SARCTRAC Mk3b: A $290 Satellite Antenna Rotator
In January we posted about the AntRunner, which is a $325 (incl. shipping) satellite antenna rotator shipped from China. Recently we've come across another low cost satellite rotator from Australia called the "SARCTRAC Mk3b" which was developed as part of a school amateur radio educational program. This rotator fully assembled comes in at AU$400 + AU$50 worldwide shipping (US$290 + US$40 = US$330), making it's price comparable with the AntRunner. SARCTRAC can be purchased from the sarcnet products page. Currently only the fully built unit is available, but in the future they plan to offer a cheaper kit option.
We're yet to test the SARCTRAC Mk3b, but based on an overall review of it's advertising, it appears that the SARCTRAC has some superior specifications and a superior design when compared to the AntRunner.
Unlike the AntRunner, SARCTRAC comes with all its components enclosed in a waterproof IP65 rated enclosure. Its design also makes use of a 3D position sensor with magnetometer, allowing the unit to know its orientation at all times, meaning that it should be able to automatically position itself from startup. The design also makes use of DC motors with a built in worm gear drive, so the the motors back driving is not possible.
The system is controlled via a built in Raspberry Pi 3B+ and can communicate with the controlling PC via WiFi. Raspberry Pi's have stable WiFi connections, so we shouldn't see the connection problems that we had with the ESP32 based AntRunner.
Just like the AntRunner, SARCTRAC is only a lightweight rotator with torque specs of 50kg.cm static and 25kg.cm dynamic. So it should be able to handle counterbalanced Yagi beams, and lightweight dish antennas.
Made in China, lol. Give that 5 mins before something breaks, especially under portable use
Next time read past the first line of the article before commenting.
One thing to note — because the Australian dollar floats versus the US Dollar, the price will go up and down with the currency and this can result in discounted prices for USAicans like myself.
$450 Australian is currently worth about $309 US, so a $21 savings relative to the $330 quoted in the post.
But anyway, if this thing is made in Australia, that’s a first. Living in Sydney, I can get local shipping instead of international will save a bit, and it’ll be faster and no customs to put up with.
Cool. I’ve screwed around with servo-driven PTZ mounts before but servos, even high-torque ones, are very limited in terms of antenna size/weight as well as pointing accuracy.
I would love a kit, and I hope one becomes available.