Zimo MX10 system & MX32FU cab

(remember: links to sub-pages at the bottom of this page)

click to jump to the bottom


The MX10 is the long awaited upgrade to the venerable MX1 system. Zimo makes very high quality equipment with lots of bells and whistles. In the past, I have stayed away because of the very high cost and also some of the features are unique to Zimo decoders only and I use a variety of decoders, so specialized features only applicable to one particular manufacturer is not a big advantage.. Also, I'm so spoiled with the NCE cabs, with plenty of dedicated buttons, clear menus, and not tons of nested menus. I also don't care a bit about a color display or showing pretty pictures of my locos on the display.

But, based on the promise of a 20 amp system, and the ability to put a full 24 volts on the rails, I bit the bullet. I received my new system from Train-Li in August 2015. I'm going to note down my observations as I learn it.

Currently, in September 2018, a full 3 years later, the firmware is still missing features. Over the last year, the updates have stabilized and the system responds much better and lockups are rare. The help screens are still not complete and not all in English.  The Ethernet interface is still not implemented, nor is the interface to JMRI. .

I had waited years for this product. I have a Zimo newslettter from July 2011 saying it's in the final stages of development. The November 2014 newsletter says it's in production. July 2015 was the first shipping as far as I can tell.

Command station and throttles:

One of the most expensive systems on the market, if not the most expensive. The MX10 command station is $2,100 and the wireless cabs are $600 each.

The command station can will be able to program Zimo sound files, saves you $200 for the separate programmer.

The MX10 has been in development forever it seems, as of July 2015, a few have shipped, and I have one,  but still some of the functionality is incomplete.

On the other hand, Zimo has always been great with firmware updates, so I have confidence that the additional missing features will be added withouth hardware updates.

As usual, very nice hardware construction, and so many options, it will take me some time to list them and figure them out.

The throttles are a good size, and the OLED display can be fairly well seen in bright sunlight. The very configurable display helps a lot and you also have a slider that shows throttle speed, and bright LEDs for direction, and status of accessories like turnouts. There are several unique features that makes the cabs exceptional, it's too bad that their literature does not do a better job of pointing this out for prospective customers.

Organization and pages on this site:

This pages will have top level information and some "quick start" to answer the typical questions and get new users going fast.

There are a number of sub pages see the end of this main page.

Greg's System Notes:

This is where I will keep notes to myself as I go, sort of a scratch pad. It's also my things to learn or do list. Eventually it will go.

This is at the top of the page for my convenience, sorry! It helps me keep this information handy

Current system h/w & f/w status

MX32FU - Cab 1:

UID 33EFF13E 0000C3DE

HW: 07.60.0414

SW: 01.23.0050
2017.07.28 19:27.38

MX32FU - Cab 2:

UID: 339321EC 0000C3F4

HW: 07.60.0414

SW: 01.20.0150 2017.02.24 16:58:02

MX10 - Command station:

sw:  1.21.0012
2017.07.28 17:11:19

Battery charge / status

On the 2 cabs I have, after charging all night, they have 4122 and 4176 millivolts shown. I can only assume they are lithium batteries.

To display the current voltage (cab config) E-0,  then scroll to Info / Statistic

Note, while this display updates power on time, and rx messages, etc, the voltage is NOT UPDATED, and you have to "re-enter" the Info / Statistic screen to get the current voltage. That sucks. Also note that the best test of charge is when the charge current drops. It won't drop to zero because the system is running.

cab 1

cab 2
 4122    4176    2016.03.26
 4137    4142    2016.03.28
 4104    4160    2016.04.02
     4171 17  2016.04.16
 4092 17 4149 17 2016.11.14


To power or charge the cabs, you use the can bus, but it shows that a special cable “6POLCAN2” can be used in the xnet socket, where to get or what is the wiring?

System firmware/status/bugs

Be sure to read the firmware pages carefully, the updates can be tricky, and many times you have to load other files because fonts or symbols "disappear". This is at the top because there are some really important features missing or only partially implemented, even though the system has been available for almost 3 years. Don't get me wrong, I love the system, it's the most capable out there (or will be!), and the addition of new features is beyond the other systems available.

