Wonderful Gift: DCS to PC control

As a new member to the forum, I would like to explain how I became involved with this forum. I have a son who has cerebral palsy.  Michael is considered a quadriplegic; therefore he has no use of his hands.  He loves model trains and would like to be able to run them by himself.  A couple of years ago I called MTH to see if they were planning to make the DCS system compatible with computers. They said they had no plans at this time.  I was hoping for a different answer since my son uses a Windows based computer called a Dynavox which he uses for communication.  His only means of control is a switch for his knee to hit and a quadrant scanning program to choose the items on screen.

About six months ago I was at a train store in Mercer, PA (Mercer Junction) and asked the owner Dave if MTH had come up with a system to run trains by computer.  He said that at this time it was not in the works.  He did however show me a video made by Mike Hewett (SKYLAR on the OGR forum who had previously posted a lengthy thread titled PCS Control of MTH Trains) which did exactly what we needed for my son.  I contacted Mike by email and in a couple of days I received a phone call from him.  He asked me about Michael and his computer.  He told me about his program and his method.  He said to give him some time and he would get back to me.  Well over the past few months, Mike worked with my son’s system by downloading a trial version of his scanning software.  After phone calls and emails with my wife and me and some trial and error, Mike finally got everything to work.  My son now is able to run his trains independently.   His world has opened up a little more because of the hard work and dedication of Mike Hewett. 

What a wonderful gift Mike has given my son and others with disabilities.  There is a smile on Michael’s face when he is running his MTH trains thanks to Mike Hewett.  We are forever grateful to him and his hard work and perseverance.

Take a look at the attached pictures of Mike and his system.

Michael with Dynavox

Michael running his train


Total setup with Dynavox

Interface box


Photos (5)
Original Post

And now (but I hope and fervently pray not) comes the nasty letter from Mr Wolfs legal beagle lawyers saying "cease and desist" or else......




Free lancing fictitious Iowa Midwest Division of Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway

Take a cab and trolley ride on P&WV  https://www.youtube.com/watch?...7pZJZBL_4&t=144s





I think it is awesome.


(Never you mind the pesky parasite law(cough..ers)


I've got a old JMRI computer interface and disk if anyone wants one.

A living Steam Engine hauling a train with commerce, reaching across time and space; is a wonderful journey undertaken by Man.


A product of our fine College System that has been made redundant by imports of Foreign Workers willing to push a Keyboard for a living.

in my personal opinion, Mike's Dad has no reason to worry about a "cease & desist" letter from MTH. Just think of the negative publicity that would ensue if the news media got ahold of the story--- I may be wrong, but I don't think I am---

William Pickert "A day without trains is a day wasted"

What a great story. I wonder if the gentleman who built this system would be interested in turning his package into a commercial package. Just think how many kids around the world could benefit from this. In opening model train operation to disabled folk would give untold pleasure in their lives.

Originally Posted by Allan Miller:

I have had contact with Mike Hewett recently, and we're working out details of getting a how-to article published in the magazine.  This story from "Mike's Dad" would make a great addition to that article.

That's really great Allan, I hope MTH can involve themselves in this, a very worthy project.

To Mike Hewett and David;

May God Bless both of you for what you have done. This is a blessing for a very restricted individual.  I can think of nothing more valuable on earth than to give of yourselves to help a person with such need.


And in this case I doubt MTH will have an issue with the application. They may well have an issue with a commercial launch of said program tho. They have stated they are not interested in maintaining such a program.

Well done Mike, Mike, and Dave!


This is a great example of how computer control can expand the hobby we love for the people we love.


I have spent some time talking to Mike Hewett about his system and IMO it's a good first step for those interested in computer control, especially if they are interested in learning to write software.  I look forward to the OGR how to article.  Hopefully this will encourage MTH to allow 3rd party development of a DCS computer interface.  The market for such a system is there and growing.

I'm looking forward to your article, Mike.  I can assure you we'll do it up right and I will work with you toward that end.  I figure if I can understand and follow the how-to steps, anyone can.


And, with the permission of Michael's parents of course, we'll also include him as a sidebar feature to demonstrate the potential of your invention.

Clever approach.  I disagree that reverse engineering MTH protocols is a breach of anything, but you have avoided the issue rather neatly.  Conceptually, it is like those "learning" remote controls that store the IR patterns to control a TV, DVR etc using a random remote.  Even if MTH disagrees with you, there is a body of work on your side.




Just abut the time I get really down about all the craziness in the world, I read an amazing story about 4 very wonderful people - and I get my smile back.


All I can say is that there is a special place waiting for all of you in heaven and hopefully not for many many years !


Thank you for sharing this incredible story.



(Somehow I missed this thread )


This is wonderful! As has been said, Michael's smile says it all - what an expression of joy!


Mike (Hewett) is a great guy, he is very nice to work with, and now has added another feather to his cap of accomplishments – undoubtedly the one of which he can be most proud.


Well done, Mike! (Looking forward to the OGR article.)



Happy O-Gauge Railroading!

  Alexander Müller

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God bless everyone involved in this effort.  It warms my heart to read a thread like this one.  Congratulations to Mike, Michael and his parents for their perseverance and dedication.

Ron, the newbie.

Ron L


Support our troops.  Thank YOU!  to those serving and all veterans.

Originally Posted by Allan Miller:

I'm looking forward to your article, Mike.  I can assure you we'll do it up right and I will work with you toward that end.  I figure if I can understand and follow the how-to steps, anyone can.


And, with the permission of Michael's parents of course, we'll also include him as a sidebar feature to demonstrate the potential of your invention.

Allan, Michael would enjoy that.  It is wonderful to see him run the trains since Mike Hewett built the interface for him.  We are forever in his debt.


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