Zimo DCC System MX31 and MX32

 
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Hi Everyone,

I am not sure if this belongs in a DCC type thread, but I was wondering if anybody on this forum has any experience with Zimo or CT Elektronik DCC systems. I have read in a few forums that they are regarded as the 'Rolls Royce' of the DCC world, although pricey. I have downloaded the user manual for both the MX31 and MX32 and while they look quite complex they seem to offer great features along with quality.

The CT Elektronik unit looks very nice and simple, almost Lenz like but with a better hand piece.

So far I have only used ESU decoders and have a NCE Power Cab which is doing just fine. I will have to buy a higher capacity system eventually so have started to look a little more seriously.

If you have a Zimo or the Ct Elektronik setup I would love to hear about your experiences.

Thanks for your time,

Linton

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  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
Linton,

I've never previously looked into either of those brands, but having read your question, I thought I'd hit-up my ol' mate Mr Google and see what I could find out.

Unfortunately, most of the hits that were offered to me were in a foreign language which precluded me from becoming any more knowledgeable than I was previously.

And, for my money, therein lies the problem! If you buy a system that is (by the very nature of DCC) "complex", I would suggest that you would be wise to understand the language of the country where the system is made/sold.

You already have the makings of a great DCC system and your Power cab can be easily upgraded to the Power Pro (and radio if you like......I swear by it and couldn't go back to a tethered throttle arrangement).

Anyway, that's just my 2 cents worth and I hope some others might be able to throw more light on your query.

Cheers

Roachie
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
G'day Roachie,

All the manuals are downloadable in English. The MX32 is not quite as good on the website as its a new model.

I agree with you in regards to the NCE system however there are a few things that I don't like. The quality in my opinion could be better, but that's just me. I think it comes from using aeronautical equipment at work. I like the idea of having a more graphical display, drop down lists for recals and being able to run two locomotives at the same time. The DC capabilty looks like it could be handy for DCC conversions also.

One thing I am not sure about in regards to the Zimo system is the slide control. I wonder what happens when you change locomotives? Does it mean you have to match the slider position to the locomotives last speed before control is made? With a rotary encoder knob it doesn't matter but with a slider there are limits at each end.

Appreciate your opinion. It is a sensible one.

Linton
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The quick play(s) I have had with Zimo confirm my suspicions those being it is awesome, and probably the best DCC system on the market. If you actually want to USE your layout as opposed to driving trains on it, the Zimo CAN BUS is ideal, quite some deal better than Lenz who have the next best feedback and automation facility.

I have never used the Ct Elektronik system but I have seen some of their decoders! Super awesome stuff! DCX76z, that thing is incredible upclose, and the SL 76 is probably just about the smallest (and most likely best) sound decoder on the market.

Every once in a while you meet some really classy (generally German) electronics, and it is then you realise just how rubbish the US consumer electronics and for what it's worth the Australian market (which I am a part of) is...

What state are you in Lynton? I am not sure about Ct Elektronik, but Orient Express here in SA is the only Australian distributor of Zimo, Fred and the guys there will be able to tell you all about it. If anyone was going to carry Ct Elektronik, it'd be him too!

It might also be worth looking at the Roco Z21 (the black one, not the white one) you should (as in check first) be able to plug Zimo throttles and feedback CAN into that, not to mention also have freedom of built in wifi control, Lenz/Roco throttle and feedback compatibility, NCE and Digitrax compatibility too. Just check Zimo, not totally sure which CAN protocol Roco went with.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Hey Aaron,

What you are saying is exactly what I have read, they sound bloody great. Apparently Zimo are constantly updating there product adding better technology. Although not specific to Zimo I am really interested in the asymmetric brake sections. This sounds ike a great way to automate DCC without using third party computer control.

I am in NSW and have had a look at the Z21 while up in Mittagong at All Aboard Models. It looked really good but I didn't realise it was compatible with ther manufacturers throttles. Maybe worth a re-visit.

After playing with the ESU decoders and the Lokprogrammer I love the flexibility the European manufactures build into there products. For me the hobby has expanded even further, this however is not helping me build the layout!

I will give Orient a call and get the low down.

You know, if NCE updated their hand held, it would make it alot more attractive. The smaller rotary knob NCE hand held (can't remember product number) in my opinion looks like a Dick Smith electronic kit, starter one at that!

More research to do. Thanks for your help and letting me know about Orient Express.

Linton
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Hey Aaron,

What you are saying is exactly what I have read, they sound bloody great. Apparently Zimo are constantly updating there product adding better technology. Although not specific to Zimo I am really interested in the asymmetric brake sections. This sounds ike a great way to automate DCC without using third party computer control.

