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Author Topic: Suggestions for my first amp.  (Read 3497 times)
KB4OIF
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Posts: 145




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« on: November 02, 2017, 02:51:58 AM »

As the title implies, never ran an amp before.  Looking for just a little more bunch. 500-600 watts.  No tune if possible.  Solid state if possible.  Not a contester or DX chaser, just want to be heard a little better.  Main bands would be 40-80, mostly 40, but would not mind having 10-80.  Antenna is a OCF dipole for 6-80 from radio works. Will be putting up a vertical shortly.  31 feet with 8 32 foot radials to start with.   Looking for a quality amp but don't what to have to eat beans for a month because the amp was too much money. 

KB4OIF
John
 
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N3HEE
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2017, 04:34:36 AM »

You cant go wrong with the Ameritron ALS-600.  I ran a used one for a couple years before I upgraded to legal limit.  I am a contester and put hundreds of hours on it and made 1000's of contacts with it without fail.  Pretty inexpensive, robust and bulletproof.  $1499 new at GigaParts.  Used under $1000.  You may also need a tuner depending on how resonant the OCF dipole is on any given band segment.  The ALS-600 will tolerate about a 2.1:1 SWR before shutting down.  There are better choices out there but at a much greater cost.  Elecraft KPA-500, ACOM 600S, RM Italy BLA-600
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Joe
N3HEE
CW Academy Advisor (Level II)
AC2RY
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2017, 05:04:16 AM »

As the title implies, never ran an amp before.  Looking for just a little more bunch. 500-600 watts.  No tune if possible.  Solid state if possible.  Not a contester or DX chaser, just want to be heard a little better.  Main bands would be 40-80, mostly 40, but would not mind having 10-80.  Antenna is a OCF dipole for 6-80 from radio works. Will be putting up a vertical shortly.  31 feet with 8 32 foot radials to start with.   Looking for a quality amp but don't what to have to eat beans for a month because the amp was too much money. 

KB4OIF
John
 

I use ACOM 600S with great success. It is packed with protections against common operator errors. You can likely find used one for around $2000. If you only use one antenna to work on all bands, I suggest to think about remote tuner for it. Sometimes it can be as effective as doubling the power.
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NK7Z
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2017, 06:14:50 AM »

ALS-600 or ALS-800, support is first rate at Ameritron in the event something breaks.
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
WY7CHY
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Posts: 635




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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2017, 07:04:46 AM »

I own a few amps, but don't want to make a specific suggestion. What I want to do is point out a few important points.

1. Every time you DOUBLE your power; either real or effective, that's a 3db gain.
2. It takes 6db gain to increase the signal on the receiver by 1"S" unit. Meaning, if someone currently hears you at S7 with your 100 watts, you would need 400 watts out to be heard at S8 and 1600 watts out to be heard at S9.
3. 500 watts is usually the small size for mobile use; even though some use them for home shack use. That is slightly over a 6db gain; 1 "S" unit improvement. 600 watt no-tune Solid State amps with power supply for home use will cost more than double the price of the 500 watt amp. $1800 vs $900.
4. You say you only want a "Little more bunch"(Punch); but I guarantee you that if you stay with the hobby, you WILL realize 800-1000 watts is truly the sweet spot between price, gain, convenience.
5. Your biggest constraint on your requirements is wanting a "NO-TUNE". Tuning an amp is not rocket science. Takes literally seconds. And based on #4 above, you can get a 1000w amplifier for $500 LESS than the 600 watt amp.
6. With the right antenna, you can get the same amount of gain with your stock 100 watts as adding a 400-500 watt amplifier. (However; antennas can be the limiting factor for some if they don't have space).

So, while not recommending per se; based on previous recommendations; if you remove the limitation of a "NO TUNE" amplifier, you can get an AL-80B 1000 watt amplifier NEW for $1400. It works on 120vac and only draws 12 amps. Any house circuit can handle it. And it's one of the best proven amps out there. Or, you can pay a minimum of $1900-$2000 for a 600 watt no tune. I will say that once you get past the 800-1000 watt category, I personally don't consider it cost effective. But I'll take a 800-1000 watt amplifier over a 500-600 watt when the 800-1000 watt amp costs less. Again; if you stay in the hobby, you WILL want to upgrade from a 500-600 watt amplifier in time. Why pay twice; and pay more?
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Born Wild - Raised Proud: 73
Cheyenne, Wyoming
KB4OIF
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Posts: 145




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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2017, 07:44:03 AM »

Ameritron ALS-600S  is kind of interesting.  Includes the power supply.  1499 dollars.  WY7CHY,  Definitely appreciated the info.  Small space for antenna's.  I will take your info into account is my research.  Another thing that I see is cables.  Do they need certain cables for different makes of radio.
Don't want to get it here and need some cable.

KB4OIF
John
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N3HEE
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2017, 07:46:11 AM »

There are lots of nice used amps for sale at any given time.  Most ops get rid of them because they are simply not using them or they are upgrading.  Of course you take a chance that something is wrong with the amp.  But if you stick to the popular tried and true amp designs you should be fine.
 
