ARCO - Smart Antenna Rotator Controller
The ARCO is a modern rotator controller designed for reliable operation with virtually any rotator ever made, commercial or home brew.
The lifespan of your gear inspired the extremely secure design of ARCO, which provides the most carefully controlled rotator motion, using auto-adapting, graduating/decaying speeds, reducing inertial stress on your rotator gearbox, antenna, and tower.
ARCO delivers safety, performance, seamless functionality, and present-day features not yet available in any other rotator controller.
ARCO is a completely self-contained stand alone rotator controller not requiring computer or any external device or power supply for setup and operation, while providing a wide selection of interfaces for remote control when necessary. It features several ways of controlling azimuth or elevation heading using uncluttered graphical user interface on the 7” touch screen. Azimuth heading is displayed on a great circle map, user centered to the rotator installation location, with four different radius settings, live grey line projection, several coloring options and automatic day/night color schemes. The controller supports
Touch'n Turn feature, fastest possible heading entry by simple touching desired direction on great circle map. Than classic tactile front panel CW and CCW buttons, Point and Shot knob and heading entry keypad, either virtual on the touch screen or hardware, connected to the USB host port on the ARCO.
Along with the manual control, ARCO offers rich connectivity for the computer using standard RS-232 port, USB serial port not requiring any driver installation on Windows 10, macOS, and Linux, and Ethernet port to enable control over Internet.
ARCO supports wide range of the absolute and relative sensors including rheostat, potentiometer, reed contact, Hall sensor, PWM sensor as well as newly developed magnetic azimuth sensor
ARXC Magnetic serving also as antenna slippage watchdog.
Additional digital sensor port provides three differential lines supporting RS-485 communication as well as single ended push-pull and open collector connection for various quadrature encoders or communication channel to ARXC accessories. Using high resolution sensors positioning accuracy is 0.1º.
For the motor control, ARCO uses high current, 4-channel PWM driver with overload, short circuit and overheat protections, combined with automatically operated, current monitoring internal power supply, preventing driver damage caused by operation failures. This combination is capable of driving safely any DC motor up to 48V or any AC motor up to 24V, including innovative brake control reducing solenoid heat.
Motor start and stop uses configurable, ultra-fine gradual speeds ramps, significantly reducing inertial forces stress to the rotator, tower and antennas, prolonging their lifetime. Gradual speed control uses auto-adapting procedure considering variable, dynamically changing resistance caused by wind or ice.
For its basic operation, ARCO uses built-in linear supply for silent, interference free operation. Separate built-in power supply for the motor is selectively controlled and entirely turned off when motor does not turn, to avoid causing any possible interference to the sensitive receivers. For high voltage or high power motors ARCO provides common control outputs for inverters as well as industry standard MODBUS RTU control. All rotator settings including compensation for power loss in the motor cables are menu driven, comfortably without requiring to open cover and change some internal wiring.
Networking is another strong point of ARCO. ARCO supports not only LAN networking but allows to build a simple but powerful, isolated two-wire local LINK bus, coupling multiple ARCO controllers together for automated stacks tracking, multi-directional beaming, and counter rotation for rotating towers.
Unique feature of ARCO is a direct control of rotators connected to another ARCO controllers, located either on the same LINK bus or anywhere in the world using Internet connection. All this complex control is greatly simplified by using just two, easy to handle SYNC and ALIGN buttons, and single ANTENNA button which allows to choose either one of three antennas installed on the same rotator with different heading offsets, or any other antenna present on the local LINK network through another ARCO, or on a remote LINK network through ARCO controller connected over the Internet.
Built-in VNC server provides exact copy of ARCO screen on your computer monitor, tablet or smartphone, enabling full control of antenna rotator and antenna switches driven by ARXC Relay modules directly from the computer or mobile device, regardless if you are connected to ARCO locally or remotely over Internet.
For unattended remote operation over the Internet, ARCO offers autonomous parking function and physically disconnects all wires coming to the rotator port from the rotator hardware when connection is over, breaks, or if ARCO goes to the power down mode, in order to minimize possible damage by high static or nearby lightning during storms.
Firmware provides wide range of additional protections and self explaining error messages for quick troubleshooting if any failure happens. All of this packed in a full aluminum, compact enclosure with always free firmware updates.
ARCO review in ARRL QST magazine