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Dinamo, smart electronics for the miniature world

You will probably have heard the term Dinamo before, and for those who do not know these products, then you have certainly missed something. Dinamo model train control, the hybrid control system from the Dutch VPEB, allows you to run both analog and digital locomotives on your model railroad. Including all the advantages of digital model railroading, but not the disadvantages. Thus, the system does not suffer from short circuits, polarity, reversing loops or boosters. And because of its block governed nature much more stable as the established systems.

That actually sounds too good for words, a system with all the advantages but not the disadvantages. And yet the emphasis in the market is not on this system. More emphasis is being placed on systems such as Z21, YaMoRC, EcoS, IntelliBox and Central Station. Why that is, we’ll go into that in detail in this article. But first I want to highlight something else about VPEB’s products.

Hybrid technology, the salvation in the crisis!

As many may know, I have been a user of this system since 2008, a choice I have never regretted. When I started model railroading, digital technology was unknown to me. Especially fear of converting all models, and the logic of digital model railroading was lacking with me.
– How different I am now –

With the choice of Dinamo, converting my models became not an obligation, but a choice. I could also brush off peripheral issues such as short circuits, polarity and reversing loops. So for me the perfect choice.

Throughout my career in model railroading, this proved to be a recurring effect.

Pandemic

Because then came the pandemic, with its attendant chip crisis. Whereas almost all brands continually suffer, and still suffer, from supply problems, this was never an issue with VPEB. At least as soon as they called that there was a problem, then the delivery time was not 2 weeks but 4 weeks. In a world where people talk about 6-18 months delivery time, I think 4 weeks is still stable enough.

At the time of writing, the shelves are still full of VPEB’s products and the prospects are also good in terms of continuity. This small company from the Netherlands proved that a good strategy is decisive for stability.

Decoder or no decoder? With Dinamo, no problem.

This is another issue that speaks in Dinamo’s favor. While availability of decoders is still a problem, this is not true for Dinamo users. They can just drive their new acquisition.

ZIMO decoder MN180N18
Dinamo model train control
Dinamo model train control on a H0e model railroad automated by us

What exactly is Dinamo model train control?

Fair question, what is Dinamo? Very simply explained, Dinamo is part of the VPEB range, which is responsible for controlling model trains. For completeness, the VPEB range also includes control for accessories (OC32) and vehicles (MCC). More on that later.

We focus for a moment on Dinamo itself, because without being too difficult, I think it makes sense to explain what exactly this “miracle” system is.

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Who, what where?

Van Perlo Elektronische Besturingstechniek is a Dutch company run by Leon van Perlo. His products were initially developed for his own use. Not even so much for the commercial market yet.

After the then Railz Miniworld Rotterdam chose to apply Leon’s system, it was decided to develop the hybrid version we know today, Dinamo 3.0. The MCC car system was also developed for this attraction. However, it was Frans Staal of the former DinaSys/PicommiT who made sure the system became commercially available.

Meanwhile, at Miniworld Rotterdam, the original system is still working in all its glory and the breakdowns over all these years can still be counted on a few fingers. Thanks in part to the efforts of good partners, VPEB’s systems have been sold worldwide and user numbers are growing larger by the year.

In itself, the system Dinamo, but also OC32 and MCC is not higher math, indeed, the technology is so simple that recovery is almost always possible, self-assembly (Dinamo classic) is still feasible, the components remain available and the reliability is enormously high.
How? Just logical use of simple technology in a smart way.

How does the system work?

It is a block-controlled system. Which is to say that the model railroad is divided into blocks. Now you will think, we do that with software anyway, and that is correct. However, with Dinamo, we also do this physically on the model railroad.

Dinamo block layout
Block layout at Dinamo

By isolating not only the “B” bar for busy signal, but also continuous “A” bar at the beginning and end, we create small islands that can then be controlled by the block card TM44. This allows the software (e.g., iTrain or Koploper) to tell the system whether a specific block should receive an analog PWM or a digital DCC voltage. Also, the system can also invert that block in polarity, making polarity as well as reversing loops no longer an issue.