Bug fix / improvement suggestions for Zimo:

  • Change the power off - standby screen to say "sec" not min" where it counts down the seconds left in standby mode.
  • the "Accept: E" on most screens should probably be "Back: E" or bettery yet "Escape: E" so people can remember what E means. (or "End: E")
  • Keep original language in MX10 after firmware update. (Zimo knows this, it will be changed, but there are so many languages supported, and not all support is complete so it is safer to reset back to German which is complete, otherwise it could be hard to use the system due to incomplete translations).

Suggestions to Zimo for improvement:

  1. Finish the "standard" NMRA functions first, the basics that should have been included at first release:
  2. Consisting
  3. Advanced Consisting
  4. What happened to the easy/intermediate/advanced modes? That was a nice feature.
  5. When the system reboots, you cannot do ANYTHING until you enter a loco number. This is silly, the "E" command should ALWAYS work.


Critical Information needed/desired:

  • Understand how changing items on a cab interacts with "system" storage and other cabs. I'm getting seemingly erratic results when I do something on one throttle and then pick up the other throttle.
  • Find a way to use "normal" NMRA accessory decoder addressing. My switches were given addresses of 1,2,3, etc. but looks like I have to use the "paired" addressing mode, with 4 subaddresses, so address 1 is address 1, subaddress 0, address 2 is address 1, subaddress 1, etc. This is basically nuts.
  • Need battery state of charge indication, the icon is too small and does not seem to show state of charge accurately, the multi step method to find the battery voltage is not good, since every battery has a slightly different voltage.
  • use of JMRI over ethernet
  • check out Rail Manager ck out Rail Manager www.Modellbahnberatung.com
  • Main-Mode Zimo vs NMRA? NMRA shows 28 functions, this is grayed out in "Zimo" mode. What else happens?
  • Touchscreen seems erratic, is there a timeout on how often you can touch, is there a way to calibrate?
  • Need terminating components specified on CAN bus
  • Why is speed bar green or red?
  • There is an “adaptive overcurrent detection” circuit, how to enable? Is this the “quick shutdown” setting mentioned earlier?


page 4 states you can make your own "8POLAxM" cables, but no wiring diagram is given

page 6 states that the current consumption is from 70ma to 300 ma while charging battery, the units use more current when charging

page 8 says htting the II key will jump to the object databse if in loco in mode
 screen saver timeout can be set n CAB CONF

page 9 and other locations speak of a "communications dot", in English a dot is a small round circle filled in, this is a box that flashes and is sometimes filled... need a better description

III key toggles loco recall list  LoR

C key deletes from loco recall but not the object database

try loading 2 different styles in the cab conf

try using broadcast ss0 as opposed to emergency stop, also set track power off

last line on page 23 is probably wrong, or only true for object in mx10

in system setup, set the AT and BT momentum

rg button used for switching...



Is the programming track output only on output 2? What happens when track 1 & 2 are paralleled?

Track voltage can ramp up? 1-60 sec ramp time is implied

The short circuit shutdown time can be programmed, from 0.01 (or .1?) to 5 seconds in increments of 0.1 second. During the shutdown time, the system holds a constant output current and lowers the voltage to achieve this

There is also a settable “tolerated transgression” of overcurrent, time and current, and also a settable “quick shutdown” at sudden current increase… wow.

Can these work together if the track outputs are paralleled?

Zimo indicates that you must use a regulated supply

What are the plans for the ethernet? Will you be able to just hook a wifi router to it?

MX10 Command station and booster


Connections, left to right:

2 pin socket - "DC in" - DC input for the booster, plus and minus

2 pin socket - DCC MM out Schiene 1 - DCC track out, track 1 (this is the 12 amp output)

3 pin socket - DC out / S1 M S2 - these are DC outputs that are part of the track 1 and track 2 circuits, M is a common ground, S1 is track 1 DC power, S2 is track 2 DC power

2 pin socket - Schiene 2 - this is the track 2 output, which also is the programming track output.

