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ZIMO MS500F Nano DCC Sound Decoder - NEM651 6-pin Wired Connector

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MSRP: $144.79
Price: $116.01
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Item Number: MS500F
Manufacturer: ZIMO DCC
Manufacturer Part No: MS500F

Optional Configurations

* denotes required field

ZIMO Warranty*
Optional Updates (Standard w/ Sound File Load)
ZIMO Sound File Options
Sound File ZSP Number (or Name)
Coded Sound Project Author (Requires Load Code Fee)

Save More With Quantity Discounts...

1 to 4$116.01
5 to 9$113.68
10 or more$110.20

The following months ZIMO not only releases a range of large-scale sound decoders (see newsletter November 2020 or homepage January/February of But also “in the other direction” we continue, namely with the smallest ZIMO sound decoder so far.

Like always, there are a no limitations to DCC characteristics, sound quality, etc. compared to larger types; ATTENTION: MS500 is NOT mfx-able, like MS490, the smallest type up to now (now the second-smallest). AT THE MOMENT there is only a CAD drawing of the MS500 PCB, but the first decoders will be produced shortly. Of course, there will be the usual variants, i.e. wired (also with NEM-652) and the N-variations (NEM-651) directly on the PCB.

Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 2.6 mm - 30 % smaller than MS490 (volume)

This means the sound decoder is only slightly bigger (1 mm wider) as the informal standard for N-non-sound decoders (14 x 9 mm) and therefore almost always fits in spaces designed for those. The other technical data is identical to the MS490; naturally, the stay-alive controller STACO1 can be used with the MS550. Also see instruction manual “MS sound decoder”. 

ZIMO Elektronik... World Class Motor Control... Exceptional Value...

ZIMO MS500 DCC Decoders offer the following features:

The MS500 is the "nano model" for Z and N scale sound in the ZIMO decoder range.  It comes in a variety of formats, has plenty of power, 4 function outputs, 2 convertible logic level outputs, and connections for external energy storage, especially important for uninterrupted sound.

Best of all, the MS500 is the only nano sound decoder on the market today measuring just 10mm wide.  The footprint is compact so it fits easily into almost any Kato, Athearn, Atlas, Intermountain, or other narrow hood diesel.

The MS500N is also the only nano sound decoder available with a NEM651 6-pin NMRA Integral Connector.  The combination of a ZIMO MS500N and ZIMO LS8x12 "Sugar Cube" speaker makes DCC conversion of Fox Valley Models ES44AC GEVO and GP60 extra quick and super easy.


  • There is no predecessor in the "MX world".  This is a new format developed exclusively for the MS series of decoders.
  • Miniature sound decoder with either NEM651 interface (6-pin connector directly on the decoder, i.e. no wires) or wired in the versions MS490R, MS490F.
  • "MS-Sound" with 1 W fully digital sound amplifier for 8 ohm speakers.
  • "Stay-alive": No special connection, but as with all decoders, an external circuit with some diodes, resistors and the energy storage capacitor up to 1000 µF can be connected


Decoder Formats:

MS500F - NEM651 6-pin NMRA Interface Connector on 70mm wire
MS500N - NEM651 6-pin NMRA Integral Connector for locos with built-in 6-pin socket
MS500R - NEM652 8-pin NMRA Interface Connector on 70mm wire
Dimensions: .55 x .39 x .10 inch (14 x 10 x 2.6 mm)


  • 0.7A Continuous-1.5A Peak Power
  • 4 - Normal Function Outputs
  • 0.5A Total current with overload protection
  • 2 - 5.0V Low Voltage Outputs
  • 0.2A Total current - Convertible to SUSI
  • SUSI Compatible
  • Direct capacitor energy storage support
  • 1 Watts Audio Power
  • 8 Ohms Speaker Impedance
  • 128 Mbit Sound Storage

Feature Summary:

  • 14, 28, 128 speed steps
  • 3-way adjustable back-EMF
  • Selectable frequency for noiseless operation
  • For all DC motors including coreless
  • 3-point or 28-step speed table
  • 5 digit addressing
  • All US lighting effects with programmable timing and dimming
  • Free mapping, NMRA mapping or Swiss mapping function control
  • NMRA bidirectional communication (RailCom)
  • Short circuit protection
  • Thermal protection
  • Reliable overload protection
  • User updateable firmware
  • Editable and updatable sound files

MS sound decoder MS440 to MS990 General and Special Properties

All ZIMO MS locomotive decoders are functionally largely identical.

  • REAL 16 bit resolution
  • 22 or 44 kHz sample rate
  • 16 channels
  • 128 Mbit memory
  • Multiprotocol: DCC, mfx *, MM


The MS sound decoders contain several components that are crucial for performance, but above all the "state-of-the-art" 32 bit ARM microcontroller with DSP properties and a fully digital sound amplifier , the HiFi sound quality with real 16 bit resolution and up to 44 kHz. These decoders are also a flowing further development of the previous generation, namely the MX-Sound-Decoder; almost every MS type has a counterpart with a similar designation in the "MX world". The proven "power electronics" (rectifier, output stages) were largely taken over from this MX world, and of course the designs and interfaces,

With the introduction of the MS generation, there will be ZIMO sound decoders from 2019 which, in addition to DCC and MM, also work with the mfx * rail signal , including automatic registration at Märklin digital centers. Like all ZIMO decoders, they are also capable of analog operation with DC and AC.

