If you’re involved in the amateur radio or ham radio scene, you know that you only need some basic amateur radio equipment to get started.
At the bare minimum, you’ll need a HF transceiver and antenna, which connects you to the signal range and network you want to communicate on. Many amateur ham radio operators can get by on these two equipment types alone, especially if they might not want to commit to a more expensive setup.
However, if you intend to continue with this hobby and want to improve your ham radio experience, this might be when you consider getting additional equipment like two-way radio repeaters and antenna rotator systems.
Today, we’ll be looking at the latter: just what is an antenna rotator system, and when should it be used? Is it amateur ham radio equipment that’s necessary for every ham radio enthusiast to have? Read on for answers to these questions and more.
What do Antenna Rotator Systems do?
As their name suggests, antenna rotators are mechanical devices that help to rotate your directional antenna so that it ‘points’ at a particular set of coordinates. While some antennas have built-in features enabling them to do this, many other antennas require manual ‘pointing’ as the antenna needs to be held in place to keep the signal stable. This is where an antenna rotator system comes into play.
This enables you to access a specific desired direction and signal-to-noise ratio, letting you have more focused access to certain signals which can broaden your reach and reception on the ham radio network in your area. This usually makes the signal louder and clearer, improving communication on both sides.
There are 2 main types of antenna rotator systems:
- Azimuth rotators: Azimuthal rotators rotate your antenna parallel to the horizon (i.e. spin them around along the horizontal plane) but cannot point them upwards towards the sky.
- Azimuth elevation rotators: Azimuthal elevation rotators can both rotate your antenna parallel to the horizon and elevate them. This type of antenna rotator is more useful for satellite radio applications.
When should you use an Antenna Rotator System?
Not every ham radio enthusiast needs to beef up their setup with an antenna rotator system, and you can certainly continue with the hobby without ever using a rotator. However, antenna rotator systems can be useful in enhancing your ham radio experience under certain conditions.
First, if you live in an area with uncertain weather conditions, or if you otherwise need to keep up reliable communication lines. Antenna rotators help ensure reliable and steady communication at all times, which is extremely important during emergency situations.
Second, if you want to broaden your reach across ham radio networks and have a more immersive ham radio experience. If you’re only just starting out in ham radio, you may not want to commit to additional equipment just yet. However if you feel confident about continuing in the hobby, an antenna rotator system will certainly give you an easier and more meaningful ham radio experience.
Do note that your rotator and antenna will need to be set up on a roof or garden, with unobstructed line of sight to the network you’re trying to connect to. If you live in an apartment building, you will need to find a suitable location to install both your antenna and rotator system.
Selecting your Antenna Rotator Systems
When purchasing your antenna rotator system, you should look at factors such as environment (e.g. wind strength, frequency of strong winds or tropical storms), antenna size, antenna weight, and rotator type. Mechanical considerations also matter, such as the load-bearing capacity and torsion. These will all affect the height and size of antenna compatible with your rotator system.
Shop a range of antenna rotator systems for sale on Tecomart. From the entry-level Yaesu G-450C (pictured) for light- to medium-duty installations, to the Yaesu G-800DXA high-performance rotator with medium- and heavy-duty installations, we bring you quality antenna rotator systems to suit your needs.
Shop more amateur ham radio equipment and marine communication equipment online with Tecomart today. Get in touch to find out more about our products or to seek a quote, or peruse our FAQs for more information.