The MX10 Command Station

Go here   . . . for information pages about the "associated" MX33 Cab (controller)     

The MX10 or MX10EC (the EConomy version) is the central unit of the digital multi-train control system from ZIMO, in other words: the "Digital Centre" or according to the traditional ZIMO designation as a "Command Station".

The ZIMO command station: not a big "box", but modern technology:

At first glance, you see the very small dimensions (depending on type 18 or 15 cm wide, 3 cm high), and the lack of heat sinks and fans. Thanks to state-of-the-art power electronics - five high-frequency switching regulators for track outputs and supply voltages - the device does not run hot, despite 20 A (MX10EC: 12 A) on the track and 5 A on the bus (continuous load!).

The ZIMO system takes care of applications where high currents could cause damage (N-gauge, etc): thanks to special circuitry which manage shorts on the track when connected to the MX10, and there are fewer sparks than on many weaker digital control systems.

But the ZIMO system offers more than "a lot of power": The processor, memory and software inside, plus the quality measurement technology for precision RailCom detectors (for example), plus many connections and a standard integrated radio system make the ZIMO typical advanced functionality possible.


Basisgerät MX10

Command station MX10EC

Basisgerät MX10

Command station MX10

MX10 Front View:
- Knob: Adjusting current, power supply and other values, throttle, collective Stop (press for 2 sec), Standby initiate (4 sec), ..
- Multi-color screen: In normal operation display voltages and currents of the track outputs, AOS inputs, communication, etc.
- Button 1: Enable and define "automatic operations", Start decoder update, etc.
- Button 2: Access MX 10 menu (after scrolling knob), Start decoder sound loading, etc.
- Button 3: Start the driving operation from the MX10 ("Basecab"), General "Back" button, etc. (NOT on MX10EC)
- USB socket for USB flash drive for carrying out the self-update, data loading and saving, decoder update and sound loading
- "SUSI" interface for fast sound loading for ZIMO decoders (takes about 1 min instead of 10 min)
- CAN socket for ZIMO cabs (controllers MX33, MX32, MX31, MX21, MX2) and ZIMO modules (MX8, MX9) (NOT on MX10EC)
- XNET jack for input devices such as Roco Lokmaus, Massoth Dimax Navigator, and other XNET devices

MX10EC front

        MX10 front

The "Normal screen" and its display panels

MX10 Normal Display

On the MX10EC the bottom line with the display for voltage & current of the output track 2 ("Schiene-2") is omitted.

Display MX10EC

Setting screens for voltage and current values (VOLT & AMP Master and Detail) . . . . . .Short Circuit Display (OVC) . . Drive Screen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Menu for "BaseCab" Functions .


MX10 Rear View:
- Far left: large screw terminals for power supply (NOT transformer) with galvanically isolated DC output, 25 - 35 V, 80 - 600 Watt
- Medium size screw terminals for "Track 1" (Schiene 1"" = Main Line) up to 12 A
- Triple screw terminals for DC voltages "S1" and "S2" (the precursors of the track outputs "Schiene 1" and "Schiene 2")
- Small screw terminals for "Track 2" ("Schiene 2", as programming and decoder update track, or as a second circuit with its own data signal) up to 8 A (NOT on MX10EC)
- Above the screw terminals, 8 inputs for AOS's and other contact track inputs, emergency stop buttons, ... and 6 LED and relay outputs  (NOT on MX10EC)
- Under the screw terminals, 2 inputs for AOS's and other contact track inputs, emergency stop buttons, ... and 2 LED and relay outputs  (ONLY on MX10EC)
- CAN socket for ZIMO devices with sync cables for connecting boosters and StEin modules
- LAN connector for Ethernet (for example, the wireless router)
- WiMi antenna 
- Loconet socket, USB client socket (to connect the computer) (NOT on MX10EC)

The important technical data:

Typical system configurations consisting of MX10, MX32 cabs and MX32FU (wireless), Stationary Setup Modules of "StEin" class

NOTE: the use of "old" cabs (MX31, ...) is possible; but, for the "old" modules MX8 and MX9, special precautions must be adhered to (using the second CAN bus)

NOTE: In pure computer control or operation via virtual input devices (mobile phones, tablets, ... via USB, LAN), the MX10 can be used without cabs (controllers).

MX33FU and MX32FU radio cabs can be operated in tethered or radio mode. When operated with the current MX10 command station – in contrast to earlier ZIMO systems – NO additional radio module is required, as this is already built-in to the command station.

This figure shows a more extensive setup with multiple ZIMO devices:

Primary Power Supply, Driving Voltage and Driving Current

The necessary primary power supply comes from an external power supply (NO transformer), which (without supply through transformers) means a significant reduction of the power loss and heat compared to the "old" devices. Therefore, the high output power (up to 600 W) is available with a very compact design.

The voltage to the track outputs as available in a wide range - stabilized and fully adjustable in fine steps (0.1V), and of course, protection from higher voltages and short circuits is installed - from 10 to 24 V,

the main output ("Track 1", or "Schiene 1") delivers a maximum continuous operating current of 12 A, the second output ("Track 2", or "Schiene 2") 8 A; the latter can also be used as a programming or decoder update track. The current limit adjustable is in fine stages (0.1A).

An important feature is the adjustable threshold time in the case of over-current or short-circuit - via fast circuits to prevent cut-outs from little shorts on frogs, etc..

