XpressNet Protocol

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XpressNet is the cab bus currently in use by Digital Command Control systems manufactured by Lenz Gmbh. XpressNet is also known as Version 3 of the Lenz X-Bus Protocol.

General Protocol Information

XpressNet, and the predecessor versions of the X-bus protocol, are based on the RS485 multidrop half duplex serial communications bus. It consists of a start bit, (0), nine data bits, 1 stop bit (1) and no parity, at 62.5 kilobits/sec. The protocol information is freely available from the Lenz Website.

XpressNet supports a maximum of 30 devices (addresses 1 tp 31). Each is provided with a window for transmission at regular intervals. Certain situations will override that requirement.

XpressNet uses a four wire connection, via a DIN plug or a 6 pin RJ connector.

  • L = Positive supply voltage for the devices on the network, 12VDC
  • M = Supply ground
  • A = Receive (RX) / Transmit (TX) non-inverting RS-485
  • B = RX/TX Inverted RS-485

If you accidentally reverse the A and B connections, data will not be transmitted.

The LI100 interface allows connection of an RS-232 serial device and the RS-485 based XpressNet.

For more details, see XpressNet Specification document from Lenz.

The RS-485 serial protocol has a limit of 100 metres, XpressNet is capable of up to 1000m due to the low data rate of 62.5 kiloBits. A loop should be avoided for best operational conditions.

LZV100 rear panel with XpressNet connector (5 pin DIN Jack) or the LMAB connections

Other Implementations

In addition to Lenz, several other manufacturers have implemented the X-bus V3 protocol:

  1. Atlas For the Commander and HandCommand
  2. Roco For the LokMaus II, LokMaus III and MultiMaus. Roco calls its implementation RocoNet.
  3. ZTC For their DCC systems and throttles
  4. CVP For a wireless throttle base station
  5. ESU For a wireless throttle base station
  6. Hornby For their Select and Elite DCC systems



Arnold also used the XBUS protocol for the Arnold Digital system. Arnold Digital equipment should be compatible with versions up to Xpressnet version 2.3, but the system is no longer a supported product. Arnold is now part of Hornby International.


Different manufacturers have chosen to use different connectors for wiring their XPressNet throttle networks. The most commonly used connectors are RJ12 modular plugs and 5 pin DIN plugs. ZTC Controls uses an 8 pin mini-DIN connector.

DIN Plugs were often found on European audio equipment, as well as computer keyboard connectors, because they were rugged and easy to use. Registered Jack/RJ connectors are often found on telecommunications equipment.

The terminal block plug connectors on the back of Lenz Command stations are made by (compatible with?) Phoenix and are available as spares from Lenz, Radio Spares (United Kingdom, but ship worldwide) and Mouser (USA)

Type Radio Spares Mouser
3 Way 220-4664 651-1803581
4 Way 220-4670 651-1803594
5 Way 220-4686 651-1803604
6 Way 220-4692 651-1803617

Thanks to the Gavin Liddiard and Paul Bender on Digital Plus by Lenz Yahoo group for terminal block info.

External links