Rotor control software - perfect for ARCO
A vertical antenna, for example a ground plane or another omnidirectional antenna make quick contacts easy: They are always ready to go; you can go on the air immediately when the frequency is clear and the antenna is tuned. However, the gain of an omnidirectional is low - satellites, DX stations and distant countries are not always easy to reach this way (despite the flat radiation).
A beam for shortwave or a Yagi are far better for DX, but they have to aim in the right direction and, in the case of satellite links, also point into the sky at the right angle of elevation and be continuously tracked so that the link can be kept stable.
A good, precisely controllable and fast rotor is half the battle, the other half is an intelligent controller like the microHAM ARCO . This controller is compatible with nearly all common rotors and moves the antenna(s) in any desired direction - and it can do this independently, without a computer.
However, this is sometimes misunderstood - just because you don't have to connect a computer to the ARCO doesn't mean that you can't! The controller offers various connections for a computer - the traditional RS232 interface, a state of the art USB connection and or an Ethernet interface for the network over any distance.
What Do I need the computer for?
So that the antenna always points in the right position, controlled by the PC and a suitable program. This is necessary for tracking a non-geostationary satellite or also for EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) , where the moon moves slowly, but nevertheless constantly across the sky.
Which software is suitable for that?
When it comes to DX hunting, modern logbook software is the solution because it often combines the functions of DX cluster evaluation and rotor control. For example, the DX-View module from the freeware software package DX-Lab by Dave, AA6YQ, which can directly calculate the beam direction for long and short path and pass it on to the rotor control. Software like HamRadioDeluxe, Turbolog as well as DX-Atlas can suggest a position from the prefix and give the distances for long and short path. All these programmes are also club station and contest capable with compatible logbook management and interfaces to the common online QSL and contest systems as well as qrz.com. Often, multiple radios can be operated at the same time. DX-Lab also contains a module for propagation prediction, so that the antenna can be positioned in a suitable direction.
For satellite tracking, the SatPC32 package from DK1TB or the programmes from DC9ZP are the solution, both are recommended by AMSAT and can be obtained from AMSAT Germany [[email protected]].
The good thing: Whether for pure terrestrial or satellite radio, we also have the suitable rotators in our programme, which of course all work together with the ARCO. This can operate DC motors up to 48 V and AC motors up to 24 V in four channels; MODBUS is available for high-voltage systems. Up to 400 W are provided for large rotors, and the touch colour display with 7 inches, provides an overview even without looking at the computer. The ARCO's rotor power supply only becomes active when the antenna has to be turned – thus minimising radio interference. In addition, thanks to the ARCO's automatic features, the rotor can move the antenna into park position when closing the station and disconnect external lines to reduce.