3 pin socket with + M +, with 30v and 12v identified. This is DC The 30v is the voltage supplied through the CAN bus, and is limited to 4 amps. The 12v is used for t eXnet and Loconet connectors and is limited to 2 amps.

2.5 mm audio socket - line out jack is interesting, there seems to be an internal speaker

RJ45 jack - Zimo CAN -

RJ45 jack - Ethernet lan - seems to be 10 megabit, but needs verification

There is a USB client - apparently something in the future will allow the MX10 to be controlled by USB

Under the USB is a loconet socket.

There is a 16 pin dip socket for input ann d output, need to verify the pins, 8 inputs, respond to negative and positive rail power (remember the N and P on the track outputs?) The 6 outputs can source up to 25 ma max, constant current is specified at 15ma each. , (each, can all run at the same time?) What is the output voltage and polarity? The inputs seem to be specified at 3 volts.

Groups, left to right, power, inputs, outputs

   5 volts 2 4 6 8 2 4 6
ground 1 3 5 7 1 3



MX32F Cabs (throttles)

The screen is what I would expect a color display to do in sunklight. It is an OLED display, about the best you can do for brightness. This is a far cry from the super high contrast monochrome LCD in the NCE cabs. The mitigating design features are that the speedometer is white, so very contrasty, and really the speed can be set with the slide lever. At first I did not like this slid throttle, but it allows you to glance at the throttle and instantly get an idea of speed, so it turns out this is a good thing.

There are wired and wireless cabs. The wireless cabs use Zigbee, and can also be operated wired. These are the MX32FU:

Not really happy with the multifunction keyboard with letters that are German abbreviations, but I will learn, I guess:

WP 20150716 18 09 32 Pro




20160326 190425

Other equipment needed:

First, I will need a power supply. Since I want the full 20 amps output, Axel Tillman recommended this Meanwell:


 This version is nicer than the ones I typically use, no fan cooling, all sealed.


First use tips:

First, there's a lot of documentation with color pictures provided. A step above the NCE documents I have, but this system is much more complex, I know it can do more. The documentation is logical in organization, but some things need a single page quick start guide, or to be moved to the front of the manual.

To be clear: the "quick start" section needs to be reduced in size and complexity, even the diagram flow in the manual is confusing, going left to right and down, like a puzzle.

Turning it on/off:

The command station/booster will come on when powered, and shut off when power is removed.

For the cabs, it is different depending on if you plugged the cab in, or going radio mode. Plug it in with the 6 wire cable and it turns on (don't plug it into the identical-looking Ethernet jack in the rear, or the identical-looking "XNET" jack in the front. (crazy to have 2 similar jacks next to each other).

For radio cabs, to turn on press the A key, but don't hold it down for a long time, in 10 seconds it resets the cab. (should have used a different button for on and reset I think)

For wired connection, either jack in the top of the cab is fine. Also note if you have it plugged in and unplug it, you have to either turn on the radio mode (A key), hit the E key to shut off immediately, or do nothing, in which case it will turn itself off after a pre-determined time, which was 240 "min" on my units, which is really 240 seconds (4 minutes). You can set this, but the whole thing seems a bit strange. I guess it saves the battery and alerts you to "do you really want to run on battery, or did you just disconnect the power cable dumbass?".

Ahh a little more investigation shows that the cab is on, but is not communicating... ok, so this mode keeps the cab alive until you can hook to another CAN bus cable to get power. I guess this actually makes sense!

To turn off, just unplug. In wireless mode, this is one of the few times you press and hold a key and then press another. Press and hold the E key then press the A key.

Set Language on cabs

First I got the system and it was in German. The manual has the information, but it should be on the first page.

