Winter 2009 Issue

CDE/Hy-Gain Rotors
How to Keep ’em Turning – Part 1

What is a beam without a rotor? What good is a broken rotor? W9FX has spent years repairing the CDE/Hy-Gain rotors. Here in part 1 of this two-part article, he shares his knowledge of rotor repairs. Next time he shares his knowledge of repairing the control box.

By Brad Pioveson, W9FX

Photo 1. Turn the rotor upside down with the “Vee” of the mast bracket facing away from you, securing the rotor in a vise (see step 1).
(All photos by the author)

Bell-shaped rotors (or rotators, if you prefer) are as much a part of amateur radio as Morse code keys and microphones. Having the ability to remotely turn one’s directional antenna and reliably knowing in which direction the antenna system is pointed when you release the switch is fundamental to being able to successfully work local stations or DX on HF, VHF, UHF, and microwave frequencies alike. What will you do when the rotor malfunctions? When—not if—it happens to you, you might find yourself grabbing the nearest ham radio dealer’s catalog (or visiting the dealer’s internet website), only to find that new rotor prices are a lot higher than they used to be—ouch! You might consider sending the rotor off to a shop that specializes in such work. That, too, can be a costly proposition, and you’re without a rotor for days or weeks. Usually, if Murphy has anything to say about it, the rotor is either inoperative or out for repair during the biggest 6- and 2-meter Es openings of the past decade.

If you’re looking to save both time and some money, aren’t afraid to get your hands a little dirty, and have the ability to use a VOM, soldering iron, and common hand tools, this article is for you, as it will show you exactly how to take these rotors apart, install the most commonly needed new parts, and, reassemble the unit. Simple controller repairs will also be covered in Part 2. Armed with this information, some new parts, and your sweat equity, your trusty “antenna twirler” will once again be ready to provide you with many more years of trouble-free service.

For the purposes of this article, a “typical” CDE/Hy-Gain rotor will be the subject of the repair. The candidate is a CDE Ham II model. The same techniques, same tools, same parts1, are used in the Ham M Series 3 and 42, the Ham III, the Ham IV, and the Ham V models. Additionally, the information also applies to the smaller TR-44, CD-44, CD-45, and CD-45 II units—with differences noted in the text where necessary. To save endless references to all these models, I’m going to refer to all of these rotors collectively as the “Ham X” series.

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