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The Block Card TM44 without housing,
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The Block Card TM44 with housing,

TM44 Block Card

The TM44 is an exceptional all-rounder. On this module it is possible to connect 4 blocks where each block is provided with 4 possibilities of current detection. And I write capabilities because it is not mandatory to use all 4 current detections, this is determined by the software.

In addition to the 4 busy signals, each block output has its own 2 amp booster. This gives this system the possibility of infinite expansion without the need for separate boosters. If your power supply is not sufficient, simply add a second power supply up to your system.

The TM44 is interconnected with other products such as the OC32 via an RS485 communication bus. This bus starts at the central unit RM-C.

Want to know more about Dinamo RS485 ?

For this, we have written a handy tutorial that explains in simple text how to set up and control Dinamo’s data and clock bus.

Dinamo Databus RS485

Analog versus digital

Now you might ask why on earth would you want to drive analog? Surely, thanks to Dinamo, this has become a pain in the ass. Whereas the differences between the two are great in any other situation, Dinamo’s method of analog control makes it a legitimate issue. The method of PWM application within Dinamo has been perfected to the point that the system gives the same effect on the rails as when there is a decoder in the train. In many cases, you don’t notice the difference in handling between analog and digital. Therefore, a decoder is often unnecessary when a locomotive is controlled with Dinamo.

However, a decoder can still benefit within Dinamo. For example, an analog locomotive does not have load control or sound and light functions. For these reasons, the choice of a decoder can still be made, and that is immediately the key word: It is a choice!

HFI lights up the room

By padding the PWM with small pulses, or technically called High Frequency Illumination (HFI), it is possible to provide analog locomotives and carriages with switchable permanent lighting at idle. This will make recognizing an analog locomotive within Dinamo even more difficult. The statement that analog locomotives can run as nicely as digital locomotives is certainly not nonsense!

Polarity and Reverse Loops

Another fun phenomenon, polarity and reversing loops. With Dinamo, this is a thing of the past! How do you wonder? The software takes care of that for you, may as well be easy right?
Because the software initially knows the direction of a block, and with it the basic polarity, it can intuitively invert the polarity of a block. As a result, turning loops basically just don’t exist anymore. Also, when you have serviced a locomotive, and the engine is in it the wrong way around, the software can cause inverting in all blocks reserved by that locomotive.

Dinamo short expression

Short circuit at Dinamo?

No problem at all, each block has its own protection and will shut down immediately at even the slightest detection. Only that block is disconnected and the rest remain active. In the software, you get a notification of this.

It is virtually impossible with Dinamo to blow up a decoder!!!

Down with Boosters!

Who doesn’t recognize it, the question of whether or not you need a booster. The irritating thing about this is that you can’t know in advance what the actual power consumption of your layout will be during operation. So as a precaution, you buy a booster for 300 euros, or two, maybe three.

With Dinamo you don’t have this “nagging” because each block has its own booster of 2 amps. Unless you are going to run LGB, o or scale 1 is more than adequate for scales Z, N, TT and H0.

irritation you don't have at Dinamo
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Interface RM-C

The RM-C is the interface that provides communication between the computer and the TM44, OC32 or UCCI. There are two versions:
RM-C/1 which can accommodate 128 blocks
RM-C/2 which can accommodate 256 blocks

OC32, all-rounder of size

Switch decoders, signal decoders, servo decoders, light decoders, they invent a decoder for everything these days. VPEB chooses to market a universal controller that allows you to control literally everything on you model railroad accessories.

Dinamo OC32/NG

The OC32/NG allows you to choose groups of 8 outputs (32 in total) to control solenoids, motors, servos, signals, lights or pushbuttons. The modules, in turn, are controlled via the Dinamo system. But the OC32 can also be used standalone outside the Dinamo system thanks to its RS485 bus or via its DCC input as a dcc decoder. In addition, once configured, it can also function autonomously.

