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Author Topic: Considering first amp  (Read 4991 times)
KK6GMN
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Posts: 148




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« on: August 15, 2014, 07:27:06 PM »

I am considering my first amp.  I have a chance to get an older model ALS600 for about $780.  I know that this amp works and is in good shape.  I know it is not an 800 or full boat amp, but it seems like a good first step. There are times I have felt the need for just a little extra and think this may provide it.  I mostly intend using it on SSB phone.

So... it this a reasonable first amp and price?
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-SeanM
KK6GMN

"No man is a failure...
...who has friends." --Clarence

Weather at my shack
http://www.pegnsean.net/~sean/weather/wx.htm
K7JQ
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Posts: 341




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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2014, 05:51:58 AM »

I am considering my first amp.  I have a chance to get an older model ALS600 for about $780.  I know that this amp works and is in good shape.  I know it is not an 800 or full boat amp, but it seems like a good first step. There are times I have felt the need for just a little extra and think this may provide it.  I mostly intend using it on SSB phone.

So... it this a reasonable first amp and price?

In my opinion, the price is excellent for a clean ALS-600...most used ones I've seen are going for $900-$1100. I had one for about three years, with no problems. Keep in mind, though, that being a no-tune solid-state amp, unless you have reasonably resonant antennas (under 1.8:1 SWR across the bands you plan to use), you will need an antenna tuner capable of handling the power. Solid-state amps are less forgiving of repeated mistakes (despite their protection features) with drive power, high SWR, etc, so you have to be more diligent in operating them (so you don't blow the MOSFET finals) vs tube amps. Otherwise, it's a decent first amp that will provide a good boost in power to snag the DX. Good luck. 
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K1MMI
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2014, 06:30:49 AM »

$780 for an older model ALS-600 is a fair price.

I've spent a lot of time searching on the internet for information on the ALS-600. I suggest you do likewise.
I've noticed quite a few have blown the FETs in the ALS-600. Some have blown the FETs more than once. Getting the AMP repaired at Ameritron costs about $300 plus shipping both ways.

A Technician at Ameritron recommended never running the AMP with an SWR of higher than 1.4 to 1 to reduce the chances of damaging the FETs. So a high power external tuner would be required in most cases.

Tube amplifiers usually can handle an SWR of 3 to 1 so you may be able to get by without an external tuner.
Plus Tube amplifiers are more forgiving of operator errors.

I own an ALS-600 but my recommendation to a friend would probably be to buy a used AL-80B for about $900.

I think most home service has a 120V @ 15A, but that could be supplying power to two rooms, so you may need to spend $200 to $300 to have an Electrician run a 2nd 120V line or a 220V line to your shack.

Ed
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W9DEC
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Posts: 51




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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2014, 07:11:41 AM »

The price seems well below the normal price which is in the 900-1000 range.Make sure it comes with the power supply as they are separate items on the 600. There are also two different power supplies that can be used. You should make sure it is in good working order.
I had a `600 and I really didn't like it as it was clunky and noisy and I blew the finals even with a tuner. Mine was under warranty when the finals went so I got it repaired and sold it. then bought a Tokyo Hy Power HL 1.5 KFX which is a great amp. THP, sadly, is out of business but if you can find a good used one they work great. Quite a bit more expensive than the Ameritron.
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KK6GMN
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2014, 07:40:56 AM »

Will be using it with my hexbeam, so swr should likely not be an issue. Thanks for the advice!
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-SeanM
KK6GMN

"No man is a failure...
...who has friends." --Clarence

Weather at my shack
http://www.pegnsean.net/~sean/weather/wx.htm
N4ATS
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2014, 08:31:31 AM »

Think on a Yaesu FL-7000, built like a tank and cruise at 600 with out having to kill it with input power. Easy to service and VERY well built

www.N4ATS.com
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W9DEC
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2014, 03:19:08 PM »

I have a hex beam and a SteppIR vertical  and even with a tuner the finals went. Could it be the amp?
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KR4BD
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Posts: 224




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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 06:00:20 PM »

I bought an early ALS-600 in 1996.  My antennas are resonant where I operate most often which is important.  If your match is above 1.5 to 1, the amp will trip out UNLESS you are using a tuner that can handle a KW or more.  I have an older MFJ-986 roller inductor tuner which I use with the ALS-600 if/when I stray from my antenna's "sweet spots". 

After an initial problem with the amp (which was quickly fixed by Ameritron), I have had ZERO problems with this amp, which is used often, especially now that I am retired.  That's nearly 20 years of dependable service.

Hint:  I may have prolonged it's life by trying NOT to overdrive it.  Normally, I try to keep the input power in the 60-70 watt range. 

Other things I like about the amp:

-It operates just fine on a 120 Volt, 20 Amp AC circuit
-I can quickly jump from band to band with my resonant antennas---No Tuning Needed !!!
-I have ZERO problems with neighbor complaints! TVI, etc.

I HAVE been a Happy ALS-600 user!

Tom, KR4BD
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KB1GMX
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Posts: 775




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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2014, 05:43:07 AM »

One thing to watch for with solid state amps is not the amp but the radio.

There are more than a few radios that if throttled back produce a huge
(sometimes greater than rated power) spike in power.  Solid state amps
do not like this especially FET based.    If your transcei er has this problem
then a solid state amp may fail when every other thing like SWR and all are
fine due to overdrive spikes.

The solution is simple run the radio at full power and use a relay switched
power attenuator to get the right drive power.  You need to switch out the pad
RX so its not a simple thing unless the amp provides for it.

Allison
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WX7G
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Posts: 6080




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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2014, 07:20:12 AM »

On receive the attenuator can be left in the circuit. The S-meter will read low but the receiver noise floor will still be lower than the ambient noise floor.
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WE1X
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Posts: 336




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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 02:51:42 PM »

One thing to watch for with solid state amps is not the amp but the radio.

There are more than a few radios that if throttled back produce a huge
(sometimes greater than rated power) spike in power.  Solid state amps
do not like this especially FET based.    If your transcei er has this problem
then a solid state amp may fail when every other thing like SWR and all are
fine due to overdrive spikes.

The solution is simple run the radio at full power and use a relay switched
power attenuator to get the right drive power.  You need to switch out the pad
RX so its not a simple thing unless the amp provides for it.


Some solid state amps such as the THP HL-450B have a 3dB pad to deal with the overshoot spike issue.
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KE2TR
Member

Posts: 157




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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 04:37:01 PM »

I don't own the 600 but the ALS1300, after about almost a year the one thing I have found out is that an swr of under 2:1 is key but also that the impedance of the antenna use be above 30 ohms, even if the swr is closer to 2:1 and if the impedance is around 100 ohms it doesn't fold back. Most manual tuned amps also have problems with low impedance loads as well but at least the Ameritron,THP,Epert and a few others are well protected.
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