Note: Currently (November 2020) there are only MS-SOUND decoders!

The types of the MX range are still available as non-sound decoders . Of course there will also be a change in this area, mainly because it is necessary for mfx control; however, the differences between MX and MS with DCC control will be less significant than with decoders with sound.


  • DCC addresses 1 ... 10239, network addresses 1 ... 9999 (from 2017), MM addresses 1 ... 80, functions F0 ... F28), mfx,
  • 14, 28 or 128 (external) speed steps, 256 or 1024 internal steps
  • Programming the CVs in "Service Mode" (on the programming track) and in "Operational Mode" (with RailCom for acknowledging and reading out), under mfx, if available,
  • Undisturbed driving operation (without decoder reset and restart) in the event of contact interruptions up to 1 or 2 seconds (effective even without external energy storage)
  • Automatic continued travel if the wheel / rail contact is interrupted until the supply is restored (if there is sufficient energy storage - "Stay alive" - in the locomotive; see section "ENERGY STORAGE, below)").
  • DC and AC analog operation, the latter including a reversal of direction due to Märklin-typical overvoltage impulse (up to 35 V)
  • Update-capable software: new software versions are loaded without opening the locomotive, with the help of the ZIMO decoder update device MXULF (A) or the central controller MX31ZL from the USB stick or directly from the computer via ZSP ("ZIMO Sound Programmer ") and MXULF or (planned) via MX10.



  • Overcurrent protection for all outputs, overtemperature protection, for details see info under "Total current"
  • Protection against overvoltage peaks in the motor inductance by suppressor diodes
  • Dielectric strength: at least 35 V (depending on the type).



  • Low-noise high-frequency motor control, optionally with 20 or 40 kHz
  • suitable for all DC motors and bell armature motors (Faulhaber, Maxxon), with additional diodes also AC motors
  • also for "difficult cases" like Fleischmann round motors or old motors that are only suitable for low frequencies
  • ZIMO motor control with self-optimization and numerous setting options for manual optimization (PID parameters)
  • Speed characteristic optionally three-point or freely programmable in 28 steps (according to the standard)
  • Alternative "OST-WEST" direction control and feedback, together with base unit MX10 and remote MX32
  • (from SW version 5.00) km / h control (per speed step 1/2 km / h, 1 km / h or 2 km / h) as an alternative to conventional speed step control,
  • (from SW version 5.00) adjustable measure to compensate the gearbox backlash when reversing the direction to avoid the starting jolt
  • (from SW version 5.00) ZIMO acceleration settings ("conforming to the standard", additionally "exponential" for smooth starting / stopping, "adaptive" against starting jolt)
  • (from SW version 5.00) maneuvering key functions (half speed, reduction or switch-off of the start-up / braking time, optionally with F3, F4, or MAN)



  • full NMRA function mapping for F0 - F12, as well as ZIMO extensions (direction-dependent assignments, etc.)
  • Dimming, blinking, American (Mars, Ditch, Strobe, ...) and other light effects (soft start, brake light, flickering, automatic time-out, ..)
  • High beam / low beam switching via function key, one-sided light suppression, configuration of smoke generators, etc.
  • "ZIMO Swiss Mapping" for complex lighting conditions depending on several function keys, with individually assignable dimming and flashing functions
  • "ZIMO input mapping", especially for the user to exchange the function keys without changing the actual configuration
  • time-limited clutch control for Krois and Roco clutches; "Clutch waltz" (automatic pressure to relieve the hook and move away)
  • SUSI interface on the connector or as soldering pads, for large scale decoders with a 4-pin "SUSI plug"
  • In addition to the actual function outputs, all MS decoders have "logic level outputs",
  • for example as servo control lines or with an external transistor for normal consumers (LEDs, etc.)
  • All decoders with servo control: designs for N to H0 as a secondary function of the SUSI connections, large scale decoders with full 3-pin servo connections including 5V supply. Servo configuration with special CVs for end and middle positions, rotational speed, function assignment.



  • DC braking sections, ABC (stopping via asymmetrical DCC signal), "Märklin braking section"
  • ZIMO "signal-dependent train control" (HLU) with speed limits in 7 levels, from "full speed" to "stop": F, FL, L (slow), LU, U (slow), UH, H.
  • ZIMO train number recognition in connection with ZIMO digital system and ZIMO track section modules MX9
  • (in newer applications, especially with StEin modules or Roco feedbacks, the feedback works via RailCom)
  • (from SW version 5.00) constant braking distance in two course variants (braking always begins immediately, or the later, the lower the current speed is)
  • RailCom: km / h feedback, CV "on-the-main" readout and confirmed programming, east-west feedback, quality-of-service, track search, RailCom address feedback, and
  • many other RailCom applications are planned for future software versions.



