Zimo DCC equipment

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Some of the highest quality stuff made. Quality components, connectors, huge software capability, tons of features. Also one of the most expensive systems made.

Very high featured, both the decoders and the DCC control systems, but can be complex, and hard to figure out since the stuff is made in Austria, and documentaiton is a so-so translation to English, and the English translations always lag significantly behind hardware and software releases.

Support is spotty, the manuals are helpful, but a lot of the documentation has embedded graphics, and thus those are not translated. There are not many US users, so the English language forums available are not a wealth of information. Recently I have emailed directly to their customer service department with specific questions and have received prompt answers so that's my fall back technique, go to the forums first and share the knowledge. I have started my own groups.io forum due to some, well, "intertia" in other forums. Come over and join! https://groups.io/g/Zimo

Decoder hardware & firmware

The decoders themselves are are priced competitively, amazingly, I use both Z, HO G decoders. The number of functions on the decoders is high, and servo drive and lots of function outputs and a lot of capability is available.

They can honestly handle the advertised current they state and are very reliable. The sound amps are all class D. 

In Z scale, some of the best motor control around, very useful for the pesky Marklin motors that draw so much current and cannot be smoothly controlled by other decoders.

The sound decoders are normally too large for Z scale, but when you can fit them, they are nice.

In G scale, The "big" MX695 and it's varients is a very rugged decoder with so many bells and whistles you just cannot beat it on functionality. Small locomotives, speeders, trolleys and simliar can be handled with some of  the HO decoders.

Lots of options, "direct drive" for smoke unit heater and fan, syncs with motor speed or steam chuffs, up to 4 servo outputs, screw terminals in the MX69x series. High quality construction.

Decoder sound files

For decoders, for years, the sound library was pretty thin for American locos, and the hardware design is the old school design in terms of "speed groups" of sounds, you can define up to 10 groups of sounds (chuff, prime mover, etc), and then have the decoder switch through these groups as speed increases. If you are going to create sound files yourself this can be a lot of work. The ability to make your own sound files is an OK feature, but nowadays, other manufacturers have extensive sound libraries, and there are many sounds in a locomotive. Basically you have to LOVE making sound files to do anything yourself that will sound good.

Originally, there were hardly any American sound files, and all the steam files seemed to be re-incarnations of the K27 file. But, recently, in 2016, a lot more American sound files have become available, developed by a guy in Europe. The decoders have a way to authenticate the purchased sound file to your decoder. The situation has thus improved a lot, and is one of the best ones out there.

Visit the Zimo site and browse the sound files available and which cost money and decide for yourself.

Command Station and handheld throttles/cabs

Yes, the Zimo DCC control system is expensive, pretty much the most expensive in the world, although the new MX10 command station/booster is the highest powered system available (20 amps) and has features unmatched anywhere. The cost for the MX10 and 2 MX32FU wireless cabs is almost $3,000.

I considered changing from my beloved NCE equipment to Zimo for some time. I purchased a system in 2015 and am still learning it, BUT it is STILL running on what I call beta software, since some major functions are incomplete. Basic consisting was first supported just before Christmas in 2016, more than a year later.

Why did I change from the great NCE system? Mainly because I need over 10 amps per power district, and I felt that Zimo has more development going on with new products and the firmware is USB upgradable. From what I could tell, the system was more flexible and more modern. From my viewpoint, this was the right decision, there is more development going on than any other DCC system manufacturer in terms of bug fixing and adding advanced features.

In addition, I figured I might also use some of the other features. The ability to upgrade the command station and cabs myself from a usb stick was very attractive.

So, while I am struggling with the missing functions, and sometimes overly complex structure, I love my system and am happy I decided to "step up" to Zimo.

Forums / support:

There's very little support outside of the German language forums and web site.

There is a Yahoo groups forum that is ok: Link to Yahoo group Zimo forum but frankly I was pretty unhappy there. I posted several times with very specific questions, since I've really dug into this, and got very unhelpful answers and attitude. I've created a Zimo forum on groups.io where insults won't be tolerated, and unhelpful responses deletet. (many groups are abandoning Yahoo for groups.io) Feel free to post on my groups.io forum: https://groups.io/g/Zimo

Where next?

Follow the links below to explore decoders or the MX10/MX32 DCC system.


  MX10 system & MX32FU cabs     Zimo decoder programming tips