Getting started the first time


This page is for first time users of an MX10 / MX32 / MX32FU system to familarize you with some of the basic features, and some important startup items.

I strongly urge you to read this if you fit this category, and I'll bet there are things here that people that already use the system might not know.


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. 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.

The subsequent pages have quick guides and tips for you. Get the manuals at Notice even though there is a German/English "switch" many of the pages are only in German. Luckily the manuals are under the menu item "MANUALS". The MX10 manual is only 38 pages long, so you should read it first, even if you don't "get" all of it at first.

Basic wiring / hookup

First note, the power supply you get with the system is typically an 8 amp supply (30 volts). If you want the full potential, go for the 20 amp supply.

Note the connectors on the back are all different. There are 2 different track outputs, for now, use the "big one" for your track (up to 12 amps), and the other will be the "programming track" for NMRA service mode.

You need to plug the cable to the throttle, even the wireless one, and use the "Zimo CAN" on the front. The wireless unit registers to the home system with the cable, you can unplug the wireless units after they register the first time after power on.

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, if held 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 when unplugged, 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 for some situations!

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 momentarily.

Set Language on cabs

The system as received 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 red 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.

Set the default locomotive screen now!

Now is a good time to set the default screen that you get 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, speed limits, curve

  • select the speedometer appearance, I like the black on white background, # 17, easiest to see in the sunlight.
  • 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
  • For people in the us, shift W takes you to definitions you would recognize.
  • The default switch panel is named "BASIS" (should be "BASIC")

 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)


Commands from the MX10 itself

Just as a point of interest, 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

This functionaly is being added incrementally

First things to set up

  • turnouts, see the section below on how to program the addresses, the Zimo system uses the goofy main address + subaddress setup for accessory decoders, instead of the simple address of 1-999 from the NMRA standard. This is an old European thing. See the section on how this is done, and read it, because it is NOT straightforward.
  • As above, you can 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. DO NOT DELETE THIS LOCO!!! All kinds of crazy problems ensue.
  • You most likely need to set the output voltages and max current on the MX10. I run large scale, so I needed to turn the voltage up to 24v, and maxed out the current, 12 amps and 8 amps for the 2 track outputs, although the second track output is typically used as a programming track and really can have a lower current rating.

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 #
110 1132 2160
211 1233 2261
312 1340 2362
413 1441 2463
520 1542 2570
621 1643 2671
722 1750 2772
823 1851 2873
930 1952    
1031 2053    


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.


Wireless stuff:

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 coverage 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.

Warning! firmware updates!

There are pretty frequent firmware updates, and the process is tricky. Be SURE to read my pages BEFORE updating. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

Very often a new system will be delivered with older firmware.


Misc things:


Supplied cable with blue plug:

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

There is a 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.

Changing address does not set cv29 to use the new address

Customization of the throttle:

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

Rocker switch can be programmed same way

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.



Getting started the first time Zimo firmware versions & notes   Zimo consisting tips   Zimo, Zigbee & Wi-Fi 
  Zimo Cheat Sheet  MX32FU charger      The Zimo Database Customizing Images for MX32FU cab Images for MX32FU cab    
Interfacing to the MX10, JMRI, etc.  Zimo MX32 buttons/controls   
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