I am in NSW and have had a look at the Z21 while up in Mittagong at All Aboard Models. It looked really good but I didn't realise it was compatible with ther manufacturers throttles. Maybe worth a re-visit.

After playing with the ESU decoders and the Lokprogrammer I love the flexibility the European manufactures build into there products. For me the hobby has expanded even further, this however is not helping me build the layout!

I will give Orient a call and get the low down.

You know, if NCE updated their hand held, it would make it alot more attractive. The smaller rotary knob NCE hand held (can't remember product number) in my opinion looks like a Dick Smith electronic kit, starter one at that!

More research to do. Thanks for your help and letting me know about Orient Express.

Linton
linton78
Orient Express 08 8271 7861 - You probably could find that yourself, but I just happen to have their business card in front of me, I have to order some gear through them tomorrow too.


I think asymmetric is linked to the decoder function not DCC system. I have some Lenz asymmetric modules here, and a stop module, but I have not implemented them yet. There's a bunch of other functionality I need to implement with higher priority.


For me at least, DCC - and the electronics behind it, are a separate hobby by themselves, I can spend hours taking apart (not literally) new developments in the DCC world investigating how XYZ manufacturer does this or that and trying to reimplement my own method of the same.


I am no fan of NCE, maybe it's the clientèle and market but I subscribe to LOTS of DCC forums and user groups - it's an occupational hazard when you're trying to make compatible products and the NMRA having dropped the ball of spec maintaining are seemingly refusing to chase it down and pick it up. Consequently, I have to try and keep track of the market myself watching what all the biggies do. The number of faults, questions and issues presented on the NCE forum leaves me amazed, my inbox is perpetually full of 'my radio cab doesn't work', 'my procab won't do something', 'my booster has no light on it'... Drives me nuts.


RailCom for example is properly cool, I love it and have built my own detectors etc, but with it's implementation came an entire rewrite (well a partial one) of all of my decoder software to keep them from passing out during the 'no track volts' period. NCE is effectively entirely incompatible with RailCom, to the point where I have 'banned' their decoders from my club layout. With RailCom enabled NCE decoders just sit there, not even a hint of action.


The new RailCom Plus looks terrific, I really wish they'd get off their butts and implement it, that will make automation awesome, feedback not just if there is something in the section, but feedback of what is in the section, which direction of travel, proper timetabling with a dispatcher nowing exactly what's going down and where. - Loksound and LokPilot from v.4 on are fully compatible too. You will be able to pull up at a coaling facility, take on water at a stand or fill up on diesel then go for a drive, RailCom will listen in to the BEMF of the decoder and calculate 'usage' and report back to your throttle so you'll know when you need to stop for supplies again.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Yep the hours fly by while fiddling with decoders and sound files. I am a DCC starter but have found it all very interesting.

You are right about the asymmetric control being set up within the decoders however I think it relies on the system used having a nice symmetrical output. I have no idea which systems do and do not perform in this area. They may all be as good as eachother?

I am a fan of the NCE system due to its simplicity and labelled function buttons, ie whistle/horn. What I don't  like is the cheap feel to it. As I am in the market for a full system all avenues need to be looked at.

Thanks for the info. I will give OE a call this arvo.

Linton
  NSWGR1855 Deputy Commissioner

Hey Aaron,

What you are saying is exactly what I have read, they sound bloody great. Apparently Zimo are constantly updating there product adding better technology. Although not specific to Zimo I am really interested in the asymmetric brake sections. This sounds ike a great way to automate DCC without using third party computer control.

I am in NSW and have had a look at the Z21 while up in Mittagong at All Aboard Models. It looked really good but I didn't realise it was compatible with ther manufacturers throttles. Maybe worth a re-visit.

After playing with the ESU decoders and the Lokprogrammer I love the flexibility the European manufactures build into there products. For me the hobby has expanded even further, this however is not helping me build the layout!

I will give Orient a call and get the low down.

You know, if NCE updated their hand held, it would make it alot more attractive. The smaller rotary knob NCE hand held (can't remember product number) in my opinion looks like a Dick Smith electronic kit, starter one at that!

More research to do. Thanks for your help and letting me know about Orient Express.

Linton
linton78
Hi Linton,

My understanding is that the decoder is what makes the asymmetrical breaking happen, with a couple of diodes wired to the stopping block. The wiring diagram is some where in one of the ZIMO manuals.  I believe a number of different European branded  decoders support asymmetric breaking.

