Green Heron Rotator Controllers
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In June 2006 I suffered a lightning strike that damaged the control units for my Yaesu G-1000DXA and G-2800DXA rotators. Looking for something to get my rotators turning again, while the damaged units were undergoing repair, I investigated the Green Heron RT-20 controllers produced by Green Heron Engineering, www.greenheronengineering.com.
These controllers turned out to be perfect for the task. In fact, they worked so well that I decided to keep them in line, even after the other damaged controllers were repaired.
The Green Heron RT-20 is a general purpose control unit that can be set up to operate just about any rotator on the market. In addition you can slave multiple controllers together to provide synchronized rotation of stacked arrays, even if different types of rotators are used in the stack. This was perfect for me, because I had plans for stacking a couple of Force 12 Magnum 240N 40-m beams, with the top antenna turned with a Yaesu G-2800DXA and the lower antenna turned with a Tic Ring. The RT-20 can even be used to automatically counter-rotate selected antennas on a rotating tower to maintain their bearing while the rest of the tower and other antennas turn!
I really like the "point and shoot" control. To rotate the antenna all one needs to do is move the heading knob to the desired direction and then go back to operating. The RT-20 automatically rotates the antenna to the desired heading, applying both ramp-up, ramp-down, and braking without further attention from the operator or need to hold any controls. Conventional CW and CCW controls are also provided for manual operation if desired.
Green Heron RT-20 Rotator Controllers
Operating Notes: Personally, I felt that the recommended voltage setting (36 VDC) for the Yaesu G-1000DXA and G-2800DXA rotators was a bit high and resulted in very fast turning rates and abrupt stops. I checked with Jeff at Green Heron Engineering and he said the 24 VDC tap could be used instead. Jeff also advised me that ramp-up and ramp-down is accomplished by automatically selecting different speed settings as the rotator starts or nears its destination bearing (the controller has ten different pulse-width-modulated settings to control speed). My only concern with this approach is that the degree of ramp up/down control will be a function of which speed setting you select for normal rotation speed. If you set the rotator to a normal speed setting of 10 (the highest setting) you will have the largest range of ramp up/down speeds available. If you set the rotator to a normal speed setting of 1 you will have no ramp up/down control. I've discussed this issue with Green Heron Engineering and they have some alternate software that provides a higher frequency pulse width modulated control voltage that is ideal for DC motors and also provides improved ramp up/down control. I've received this software from Green Heron Engineering and will report on it after I give it a try.
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