Discover our online training now

In our DTS Academy, we offer online training to teach you the basic capabilities of the OC32. In just 10 lessons, we cover all the aspects that are important to learn in the basics!

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MCC, Digital vehicles on the track

Perhaps as smart as Dinamo is MCC. to this day, there is still no system that can do the same as ModelCarControl, or MCC.

Get a Faller, Rietze or Herpa vehicle. Build a steering gear under this, a motor and a battery. Give the car all the party lights you can think of, a receiver coil and an MCC decoder. And you have a digital car with driving stages, load control and every imaginable function.
Through a transmission loop in the road surface, the vehicle receives the signals sent from the UCCI controller. Via hall sensors in the road surface, the vehicles are detected by programs such as iCar (iTrain) and Koploper.

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Schematic representation of VPEB’s MCC control system.

For the best expertise around MCC, visit our colleagues MCC-ModelCarParts

We are going ALL-IN!

As described, Dinamo looks like the most perfect system….. But it certainly isn’t!
Otherwise we would no longer invest time and energy in the Z21, CS3, EcoS2 and YaMoRC of course. But then what are the disadvantages of this system?

Pretty simple in itself: Software! You’ve already heard it passed by with regularity, computer control. Dinamo cannot function without a computer program telling it what to do. Thus, unlike the other systems, it is not possible to take a hand controller in hand and run a train without the intervention of a computer. So you will have to go all-In and automate the entire layout with this system.

In addition si the system is a closed system, you cannot make combinations with products of the other brands because the entire communication is over the Dinamo protocol. Is that bad? No certainly not because for your accessories the OC32 is everything you could want.

What must certainly also be taken into account is that Dinamo is not a plug-and-play system. Aside from the need to construct blocks, detectors and drives for turnouts, it is certainly not a “plug in and go” system. However, you are expected to have or be willing to develop some form of electrical engineering knowledge. Let me put it easily: If you don’t know what plus or minus is, then the system becomes an uphill battle to fathom.

That sounds intense…..

But it doesn’t have to be, the aforementioned disadvantages can also be an advantage. However, with us you do get guarantees as soon as you purchase a starter kit or wish to begin using the system. We don’t stop at the purchase, we guide you through the entire process thanks to our online help desk, hobby days and online training.

We believe that aftercare and guidance is crucial for you as a starter with this system. Because once you have mastered logic, a world will open up for you. The learning curve may be steep, but we provide a comfortable journey up!

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Starting with Dinamo?

Then you have come to the right place! The purchase of a starter set sits around 400 euros! For this you get an RM-C interface, a TM44 for 4 blocks and an OC32 set up for the turnouts. Of course, we complete the set with a good Meanwell power supply, the necessary cables and a USB stick with software and documents such as manuals and tutorials

But that’s not all!

We pre-arrange the entire starter kit for you. We already connect the modules to the power supplies, fix the addresses and configure the modules for you! And that for only 400 euros on average…. We seem to be crazy!

Nothing could be further from the truth, we do this consciously! We are committed to making you feel at home with the system and making your purchase a success story. Because when you are satisfied, we hope to notice it at our box office!

Software

You are free to decide which software you want to use. However, we only provide support on iTrain software. If you have purchased your iTrain license from us you will receive our iTrain support for FREE via the online helpdesk.

If you did not purchase the license from us you can use the paid support(click here for more information)

Post-threshold support

In addition to the service of the starter kit, you can also use the online help desk that you can use for free as a DTS customer. We also organize several hobby days where you can learn about your starter set under personal guidance.

Not convinced yet, or still in doubt?

I can understand that! I also always want to see something working before I buy something. We also have a solution for you! Schedule an in-store consultation with us now for good, sound advice on Dinamo, or any of the other systems! The call requires a one-time fee of €60, which is waived upon purchase of your digital start!


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