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Hardware Reviews

Editorial Review [13 May 2003]

DiSEqC 1.2 motors - Mini group test (Page 3 of 4)

Aston and Moteck

Aston TracSat DH12

Click to enlargeThe initial impression is that Aston is not as much trying to compete for the laurel of motorised setup leader but to simply secure compatible motors for their own range of receivers. Despite evident similarities in the internal design the Stab HH120 model I tested was to the TracSat like the Volkswagen Beetle to the Porsche 356 - both have an engine designed by the same guy and yet the style, comfort and the finish of the whole is miles apart.

Click to enlargeThanks to aproperly cut and finished pole driving gear the DH12 is much quieter and smoother, and more pleasant sounding to the ear than the HH120 (scroll down for an audio sample).

The clean moulding of angle finder, rotation scale on the top closure and even the Aston logo on the mounting pole make this product look classy. And there is no doubts whatsoever where the 130 Euros go. The motor, together with mounting brackets and set of screws, is shipped in a top-notch photo colour box with glossy manual of a quality that one would like to see more often in bookstores than in the greasy, dirty hands of a dish installer. The parisian blue manual is, very much in the Aston style, kept traditionally in French only, leaving no doubts what part of European market is the product addressed to.

Click to enlargeApart from the finish, the most distinctive of the Tracsat unique features is without a doubt the output for the polarizer. Highly unexpected in a DiSEqC 1.2 motor, this very custom feature was added to accommodate the extra functions of Aston Xena 2000, which among other things is also ready to steer magnetic polarizers in search of inclined analogue and digital birds up on the sky. The Xena series have an auto focus option, relying on software to fine tune the dish to the strongest possible signal between the transponders (see video below), especially helpful when watching programs on group of satellites set slightly apart from each other on the same position - Sirius on 4.8 and 5.0 degrees East springs to mind. To achieve high precision repetitively the gears inside DH-12 will move the pole with speed of roughly 1 degree a second. Dynamics as well as the outcome of the obstacle course were almost identical to that of Stab H-H120 .

[click below to view Aston's autofocus in action - DiVX 5.0 format]
[ high resolution version - 3.7Mb] [ low resolution version - 1.8Mb]

Click to enlargeUpon installation, the rotor with 88cm steel dish attached to it survived 5 windy days until one afternoon few hours of 50 kph gusts left the dish installation pointing at the neighbours' Fiesta on the parking lot rather than Clarke's belt.

The weak link appears to be the mounting collar and brackets. The collar is made of 4mm steel, approx 2 mm less than any other manufacturer would go for in competing motors. The galvanised sheet used for mounting the DH12 is not only thinner but also softer. With the wind pushing the dish towards the front, the bottom part of the collar, originally moulded into V shape to better fit on the rod, simply bent and started warping around the pole. The threaded lower mounting bracket also got bent under the pressure.

To continue the tests I had a 5mm steel collar made at local metalworks and the Tracsat equipped with a custom collar and brand new brackets kept driving 6 kg of steel dish for several stormy weeks of October and November 2002. During the infamous 100 km/h November gales plundering London the DT12 successfully brought the dish to safety all the way from the 30 degree west horizon to maximum east position and, unlike the dish itself, survived great deal of abuse to finally let go after being torn and molested by storm of the decade for 7 hours.

Click to enlarge I've examined all external and internal components of the motor itself very carefully and it seemed fine, no sign of gears worn out or broken by the sudden hits of wind, all in perfect shape and condition but the pole used for mounting the dish developed some 10 degree slack. Given the conditions I think the rotor did marvellous job and survived through more abuse than expected proving it is a great piece of engineering and design. Yet, it has to be said, sadly the final product was let down by a silly mount.

Click here for an audio sample of Aston DH12 (mp3, 101Kb)

Quality of build 8 (that mount...)
Performance 8 (beware of extreme conditions)
Features 8
Support 8
Value for money 9


Moteck Digipower DG 2100

Click to enlargeInstead of working with ready reference designs Taiwan based manufacturer Moteck decided to create their own rotor from scratch. The originality of the SG2100 is clearly visible at first sight as the pole rotating the dish is pointing downwards, rather than upwards. As much as this first look might not provide any confidence (it's hard not to imagine your 6 kg dish sliding down and rumbling down from the roof) this design has more pros than cons. A bulge at the end of the pole easily secures the dish, so even if the dish mounting brackets go loose, they won't pass this point. The obvious advantage of such design is that the rotor works with help of gravity rather than against it, so there is less chance of the entire construction developing slack after months of holding your dish upwards against winds in different angles.

Click to enlargeThe advantages of SG2100's design don't just stop there. The Digipower is about the only DiSEqC 1.2 rotor to have adjustable hardware limits. The manufacturer also included manual east and west button to make setup easier as well as a memory reset switch, hidden inside the chassis and accessible with a pin in case of trouble.
Aligned with the East/West button is a multicolour LED indicator - it flashes green when motor is in operation, red when an overload occurs, and blinks briefly when motor is being reset. Easy, effective and so helpful.

Click to enlargeUpon beginning the tests I was really surprised and pleased by the quality and detail of this rotor considering its price (SG2100 is approx 15-20% cheaper than the competition).
All the scales and reference points on the chassis were clearly marked and moulded spot on. The caps and covers fitted perfectly, and even the collars around the F connectors, protecting receiver and LNB input points underneath the main body from rain and snow, were made of flexible rubber rather than the difficult to mount stiff plastic crowns used by the other manufacturers in this review. The rumour has it there are black versions of the same mount available under the symbol SV2200.

After opening the motor I noticed the cog used directly to rotate the main rod was made of plastic rather than metal like the rest of the mechanism. At first I was disappointed. But observing the opened motor in action made me realise that this design made more than perfect sense. Rather than reinforcing the main gears, Moteck has invested in a proper overload circuit, preventing the mechanism from getting damaged should the dish hit an obstacle or be stopped by a strong wind. So using nylon for the main gear made it quieter, smoother, and perhaps less prone to structural changes in extreme temperatures.

With reduced points of mechanical failure and simplified setup, in use the Moteck SG2100 was the fastest out of all three scoring at nearly 2 degrees per second. Speed in both directions was even marginally faster than that of Stab's smaller rotor - the HH100. As I already mentioned, the DG2100 is also much, much quieter than the rest of the rotors in test.

Click to enlargeThe endurance test worked in favour of the Digipower too - after approx. 2500 rotations the motor looked as good as new inside out without any slack on the joints or in the internal motor mechanism. There was also no sign of rust or corrosion after the water test. To add impact to the final score I also discovered the SG2100 seems to draw less current than the competition while in operation even though the specs sheets reckon otherwise. The SG2100 worked suprisingly well connected to my usually troublesome Nokia 9200 via 20 meters of cable and additional DiSEqC 1.0 switch. It also performed much better than the compatition when powered by Hauppauge DVB card. This is good news for owners of the receivers that suffer from generally low output, either because of design deficiencies (original Force Dmaster 1122S, 2002 series of Dreambox DM7000) or simply lack of support for rotors in original design (Dbox1, Dbox2).

Click here for an audio sample of Moteck SG2100 (mp3, 191Kb)

Quality of build 10
Performance 10
Features 10
Support 8
Value for money 10





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