Controlling antenna rotators

Controlling antenna rotators

Web Radio Control uses Hamlib rotctld application to control antenna rotators. Hamlib supports controlling rotator controllers with serial port, USB or network connection.

The configuration for setting up control for an antenna rotator controller is very similar to the configuration of controlling a radio: each configured rotator needs settings for a unique ID as identifier, the Hamlib rotator controller model number and a reference to the rotator controller serial port or a network address (for a network-based rotator controller).

Add an empty line to the end of the Web Radio Control configuration file, copy the following configuration template to the end of the file and follow the instructions below to fill in the configuration template.

rotatorDevices:
- id: "rotator1-id"
  type: "rotctld"
  rotctld:
    localInstance:
      enabled: true
      model: ROTATOR_MODEL_NUMBER
      rotDevice: "ROTATOR_DEVICE"
      serialSpeed: SERIAL_SPEED

Filling in the configuration example for antenna rotators

Replace the placeholders (e.g. ROTATOR_MODEL_NUMBER) in the configuration example using the instructions below. Pay attention to preserve any double quotes and spaces around the placeholders.

The configuration file format is called YAML, which is sensitive to the number of spaces in the beginning of each line. Please make sure to not change the number of spaces!

Some of the following placeholders in the configuration file template depend on the rotator controller models in use, so you will have to look up them in the List devices listing of the setup user interface.

Configuration options

The placeholders to be replaced in the configuration file template are:

Rotator model configuration
  • rotator1-id - An identifier for the antenna rotator to be controlled. The identifier is used internally by Web Radio Control to distinguish between antenna rotators and other devices. You can choose the identifier freely, but it makes sense to use the rotator model as the ID. Note that the ID may only contain characters A-Z, a-z and 0-9. Example: pst61d

  • ROTATOR_MODEL_NUMBER - Rotator model number for controlling the rotator. Please find the model number of your rotator controller model from the list of supported rotator models in the setup user interface (see the screenshot below) or from the documentation on page supported antenna rotators. The manufacturers and models are listed alphabetically. Example: 1701 (for Prosistel antenna rotators)

An example screenshot of the list of supported rotator models displayed in the setup user interface:

Rotator control configuration
  • ROTATOR_DEVICE - Rotator controller serial port or network address in URI reference format documented below.

    The setup user interface lists all detected serial ports and adapters under title Serial ports (for device control), see the screenshot below. Find the serial port that is connected to the rotator from the list of serial ports and copy the text from the URI reference column here. URI references for serial ports have an id: prefix and network addresses have prefix net:.

    The list of serial ports identifies USB serial port adapters with tty, usb in the Subsystem, bus field. Rotator models with a USB connector will usually have the rotator model and some form of serial number in the id: URI reference, although there is no general rule on what the URI references will look like. With multiple rotators of the same model or when using USB — RS-232 adapters it is usually not possible to know which serial port is connected to which rotator, so you will have to test each URI reference.

    Example: id:usb-Prolific_Technology_Inc._USB-Serial_Controller_D-if00-port0

    For rotator controllers with network connection, use URI references with net: prefix, e.g. net:rotator (domain name) or net:192.168.0.81 (IP address).

  • SERIAL_SPEED - Rotator serial port communication speed (baud rate). Choose a speed supported by your rotator controller model (for rotator controllers with serial port connection only!). Example: 9600

An example screenshot of the list of serial ports displayed in the setup user interface:

An example of finished rotator configuration

The example below contains configuration for a a Prosistel PST-61D antenna rotator and controller.

This rotator configuration is only an example and cannot be used as it is, because the rotator configuration depends on the rotator equipment you use. This example serves primarily as a reference for checking what a finished configuration for controlling a single rotator looks like.

rotatorDevices:
- id: "pst61d"
  type: "rotctld"
  rotctld:
    localInstance:
      enabled: true
      model: 1701
      serialSpeed: 9600
      rotDevice: "id:usb-Prolific_Technology_Inc._USB-Serial_Controller_D-if00-port0"