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[TowerTalk] Tailtwister Start Problems at Low Temps

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Tailtwister Start Problems at Low Temps
From: \"Dick Green\"."< ("Dick Green".)
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 11:15:23 -0500
Hello and happy holiday season to all.

I installed a brand-new Hy-Gain Tailtwister rotor for my U.S. Tower 70'
base-rotated tubular tower back in late September. I bought the rotor and
digital control unit (DCU-1) as a package.

After ironing out a bunch of problems with the tower's rotation (unrelated
to the T2X), the rotor worked quite well until the temperature began to
drop. Now, after sitting idle for a while (the time varies with
temperature), the rotor will not start until after two, three, or even four
commands to move. Once it starts moving, however, it turns smoothly and will
start with no problem as long as it hasn't been sitting idle for too long.
For example, after sitting idle all night, when temperatures dropped as low
as -3 F, it took four start commands this morning to get it going. After
that, it's been rotating fine, even after sitting for an hour at 15 F.

So far, it hasn't flat-out refused to move, but I'm worried that it's going
to do that when some rare DX I need comes up or just before the next big
contest! It can get down to -30 F here in the dead of winter.

Since my cable run (gauge: 2-14, 6-16) to the tower is long (260'), I tried
moving the starting capacitor from the DCU-1 control box to the tower (it
was real easy to do this -- the capacitor is designed to be removed from the
box and I happen to have a weatherproof cable termination box next to the
tower with an easy tap-in at the Polyphaser rotor cable lightning suppressor
no more than 8 feet from the rotor.) This didn't help at all.

I called Hy-Gain and they said that Tailtwisters typically have this
problem. They said that one solution is to "rock" the rotor back and forth,
which loosens it up enough to start moving. Unfortunately, the DCU-1 does
not have any manual controls (i.e., no CW and CCW levers), so the only thing
you can do is tell it to move in one direction or the other. It tries for
eight seconds and if it detects no movement, it shuts off. Basically, all
you can do is keep pushing the "Start" button. As yet, I haven't tried
"rocking" by setting the target on either side of the limits to make the
start commands alternate direction. Possibly that will get it started a
little quicker. When I pointed out that my Tailtwister is nearly brand new
(the marketing literature touts improved low-temp operation and the manual
says it will work down to -32 F), they said that even the new ones have this

Are others out there experiencing this kind of problem with the Tailtwister,
especially new models running with the DCU-1?

Since the rotor is base-mounted and very easy to access, I've considered
putting some heat tape around it (I've got 110VAC on a pedestal right next
to the tower.) It looks like the best place to wrap it would be around the
lower (fixed) portion of the rotor. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of
room down there, and I'm not sure I can get enough tape around it to make a
difference. I'd rather not have the heat tape riding around on the movable
portion. Of course, I'm not wild about having heat tape running all winter.
Anybody else tried this?

Thanks for any help,
73, Dick, WC1M

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