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eHam Forums => Amplifiers => Topic started by: KT0DD on October 26, 2012, 10:15:54 AM



Title: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KT0DD on October 26, 2012, 10:15:54 AM
Hello, I am on a limited budget, and have decided on the Ameritron AL80B as the best " bang for the buck pricewise " 120V capable desktop amplifier. I have saved for 6 months now and will have the funds to purchase one in mid November. I wish I could purchase a higher quality brand, but simply cannot afford to spend more than $1400.

After reading an earlier thread on here about Ameritron's poor QC, I'm starting to get concerned that I may be opening a can of worms. I will be purchasing thru DX Engineering as they have the best price, but they have told me they do not " Pre-test " any amplifier prior to sales, and defects are left up to the warranty. (Of course these people do have a good reputation, and I feel safe that they would do right by me if i had a catastrophic failure right out of the box.)

I am just wondering what your opinion is ( and maybe looking for a little re-assurance ) that taking the chance will be worth it. I know there aren't any 100% guarrantees in life, but your input is appreciated.

73. Todd - KT0DD



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KD7RAT on October 26, 2012, 10:41:56 AM
Hi Todd,  I purchased an AL 80B in July.  I am surely not an expert on it and have learned lots in the past few months.  I have converted it to 240 volts and clipped the wire so I can use it on 10m and 12 meters. 

I have had Zero problems with it.  From my perspective it has performed flawlessly.  I am very pleased with it.   Ameritron is very high in my book. I am impressed that they provide a 2 year warranty as opposed to a 1 year warranty on their other amplifiers.  They undoubtedly know what they are doing. 

However at about the same time I purchased a 989D amplifier from MFJ.  In fact I purchased it through HRO.  The first one did not work, neither did the second one.  HRO just had me ship them back to them and sent another in each case.  Finally on the 3rd one they opened it up and tested it in their Portland store.  When I got it it worked OK.  However in a few days the meter on it began to not work and finally quit working altogether. 

I figured that HRO had done about all they could so called MFJ and shipped it back to them.  They got it on Aug 20th.  As of this writing it is still in their shop.  The paper work said that I should expect that the repair would take about 4 weeks.  I think it has been there about 10 weeks and still no phone call to discuss symptoms etc.  I don't think they have even started on it yet

In short the Amplifier has performed flawlessly.  Lots of problems with the tuner.  The one advantage is that I have learned lots about the amplifier and how it will perform without the tuner. 

Hope this helps

PS, for my part, If I had to do it over again I would by another AL80B, probably not the same tuner.

dick


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W9KDX on October 26, 2012, 11:18:41 AM
I chose Ameritron as well, primarily because they are the only game in town at a decent price.  They are really hit or miss on their quality control and unfortunately, after a few postings you will find stories of no problems at all and an almost equal number with nothing but nightmares of poor parts, quality, and service.

I only chose them after I budgeted an additional $150 on the assumption that I might need to return the thing a few times or send it to Florida to the ham who checks them out and repairs the factory defects.

It literally seems to depend on the day of the week or whether someone partied the night before.  If you lower your expectations enough, you will probably not be to upset.

And Good Luck.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KT0DD on October 26, 2012, 12:20:50 PM
Thanks for the responses. I just spoke with Bill - N4ATS, and he said he would be willing to check out my new AL-80B before shipping if I purchase it from AES Orlando since it is near his QTH.

I will be doing so for the added peace of mind.

Thanks again.  73. Todd - KT0DD


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: WB2WIK on October 26, 2012, 03:16:44 PM
I don't see Tom commenting, but I've owned an AL-80B for years and the pilot lamps in both meters burned out after a few years. :P

I replaced them with LEDs.  I think Ameritron now uses LEDs, so this may not be a problem with newer amps.

When my amp was brand new, right out of the carton it didn't work! :o  However, that turned out to be an unsoldered wire on the OPERATE/STANDBY front panel switch, which I was able to spot in about 30 seconds of snooping around inside.  I soldered it.  Then, it worked fine.  It's worked fine ever since.

I didn't mind being their "final QC department," since this was a pretty small problem.  I can see how it probably did work at the factory, since the wire was wrapped through the terminal on the switch -- so it could make contact; it just wasn't soldered, and didn't make contact by the time I got it.

I think it's a pretty solid design and a good deal for the $$/Watt.

Have fun with it!


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KH6AQ on October 26, 2012, 06:37:39 PM
I have bought five brand new Ameritron amps and they all worked fine.

