The “K9ZW Home”QTH’s Skyneedle is getting a 4o3a Rotator Genius azimuth direction detection and rotator control system. The rotator is an AlfaSpid RAK rotor. (Links to my suppliers towards the end of this piece)
I’ll call the “Rotator Genius” an RG for short, is a relatively newer offering by Ranko’s 4o3a firm that also produces the Flex co-marketed Power Genius XL amplifier (PGXL), the Antena Genius intelligent antenna switch (AG), and the Station Genius shack automation device (SG) I’m also using in the shack.
Here is the controller part of the RG:
The azimuth sensor is a smaller and light unit:
You open up the sensor by undoing four cap screws. A 3mm (7/64ths will work) allen wrench is needed. You have to open it to wire it. I used a CAT5 jumper with one end cut off and the wires stripped to do my testing. The manual talks about this tech talk, but basically it is Ethernet at one end and six of the eight wires at the other. Apparently there is another wiring style of CAT5 Ethernet cables that takes some adjusting that can be figured out by following the wire placements in the illustration in the manual.
Inside is a small electronic compass:
Hopefully FlexRadio Systens SmartSDR and SmartLink will become RG capable, but for now one uses 4o3a’s Windows APP. There is an Android APP but as I’m already invested in both an iPhone and iPad, not to mention the excellent SmartSDR for iOS, I don’t expect to use the Android APP.
The Windows APP is a bit fussy and industrial, as is the programming of things network in the RG controller box. Basically you enter the IP info via buttons on the RG controller and then enter the same static assignment in the Windows APP to discover the device on your LAN. WAN use requires a VPN as there is no native security.
When testing the azimuth sensor remember it is just a fancy compass, which can be affected by magnetic forces. My testing was on a metal desk with a power supply and the RG Controller close enough that the sensor could “see” them. I’ll use an Ethernet connector block to add enough length to get the sensor far away from things and will reverify it works.
In the implementation of the sensor to controller wiring too much length of very light duty cable could result in too much voltage drop. The sensor’s data standard is rated for 1500m or so, but the voltage drop should be calculate and confirmed by testing with the sensor if your going past say 250 feet. Some users report very long runs in use without problems, but best to calculate and test.
I’ve had a AlfaSpid on another tower since I lost another rotator in 2016. Very happy with the RAK unit. That unit has gone to “K9ZW North” QTH for Spring 2020 installation, and this is a new RAK. I wrote about the replacement with the first AlfaSpid at https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/projects-at-the-k9zw-south-qth-new-alfaspid-rotor/