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rotor tracking interfaces

Tom Webb wrote:

Are there any PCI based tracking units or trackers which can be interfaced to my rotors without a major engineering project?  I know there are units which direct-connect to the Yaesu 5400/5500/???; could those be modified to work with standard rotor control boxes.  Would the 5400/5500 control box work with my current rotors?

Wayne replies:

I don't know about PCI interface cards, but there are several "plug and play" rotor control interfaces that connect to a parallel port and plug into the DIN connector on your rotor. These interfaces cost much less than the Kansas City Tracker card.

"Fodtrack" is most often homebuilt, but a guy in Chile sells pre-built units.  The driver software is basically a stand-alone tracking program.  It doesn't interface to other tracking programs.  It also supports radio Doppler tuning via a serial port.
http://www.qsl.net/ve2dx/projects/fod.htm <http://www.qsl.net/ve2dx/projects/fod.htm> 

WinRotor32 is a pre-built unit that works via DDE with Nova, SatPC32, WiSP, and WinOrbit.
http://www.qsl.net/dh0gmr/ <http://www.qsl.net/dh0gmr/>     (Click the British flag to display in English)

HalloSat/HalloRotor is a pre-built unit that works with SatPC32 and WinOrbit via DDE.  Unfortunately, the driver software is only available in German version.
http://www.hallosat.de/ <http://www.hallosat.de/>    (the web site is in German)

A similar interface is in development by people in the USA.  Proto units were shown at Dayton last year.

There are also fancier, more expensive interfaces:

"ARS RCI" interface box by EA4TX
http://www.ea4tx.com/products/ars-rci.htm <http://www.ea4tx.com/products/ars-rci.htm> 

"Satellite Tracker Mini" and "Satellite Tracker Jr." sold by W0LMD.
This one uses a SERIAL port on your PC.  It works with Nova and any other satellite tracking software (none that I know of) that supports "Easycom I" data format for antenna position information.
http://www.ultimatecharger.com/dish.html <http://www.ultimatecharger.com/dish.html> 

"Uni-Trac" interface, sold by Spectrum International, provides rotor control and radio tuning from a single parallel port.  I don't think they have a web site, but the designer's web site is still active at http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/lamontd/ <http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/lamontd/> 

If you don't have a spare parallel port, you can easily add a PCI parallel card to your computer.  Or you could also add an external USB-to-parallel converter gizmo.  I did that, and WinXP recognized it as a "USB printer", not as a true parallel port.  That wasn't a problem for me because I connected my rotor interface to the computer's "real" parallel port, and moved my parallel printer to the USB-to-parallel adapter.  All my software now thinks the parallel printer is a USB printer.  I chose to add a parallel port with a USB adapter instead of a PCI card so that in the future I could use all the interfaces with a laptop computer.

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA
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