeable Li-Pol battery with a capacity of 1850 mAh, which is sufficient capacity for operation all day (more than 12 hours). The color IPS display is used for display, on which the list of trains or accessories and their active states is displayed. To add trains and accessories, you can use several options, either the keyboard, which allows you to type letters and numbers, or NFC tags, which are generated in the Android application.

Main Features

  • Color IPS display
  • Fully wireless via WiFi
  • NFC for WiFi connection or adding trains and accessories
  • Charging and battery monitor
  • FREE online updates (via Internet)
  • Language selection (Czech/English/German)
  • Protocol selection
    • TCS (crypted)
    • Roco Z21
    • Lenz XpressNet LAN (Not fully tested)
    • Lenz XpressNet BLE (Not supported)
  • Encoder or wheel with center detent
  • Automatic brightness regulation by daylight
  • Fits perfectly in every hand
  • Connecting to TCS command station as a Admin or User
  • Full management of WiFi networks
  • Lot of settings (brightness, energy saving, and more…)
  • Detailed battery monitor

Railway Functions

  • Automatic connection to TCS command station (Z21 an other too)
  • Automatic load the train database from TCS command station (only in TCS protocol)
  • Full control of trains using a wheel (encoder or wheel with center detent)
  • Control turnouts and other accessories
  • Form for adding and editing trains and accessories
  • Adding trains and accessories via NFC
  • Control accessories
  • Settings of train functions (icon, order)
  • Read and write CV

Basic package

  • Hand-controller TCS-RC
  • Charging microUSB cable
  • Charger 2xUSB 2.1A
  • Guide (CZ language only)
  • 3x NFC tag

Physical parameters

  • Powerful ESP32 processor
  • WiFi: 2.4 GHz b/g/n
  • Dimensions (h x w x d) : 165 x 80 x 28 mm
  • Weight: 270g
  • Charging via microUSB
  • Battery Li-Pol 1850 mAh
  • Magnets on back side of the box
  • Battery life: 8 to 24 hours
  • Charging time: 4 to 8 hours


Hand-cotroller TCS-RC (Wheel with center detent)
Package:
– Charging adapter
– Micro USB cable (2m)
– Guide (CZ only)

Availability:
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Available only for the Czech republic

PRICE
Basic package: 270 €


Hand-cotroller TCS-RC (Encoder wheel)
Package:
– Charging adapter
– Micro USB cable (2m)
– Guide (CZ only)

Availability:
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Available only for the Czech republic

PRICE
Basic package: 270 €


Charging stand for hand-cotroller TCS-RC
Package:
– Micro USB cable 90° (1.8m)
– Drill card

Availability: Available only for the Czech republic

PRICE
Basic package: 40 €

Display screenshots

Selected screenshots from hand-controller system. It can be slightly different over time.

Everything is automatic and intuitive

When first started, the hand-controller will ask only for the language, protocol (command station) and prompt you to connect to WiFi. That’s all you have to do. The hand-controller will take care of everything else. It finds the command station itself, connects to it and loads all the trains from the command station. After that, you can only drive carefree! The next time you start the hand-controller, it remembers everything, so it connects automatically.

The TCS-RC hand-controller is designed to be so easy to operate that you won’t even need a manual! (Don’t worry, printed instructions are still included in the package and can also be downloaded from the web in PDF – now only in Czech language)

Automatic online updates – FREE

New functions, as well as possible repairs of those existing functions, can be accessed very easily and, most importantly, FREE OF CHARGE. Each time you start the hand-controller, it will check the Internet to see if a new update is available, and if so, you will be prompted to perform this update. The update is downloaded first and then performed automatically.

The list with updates changes is on the link below.

Additional accessories – charging stand

An optional charging stand is available for purchase, which can be hung (or glued) to a wall or railway table. However, it can also stand on the table.

