W0JECís Projects

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Rotator Control

 

If you donít have a beam antenna and rotator, this page will not be much use to you.† However, I have a Cushcraft X7 beam and use a Hygain HAM-IV rotator controlled by a Hygain Antenna Rotator Direction Controller Plus to turn the beam.† To allow remote control of this beam, I had to first make my Hygain controller RS-232 capable so it could be operated from my home computer.† For this, I installed the EZ-Rotor with RS-232 add-on made by Idiom Press.† This required minimal modification of the controller and added several useful features in addition to a serial connection to my home computer.† There may be other serial adaptations for rotator controllers available and some modern controllers may already be capable of computer control.

 

The software I chose to control my rotator is PstRotatorAz developed by Buda Codrut Gabriel, YO3DMU.† The software costs 15 EUR ($19.60 US) and must be registered after installation but is well worth the few dollars it costs.† With registration, you get personal and fantastically fast technical support from the author which I found very helpful.† The most useful feature for HF remote operation is the RS232/TCP Server included in the program which allows you to connect the PstRotatorAz running on your remote computer with the PstRotatorAz running on your home computer.† The PstRotatorAz on your home computer is then connected to your rotator controller which permits you to operate your rotator controller from your remote computer.† All that is necessary is a static IP address for your home computer, which you are providing using the LogMeIn Hamachi≤.† Setup is simple, follow the operatorís manual carefully to start it in server mode on your home computer and client mode on your remote computer.† To set up client mode on your remote computer, enter the LogMeIn Hamachi≤ IP address and the Firewall port of your choice.† PstRotatorAz offers a default Firewall port of 4001 which works fine on my home computer - other ports can be selected if 4001 does not work for you.† Since PstRotatorAz must always be running on your home computer, include it in your home computerís startup file so it is automatically started whenever your computer restarts.†

 

Ham Radio Deluxe also includes a rotator controller ó HRD Rotator - found under the Tools drop-down menu option.† This controller software also operates your rotator from your remote computer and provides great features.† I was not able to get HRD Rotator to function reliably with the EZ Rotor module in my Hygain controller using the EZ-Rotor accessory board but others report it works great with other controllers.† There are also other remote capable software programs available for remote controlling your rotator.

 

I was reluctant to keep my Hygain controller turned on all the time so I made a simple modification to the controller to allow me to use a 12 VDC relay to control the 110 VAC power source.† I placed the relay inside the controller case and operate it from my Picaxe microcontroller (more on that on the microcontroller page.)

PstRotatorAz Screen