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I'm not a gamer, so I don't know an Xbox from a PS3.  However, I do know that I'd prefer to have a tactile way to interact with the DCS app.  I currently have the app on Android tablets.

A year or two ago, there were posts on the forum about attempts to use an inexpensive gaming controller and map it to the DCS app.  I bought a controller and tried that; however, the mapping apps that I found all wanted to take control of the root directory on my tablet.  Given the sketchy reviews for those apps, I wasn't going to allow that, so the controller got returned.  I think that @H1000 was working on it but put his attempts on the back burner.

I've watched several YouTube videos about using a game controller with a tablet, but all of the ones I've seen are focused on how to make the Bluetooth connection (even I can figure that out!) and they assume that the game one wants to play has already been coded to support a controller. 

1. Has anyone successfully used a gaming controller with the DCS app?  If so, which controller and mapping app did you use?

2. Has anyone found a mapping app that is reputable and/or does not want to take control of the root directory?

3. I know I'm dreaming, but is there any hope that MTH will code the DCS app so that it supports a gaming controller?

Thanks in advance.  Please don't turn this into a thread about how MTH should produce more remotes and allow them to work wirelessly with the new WTIU - it doesn't sound like that's ever going to happen, so complaining about it will just get the thread closed.

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That said, another improvement could be a stateful connection and reporting status between the app and the WIU/WTIU.

A lot of the problems are we hope and pray the magical command packet sent by the app, then go over the network and make it to the WIU then TIU. This would both assist in troubleshooting but more importantly be a more robust real time active control system.

A stateful connection is one the connection is kept open even though the two systems might not be transmitting information (i.e., the connection itself retains state).

Right now, there is no indicator of any kind of the DCS app being connected to the WIU and thus a TIU, or the upcoming WTIU. The protocols just spew commands and expects responses and if they happen to route across the network and actually make it to the engine and back- then it works. If it is delayed or any other problem, you get generic error messages. If there was any one major overhaul improvement, a big one would be to make the connection state between the app open up a stateful connection and maintain that connection, and notify the user when that connection is broken.

Lionel got this right in both the Lionchief Bluetooth app and the LCS (Layout Control system app) where it clearly opens a stateful connection and displays that status in the app.

The green linked chain in the corner is that status in this app.


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I'm waiting for the next generation of apps to hit the market before I continue developing my app controller. I'm also hoping that Lionel & MTH take a hint and incorporate this functionality into the app directly to save us all some grief.

I think it was @Ron045 who found a gaming controller that included an app that could overlay on the screen without requiring root access.  It was pretty slick and looked to work well.

Also in the works is the WTIU to DCS remote wireless box that is on the back burner until the WTIU hits the market. This one is a bit more difficult as the source board I originally used is no longer available to me but I did keep the source code used on the device.

My experience has been with an off brand bluetooth gaming controller for smart phones and an Xbox 1 controller. Both with the Lionel app. The off brand sort of worked. It had no way to map but I could get going and stop. The Xbox 1 controller didnt work at all.

My searches for mapping apps came up empty handed but perhaps I wasn't using the right search terms.

I think this truly is the best answer for getting our buttons back. I also hope Lionel/MTH add a mapping feature to their apps.

@BillYo414 posted:

...My searches for mapping apps came up empty handed but perhaps I wasn't using the right search terms....

I searched for game controller mapping app - a number of results, and lots of online comments.  There are probably search terms that would be more effective.

One result, which claims that it doesn't need access to the root directory, is  However, it looks like it's from China and the information is poorly written, so I'm skeptical.

I also saw references to an app called Mantis.  I know nothing about either of them, and I don't recall the name of the mapping app that I tried  a year or so ago.

Last edited by Mallard4468

Most of these apps are pretty sketchy due to requesting so many permissions on your device and not providing much detail as to why.  The controller and app that Ron used for Blunami control was made by GAMESIR. It's still based in China and needs some considerable permission for the keymapper to work properly but at least it has an app that is designed for their specific hardware to achieve the very thing you want to do.

Just my $.02, but I don't think a game controller is the answer.  And I would prefer to take the cell phone out of the loop entirely.

Lionel or MTH could approach Ring Engineering (RailPro), CVP Products (Airwire), or even North Coast Engineering (NCE DCC), each of whom makes physical controllers with SCREENS, ROTATING KNOBS, etc., which are better suited for controlling a model train.  The hardware exists.  What's needed is an interface that would allow these hardware controllers to talk to the Base-3, TIU, etc.

Any of us could approach these companies directly ourselves.  But the communication protocols between the handhelds and the bases may be proprietary and they would be a tough nut to crack (even if legal) without help from Lionel or MTH.

Last edited by Ted S

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