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Author Topic: Rotors... "back in the day"  (Read 3281 times)
KK4AXX
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« on: July 10, 2012, 11:40:35 AM »

What were the earliest rotors like?  Mechanical?  Always electric?  does anyone know?
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George U. Potter Lodge, #912, F. & A. M. of Alabama
A.A.S.R., S.J. - Valley of Mobile, Orient of Alabama
Dave Langham Chapter, #536, Order of the Eastern Star
Order of DeMolay, Mobile Chapter, Adult Advisory Council
WA8UEG
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 02:23:36 PM »

Not sure but my first rotor back in the early 60's (plenty of commercial rotor's were available) was a prop pitch which could have easily turned my house. I home brewed the direction indicator, out of two selsons (srycronized motors). I put the shack selson with a metal disc that I calibrated and marked with east, west, etc and a center off switch for reversing the motor in a box. It was free, selsons were cheap at surplus outlets, I was young and broke so it worked out very well.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 02:25:56 PM by WA8UEG » Logged
K2OWK
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 03:18:49 PM »

Hello, Back in the 1950s Cornell Dubilair (CDE) had everything from TV rotors to the famous Ham M. I had the latter rotating a TA 33 JR beam mounted on my roof. I am sure there were rotors in the 1920s and of coarse there were always the steering lines and the poles down the tower with  a car steering wheel attached and a a homemade compass with an arrow to show direction. Again  do not know how far rotors go back, but I would guess to the development of the first directional antennas. I am old, but not that old.

73s

K2OWK 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 03:28:06 PM »

As a kid in the late 1950's I had a 6M Yagi with a rope attached to one end so I could go outside and turn it (what we called the "armstrong" rotor). There were commercial rotors available but I was lucky to have the home brew Yagi.  Grin I upgraded to a TV rotor later on.

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WB6BYU
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 03:50:09 PM »

I visited a ham who had a mechanical rotator that was basically a cable wrapped
around the mast that came down through the ceiling to a hand crank in the shack.
He claimed that he could turn his antenna faster than an electric rotator, and that
allowed him to beat other stations to DX when it appeared.  The directional indicator
was a marker on the cable that went up and down the wall depending on the the
direction the antenna was pointing.
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KE4DRN
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2012, 04:28:52 PM »

hi,

portable military antenna masts used rope activated rotor
mounted top of the mast tubes.

you see them on ebay from time to time, simple and they worked.

73 james
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AD4U
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2012, 05:02:18 PM »

My first yagi was mounted on a 30 steel pipe attached to the eave of the house with a bracket.  In order to turn the yagi I used a big pipe wrench on the bottom of the pipe.  I sure was glad when I finally got an electric rotor.

Dick  AD4U
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 06:25:56 PM »

They've been motors since the earliest days.

Many manufacturers of "antenna rotators" back in the 40s and 50s.  Only the strong survived, like CDE which became Hy-Gain.  Lots of prop pitch motors were used as well.

Before the 1940s, directional beam antennas were fairly rare.  The Yagi design precedes WW2 but they didn't become very popular for several years.

A more common system in the old days was to have "property" and use switched rhombics or other wire antenna designs which didn't really rotate; you had to switch from one to another to change directions.  W6AM (Don Wallace) had two dozen of them switched with high-speed rotary switches.  I saw that (although not until 1977, when the system was already long in place and pretty old).

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K3SF
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2012, 08:35:02 AM »

well back in the day

 i used one of the first generations ArmStrong Rotors...as i got older and my arms got stronger i could turn the antenna faster and faster...braking was accomplished using hand friction...the direction indicator was ComparaVane style also know as weather vane which i would compare its major compass points to the direction of my two element homebrew...

at night my old flash light would provide enough illumination...

i didnt rotate the beam all that much but is sure could 'run' after dx when i had to ;-))

paul K3SF
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VE3FMC
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2012, 02:33:52 PM »

The best rotor I ever laid eyes on was not from back in the old days.

It was about 12 years ago. The rotor consisted of a BIG Road Grader gear being driven by a smaller gear, that was driven by a pretty hefty electric motor.

It all sat on top of a big round slab of concrete that was pored into a huge piece of culvert that normally goes under a road to allow water flow under the road.

On top of the big gear sat a tower and on top of that sat a 4 element 40 meter yagi.

The owner could tilt the tower over to work on the beam. He could also run the drive motor from a control box in his work shop so he could make sure the beam was aligned properly.

It was the slickest setup I have ever seen.

Oh and sitting not too far from that setup was one of those high tension power line towers which had 3 mono band beams on it for 20-15-10 meters.

He also had a huge rhombic antenna. I listened to that guy work DX on 75 SSB to Europe and Down Under like it was local stuff.

Like I said it was not OLD but it was damn impressive. And he made that system on his own.
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13282




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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2012, 05:09:21 PM »

One of the locals had a 45G tower with the base bolted onto a large gear.  A reversible AC
motor (5 hp?) drove it through a worm gear, rotating the whole tower.

We took it down after he passed away and discovered that the booms of all 7 yagis mounted
on the tower were tweaked from the starting torque.


Back to the subject, as Steve mentioned, yagis were rare in the ham community until after
WWII, at which time prop-pitch motors were readily available.  Prior to that, you put up
multiple rhombics or vee beams and switched between them.
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W6TVK
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2012, 01:00:12 PM »

Another example of the "Armstrong "method":

In the '60's, a ham in my hometown had a tri-band beam on a tower, mounted on a pipe that ran through the tower
all the way to the ground.  The bottom of the pipe was supported by a bearing, with a horizontally mounted gear welded
to the pipe just above the bearing.   

His shack was in his basement, and he had a large "steering wheel" on a shaft running through
a hole drilled the foundation just above ground level.  A worm gear on the the shaft engaged the gear on the mast to
rotate the antenna.    The base of the tower was next to a basement window,  and from his operating position he could
see a directional pointer on the support pipe.
 
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2012, 05:54:14 PM »

VE3FMC, I would have loved to see pictures of that setup.
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K7MH
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Posts: 339




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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2012, 10:25:49 PM »

I used to have a just pre WW2 issue of QST and it had an article about making an antenna rotor from a washing machine motor.
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KK4AXX
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Posts: 119


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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2012, 08:39:31 AM »

I used to have a just pre WW2 issue of QST and it had an article about making an antenna rotor from a washing machine motor.

Wow!  I'd like to see that article!
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George U. Potter Lodge, #912, F. & A. M. of Alabama
A.A.S.R., S.J. - Valley of Mobile, Orient of Alabama
Dave Langham Chapter, #536, Order of the Eastern Star
Order of DeMolay, Mobile Chapter, Adult Advisory Council
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