ALS-500
ALS-600
ALS-1200
AL-811
AL-572


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K0ZN on October 26, 2012, 10:55:23 PM
Hi.   There may be retail sellers out there that will fully "pre-test" an amp, but I have never heard of one......other than Alpha. They run their amps through
a complete burn-in cycle. Somebody (retail seller) may "pre-test" an amp for you, but I suspect you would have to pay for in full and then they would then charge you
their normal shop rate to check it out.  Maybe someone knows of a retail seller that will "pre test" and post a comment on here.......

FYI:  I have an AL-811 and had fits with it at first.  You can read my posts on the product review section if you want. I finally got it sorted out
and it has run fine for a year and half.  I think you are on the right track with the AL-80B; it is one of Ameritron's better products and the Chinese
3-500's seem to be one of their better tubes.

If you get an Ameritron product make the effort to check every nut, bolt and screw for tightness (particularly grounding lugs!) and CAREFULLY inspect every aspect of the unit.
Look over the solder paths on the boards; cold solder joints, wire paths and bundling, etc.  Odds are you will get a good unit, but YOU are the final Quality Control Inspector !!
.....obviously, it is better to catch a problem before it cause a serious problem !

73, K0ZN


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: AE5X on October 27, 2012, 07:39:04 AM
I bought an AL-80B a few months ago for the same reasons you mentioned. I modified it for 240VAC, clipped the green wire for 10/12m operation and added the internal QSK card (documented on my website).

Do go thru the amp checking for loose hardware before you apply power, paying particular attention to the tiny screws that secure various jacks/switches to the panels.

The amp has performed flawlessly on all bands and, if I had it to do over again, I'd buy the same amp. While QC at Ameritron is most definitely lacking, the amp's design is sound. It tunes smoothly and consistently on each band and is ready to operate 10 secs after power-on (although I always give it more time than that before key-down).

John AE5X
http://www.ae5x.com/blog




Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K4FX on October 27, 2012, 07:07:57 PM
Todd,

Buying a new amp is sorta like buying a new car. It will depreciate as soon as you set it on your desk. You can buy a used AL80 and save a considerable amount of money. For instance I paid 1900 for an AL-1500 over 2 years ago, I contest with it a least 2 times a month and it has never given a minutes trouble. Runs and looks like a new one.

You could probably get an AL-82 for about 1400-1500 used.

The AL-80 is a tough amp. Buy one used from an honest ham and you will save a lot of money. I see they range on QTH.com from 600 to 900 dollars. Even if you have to retube it, you will still save a lot.

Good luck

Bill K4FX


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W6UV on October 28, 2012, 07:44:51 PM
I like buying a new car. It will depreciate as soon as you set it on your desk. You can buy a used AL80 and save a considerable amount of money. For instance I paid 1900 for an AL-1500 over 2 years ago, I contest with it a least 2 times a month and it has never given a minutes trouble. Runs and looks like a new one.

Used equipment if only a good deal if the seller is scrupulous. If the AL-1500 you bought happened to have a bad 8877, then it wouldn't have been such a good deal, particularly if the seller refused to take it back.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: AJ4WC on October 29, 2012, 04:52:55 AM
I just purchased an AL-80B and it had a minor issue that was easily fixed.  One of the meters was dead and Ameritron rushed me out a new one.  Other than that, I've been very pleased with the amp.  Don't be scared to pull the trigger on a new amp for that reason alone. 

I wouldn't buy something that expensive used, unless you can get it from someone you trust.  If you buy a used amp and it needs a tube, you just blew any savings.  Once you fix it, you now have a used amp that cost as much as a new one would have.  And, you can rest assured the person you bought it from will then take your money and buy a new amp for himself.  If your buddy came to you and said, "Give me $1,000 bucks so I can go buy a new amp.  I'll give you my old one."  Would you do it? 

Word of caution, you need to budget some extra funds for incidentals when buying your first amp.  You may need to upgrade your tuner or antenna to handle the additional power, buy some RF or control cables, dummy load, SWR meter, ground straps, install a 240V outlet, etc.  Look at the power handling capability of everything in your RF path.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NA0AA on October 29, 2012, 07:42:22 AM
I bought my AL-80B last year, new.  It was perfect from the factory, and has performed well for me in spite of my ham-handed mistakes from time to time.