  1. Pressing E then 0 will get you the CAB menu, the top of the screen will say "PULT CON." (PULT is console, or probably CAB).
  2. Look for Allgemeines (general), make sure the little arrow is pointing at it (use the scroll key on the side). and select it with the "A" key.
  3. Now you should be on a screen and the second item is "Sprache: Deutsch" (Language: German). Scroll down to this line, and select it with the "A" key. Nothing will look different, it's OK!
  4. Now use the little "toggle switch" above the scroll wheel, and turn "Deutsch" to "English", and hit the "A" key. You should now be in English.

Set Language on MX10

Hit the menu button, and then scroll down until you see MX10 config.

Hit the rotary button, and then look for "sprach" and press the button.

You should see "DEUTCH" in a box, and turn the knob until you see "ENGLISH" and then press the button, the language should be changed. Hit the return button to exit the menu system.


A walkthough of the cab keyboards:


There are a bunch of "Shift key" combinations, normally they are described right in the manual, but most are "hit this key first and release, then press the next key". In some places in the manual it written like press and hold the first key and then press the second one.  One exception is power off.

Two other keys usually to have some overall meaning:

A = "accept", our "enter" or "ok" key

E = "escape" or "back"

The top row of keys: help and options

  • M - normally menu
  • I, II, III normally are help and menu options and the screen shows what they do.


Then next group of keys are the most used:

The F^ key is normally used to scroll between the locomotive recall memory, forwards

  • during definition or modification of a loco, is the "save and close"


The vU key is normally used to scroll the locos recall memory, backwards

  • often used to go to the next page in menus

The TP key -

The W key – controls switches

  • You can have “panels” with boxes to press for switches
  • The shift key will toggle display between field numbers and the actual decoder addresses
  • E + 3 + (optional shift) takes you to the switch definition screen, but it's not where normal humans program switches
  • After defining switches, W again does a save and exit, E escapes without exiting
  • The scroll key will show more switches
  • F takes you back to loco mode

The C key

  • normally Clear
  • removes a loco from recall memory
  • deletes last character/digit entered

The (red up arrow) is the shift key, will shift between groups of functions, switches.

Note well: W will take you to the switch definition screen where you can enter the symbol, orientation and DCC address of the switch. Also note that what passes for normal addresses is apparently not normal in Europe. See below for how to program this.


Off to the left side

The MN key is usally used to enter service mode

The RG key


The A and E keys again deserve special mention


A key

  • 1 sec – turn on
  • 10 sec – Reset
  • With e key (first) shuts down cab
  • When on, enters “loco in” mode – enter loco address

The E key, besides escape, is used in conjunction with the following keys to enter various modes:


Direction and stopping

The R key is the reverse key

The S key

  • stop


 Back to the E key, entering modes, E key followed by another

  • + F = enter ops mode programming
  • + MN enters service mode
  • + 1 – functions FUMZ – select the number of functions available, also old LGB serial function
  • +2 – speedometer
  • +3 – switches or accessories
  • +4 – image
  • +5 – functions Fusy – Functions System – function key mapping
  • +6 – object database
  • +7 – not defined
  • +8 – not defined
  • +9 – list of all connected devices
  • +0 – pult conf – configure the MX32
  • E + U / TP / W / C / / RG = nothing



Loco in mode:

  • Type digits
  • F key activate address
  • C key is backspace
  • A key again allows you to enter name
  • How do you enter long vs short addresses?


U enters CV programming

Set the default locomotive screen now!

Now is a good time to set the default screen whenever you add a loco. This is important because there are so many different appearance items to configire.

The trick is to modify locomotive # 16382. What the hell is this? It is the default "pseudo address". You configure this loco, and whenever you define a new loco, this is the "template" you start with.

To enter a new loco you press "A" key, and then you enter address digits, or you look at the bottom of the screen for the ones in memory. You will see them at the bottom.

You will see a prompt on the screen to use the "II" key to select from the object database

do this and then scroll to the 16382 loco (see the carat on the left side), and select with "A", then hit the F^ key to select that loco.