The hand-controller fits perfectly into the stand and is held in place by magnets to keep it from falling out. At the same time, the stand can be used to charge the hand-controller, which is then indicated by the LED on the front of the stand. The connection between the hand-controller and the stand is only by means of spring contacts, so it is easy to connect and disconnect. In addition to these charging contacts, the stand is also equipped with two USB ports (left and right), which serve for easier charging via cable when you have the hand-controller in your hand. The charging stand can be connected to USB charger via micro USB cable, which is included in hand-controller package (for desk use) or can be connected via micro USB cable 90° which is included in charging stand package (for wall mount).

The stand is made using 3D printing and therefore some may find its quality lower than if it were produced in series production.

Multicontrol

The hand-controller allows you to control several things at the same time, for example, when controlling switches or other accessories, you can change the speed of the train with the wheel or control train functions via keyboard. These functions can be enabled or disabled in settings.

Another example of multi-control can be the control of multiple trains at the same time – this is currently being worked on. With one button, it would be possible to switch between selected trains and easily control them with the wheel.

Two wheel options to choose from

The hand-controller can be purchased in two variants, according to different control wheels. Both variants are the same, they differ only in the inserted module with the correct wheel and after agreement it is possible to replace the wheel later as needed (for more information, ask – contact).

The wheel with center detent is based on a similar principle as the ROCO MultiMAUS. There is zero in the middle and the wheel can be rotated 120 ° in each direction, thus changing the speed and direction of the train. Each wheel position corresponds exactly to a certain speed.

The wheel, called the encoder, is quite different from the first variant. It rotates indefinitely and each turn to the right means adding speed (by the number set in the settings) and turning to the left means reducing speed. Pressing the wheel changes the direction of the train. This wheel can also be used to control the entire controller instead of the navigation arrows.

Protocol Roco Z21

The hand-controller also includes the Roco Z21 protocol, which enables communication with the Roco Z21 or Digikejs DR5000 command stations. As you may know, to connect it is usually necessary to know the IP address of the command station, but the TCS hand-controller can find this IP address itself and connect automatically.

When using the Roco Z21 protocol, some functions of the hand-controller are not accessible. These are above-standard functions of the TCS command station, such as connection with Admin / User rights, loading the list of trains from the command station, monitoring if someone no longer controls the same train and more. But even so, you will enjoy the control of trains with the TCS-RC controller enough and you will know the magic.

NFC

NFC tags can be used for easy data entry. In the Android application you can create a NFC tag for connecting to a WiFi network or also for a specific train or accessory. If you leave NFC on all the time, you can quickly switch between trains and accessories using NFC tags (more on the video). However, this can adversely affect battery life.

Wrote about us

I would like to thank the magazine Digitale Modellbahn from Germany, in which an article about the TCS-RC wireless hand-controller appeared and in an earlier issue also about the TCS command station. The editors of this magazine also supported the development by purchasing a command station and a hand-controller. In the past, they have supported the development of the RS feedback bus for the command station under construction.

What else is planned?

The following features are missing and will be added:

  • Protocol Lenz XpressNet (over BLE)
  • Protocol LocoNet (if I get some HW for testing 🙂 )
  • Protocol for communication wit RocRail server
  • Control two and more trains simultaneously
  • Feedback informations (S88/RS-BUS/…)
  • List of connected devices and more features with it

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3 thoughts on “Wireless hand controller for model railway “TCS-RC”

  1. Pingback: How to implement the NFC module into M5Stack FACES box? – ZAVAVOV

  2. Alex

    This looks very interesting, and I will keep an eye on this. However, you may have to consider the naming of your product. There is a US company called TCS (Train Control Systems) who make DCC Equipment for model trains. Could be a possible name conflict.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Alex,
      thank you for the comment. I know about US company called TCS (I found it after I started sell my first product http://www.zavavov.cz/en/tcs-en/). At start, it will be product for Czech republic, here is the name OK, but I am thinking about better name of course.
      For other countries will be the product later – there is lot of things as a guide in the other languages and more…

      Vilem

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