I had a close look at the ZIMO system, however after considering it does not have radio controllers, it's cost, lack of local support in NSW were negative factors. As all but one NSW layout I have visited use NCE, and there is good NCE support in NSW, NCE was the obvious choice for me. I agree the smaller hand controllers look like kit built ones, but you get what you pay for. I prefer to use my NCE radio power cab. I now set the inertia to 9 and use the buttons to control my trains, ignoring the thumb wheel. With TCS keep alive storage capacitors and my ZIMO sound decoders, shunting with the push buttons is easy.

I think the future for hand controllers is touch screen devices using wifi. At the moment the software could be improved for these devices. I would suggest if you want all the bells and whistles, connect a computer to your NCE system and have a play with JMRI software.


Terry Flynn.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Hey Terry,

You exactly right about the decoder doing the asymmetric braking stuff however you do need a good track signal so as the decoder does not see an imbalance. As I was saying to Aaron I am not sure which systems do this better and perhaps they are all good in that regard. Probably not something to base the decision on although after speaking to a very helpful bloke at Orient Express this afternoon he did mention the Zimo system does automation better than any other.

I have been fiddling with computer interfaces for a while, albeit in DC. I will still be using the computer but really want a proper hand piece.

The Zimo MX32FU is a radio cab. That would most certainly be the one I would go for.

After chatting to OE today it seems the CT Elektronik system is also very good and is related to the Zimo unit by designer. I also found out they sell Zimo speakers a whole lot cheaper than where I have been buying them from. It pays to shop around!

Totally agree about local support. The Model Railroad Craftsman offers a great service in this regard and have a lot of knowledge in regards to NCE. Maybe Zimo and other european systems will take off here in NSW hint hint.

I would love to get my hands on all these systems to compare first hand. Maybe that would be a good trade stand demo at an exhibition or convention.

My little power cab will keep me going for a while yet. I am sure there will be all kinds of technology advancements in the near future. You have to have track on your layout to run trains and at this point there ain't much going on in that department.

See you at the club soon,

Linton
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Ct Elektronik i think Train Trader in Pymble in Sydney has it and  knows the system.

Regards,
David Head
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Thanks David. More phone calls tomorrow.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Probably not something to base the decision on although after speaking to a very helpful bloke at Orient Express this afternoon he did mention the Zimo system does automation better than any other.
"linton78"
That's CAN for you! Who did you speak to?

The Zimo MX32FU is a radio cab. That would most certainly be the one I would go for.
"linton78"
Correct.

I also found out they sell Zimo speakers a whole lot cheaper than where I have been buying them from. It pays to shop around!
"linton78"
That's cool! Orient have (and entirely undeserved) reputation for being over priced here in SA, but I have never found them to be expensive, just more up market.

I would love to get my hands on all these systems to compare first hand. Maybe that would be a good trade stand demo at an exhibition or convention.
"linton78"
I am pretty sure I know someone using Zimo in NSW, I'll have to see if I can track them down for you. Orient Express will most likely attend whatever exhibition it is that's on the October long weekend next year.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
I get nearly all my train stuff now from Orient Express and I have never seen a a price that was over the top yet, most of the stuff is sold at the manufactures RRP for local stuff and a slight mark up on others but I have never had to yell out I was ripped off by them, quite the opposite actually, they are usually the best price for stuff in Adelaide. Never had a problem with them ever and I get a fair bit from them as well. No connection to the store other than a satisfied customer though.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Aaron,

I can't remember who I spoke to but he was very helpful. Like most of the model railway shops here in NSW it is great to talk to people that know what they are selling.

I am still not sold on the idea of the slider. I will have to use a hand set.

I used to get down to Adelaide every now again with work but these days there is no need. An exhibition trip may be on the cards.

David,

I have never dealt with OE before but will do in the future. Geographical distance is hardly a barrier these days. Good websites with pictures, prices, efficient email and payment systems has made it so easy. Out of state retailers like AR Kits, DCC Sounds, Brunels are all great.

Thanks,

Linton
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Aaron,

I can't remember who I spoke to but he was very helpful. Like most of the model railway shops here in NSW it is great to talk to people that know what they are selling.

I am still not sold on the idea of the slider. I will have to use a hand set.

I used to get down to Adelaide every now again with work but these days there is no need. An exhibition trip may be on the cards.

David,

I have never dealt with OE before but will do in the future. Geographical distance is hardly a barrier these days. Good websites with pictures, prices, efficient email and payment systems has made it so easy. Out of state retailers like AR Kits, DCC Sounds, Brunels are all great.

Thanks,

Linton
linton78
You spoke to Don, I was in there today, you were a topic of conversation. Had another close look at the Zimo and checked out the Zimo decoder range. Neat stuff, if I had my time again I would probably go Zimo, the modularity of it all is so much simpler than I am currently doing.

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