  • Loading the sound projects similarly (with the same equipment) as loading the new software version (software update, see above),
  • i.e. with the help of the ZIMO decoder update device MXULF (A) or the central controller MX31ZL from the USB stick or directly from the computer via ZSP ("ZIMO Sound Programmer") (planned) via MX10.
  • Alternative fast charging (3 to 5 min instead of 30 to 1000 min) via SUSI interface (i.e. SUSI pins with proprietary protocol)
  • Powerful sound amplifiers: in miniature sound decoders 1 watt for 8 ohm loudspeakers; in H0 sound decoders 3 watts for 4 or 8 ohm loudspeakers (also two in parallel); in large scale sound decoders MS990 10 watts for 4 ohms or 8 ohms loudspeakers (also two in parallel) on a 10 V basis,
  • REAL 16-bit resolution encompasses the entire sound path: starting with the sound files stored in the flash memory, through the I²C bus (= Inter-IC sound) for stereo output, to the fully digital Class D amplifier . ZIMO dispenses with the cheaper digital-to-analog conversion (with 10 or 14 bit) and amplifiers with analog input (also called Class "D"), which are otherwise frequently used.
  • Playback rate 22 kHz (standard); but also channels (defined by the sound project) with 11 kHz (only at 8 bit) for simple noises, such as announcements, and 44 kHz for maximum possible hi-fi sound quality.
  • The MS decoders have a sound memory of 128 Mbit, which enables a playback time of 360 seconds (with 16-bit sound with 22 kHz). With 8 bit sound at 11 kHz, up to 1440 seconds are available (neglecting the overhead).
  • New sound projects have a resolution of 16 bit; but also previous sound projects with 8 bit sound audibly better with the MS decoders, which is due to the use of a technology for interpolation, which is available in ZIMO decoders thanks to the high computing power of the microcontroller.
  • Up to 16 sound channels are reproduced at the same time (e.g. chuffs, air pump, whistle, ...) and can be distributed to two loudspeakers with "stereo decoders" (especially for large railways, but also planned for H0).
  • Synchronization of the chuffs either by connecting an axis detector (mechanical, LED, Hall) or by a simulated axis detector, both for the sound and for the smoke fan control
  • Sound collection as a special form of the sound project: it contains sound samples and parameters for several series. For example the “europ. Steam / Diesel Collection ”with 5 sets of steam chimes, 10 whistles, 2 bells, ... Free selection from the available samples using a real-time procedure to create individual sounds.
  • (from SW version 5.00) acceleration and load dependency; automatic measurement run to adjust the load dependence



  • Standard H0 sound decoder: connection option for external energy storage devices (electrolytic capacitors, tantals, gold caps with unlimited capacity and 15 V or 16 V dielectric strength, even if the rail voltage is higher, e.g. ZIMO SUPERCAP68 or GOLMRUND, GOLMLANG); thus continuing to drive at full power despite the interruption of contact, avoidance of light flickering and sound disturbances, compensation of the energy loss due to RailCom and HLU gaps.
  • Next-sound decoder: the internal tantalum energy storage on a 5V basis can be expanded with external tantalum or gold caps (with proctically unlimited capacity 5 V or 2 x 2.7 V, e.g. ZIMO MINIGOLD); thereby slow driving, reduction of light flickering and sound disturbances.
  • Large-scale sound decoder: the internal 8V-based Goldcap memory (3 Goldcap cells with 3 or 1 F each) in connection with a step-up transformation of the voltage is usually completely sufficient to continue driving despite the interruption of contact, avoiding light flickering and Sound interference. In addition, external energy storage devices (electrolytic capacitors, tantals, gold caps with unlimited capacity and 15 V or 16 V dielectric strength, even if the rail voltage is higher; e.g. ZIMO GOLMRUND, GOLMLANG) can be connected.
  • The following applies to all decoders: with some additional components (diodes, resistors), energy storage devices (mostly electrolytic capacitors, at the level of the driving voltage, preferably 25 V) can be connected to all decoders, even those without special precautions. The efficiency (energy yield) is lower than in the cases mentioned above.



  • Synchronous rectifier instead of diode rectifier for sustainable reduction of the voltage drop and heat loss,
  • therefore continuous current up to 6 A without heat sink.
  • One, two or three function low voltages (up to 1 A) depending on the type of decoder: 5 V (as servo supply, often also for the smoke fan and for lights), 10 V and adjustable low voltage from 1.2 V to just under driving voltage.
  • Up to 14 "normal" function outputs (each 1 A loadable in groups of 4) depending on the type of decoder, plus a special output for the smoke fan.
  • 6 complete servo connections; for 3-pin standard servo plug (5V supply, control line, ground)
  • Gyroscopic acceleration sensor to influence the sound on inclines, curves, etc.


* Note: The decoders of the MS500 series are NOT mfx-capable in order to allow their small size.

"RailCom" is a trademark of Lenz GmbH

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