I get good signal reports using it.  It's a best buy.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K9FV on October 29, 2012, 09:13:02 AM
Just another comment here on MFJ (Ameriton) amps - I would not worry about it.  99.9% of the time you will get a good amp with nothing wrong with it.....  well, maybe 99% of the time.

Ken H>


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NN4X on October 29, 2012, 12:02:54 PM
Regarding the "99%" figure: Not even W8JI's estimate, which has been repeatedly proven to be wildly optimistic, is that low.



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KB5UBI on October 29, 2012, 02:24:14 PM
Maybe I'm overly optimistic and have low expectations, but over the years I've had at least ten MFJ products in my shack. Every one was worth the money. I don't confuse quality with quality control. Every product was worth the money I paid. Quality control wise, The only issue I ever had was MFJ shipped 12 amp fuses instead of 20 amp fuses with the product. After a five minute phone call, I received an apology, the proper fuzes with four to spare and a tuning stick.

My AL-80B? It's a proven design that has constantly been improved. Works as well or better than advertized, no bad solder joints etc. Yes one could make the sheet metal twice as thick, silver plate the tank inductors, tank components and improve all the cosmetics, adding maybe a thousand dollars to the cost. I wish mine had a leather trimmed panel like my old Nikons, but what would that cost? We buy MFJ products because they offer no-frills products at a no-frills price; performance / dollar value.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K9FV on October 30, 2012, 06:00:46 AM
I agree, MFJ (and companies) provide a decent product for the price.  The AL-82 I purchased a yr ago was just fine....  well, I did have to tweak a couple input coils, but that's not a big deal - minor tweaks like shouldn't be a problem, after all, this is a technical hobby...... isn't it?

Ken


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on October 30, 2012, 01:16:59 PM
The final tester for the AL12 series line (AL82,1200,1500) and AL8x line (Al800,AL80B) is a different person than the tester for the AL811 and AL811H line. They are two different lines with different testers.

I'm looking at statistics for differences between those lines, excluding issues that would not be a testing issue (like shipping damage, infant relay receive issues, or bad tubes).

I really do not have any comment beyond that, except the failure rates seem very reasonable on the 80B line.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K7NSW on October 31, 2012, 09:58:53 PM
WOW!  Every time I read stuff like this I am so very glad I saved up a while longer and bought my amplifier from Ten Tec.  QC?  You bet.  Works out of the box?  Yes Sir!  Need to send it back?  Nope.  Same with other people?  Near as I can tell by reading columns like this one.  !00% perfect track record?  No - I have seen one or two gripes.  Ever see many Ten Tec amps for sale used?  NOT MANY.  Ever see many Ameritron amps for sale used?  YOU SURE DO!  AND THAT TELLS THE WHOLE STORY.  Save your money a while longer.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NN4X on November 01, 2012, 04:54:30 AM
I really do not have any comment beyond that, except the failure rates seem very reasonable on the 80B line.

Tom - Regarding your above statement, how do you know the actual failure rate, since it's been shown here that many defective Ameritron amps are fixed without the involvement of MFJ?

Awaiting your reply,

73,
Steve
NN4X


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on November 01, 2012, 05:29:21 AM
I really do not have any comment beyond that, except the failure rates seem very reasonable on the 80B line.

Tom - Regarding your above statement, how do you know the actual failure rate, since it's been shown here that many defective Ameritron amps are fixed without the involvement of MFJ?

Awaiting your reply,

73,
Steve
NN4X


I don't know what you mean by:

Quote
it's been shown here that many defective Ameritron amps are fixed without the involvement of MFJ?

Do you mean the statements by the fellow in Florida?


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NN4X on November 01, 2012, 07:37:48 AM
Hi Tom -

Well, I'm in Florida too, but I'll make an assumption that you're referring to N4ATS.

I'm actually referring to the many, many, MANY posts one finds here in the eHam forums, where users report various problems with MFJ products, but which they fixed outside of the warranty repair channel, and you chose to ignore when referenced.

That said, it would greatly add to your credibility if you would acknowleddge that, without knowing those figures, the actual warranty statistics cannot be accurately determined.

It's just math, after all. 

73,
Steve
NN4X
Another Fellow in Florida  :)


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 07:48:46 AM
While I took the stand with Tom and agree'd that I do not record the failures as I should and can't add to his numbers with facts based on verbals , I am now recording everything MFJ related and am sure the numbers will reflect the truth to come...


However another troublemaker fixing his own...