Moreover, not only the absolute current, but if necessary the device can also detect differential overcurrent  ("OVC adaptive"), so a shutdown occurs at sudden power increases, even though the absolute threshold has not been reached, which contributes mainly at small scales (N, TT, ...) to protect the wheels and pick-up shoes in the case of a short circuit.

Netzgerät des MX10

The Power Supply (30 V, 240 Watt),
delivered with the Start Sets

Track Protocols and Data Management

DCC (NMRA or VHDM specification) and (in future) MOTOROLA (MM, the Märklin digital track signal) are the basic protocols supported. However, hardware and software are open for expansion to other standards, if such a need exists, especially for faster methods of data transfer.

Of course, the possibilities of standardized protocols are fully exploited, so for DCC there are 10239 locomotive addresses, 2048 accessory addresses (each with 4 sub-addresses), 14/28/128 speed steps, 28 functions, etc.

RailCom and ZIMO "Train Number Impulse" (In German = Zugnummernimpulse = "ZACK")

"Bi-directional communication" using "RailCom" is an integral part of all relevant components within the ZIMO system.

The MX10 is equipped with two "RailCom Global Precision Detectors", one for each of the track outputs. "Global" means that it detects all those RailCom functions that are independent of the current position of the vehicle; "Local detectors" deal however with the address detection in single track sections. "Precision" means that reception and evaluation of the RailCom messages is carried out not only by the standardized thresholds, but that the RailCom signal is analyzed to decipher also attenuated and distorted RailCom signals and to be readable in (such a case) even on large systems.

The global RailCom messages are on the one hand utilized to increase the efficiency of data transfer to the decoders (to put it simply: RailCom messages are answered by DCC packets - because obviously arrived in the decoder - and do not need to be repeated). Above all, RailCom messages contain information which are then forwarded to driving devices and computers. Simple applications are: reading and display of CV values in the "Operational mode" (i.e. on the main track), ongoing display of the driving speed (real time clock) measured in the decoder, alarm signals, or (in accessory decoders) the point positions, etc. 

The ZIMO MX10 also recognizes the "classic" ZIMO train number pulses ("Zugnummernimpulse") sent by all ZIMO decoders (in DCC format since about 1998).

Booster Solutions

Due to the high track current of the MX10 (up to 20A) there is possibly a need for boosters only for fairly large layouts and/or large scales. The preferred solution is then to use another MX10, which is synchronized with the "Central MX10". The use of foreign boosters is possible, but less advantageous, because the only communication with such devices uses the outdated NMRA "Control Bus" (in practice, only simple short messages).

CAN Bus (internal to ZIMO System Communications) and Bus Systems for 3rd party products

On the MX10, there is (as usual for ZIMO products) two parallel-connected CAN Bus sockets (RJ-45); these are 8-pin, because besides the actual 6-pin CAN Bus, more connections are needed for a "sniffer" (front socket) or for booster and StEin module control.

Another socket (front) contains the X-bus (especially for ROCO Lokmaus and similar devices), the connection of third-party products such as S88, Loconet (Fred's) is forseen. 

Wireless communication with ZIMO Cabs (controllers)

The MX10 is equipped with a Wi-Mi module. Mi-Wi is a variant of the "ZigBee" standard in the 2.4 Ghz band, which is approved worldwide, and provides a higher data throughput than the 344 MHz band previously used by ZIMO. Potential disadvantages compared to 344 MHz band with respect to the penetration inside buildings are compensated by the network capability.

LAN connection for Wi-Fi enabled input devices and as an alternative to a computer interface

Mobile phones and tablets (with suitable apps installed) can be used to control a layout via a wireless router connected to the LAN socket of the MX10, or via a connection to the home network.

The same LAN socket can also be used as an alternative to the USB interface for computer communication (advantage: more computers on the line).

USB (host) socket on the front panel for USB sticks and Micro USB (client) socket on the back 

The USB (host) socket, is used to plug in a USB stick, from which the updating of the software in the MX10 can be done, as well as the software update of decoders and the loading of sound projects into a sound decoder.

Long experience (with the MX31ZL and MXULF) shows that the use of a USB stick is often easier than the update from a computer because uncertainties with operating system, drivers and interfaces disappear.

Alternatively, of course, the USB (client) socket can be used to connect a computer, using software for decoder programming (ZCS, ADaPT - PFusch, TrainProgrammer, etc.), plus the decoder update and sound project loading (ZSP, ZIRC). Moreover, the programs for system control (STP, ESWGJ, TrainController, etc.) communicate  via the USB (client) socket.

The MX10 ls the Decoder Update Device

As already mentioned above, the MX10 can be used in two ways for a decoder update:

1) The decoder update collection file ("Sammelfile") or sound projects are put on a USB stick and the decoder update or sound project loading is handle via the USB (host) socket. 

2) The decoder update process is performed by connecting the MX10 via the USB (client) socket to the computer, so MX10 as just an interface between the computer and decoder.

The MX10 as Stand-alone Device - Digital Centre

Users who put no value on a "physical" hand controller, can use the computer with appropriate software (eg ESTWGJ, STP, TrainController, ADaPT, ...), and use phones and tablets, to control the layout , without "real" connected Cabs (controllers)

RailCom is a Trade Mark of Lenz Elektronik GmbH.