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Author Topic: Amplifiers, tuve vs solid state, opinions please  (Read 4632 times)
W7HBP
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Posts: 164




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« on: March 03, 2013, 05:08:04 PM »

Tuve=Tube (but you knew that)  Grin

OK, going to purchase an amp, willing to go to $1500 range.

I have been looking at the AL80B, a 1KW unit and a Ameritron solid state unit, but only 600 watts.

Price for both retail for about the same. Solid State, more money, but looking at convenience to operate more than watts.

Wattage is nice but my main concern is opinions on operating. I realize the tube units needs to be tuned up, while solid state, switch-n-go.

I'd appreciate any opinions on this.
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NO2A
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Posts: 758




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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 06:53:44 PM »

While the solid state amps are more convenient than tube amps,they have some drawbacks. They are more likely to go into a "fault" condition,resulting in no transmit. Higher than acceptable swr,too much drive,etc. Read the reviews on here about them. They can be good,or they can be "iffy". The AL-80B amp has a great reputation for reliability. It`s a great amp,great tube,quiet fan,accurate wattmeter,covers all bands. Chances are twenty years from now it still will be working. Nothing in its price range can match it. You can get heavier duty more expensive amps for sure,but you won`t find anything in its class that would beat it. Its tube is almost impossible to ruin from being overdriven. Unless you make a really stupid mistake,it keeps working. Maybe your rig puts out a high power "spike" when first keyed. The AL-80B can take that. Try the same thing with the solid state amp. See what happens.
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K0CWO
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Posts: 416




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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 08:29:26 PM »

I owned an ALS-600 for a couple of years.  It was a good little amp that put out 400-600 watts depending on the band used.  I had issues with the switching power supply and replaced it with the analog supply.  No issues after that.  Easy to use somewhat SWR sensitive as it kicked off line at anything over 1.5:1.  I own an ALS-1300 now.  After initial power supply and bias issues it is working OK now.  Easy KW out and also easy to use.  I like solid state during the summer months.  Easier to keep the shack cool.  Not a whole lot of difference between 600 and 1000 watts for casual rag chewing on the lower bands.

I can't say enough about the AL-80A & B.  Great amps.  If I could only have one amplifier it would be one of them.

73, BJ
k0cwo

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K7PEH
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Posts: 1125




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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2013, 09:04:35 PM »

I have owned only 4 amps in my ham radio history:

1.  My own homebrew dual-811 linear I built in high-school (1964/1965) and I wonder what ever happened to that.
2.  An AL-572B:  bought in 2004, sold in 2005.
3.  Icom PW-1 to turn my Icom 756 Pro III into a 1kw transceiver (still have the PW-1)
4.  Elecraft KPA500 to turn my K3 into a 500 watt transceiver (still have the full Elecraft K-line).

My opinions -- if I had bought the AL-80B I might still have it.  In fact, I may yet buy one just to have another tube amp.  Both of my solid-state amps have operated flawlessly.  Those who say that these can be fickle must be thinking of some other solid-state amp.  Yes, I have faulted both of these due to high SWR but it never causes a problem and I am operating again, at full power, within a second or two at the most.  The KPA500 will automatically self-correct sometimes, other times I merely need to switch from STANDBY back to OPERATE.  No, I would never buy an Ameritron solid-state amp.  I would buy (maybe) a Tokyo Hi-Power amp though if I were in the market for another.

I prefer solid state though as they are nice to use.  But, the cost per watt for solid state is indeed higher than most tube amps (except possibly for some high end amps).

If you are watching your budget though the AL-80B is probably the best 1 KW amp you can buy today.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 01:30:36 AM »

Whichever you get, if you are aiming on keeping it for a number of years, spare tube(s) or transistors are worth getting. Rotate tubes every two to three years: if 3-500s or the like, make sure the plate gets red.

You cannot guarantee that if a transistor fails in ten years time, spares or substitutes are available.
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W7HBP
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Posts: 164




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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 06:00:07 AM »

All great into. I had my mind made up, then spoke to someone else and eh said to go tube and get the AL80B also. You guys for the most part are saying almost the same thing. That was what prompted me to ask here. I will look in archive reviews also.

I have another question for those who have the AL80B, can the Belden 8X handle the power if its under a 100 foot run?

Can the power on the AL80B be turned down, ie in other words, can it run on 600 watts output (or anything else) or is it all bypass or full output?

I'm going to use it on 110VAC, I have a nearby 20 amp circuit (12AWG) in my ham shack, while all else runs on another 15A circuit (14AWG) but I can run 220V designated if needed. Is there an advantage using 220 vs 110? I will measure exact line voltage before I made the jumper decision.  Appreciate all the feedback too.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2013, 09:23:43 AM »


I have another question for those who have the AL80B, can the Belden 8X handle the power if its under a 100 foot run?

Length doesn't matter, but SWR might.  RG8X can handle a kilowatt easily if it's terminated in a match.

Quote
Can the power on the AL80B be turned down, ie in other words, can it run on 600 watts output (or anything else) or is it all bypass or full output?

It's a linear amplifier.  To reduce power, reduce drive and that's it.  No control on the amplifier for this, the control is on your transmitter. Wink

Quote
I'm going to use it on 110VAC, I have a nearby 20 amp circuit (12AWG) in my ham shack, while all else runs on another 15A circuit (14AWG) but I can run 220V designated if needed. Is there an advantage using 220 vs 110?