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/256


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K3STX on November 01, 2012, 07:53:04 AM
I'm actually referring to the many, many, MANY posts one finds here in the eHam forums, where users report various problems with MFJ products ...

Nobody posts when their equipment is working as expected.

paul


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8GP on November 01, 2012, 08:04:53 AM
I have used an AL-80A for well over 20 years and it's done exactly what it was designed to do, which is to supply medium power RF at a reasonable price. I don't baby it but neither do I abuse it.I've used it for contesting and long winded rag chewing and it still puts out 800+ from the original tube, which my records show is exactly what it put out when it was new.I know how to operate an amp and it never arcs or spits or does does any of the nasty things that others claim will befall all (unmodified!) amps. One of the reasons there may be more reported problems is just due to the sheer number of Ameritrons that have been sold.If they were really that bad, it would be reflected in their sales.In the event that I ever need another amp(unlikely) I will not hesitate to buy another Ameritron, new or used.So just buy one and enjoy!


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N0YXB on November 01, 2012, 08:14:25 AM
While I took the stand with Tom and agree'd that I do not record the failures as I should and can't add to his numbers with facts based on verbals , I am now recording everything MFJ related and am sure the numbers will reflect the truth to come...


However another troublemaker fixing his own...

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/256

Collecting anecdotal information from internet forums is a lousy way to make an empirical argument.  It's kind of like calling Entertainment Tonight an investigative journalism program.   


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on November 01, 2012, 08:46:23 AM
Hi Tom -

Well, I'm in Florida too, but I'll make an assumption that you're referring to N4ATS.

I'm actually referring to the many, many, MANY posts one finds here in the eHam forums, where users report various problems with MFJ products, but which they fixed outside of the warranty repair channel, and you chose to ignore when referenced.

That said, it would greatly add to your credibility if you would acknowleddge that, without knowing those figures, the actual warranty statistics cannot be accurately determined.

It's just math, after all.  

73,
Steve
NN4X
Another Fellow in Florida  :)

It's just math, but some people obviously have a real problem understanding how statistical math works. They think a dozen things or a few dozen problems out of 10,000 or 20,000 in service implies no QC at all.

There isn't much anyone can do with people who use illogical, irrational, numbers or arguments to indict or insult other people's credibility.

If I do nothing but supply facts, yet still someone will say something weird like this:

Quote
That said, it would greatly add to your credibility if you would acknowleddge that, without knowing those figures, the actual warranty statistics cannot be accurately determined.

Of course they can be determined, not precisely, but close enough to know what is going on. AES even supplied information of the number of units that went to a local source, but the actual sales volume of AES Orlando is so low to be statistically meaningless in overall volume. That store represents just a few percent of sales.  

What is really bizarre about this is the person with the smallest most inaccurate sample, or people like you with no data at all, are the most authoritative and vocal about having usable data!!! Even to the point of calling other people uncredible.

One fellow down there flip-flops over and over on his data. Even the store disagreed with him.

That's pretty weird, if we think about it. It's almost like a personal campaign where people go out of their way, and even flip flop and cook meaningless data, just to damage someone.

73 Tom
  

  


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 09:21:49 AM
"One fellow down there flip-flops over and over on his data. Even the store disagreed with him."

I told you over and over and over , the data from the store and my side line was NOT recorded , MY FAULT. Get over that

The bottom line , I am recording data now.

We do not want to go back to where we started.

BTW , the comment above about folks "not" putting comments on eHam about "working" equipment it untrue or all the ratings for MFJ would be zero

If you look at any rating , its not zero , and it may not be 5, it is somewhere in-between. However I do agree with Tom that there are a few that are really not a rating at all , so rule some out

But to that point , even if Tom disagrees I believe that the majority of the ratings ARE in fact from intelligent people. I think most people are....



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KH6AQ on November 01, 2012, 11:58:38 AM
Eham equipment reviews? Let's compare apples to apples with the Ameritron AL-82 and the Ten Tec Centurion; amps that both have two 3-500Z tubes.  

The AL-82 gets a 4.8/5 in 36 reviews

The Centurion gets a 4.9/5 in 54 reviews

What can we infer from this?


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4RSS on November 01, 2012, 12:22:46 PM
Eham equipment reviews? Let's compare apples to apples with the Ameritron AL-82 and the Ten Tec Centurion; amps that both have two 3-500Z tubes.  

The AL-82 gets a 4.8/5 in 36 reviews

The Centurion gets a 4.9/5 in 54 reviews

What can we infer from this?