To edit the attributes of a loco:

E+1 =DCC control parameters

  • select speed steps
  • man mode (what is this?)
  • number of functions (dcc functions)


E+2 = set the speedometer, l speed limits, curve

  • select the speedometer appearance, I like the black on white background, # 17
  • set the max speed and max speed for switching, I use 100 and 50
  • set the "trailing", has the speedo needle lag your actions to simulate momentum (goofy, I set to 0)


E + 3 - set switch panels

there is this weird and complex set of blocks, usually to show occupancy, change to normal switch position display with

I need the way to switch from these blocks, looks like shift W.

 E+4 sets loco image.

  • 33622 is an F7 seems the only us picture... you can blank it too

 E+5 is the function key mapping

I use:

F0 - white light bulb

F1 - white bell

F2 - picture of a steam whistle

F3 - F6 I eave as "FX"

F7 - there is a picture of a wheel with brake shoes on each side and curved lines above (sound)

F8 - there is a picture of 3 music notes (adds an x over it for mute)


 Resetting the MX32.


 MX10 itself

For some crazy reason, you can do a lot from the MX10 itself, even running locos! 

Rotary knob held in:

  • 2 sec all stop
  • 1 sec cancel
  • 4 sec off
  • 1 sec on


First things to set up

  • turnouts
  • set the "sample" address "loco" to how you want your "standard" screen for all locos, pull up this loco, and set it up, then all new locos will "start" from these settings. Typically the "sample" address is 16383, I suggest not changing it, or maybe change it to something easier to remember. like 11111.
  • I'd pick a high contrast speedometer display, like the white face one

 Controlling locos

It seems that the system desparately wants to store every loco you have ever called up. 

How to delete old loco numbers

How to store locos to the MX10


Controlling turnouts / accessory decoders

What a pain in the butt.

So apparently Europe loves the address:subaddress method of controlling accessories, mainly turnout controllers.

It may be because these decoders often have a control for the physical movement of the turnout and another for lights.

I live in the USA, and have never seen this setup in any product here. All the turnout controllers I have used have addresses: 1,2,3, etc.

The subaddresses seem to map out thus:



SW #
SW #
1 1 0   11 3 2   21 6 0
2 1 1   12 3 3   22 6 1
3 1 2   13 4 0   23 6 2
4 1 3   14 4 1   24 6 3
5 2 0   15 4 2   25 7 0
6 2 1   16 4 3   26 7 1
7 2 2   17 5 0   27 7 2
8 2 3   18 5 1   28 7 3
9 3 0   19 5 2        
10 3 1   20 5 3        




The only mode I can get working is the DCC "paired" addressing mode, with 4 subaddresses. This is really stupid, no one uses this in the USA.




The Zimo handhelds use a version of Zigbee at 2.4 GHz. I need to further detail the "flavor" The range is great, with my MX10 inside a plastic box, the range and perrformance is better than the multi base station system I was using on the NCE. NCE tells you that using duplex communications in 900 MHz makes them run very low transmit power.

I added a remote antenna, and covrage is great, and allows my electronics to be in a sealed box. See the pictures by clicking HERE.

If I have range issues, I could get a zigbee repeater, sears has one, Digi has the XBee-Pro DigiMesh 2.4 Range extender for 69.00. According to a Zigbee repeater side Zigbee allows commination up to 700 meters. (that was a $250 unit)  Sears has a 100 unit for up to 250m range.

So, Zigbee works within the 2.4 GHz ISM band, and so does your typical Wi-Fi.



zigbee channels(11-26)Center Frequency(MHz)
11 2405
12 2410
13 2415
14 2420
15 2425
16 2430
17 2435
18 2440
19 2445
20 2450
21 2455
22 2460
23 2465
24 2470
25 2475
26 2480



2.4GHz WLAN Channel to frequency

Following table-1 mentions WLAN channel vs frequency(lower,center,upper) values for channel number 1 to channel number 14 for 2.4GHz frequency band.