QTH.COM

ALS-600 - $800
AL-80B - $750
ACOM 1010 - $1075

No special cables required other than simple coax patch cables and rca patch cables for PTT and ALC.  No real need to use ALC.  You can manage ALC settings via your radio.  There is an optional box you can buy for the ALS-600 to do automatic band changing.  That box requires a special cable and works only with certain radios.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 08:02:17 AM by N3HEE » Logged

Joe
N3HEE
CW Academy Advisor (Level II)
K8AC
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Posts: 1763




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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2017, 08:14:16 AM »

Quote
It takes 6db gain to increase the signal on the receiver by 1"S" unit. Meaning, if someone currently hears you at S7 with your 100 watts, you would need 400 watts out to be heard at S8 and 1600 watts out to be heard at S9.

In the real world, with some notable exceptions, 1 S-unit doesn't represent a 6 dB change.  Many transceivers have placed S9 in the center of the meter for aesthetic reasons and have linear markings below S9, when the actual AGC response is anything but linear.  Using a calibrated output signal generator, you can quickly prove this to be true.  On one high end Yaesu transceiver, here's what I measured:
 
S1 to S2: 1 dB
S2 to S3: 1 dB
S3 to S4: 2 dB
S4 to S5: 2 dB
S5 to S6: 2 dB
S6 to S7: 4 dB
S7 to S8: 9 dB
S8 to S9: 4 dB

So what?  People who believe that an S unit is always 6 dB often use their S meter as a way of judging signal increase resulting from switching an amplifier inline or measuring F/B ratio of antennas, or comparing antennas.  In the case above, that person would think that an change from S2 to S7 was 30 dB, when in reality the change was only 11 dB.  It's interesting to note that on the same transceiver I measured, the dB above S9 markings were spot on.  My point is: unless you've checked your S meter calibration using a calibrated instrument, assume nothing but rest assured that it probably differs wildly from 6 dB per S unit.
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WY7CHY
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2017, 08:47:48 AM »

K8AC. I agree with you 100%. But I was trying to illustrate that doubling in power wasn't going to double the incoming signal strength.

But also based on my own experiments with distant ends, using barefoot 100 watts; switching on my 400 watt amp; and then switching in my 800 watt amp; I HAVE shown about a 1"S" increase going from 100 watts to 400 watts. And about a 1/2 "S" going up to 800 watts. But I do know, that kind of test isn't accurate. A lot depends on the distant station. Distance, their noise level, their antenna, etc.

Point still is; that while getting a 500-600 watt amp is indeed good, (I have a few of my own as well as 800+ amps); I didn't want the individual to think that 5-6 times the output power was going to get him 5-6 times the distance, signal strength, etc.
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Born Wild - Raised Proud: 73
Cheyenne, Wyoming
N4ATS
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2017, 09:16:18 AM »

Yaesu FL 7000 is a bulletproof 600 watt amplifier that will actually put out 600 watts all day long without having to slam it with inpur power. They have a built-in automatic tuner and automatic band changing. Parts are readily available and they're not that hard to find.  www.N4ATS.com
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K6AER
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2017, 09:51:47 AM »

Some thoughts to consider:


In radio Line-Of-Sight propagation, every time you increase your signal 6 dB you double your communication distance.


Most hams are noise floor limited at their QTH.  An amplifier on you end will yield many more contacts.


New SDR radios have the ability to pull signals literally out of the noise.  The addition of an amplifier will complete the return path.


If you can adjust two knobs and follow a meter you will get a lot more bang for the buck with a tube amplifier.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2017, 11:01:30 AM »

"Why run low power when a kilowatt will do?" Smiley

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WY7CHY
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2017, 11:05:22 AM »

K6AER. Excellent point about distance. This is why many people realize that there isn't that much bang for the buck on too much power.

Example: Everything being equal
1000 miles distance @ 100 watts
2000 miles distance @ 400 watts
4000 miles distance @ 1600 watts (Obviously above legal limits)

As we all know however, distance is mainly determined base on propagation. Individuals can talk DX many thousands of miles away on LESS than 100 watts. And some CAN'T talk DX with 500-1000 watts.

Again; I use many amps; so I am not against them. I wouldn't live without one. But I also realize that just because you have 500, 1000, 1500 watts, doesn't mean you'll automatically be able to talk from Denver Colorado to Sydney Australia. Amplifiers are a great tool; but I've made contacts to Central and South America on 100 watts as well as the entire USA. Matter of fact; I usually only turn on an amp if trying to DX overseas. Most times it's just not necessary. And I have a very basic 80m wire loop antenna. And it's not even optimum. It's only 10-15 feet off the ground. Yet, I get the entire continental USA and most of Canada with 100 watts. Amps are great. They just can't perform miracles.
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Born Wild - Raised Proud: 73
Cheyenne, Wyoming
KB4OIF
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Posts: 145




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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2017, 02:19:02 AM »

Thanks everyone.  A lot of good points raised here.  Going on a short trip to my Vietnam units reunion next week.  Will decide on which one after I get back.  Once again, thanks for your input.

KB4OIF
John
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PLANKEYE
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Posts: 212




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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2017, 04:11:09 PM »

My advice would be the Ameritron AL-80B it's a tube amp though and you have to learn how to tune it.  One other thing that I think can be overlooked is AUDIO.  You can run a bunch of power but you have to have your audio figured out first (and your antenna).  If you like 40 meters a simple 40 meter dipole at 30 feet inv vee style will do the trick. Good luck.       
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