That question reminds me of an add currently running where college students are shown I believe relative signal strengths between different cell providers and asking them "which one they would choose".

Nothing of any statistical reliability can be inferred from what you posted.  I'm hoping you already knew that.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 12:43:45 PM
I am sure that he knows however I assure you , most people look at reviews before purchasing something (ham or other). I know I do. Statistics or no-statistics , the reader will flow towards the review with the most positive ratings. Its human nature.

Reviews can drive or crash a product, service or purchase , no doubt....


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on November 01, 2012, 12:49:14 PM
Eham equipment reviews? Let's compare apples to apples with the Ameritron AL-82 and the Ten Tec Centurion; amps that both have two 3-500Z tubes.  

The AL-82 gets a 4.8/5 in 36 reviews

The Centurion gets a 4.9/5 in 54 reviews

What can we infer from this?


We cannot infer anything at all from reviews....unless we live in Florida and the review is negative. I'm sure if was rated by statistics at a repair center, almost 100% would be defective.  

Look at the AL1200:
http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/22

It is 4.9 out of 5. It is also built and tested in Mississippi.

The AL1500, built and tested in Mississippi, is 4.8 out of 5:
http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/21

The AL811 and other tube amps (except 572, which has more tube problems) are 4.5 or higher.

Amplifiers that have high initial component problems, or are sensitive to SWR, have lower ratings.

For other examples, look at antennas. There are a number of antennas that do not work at all like the manufacturer claims, and cannot be made to work as claimed, that get 5 out of 5.

If I come on here and say the assembly lines are different, some fool from FL questions my integrity. I really don't know what to do, because the two people south of me are far more in touch with how things work and what percentage of total production generate some type of service issue.

A person really can't stick to facts here. If they don't say what N4ATS or NN4X want them to say, it means they have no integrity.  


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KH6AQ on November 01, 2012, 01:15:14 PM
Here is what I mean by inferring something from the reviews of the AL-82 and Centurion.

BTW , the comment above about folks "not" putting comments on eHam about "working" equipment it untrue or all the ratings for MFJ would be zero

If you look at any rating , its not zero , and it may not be 5, it is somewhere in-between. However I do agree with Tom that there are a few that are really not a rating at all , so rule some out

But to that point , even if Tom disagrees I believe that the majority of the ratings ARE in fact from intelligent people. I think most people are....

N4ATS says that eham reviews are valid for comparing equipment.

So, if he is correct we must infer that the Ameritron AL-82 is virtually as good as the Ten Tec Centurion.

And from that we must also infer that since N4ATS says Ameritron is unreliable and has poor QC, Ten Tec also is unreliable and has poor QC.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NO2A on November 01, 2012, 02:00:57 PM
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is forgetting that 50% of 811`s and 572`s coming from China are defective,as Tom keeps saying. So,they blame that on MFJ,as if that`s their fault. Then they mistune their `811 amp and blame that on MFJ. Amps don`t fail from use,they fail from misuse. Actually MFJ uses parts such as bandswitches that have even more headroom than other amps,as they advertise. With all this info about these tubes,you would think more folks would buy the better amps,such as the AL_80B,or AL-82,AL_1500. Instead I keep reading,"Why did my new AL-811H fail?" To answer your question,yes it is worth buying a new AL-80B. My old AL-80A keeps chugging along... ;)


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 02:19:50 PM
Ok , so we are going to start again huh Tom???

"Unless we live in Florida and the review is negative..."

So with another false statement that you claim , "Where" do you see I do or did an MFJ review in the Reviews section of eHam that was negative? The thread heck yes but the reviews????? Are you really that dense that you think the thousands of folks doing the reviews levi off me? I think not...

Hmm , when I entered N4ATS in the review section , I see nothing from N4ATS as I would not buy an MFJ product?

"And from that we must also infer that since N4ATS says Ameritron is unreliable and has poor QC, Ten Tec also is unreliable and has poor QC."

I think you are referring to someone else , I do not own a Ten Tec


"I am sure that he knows however I assure you , most people look at reviews before purchasing something (ham or other). I know I do. Statistics or no-statistics , the reader will flow towards the review with the most positive ratings. Its human nature.

Reviews can drive or crash a product, service or purchase , no doubt...."

I never said compare , I said will "flow" towards ....

Sooooo , I am standing by awaiting your authority again....