With the AL80B, not really.  It will run just as well with a "stiff" 120V line.  What you described (dedicated, #12AWG wiring) should do fine.
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W7HBP
Member

Posts: 164




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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 09:52:35 AM »

Length doesn't matter, but SWR might.  RG8X can handle a kilowatt easily if it's terminated in a match.

It's a linear amplifier.  To reduce power, reduce drive and that's it.  No control on the amplifier for this, the control is on your transmitter. Wink
advantage using 220 vs 110?

With the AL80B, not really.  It will run just as well with a "stiff" 120V line.  What you described (dedicated, #12AWG wiring) should do fine.

WB2WIK, you answered all my questions. And it was all the answered I wanted to hear too.  Grin

OK, will get a hold of DX engineering and get my AL80B coming. Probably going with new. Thanks again to everyone who answered my questions too.

73
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KB5UBI
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Posts: 97




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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 03:20:33 PM »

I own an AL-80B and it will do exactly what it was advertized to do; exactly what I needed it to do. 1 KW and not much more on 120 volt line. Some will say it is pushing the 3-500Z but it's not in SSB. 120 volt line sag will prevent you from anymore than 1KW. CW? 800 watts on all bands, just as advertized. Pretty much a bullet proof amp if you tune to resonance and stay with 120 volt line. Don't forget the bonus of the true PEP reading watt meter.   
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WB2JVB
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 06:17:25 PM »

I am a new ALS-600 user (bought it used), with the linear power supply. First amp for me. The ALC circuit is impossible to adjust with the directions in the manual and in the directions Ameritron sent me! So I am thinking its close, but whatever.

It works well with my Kenwood TS-590. I have had it fault a few times due to SWR as the above poster mentioned. But I have learned to make sure my antenna  tuner is at or below 1.5. Then it seems fine. Currently running it on 120, but have a 240 outlet in the shack now and will convert it. Getting about 400 pep out, not 600.

I like the no tune convenience. I hate hearing those tuner-uppers all over the band and was afraid to become one. Perhaps its easier than it looks, but seemed like a pain in the butt!

I would buy it again.

Good luck.
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W7HBP
Member

Posts: 164




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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2013, 06:15:50 PM »

I have ordered a brand new Ameritron AL80B, should have it by Monday. I will need to order a new tuner to handle the extra power, so it wont be in use right away. I will report back with my opinions once I get it up and running. I need to do the 10/12 meter mod and then there is a 15/17 meter mod too, plus from the instructions, looks like I will need a plastic hex (TV tuner) to adjust the input SWR. Thanks for everyone's help too.  Grin
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K3VAT
Member

Posts: 701




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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2013, 08:41:00 PM »

.... looks like I will need a plastic hex (TV tuner) to adjust the input SWR.

Great, but you may or may not even need the hex tuner to adjust input SWR.  The factory often does a good job of setting these before it goes out their door.  Check it first (you'd probably would anyway) - don't worry too much if it isn't exactly perfect.  GL, 73, Rich, K3VAT
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KC9TNH
Member

Posts: 304




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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2013, 03:49:11 PM »

I need to do the 10/12 meter mod and then there is a 15/17 meter mod too, plus from the instructions, looks like I will need a plastic hex (TV tuner) to adjust the input SWR. Thanks for everyone's help too.  Grin
I'd snagged the plastic tool from a fine old gent in town retiring from his TV repair biz. Un-needed; after mods had a fine input match anyway so what W7HBP said applies - check first. While you're popping for a more robust tuner, you will enjoy a dummy load that will handle 1.5kW or better if you don't have one already. Honest.

Regarding WB2WIK Steve's fine advice, be sure & follow the guidance to tune it (hopefully using your dummy load) & eventually establish your plate & load settings at the highest drive setting you'll use on your transceiver. Don't be bashful about using a cheat sheet to jot stuff down when you're done. Then you can back your drive down & adjust overall output, vs. adjusting with 30w of drive and then deciding to crank the radio up to 60w. Amps don't like that.

I've found my AL-80B to be very linear and (now 3rd owner) the old Eimac and that circuit are doing their typical Clydesdale-like job. Hope you're as happy with your -80B as I've been. Congratulations!
 Smiley
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
KB5UBI
Member

Posts: 97




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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2013, 06:43:34 PM »

I have ordered a brand new Ameritron AL80B, should have it by Monday. I will need to order a new tuner to handle the extra power, so it wont be in use right away. I will report back with my opinions once I get it up and running. I need to do the 10/12 meter mod and then there is a 15/17 meter mod too, plus from the instructions, looks like I will need a plastic hex (TV tuner) to adjust the input SWR. Thanks for everyone's help too.  Grin

If you ordered a new one, the 15/17 meter broad banding mod will already have been done. The newer input board doesn't have the jumpers on the outside edge. It should work out of the box. If in doubt about the 15/17 mod, Ameritron can tell you if you give them the assembly date off of the HV board.

KB5UBI
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M1BJR
Member

Posts: 13




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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2013, 12:33:19 PM »

Have a demo of one of the new Acoms.

It's totally idiot proofed and I can tune a new band in less than five seconds.

You get what you pay for, as the saying goes.

An amp for life? Buy the Acom1000 for a few hundred more...
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