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 an 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, the fastest possible heading entry by simply touching the desired direction on a great circle map. In addition, ARCO has the traditional front panel CW and CCW buttons; Point and Shot knob; and heading entry via keypad (either a virtual touch screen keypad or (optional) USB keypad connected to the USB host port).
In addition to manual control, ARCO offers rich connectivity: standard RS-232 port, USB serial port with no driver required on Windows 10, macOS, and Linux, and an Ethernet port to enable control over Internet.
For rotator position feedback, ARCO supports wide range of absolute and relative sensors including rheostat, potentiometer, reed contact, Hall sensor, and PWM sensor. An additional digital sensor port provides three differential lines supporting RS-485 communication, a single ended push-pull, and open collector connections for various quadrature encoders. With high resolution sensors ARCO’s accuracy is better than 0.1º.
For motor control, ARCO uses a high current, 4-channel, PWM driver with overload, short circuit and overheat protections, combined with an automatically operated, current limited internal power supply to prevent driver damage caused by operation failures. This combination is capable of safely driving any DC motor up to 48V or any AC motor up to 24V, including brake control.
Motor start and stop uses configurable, gradual speed ramps to significantly reduce inertial stress to the rotator, tower and antennas prolonging their lifetime. Gradual speed control uses an auto-adapting procedure whch takes into account variable dynamically changing resistance caused by wind or ice.
The built-in control power suppy is linear for silent, interference free operation. The separate, internal motor power supply is turned off entirely when motor is not turning to avoid causing interference to sensitive receivers. For high voltage or high power motors, ARCO provides common control outputs for inverters and industry standard MODBUS RTU control. All rotator settings, including compensation for power loss in the motor cables, are menu driven to allow changes without the need to open the case or change internal wiring.
Networking is another strong point of ARCO. ARCO supports not only LAN networking it also provides a simple yet powerful, isolated two-wire local LINK bus to couple multiple ARCO controllers together for automated stack tracking; multi-directional beaming; and counter rotation for rotating towers. A 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 with just two, easy to use SYNC and ALIGN buttons and a single ANTENNA button which allows the choice of: one of three antennas installed on the same rotator with different heading offsets; any other antenna present on the local LINK network (other ARCO controllers); or another ARCO controllers conncted over the internet (along with any other controllers on its LINK network).
For unattended remote operation, ARCO offers an autonomous parking function and physically disconnects all wires coming to the rotator port from the rotator hardware when connection is closed; 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 in the event of failure. All of this housed in a copact, aluminum enclosure with always free firmware updates.