Zimo MX10 system & MX32FU cab

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

click to jump to the bottom

Overview:

The long awaited upgrade to the venerable MX1 system, with 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. 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.

 

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 August 2015, the MX10 is finally in the US, but the firmware is missing consisting and many help screens. The help screens are not complete and not all in English.  They are finishing up the Ethernet interface, which is used by some other software.

I've been waiting for this product for years. 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 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 "qujick start" to answer the typical questions and get new users going fast.

There are a number of sub pages:

Missing or Incomplete functionality - promised but not at all implemented.

Bugs - stuff that just plain breaks

Features desired / Changes suggested

Charging the MX32FU - alternative charger, and determining battery state

Greg's 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: 01.20.0150 2017.02.24 16:58:02

MX32FU - Cab 2:

UID: 339321EC 0000C3F4

HW: 07.60.0414

SW: 01.20.0150 2017.02.24 16:58:02

MX10 - Command station:

f/w 01.192.0200, h/w 00.05.1018, date 2015.07.08

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
terminal
voltage

charged
ma
cab 2
terminal
voltage
charged
ma
     
     date
 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 bugs

 LEDs on MX32 do not update when using functions or throwing switches. The buttons work, the LEDs just do not update. Workaround: reboot throttle.

 

 

 

Suggestions to Zimo for improvement

FINISH THE FIRMWARE FOR MISSING FUNCTIONALITY:

consisting

easy/intermediate/advanced modes

When the system reboots, you cannot do ANYTHING until you enter a loco number. This is silly, the "E" command should ALWAYS work.

 

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...

 

 


 

 

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

5

 


 

 

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?

 


 

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:

 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 functin
  • +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)

 

 

 

MX10 itself

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

Rotary knob:

  • 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:

 

 

USA
SW#
 Zimo 
addr
Zimo
subadd
  USA
SW #
 Zimo 
addr
Zimo
subadd
  USA
SW #
Zimo
addr
Zimo
subadd
   
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.

 

 

Wireless:

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 might 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.

Mi-Wi, how does it differ from normal Zigbee? Which repeaters can be used?

 

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!

MX32 updates:

My first updates were to version 15 or something, and the translators at Zimo seem to have confused the meaning of A and E.... normally A is execute, and E is our "escape" but during firmware updates, A says cancel, and E says accept...  so be careful with older updates.

The new versions have all the files in a *.zsb file, but normally this is compressed into a zip file. Extract the *.zsb file and copy it to the memory stick

"Standard" updating procedure:

  • Have cab plugged in and on (booted up), screen does not matter
  • Plug in the memory stick, a window will pop up with some info on the stick.
  • Press A for file list (stick content), E to quit (ESCape) (escaping will reboot the MX32)
  • The file list will show individual components, it is recommended to do the "Automatic" update, not all the separate stuff
  • Normally the first item listed is the "Automatic" or full update. Sometimes a second item is listed as "symbols and icons", these are included in the "full" update and you do not need to load them separately. (There are certain cases where this is useful but not usually).
  • (I have not found out how to mark multiple items, there is a menu selection to load all marked items)
  • A is accept as always ...  it will check the file a bit, tell you the version it found and warn you not to pull the power or usb stick,

The full update should prompt you to remove the stick, the function/symbols will not, so maybe it is meant to do those first and then the full/automatic update.

 

1.19.200

There is a single .zsb file in the zip file.

Just the zip file in the root directory of the memory stick, do not extract it.

I had trouble reverting to this version from a newer version. I noticed that the "full/automatic" update did not work on one unit, screens would come up missing 50% of the characters.

Re-installing the full update did nothing, but "succeeded", in that I got the "remove the USB stick" message (in German) at the end of the update.

I decided to do the "symbol/font" update, which is SUPPOSED to be included in the full update. On the "failing" cab, this terminated back at the initial "select the update" screen... which I thought was strange... doing it again eventually yielded the "remove the USB stick swinehund!" message in German, and after that terminated the cab was properly updated.

So what is learned is that the "full" update is not always "full" irrespective of successful termination messages, and if you do any update and do NOT get the successful termination (remove the USB stick), then you keep doing it.

 

1.20.0001

Oh my God! Unbelievable problems, wireless will not boot at all, you can boot in wired mode and remove the cable, but response is sometimes ok, sometimes delayed by several seconds or does not happen at all, really not useable in wireless mode.

Worse, the arcane accessory decoder control is broken, it becomes impossible to enter subaddress "0" so decoder addresses 1, 5, 9, 13, etc. are IMPOSSIBLE to use. I could not run my trains at all, since I have all electric/pneumatic switch motors that cannot be locally overridden.

DON'T INSTALL THIS VERSION

 

1.20.0100

Some things fixed. Boots to wireless, wireless response better, but better than unuseable is not much of a positive statement. finally fixed enough that you can use it, still a number of bugs where the leds do not update on the throttle, slow response, screens do not update.

1.20.0150

Trying now, as usual the Automatic update wiped out the fonts, so you have 2 issues, the first is that most of the characters are the dreaded "Tiny Font" and characters missing from a lot of screens. The issue is that without the proper fonts loaded, the system either defaults to the built in tiny font (80 characters per line) or you see nothing, because the font is missing. Of course the ACCEPT (A) and the ESCAPE (E) are missing from all screens, so you have to remember where they are...

New behavior: font install goes into infinite loop, USB led blinks, and install seems to go right, then most of the screen blanks and only "LOADING FONTS" shows, and finally that disappears. And you have 3 horizontal lines on the screen and the USB LED blinks. When this happens, your cab is hung... .unplug rom power and mess with the buttons, eventually it reboots. I don't know if it is a watchdog timeout or hitting the buttons. This does indeed suck.

 

MX10 updates:

1.19.0200

All that is needed is the zip file in the root directory of the memory stick, do not extract it. There is a single .zsb file in the zip file

Make sure the MX10 is in normal operating mode, screen is blue. Insert the memory stick and then it will ask you to update all... press the rotary button, then it will check the file and then sit there until you hit the button again.

It will tell you the update is complete, and that pulling out the usb will restart the system, do so.

You normally have to set the language back to English.

1.20.0001

Again, all that is needed is the zip file in the root directory of the memory stick, do not extract it. There is a single .zsb file in the zip file that is needed is the zip file

DO NOT INSTALL THIS YET, A LOT OF THINGS ARE BROKEN

New with this update, it tells you to turn the unit off, take out the USB and wait 5 minutes.

After the update, I always have to set the language back to English, see above. I understand this is in the list to be done.

 

 

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).

 

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

POM

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

Rocker switch can be programmed same way

            

Sub-Pages

 

 Customizing Images for MX32FU cab Images for MX32FU cab   Zimo firmware versions & notes   Zimo consisting tips    MX32FU charger 

 

 

 

Weather Underground PWS KCACARLS78