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 02:42:47 PM
Oh gosh , another troublemaker

http://www.eham.net/reviews/review/113537

Hmmm, , Not from Florida


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 02:44:44 PM
Geeze I wish these folks would stop

http://www.eham.net/reviews/review/112548

Hmmm, , Not from Florida


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: WB2WIK on November 01, 2012, 02:48:22 PM
Geee , we may want to tell this guy he is full of $#%^! as well

http://www.eham.net/reviews/review/114037

You're mixing Chinese-made coax switches (which MFJ imports and doesn't manufacture) with amplifiers made by Ameritron?



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 02:50:36 PM
Were does it say that?


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NN4X on November 01, 2012, 04:25:53 PM
"A person really can't stick to facts here. If they don't say what N4ATS or NN4X want them to
say, it means they have no integrity."

Tom -

I really need to take issue with that comment.   

Quite the contrary, you seem to be on some kind of vendetta against Bill, because, I guess,
you don't like that he takes public issue with the quality of MFJ/Ameritron gear that's come across
his bench.  You continue to infer that Bill has an ulterior motive.  I've provided my take on
why he felt compelled to start that thread here in message # 580069 on the "MJF Quality Lacks" thread. 
He DOES have an ulterior motive!  He want MFJ, and all its subdivisions, to do better!  That doesn't seem
unreasonable, does it?

There really is just no excuse at all for connections not being soldered!  IIRC, it's been
established that Ameritron doesn't test every amp before it ships.  If that is in fact true,
there's just no excuse for that.  None.

You keep citing failure statistics, but continuously downplay the unknown "problem repaired
outside of warranty process", guestimating that it's a small number, and provide no method of
supporting that, even though you admit that it's the only way to track it (i.e. "tracking what happens
out in the field"). Here's a quote from you (message # 626583 on the "MFJ Quality Lacks"
thread: "I understand it is a waste of time to say this to a few people, but I think most people understand the only way to track percentage of problems in QC is to monitor repairs or tech calls on the output. It is
impossible to do it any other way, because the very nature of a complaint is the thing that
has a problem gets all the publicity." 


You keep remarking that Bill sees too small a number of Ameritron products needing repair
for it to be statistically significant, but, provide no explaination for why the samples he's
seeing are in any way not representative of the level of product quality shipped anywhere else.
He's seeing the kinds of problems he is - and that was the reason he started the "MFJ Quality Lacks" thread. 

You also have not answered those who've asked that your relationship to MFJ/Ameritron currently is. 
I did not ask that, and I'm only minimally curious as to the answer.

Again on the "MFJ Quality Lacks" thread (comment # 626315) you say this: "Recently someone bought parts,
including a complete chassis, and tried to build an amplifier. When it didn't work he went to a dealer and
bought a manufactured amplifier. He removed the back panel of the factory unit, installed it on his homemade
unit, and sent his homemade unit (which then looked identical on the outside) back to the dealer for a refund."
The first thing I thought when I read that was "How scummy!"...but to be totally honest, the SECOND thing I
thought was "At least he tested it - that's more than Ameritron does".  Or do they now?

We'll know that MFJ has improved when dealers aren't doing the "Shake Test" of their products.

We'll know that Ameritron, specifically, has improved when people refer to issues like no/bad solder connections
in the past tense.

OK, time to get working on other things.  It's been a pleasure, as always!

73,
Steve
NN4X



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 04:48:37 PM
Tom...Still waiting for your answer pointing people to the Eham Review Section where I downplayed MFJ per your quote..


"Unless we live in Florida and the review is negative..."


OR are you going to do what you do best , divert people off onto a new topic that will keep you satisfied?




Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on November 01, 2012, 04:53:49 PM
Bill,

You should just drive over and beat Martin up directly, or drive over here and beat me up in person. Then you will be a happy man. Your mission in life as a savior for all bad things in QC will be complete.

:)

At least some people on here, apparently the majority, have some common sense.

What I don't understand is why any time an amplifier thread or question pops up, you and your buddy down there have to turn it into a "MFJ sucks" thread. By now, everyone knows that is your position in life.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KE5JPP on November 01, 2012, 05:08:45 PM
If Ameritron's assembly area is anything like the assembly area shown in the MFJ factory tour video, it explains a lot about Ameritron's lack of quality control.

Gene


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 05:11:05 PM
Tom....Nah , not a fighting man... Just trying to get you and I on the same playing field however I love your back up tactics...

