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I need some direction on rotators

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by ND8D, Apr 6, 2021.

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  1. ND8D

    ND8D Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am pretty far along in my tower project, and the time has come to decide what to do about a rotator.

    When I purchased the tower, I got with it a newer series Hygain T2X (no black paint, round style plug), no control box with this one. I also have a much older T2X and controller that I fired up on the ground once and it spun, but no other idea on condition. I am slightly hesitant to use either of them since I have heard the gear and wedge brake arrangement in the Hygain rotators is not the most precise arrangement and has many failure points, including the position sensing potentiometer. This makes me nervous about putting it up on the tower only to have a failure down the road. I'm also not the biggest fan of the default Hy-Gain controller, but I understand that is less of a gripe and can be swapped out.

    I see a lot of places (including Hy-gain themselves) selling Alfa-Spid rotators, Green Heron has an attractive combination for sale that includes their controller. I am leaning that route but I am having a tough time finding much information or reviews on the rotators themselves. I like the smaller size (and price) of the RAU kit but I worry that may be the weak point later on if I wish to upgrade. Perhaps a RAK is more appropriate.

    My payload on the mast will be: (bottom to top)
    The mast itself is a 2" dia 0.375" wall aluminum 7' long at 16 lbs
    Cushcraft 2418XL 18 ele 2M yagi (~15lbs, 28.8' boom, 3.5 sq ft wind load)
    A NN4ZZ hexlock at 10 lbs.
    Another 2' of mast above the hexlock weighing 2 lbs. (Addtl 2sq ft of wind load for both masts and hexlock)
    NA4RR 20-6M Hexbeam (~25lbs, 21.6' dia, 5 sq ft wind load)

    And lets just say another 12 lbs of balun, cable, misc to add margin.

    To give a total vertical load of 80 lbs and ~11 sq ft of total wind load

    Now if I decide to one day swap out the hexbeam for a more traditional yagi combo (example, Mosley CL33MW and Cushcraft A505s) I will add 5sq ft of wind load and 37lbs of weight for a potential future total of 16sq ft and 117 lbs.

    Let's say I sell off my T2X rotors and remaining controller and start fresh, do I dive into a Alfa Spid RAK and Green Heron RT-21 combo, or is there something else I am missing?
    K6CID likes this.
  2. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yaseu rotators are pretty good They can be controlled easily by computer. The G series, I think is actually 24 VDC powered, so, maybe with extended power outage, there could be a battery backup. That's what I am setting up.

  3. ZS6US

    ZS6US XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Personally I'm running a 40 year old T2X and after a recent service it's doing well again, I have the standard Hy-Gain controller for it with a Rotor EZ board installed giving me computer control.

    If I had to buy new today I won't buy a T2X again, I'd also seriously look at the Alfa Spid and Green Heron combo, from what I read the Alfa Spid's are very good.
    K0UO and KU3X like this.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've never heard of an Alfa Spid failing, although some, somewhere, probably have.

    Doesn't need a brake, it's a worm-gear drive: Big plus.

    Weight doesn't mean much to any of these rotators, but boom and element lengths do, especially when it comes to "stopping" once they're turning. S.F. wind loading shouldn't mean much of anything if a thrust bearing is employed, but if a high S.F. is due to long booms and long elements it can start to matter to both the rotator and the tower itself!
    K0UO likes this.
  5. ND8D

    ND8D Ham Member QRZ Page

    I looked at a freestanding tower with a noticeable twist in the top section, nothing catastrophic, still usable, but a twist. The OP had a Hygain TH11DX being turned by a T2X andhe let go of the brake while the antenna was still turning, and all that energy got absorbed by the tower.

    Would also like to avoid such thing, though the TH11 has some 37' elements at the end of a 24' boom, lots of moment there!

    I think I'm just looking for validation to spend money on a shiny new rotator and controller, I've always liked the look of the green heron!
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Me, too.
    N7VGO, PU2OZT and ND8D like this.
  7. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The alfaspid models are in a whole different class than the "bell" ones like HyGain and Yaesu. They aren't perfect but the gearing is very solid. I've seen one motor failure. That was on a unit in operation in very high heat conditions for a long time (10+ years? Something like that.) Motor replacement was a minor pain due to difficulty reaching the bolts but not too bad. 3 or 4 hands make it easier. After that unit was back in operation.

    The Green Heron controllers are as far as I can tell the best made. And they will work with just about any brand/model.

    Both would be an excellent choice. They only thing better would be to move up to the larger rotator model.

    A couple of caveats on the rotator side: the motor stick out on the side which can cause problems installing it in smaller towers especially telescoping models. Also the, err, bottom plug used for mounting along with the rotator takes up a lot of vertical space. If you have a fixed mounting plate you may need to cut some of the bottom pipe to get it to fit. Lastly you will need to either raise the mast or lower the mounting plate to get the mast into you mounting tube. It isn't split like most other rotators.
    K0UO likes this.
  8. EA1DDO

    EA1DDO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
    K0UO likes this.
  9. KU3X

    KU3X Ham Member QRZ Page

    The idea behind a worm drive rotor is a very good one. They do provide a lot of torque needed to turn big arrays.
    We have one in service at out club's station and one in service at my friend's DX station. Both rotors had the directional pots fail and neither are that old.
    That's not to say that all of these rotors are bad. Just a point of interest.

    For the last 35 years I've been using a Ham four to turn my 14 sq ft of antennas. 22 foot mast, 4 element mono band yagi on 20 meters and 2 element 40 meter mono band yagi. Both booms are around 24 feet long. When I first put this rotor into service 38 years ago, the brake wedge broke. I replaced it with what was called back then a, "super wedge." I'm guessing it was a stain steel wedge? Now that rotor, as mentioned above, has been in service for actually over 35 years and still going. I did change the rotor control box. I wanted presets. I'm using the MFJ DCU-4. It has numerous features that I really like. One feature is a pre programmed delay on stopping. Hit the preset button for Europe, the rotor turns and I set the stop delay for 7 seconds. Once power is dropped from the motor, the brake does not set until 7 seconds later.

    I have a lightly used Tail Twister sitting on the shelf ready to go if and when the Ham four every fails.
    Barry, KU3X
  10. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the past I have recommended this brand. It is the best design out there that I've seen. However in the meantime I've seen a unit that was defectively assembled, it was obvious a manufacturing defect, and was still under warranty. The seller refused to honor the warranty.

    Do not purchase this brand. While the design is solid their manufacturing has horrible QC and they will not stand behind their products.

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