How to: The IR remote control

The connection of the IR remote control from the Start up starter set was the main topic in the last edition. Today, we are looking at the actual operation of the hand-held unit with which we can carry out the following tasks:

  • Selection of the locomotive which we want to control
  • Change of the locomotive‘s speed
  • Change of the locomotive‘s driving direction
  • Optional switching of additional functions in the locomotives
  • Triggering of the „Stop“ function in precarious situation and cut-off of the operating voltage at the track
  • Setting the address of a Märklin locomotive with an electronically programmable decoder

It is possible to select up to four different addresses for selecting the locomotives. In our control system these addresses have the designation 1, 2, 3 and 4. This IR control is based on the Märklin-Motorola-format offered by Märklin for more than 30 years. This format actually supports 80 different addresses. Our IR remote control uses only four of these addresses:

Position 1    =    MM-Adress 78 

Position 2    =    MM-Adress 72

Position 3    =    MM-Adress 60

Position 4    =    MM-Adress 24

Therefore, these four addresses are identical to the addresses already used in the Märklin beginners system called DELTA from the 1990s. At that time, each address was assigned to a vehicle genre. Even today, the Märklin engineers orient themselves towards these prescriptions when determining the address of the Start up models. However, exceptions are possible.

Adress 78    =    Steam locomotives

Adress 72    =    Diesel locomotives

Adress 60    =    Railcars

Adress 24    =    Electric locomotives


Most of the Start up starter sets contain steam locomotives. Therefore, we need to set the address switch to position 1 in this case. Important: Both batteries need to be inserted in order for the IR controller to function. The correct polarity of the batteries is a crucial issue (markings "+" and "-" on the battery must correspond to the markings in the battery compartment. A wrong polarity can lead to the destruction of the controller! Now, please check if the switching power supply for supplying the base station is connected to a domestic mains socket. Only in this way the layout and the locomotive can be supplied with electrical power.

The IR controller doesn‘t require an On / Off switch. As soon as a button is pressed, the devices switches on automatically. When it is not used for some minutes, it switches off automatically. Important: In this case the locomotive will automatically stand still. This circuit guarantees that a starter set will not remain operational for hours in case it is left unattended.

Now, we press the button for increasing the speed (marked with a "+"). This is carried out stepwise until reaching the final speed of the locomotive.

In order to reduce the speed, the button "-" below is used. In this way, we can gradually set any desired speed of the locomotive.


By the way, the receiver for the IR controller is located inside the base station. So, it is recommended to always point the controller in the direction of the base station if possible and not towards the locomotive. However, the reflections of the IR signal in a room should be sufficient so that the base station will receive the new commands also indirectly.

Now, we can let our locomotive drive around. In the next issues we will gradually learn about the other operation possibilities of the IR controller. Until then enjoy testing!