WLAN/wifi channel numberLower frequency(MHz)center frequency(MHz)Upper frequency(MHz)
Zigbee-11   2405  
Zigbee-12   2410  
WLAN-1 2401 2412 2423
Zigbee-13   2415  
WLAN-2 2404 2417 2428
Zigbee-14   2420  
WLAN-3 2411 2422 2433
Zigbee-15   2425  
WLAN-4 2416 2427 2438
Zigbee-16   2430  
WLAN-5 2421 2432 2443
Zigbee-17   2435  
WLAN-6 2426 2437 2448
Zigbee-18   2440  
WLAN-7 2431 2442 2453
Zigbee-19   2445  
WLAN-8 2436 2447 2458
Zigbee-20   2450  
WLAN-9 2441 2452 2463
Zigbee-21   2455  
WLAN-10 2451 2457 2468
Zigbee-22   2460  
WLAN-11 2451 2462 2473
Zigbee-23   2465  
WLAN-12 2456 2467 2478
Zigbee-24   2470  
WLAN-13 2461 2472 2483
Zigbee-25   2475  
WLAN-14 2473 2484 2495


So, the MX10 can be configured from channels 11 to 25 (dang, wanted 26)

Therefore you might do a site survey, but all things being equal, I'd pick channel 11 if there is an even dispersion of WLAN channels in use in your area.

WLAN/wifi 802.11 channels

This page describes WLAN 802.11 channels. It covers 2.4GHz, 3.6GHz and 5GHz wifi channel to frequency converter tables.

the following table intersperses th eZigbee with the Wi-Fi channels
WLAN/wifi channel numberLower frequency(MHz)center frequency(MHz)Upper frequency(MHz)
WLAN 1 2401 2412 2423
channel-2 2404 2417 2428
channel-3 2411 2422 2433
channel-4 2416 2427 2438
WLAN channel-5 2421 2432 2443
channel-6 2426 2437 2448
channel-7 2431 2442 2453
channel-8 2436 2447 2458
channel-9 2441 2452 2463
WLAN channel-10 2451 2457 2468
channel-11 2451 2462 2473
channel-12 2456 2467 2478
channel-13 2461 2472 2483
channel-14 2473 2484 2495

Wi-Fi support

 There is also apparently a WiFi solution from Germany. See the partners on the top menu on the Zimo site.


Computer interfacing:

JMRI is not supported yet, but apparently Zimo has made the interface spec available. I need the Ethernet interface working.

Warning! firmware updates!

Misc notes:

Interesting, the priority for messages on the track

0. Protocol requirements (Request-for-service slots, time sync for decoders and more.
1. File content changes from cab, computer etc. (i.e. new speed settings, functions…)
2. Data for active addresses in the foreground of a cab,
3. Data for addresses of “secondary objects” tied to foreground addresses, i.e. consists,
4. Data for addresses of computer cabs (STP, ESTWGJ, TrainController, etc.),
5. Data for addresses in the LoR of cabs or favorite lists in a computer,
6. Data for addresses in the system’s databank (that don’t fall into one of the higher priorities),
7. Scan cycle to find unregistered addresses.


Changing address does not set cv29 to use the new address


Scroll wheel can be programmed to be fine speed control or scroll through loco recalls

Rocker switch can be programmed same way



Misc things

The supplied cable with blue plug on one end and RG11 on the other, is a can bus crossover cable, plug the blue end into the mx10 to cross over the other end to the second can bus, allows use of MX32 cabs on this connector, which is normally Xpress net

 The newer MX32 cabs actually run fine on 12 volts, and that's what is on this bus... the main can bus is still 30 volts, for backwards compatibility, and the older cabs need the 30 volts

 special “8POLAxM” cable (8-pin plug for the MX10 and 6-pin plug for the cab). This special cable  connects the “CAN2” pins (= 2nd CAN bus) from the XNET socket with the CAN connection pins of the cab.




 Customizing Images for MX32FU cab Images for MX32FU cab     Zimo firmware versions & notes   Zimo consisting tips    MX32FU charger 
  Common configuration tasks    Zimo Cheat Sheet      The Zimo Database   




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