Released this year in 2021, the Zimo MS500 has been long awaited by N-scale sound fans: finally a sound decoder not bigger than any NEM651 standard decoder. Here is a quick overview.
The smallest, but also powerful
14 x 10 x 2,6mm, that’s basically the size of most standard NEM651 decoders on the market (albeit slightly higher). The Zimo MS500 fits in many engines that previously couldn’t fit a sound decoder (at all, or without extensive DIY). It’s standard length is its strength.
But that doesn’t make it less powerful. As a decoder from the recent “MS” series, it offers Zimo 16bits sound, 4 outputs + 2 unpowered outputs. Also of note, is Zimo’s new feature to connect capacitors up to 1000uF to a specific pad, without having to worry about a protection circuit (with a resistor and a diode). Additional capacity can of course be added using the aforementioned circuit, or even using Zimo’s new “STACO” module.
Zimo’s usual quality, at a price
Uploading a sound project from the Zimo MXULFA programmer and a USB stick isn’t that hard. In fact, in order to promote the new 16 bits sound of the MS series, Zimo has been releasing quite a few new and free sound projects on their website. That’s a very good point.
Of course, your model train stockist may offer to upload the sound project for you, which makes it much easier.
The decoder is available with a NEM651 socket or wires.
Testing in in real life
My perfect candidate was a steam engine from Arnold that I reviewed in this article: Unboxing: Arnold BR 02 0201-0 (HN2428).
After slightly altering the tender metal casing, I was able to fit not only the MS500, but also 4 SMD capacitors as a buffer and the speaker in the tender.
The result is very satisfying. Have a look at the video on top for yourself!
All in all, the MS500 decoder will be the perfect solution for people looking to add sound to very small engines. In fact, it has already been used by many enthusiasts in very small N scale engines such as the famous Köf II.
Of course, you still need to find some space to fit a reasonably sized speaker. But that won’t be a challenge for the expert DIYers out there!