Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ham Shack Upgrade Diary #3 - The Rotator

The tower and antenna came with a broken old milk crate. Inside were two different rotators and the what was left of a controller.

Once I dug into the rubble a bit deeper it appeared that at least one of the rotators and the busted up controller were a match pair. Too bad the controller was in such bad shape.

I headed to the internet and discovered that my matched pair was a Wilsom WR-500 and they were not as common as other makes and models. Lucky for me on the first day I started looking around I found a guy on the internet selling just a controller for a WR-500 and it was in very nice shape. I won the auction for $26.00 US. The shipping actually cost me more than the controller :(.

The controller arrived a week later and didn't disappoint. It was in create condition and everything appeared to be working.

WR-500 Controller - Thanks eBay!
The actual rotator was a dirty mess so I cleaned it up and took it apart, checked the bearings, and put it back together. I ended up taking it apart later when things weren't working correctly, but it's working much better now.

Cleaned up Wilson WR-500 rotator
 One of the hardest things to find for a Wilson WR-500 seems to be the cables ends? Lots of conversations on the internet of people trying to source the connecters without much luck. I was really lucky because at the bottom of the busted up milk crate was half a cable with on of the connectors still attached.

I started to worry but then I looked at the back of the busted up controller and BAM! there was the other connector hanging in the back of the controller is about of inch of wire hanging from it (FYI the connectors are different at each end?).

I found some very nice 8 conductor cable that is slightly larger than factory spec and made up a new cable.
The new cable with the original connectors.
After that there was a little troubleshooting, a little installation and calibration, and now it's a complete new antenna installation for my shack complete with a tower and a rotator. 

Here is a little YouTube video of the entire system in action.

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