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Author Topic: What is the AK-47 of HF Amplifiers?  (Read 10642 times)
WALTERB
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« on: June 08, 2013, 08:02:50 AM »


I’m told that if you get dumped on a faraway planet and you only had one rifle you could take with you, that would be an AK-47.  Parts are cheap and plentiful,  Its built like a tank, you can drive a truck over it in the mud and it will still fire,  very forgiving, known the world over as the chimpanzee gun because a chimp could figure out how to fire it.  Grin
My short list to buy an amp would be these, and not in any certain order.

Ameritron AL-80B
Heathkit  SB-220
Heathkit  SB-200

I would like it to do 1Kw.  I probably wouldn’t drive it that hard but I would want something that loafs at 500 watts rather than pushes the limits.

I would like something that a dummy software person (myself) can repair with a solder gun and a multi-meter without burning the house down or electrocuting myself. 
The sum of the parts would be twice as expensive as just buying a new one.

It would be used mostly on 20m / 15m for long haul DX on a wire antenna (80m Skywire loop).

I want to keep the cost under $1500 if possible. 

Thanks in advance.
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N4UM
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2013, 08:51:57 AM »

A used Alpha.
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K6AER
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2013, 09:14:45 AM »

Older does not necessarily equate to cheap and plentiful in amplifiers.

The Heathkit amplifiers have many aftermarket parts but some critical parts like meters, band switches and such are hard to come by. More complicated amplifiers like the older Alphas are still supported by RF concepts and on the used market can be had for $1500 like the Alpha 374, 76 or 78.

Looking at a 1000 watt output is pushing the amplifiers to their design limit. You would be better getting an Ameritron AL-82, L4B, L7B, TL-922A that would loaf along at 1000 watts. I have said this before that the cost of an amplifier is not what you pay for it but what it depreciates. You would be better to buy a quality used amplifier and when you are done, sell it for what you paid for it.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2013, 09:39:30 AM »

Good analogy!  My opinion?  The SB-200!

I've been saying this for years.  While most consider the Heathkit SB series of amplifiers the bottom line of amplifiers, the fact of the matter is that they compare very well with the AK-47.  Especially the SB-200 when considering the difficulty in finding decent tubes.

The SB-200 represents the very basics in an amplifier.  As I reflect back through my SB-200 I can't think of anything that can't be replaced with an aftermarket part.  It might be necessary to do some radical modifying but it can be done.

This can't be said with most amplifiers because of design, space and complexity of circuitry.  While most other amplifiers offer more features, this also becomes synonymous with complexity and subsequently fewer options for long term maintenance and or parts availability.

Yes, in my opinion the SB-200 can be compared to the AK-47.  It's a pizza sheet but it works great and is dependable.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=video+of+chimp+firing+an+ak-47&mid=DD79E45A08AF335365FBDD79E45A08AF335365FB&view=detail&FORM=VIRE1
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 09:44:31 AM by K8AXW » Logged
W8JX
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2013, 10:28:47 AM »

Good analogy!  My opinion?  The SB-200!

I've been saying this for years.  While most consider the Heathkit SB series of amplifiers the bottom line of amplifiers, the fact of the matter is that they compare very well with the AK-47.  Especially the SB-200 when considering the difficulty in finding decent tubes.

The SB-200 represents the very basics in an amplifier.  As I reflect back through my SB-200 I can't think of anything that can't be replaced with an aftermarket part.  It might be necessary to do some radical modifying but it can be done.

This can't be said with most amplifiers because of design, space and complexity of circuitry.  While most other amplifiers offer more features, this also becomes synonymous with complexity and subsequently fewer options for long term maintenance and or parts availability.

Yes, in my opinion the SB-200 can be compared to the AK-47.  It's a pizza sheet but it works great and is dependable.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=video+of+chimp+firing+an+ak-47&mid=DD79E45A08AF335365FBDD79E45A08AF335365FB&view=detail&FORM=VIRE1

I fully agree. The amount that are still in use today after 40 years speaks well for it. Easy to repair and a sturdy basic design. Even today they command high resale prices. Fine a clean one today and with a little TLC and a few upgrades you will have a solid 500+ watt amp for years to come.
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You can embrace new computer/tablet technology and change with it or cling to old fall far behind....
KA5N
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2013, 10:48:59 AM »

My question is:  Assume you are on a faraway planet.  Just where do you buy
ammo for the AK 47???

I have two SB 200's (one is in use and the other is a spare) so if one breaks
the other is slid in place, the broken one is repaired etc.
If you can find NOS 572B's they will last for years.  This is an amplifier that is
basic, easy to work on, and will do 500 watts day in and day out and won't
cause a hernia when you lift it.   SB220 will do more power but is more complicated
and heavier.  If you want a new amp then the AL80B is a good pick.  One of the
Alphas will last and last.     You pays your money and takes your choice.
Allen KA5N
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KE3WD
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2013, 11:50:35 AM »

Or PARTS, which might be readily available here on Earth but on a faraway planet? 

I think I'd like something with a reputation built on a well proven history of unparalleled RELIABILITY. 
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N8CBX
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« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2013, 11:56:25 AM »

Yep-Yep, no doubt in my mind it's the SB200. You can use the SB200 as is, or use it's parts for all kinds of homebrew amp projects. It's up to your imagination & knowledge on what you can build. A lot of SB200 information out there on the web too!
Jan N8CBX/AE
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Dayton Ohio - The Birthplace of Aviation
W8JX
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Posts: 6643




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« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2013, 12:21:39 PM »

My question is:  Assume you are on a faraway planet.  Just where do you buy
ammo for the AK 47???

Cabelas
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You can embrace new computer/tablet technology and change with it or cling to old fall far behind....
WALTERB
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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2013, 01:08:45 PM »

My question is:  Assume you are on a faraway planet.  Just where do you buy
ammo for the AK 47???


reloads..  Grin
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WALTERB
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Posts: 528




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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2013, 01:12:22 PM »


OH TOO FUNNY!   Cheesy

That did seem staged, but it was hilarious and made my point as well.  I wonder how Chim-Chim is on amps?  :-)

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WALTERB
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2013, 04:10:06 PM »

wonder why some small company hasn't "cloned" the SB-200 in parts?  Huh

Did Heathkit just fold or were they bought out by someone?
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KD0REQ
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Posts: 1043




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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2013, 04:31:43 PM »

heathkit did both... folded and everything including the name went up on bank auction.  apparently somebody is checking around to see if the name is an asset.  how that will turn out is a good question.  I'd like me a classic Heathkit again as a rattling box and a bags-to-bang project.
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K5RT
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Posts: 169




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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2013, 05:09:17 PM »

AL-80B would be my choice. 160 meters and WARC bands and rugged 3-500z. Yes, SB200 or SB-220 are both fine amps, but both are aged. Relay and band switch problems are common. Why buy an amp that is 30+ years old when there are newer options?

The objective is to buy an amplifier that (hopefully), wont have to be fixed six months after purchase.

IMO, the SB-220 is not a wise investment. Most are selling for $650-$750. What's your investment when you need to drop $300 for a new pair of tubes because the previous owner(s) abused the amp.

Flameproof suit on

Vy 73
Paul
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WALTERB
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2013, 05:19:05 PM »

lots of people seem to love the 80B.  What about working on them at some point? 

thanks
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