ZIMO DCC Technology, LGB MTS, Maerklin MFX, Piko DCC, NCE, and others.

LGB MTS Introduction

LGB fans have been introduced to digital command control via MTS 1, MTS 2, and MTS 3.  MTS (Multi Train System), was always a a “DCC” style system with limitations.  MTS 1 and the non “P” version of MTS 2 didn’t use the parallel DCC communication method but only the serial one, a much slower and more limiting implementation.  Today it is no longer recommended to even keep up with this old technology.  But even up to MTS 3 you could never take advantage of the full DCC functionality.


DCC Landscape

While better than MTS, NCE, PIKO, Massoth, MRS, Lenz, are all old-style technologies that are rooted in the 70’s or 80’s.  None of the systems have the most modern capabilities such as 30 function key support, and all the other DCC extensions that are supported today.  Neither does any system support 20A, a requirement for any decent sized G-scale layout.


Maerklin MFX

Some of today’s LGB engines are delivered with a so called MFX decoder, or better described as as dual-mode decoder MFX-DCC.  MFX is a proprietary digital control by Maerklin with limited or no additional capability compared to the latest DCC standard.  No other vendors products will work with this and MFX/DCC have limited capabilities as compared to the high end ZIMO DCC decoders.  Maerklin has a control system that works up to 5A has a digital display which is of good quality but the entire console is more designed for HO layouts then G-scale, and the 5A capacity is only for small G-scale layout.  You couldn’t even run a single USA Train engine with it.  The Maerklin system looks very close to the ESU system which was the developer of the first Maerklin version.



ZIMO was the first digital train control developed by Dr. Ziegler in Vienna, Austria; long before DCC became a standard.  Today with its 20A central station and best wireless handhelds it is the most modern and flexible system on the market and its constant development ensure long term stability.  The handheld’s color touch screen has so many advantages that one wonders why old style cabs are still utilized.  Once you use ZIMO you never would want to step back into the old world.  ZIMO’s latest features include the ability to utilize Roco Multi and Roco Maus, Massoth, MTS, and Lenz CABs and is designed to interact with the ROCO Z21.


MTS related Q&A

My MTS handheld/central station is defective what should I do?

MTS is an old technology and hasn’t been build or update in over 5 years.  There were always electro, or electro mechanical problems in this old system (MTS was produced by Lenz, MTS 2 and 3 by Massoth).  In either case, if a repair is possible it will be expensive, and the defect will can return quickly.  If you are considering replacing the defective unit, consider that you are spending a lot of money for an obsolete technology.  Better way is selling the old system and investing into a new DCC system.


After I powered on my MTS layout all engines were on address 3

This is a problem we have heard quite some times.  So called uncontrolled power blurbs out of the MTS system can simulate the global engine reset, and as you might know after reset the engine address is “3”.  In order to prevent this from happening you need a double pole double through Master switch with which you connect the layout after the MTS system is power up.


Can I use LGB MTS loco decoders on other DCC systems?

You have address and other limitations.  Earlier LGB loco decoders allowed only addresses 1-99 and where limited to 14 speed steps.  Newer LGB decoders and the factory installed decoders are addressable to 1-9999.


Can I use ZIMO decoders on MTS layouts

If you have a MTS 2P or MTS 3 you can operate ZIMO Decoders, however, you cannot take advantage of 30 function key support.  Also it is important to know that if you add a new engine to your layout and handheld then you need to force the handheld into parallel mode after adding the engine’s address, because MTS always defaults to serial mode.


Can my old LGB locos be converted to DCC?

All LGB engines can be converted to DCC and optimized with ZIMO decoders.  Some older engines have 3-wire motor blocks, and those engines requires also a modification of the Motorblock to 4-wire installtion, but for the experts at TRAINLI this is not a problem. If you electrically and mechanically skilled you can do the installations yourself too.  There are some items to be considered and taken care of such as 5V light outputs or some units.  Call the technical experts from TRAINLI to understand the specifics of your engine, or our shops will do the conversion for you.


How do I operate the Maerklin MFX decoder locos on my DCC layout

We strongly recommend to turn off dual mode and have the engine exclusively listen to the DCC protocol.


Are ZIMO products available in North America?

Yes. ZIMO products -- including decoders and central station are available in North America through TRAINLI or any NHD (Nevada Hobby Distributors) authorized dealer.


Where do I find old MTS Answers

In another article did we publish the old LGB FAQ related to the old MTS system.




Topic: Digital Train Control, DCC, MTS, MFX

Scale: G-scale, O-scale, HO-scale

Manufacturers: LGB, USA Trains, Aristo, HLW, Accucraft, Kiss, Pullman