You are a master of diversion , I give you credit...

Just say sorry , like I did you you and its over... There is no eham review of me speaking against MFJ period, Only the thousands of others...

Nice try...


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KH6AQ on November 01, 2012, 05:14:14 PM
All of this reminds me of the blind men and the elephant. Each person views MFJ quality from only his vantage point.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 01, 2012, 05:20:56 PM
Yup , I agree , One puts forth that eHam reviews are insignificant and most hams a stupid yet posts the few good reviews , the other looks at the big picture like the "other" eham reviews and most people are smart.....

That's what makes the world a fun place to live

Like this one for example...

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/8288

However its the diversion tactics that bug me.... Now he moves away from himself and points me towards his boss...

Thats why I elect to let Tom win and move on...It's Worthless

Yes you can have the last commet Tom , go for it...


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on November 01, 2012, 06:11:23 PM
Bill,

The reason I respond like I do is because I don't think you (or KE5JPP, or NN4X) can have a logical, factual, rational conversation about quality control or manufacturing issues.

I think most people understand, or have the capacity to understand, that there will always be some percentage of problems unless cost becomes unreasonable.

Further, I think most people understand or have the capacity to understand that looking at reviews, or one point in the field, does not tell what percentage of problems exist. If 10,000 of something complex requiring knowledgeable or skilled user interface are out in the field that are PERFECT in every way, there will be problems.

The matter is made worse by things that get by the testers, and by workers who don't do a diligent job 100% of the time, and by parts that are troublesome.

There is no question at all, and I said this several times, the tester was getting too slack on the 811 line. I also said I drove up there months ago, and they made some changes. There is no doubt they had a problem, and no one denies that, but the problem is not at all what you represent it to be.

The real problem I have is your irrational approach to statistics.

When I was there, we unboxed dozens of units. We found about the same percentage of units that had potential issues as field reports showed. Mostly they dealt with stranded transformer wires that were not tinned before insertion into the board, so they looked ugly. There were occasionally other connections that did look good, and we went over all of that.

One of the changes was I reworked the rear panel board to be more compatible with lead free solder. This will make it easier to solder parts with lead free solder, which does not flow through holes or out on the trace anything like leaded solder does. The new board has thermally isolated pads that will heat to full temperature faster, and while the lead free will never look as good as leaded solder, it should flow through the new pads good enough to fill both sides.

What really annoys me is how a few people, not many, get on a campaign where they actually make things up and present it like they know what they are talking about. An example is the false claim that things are not tested. They certainly are tested, but multiple things work in concert to cause more problems than there should have been.

Some of those problems are not 100% curable, and will never be curable, because the market will not bear the cost of a 100% cure. The margin already is 20% or so, and no one is going to tolerate a doubling of labor cost. Even if the QC was taken to a level where there were near zero issues, field failures would only decrease to about 3-5% because of component issues, and the most problematic components have a single source.

It's more than a little annoying to do all this work, and try to come here to help people, and to much of this extra work (including a four hour one-way drive, there and back, at my donation)  just to constantly have two or three people making things up.

Now you can pretend you understand QC, but anyone who knows how this works also understands it is impossible to use just a percentage of units from one of the smallest volume stores, or select a few bad eHam reviews out of dozens of good ones (most things you complain so much about are over 4.5 in review), and indite an overall system as terrible. You can't even, from your vantage point of seeing a percentage of units from a dealer with a small percentage of volume, have any idea what the actual percentage of problems are.

I'm sure you are 100% convinced you know everything about what goes on without visiting, or without seeing actual data. But I think most people are wise enough to realize if things were as bad as you and a few others claim, there would be a  dissatisfaction rate much higher than 1 in 10. Anyone with any common sense knows more people complain about things than keep quiet.

Read back through this, and think about this a while. If there is anything that doesn't sense, ask. Someone will explain it.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KE5JPP on November 02, 2012, 03:40:43 AM
W8JI, by attacking those who post negative comments about Ameritron's quality, you are doing more to damage MFJ/Amertitron's reputation than anyone here in these threads.  

Most reasonable people do not expect that there would be 0% quality problems, especially because of component failures and the fact that MFJ/Ameritron uses the lowest quality parts they can get away with to keep prices low.  What is not acceptable is all the equipment that goes out the door with QC problems that are immediately obvious to end users upon simple visual inspection.  There is absolutely no excuse for equipment going out the door with unconnected or un-soldered wires, components not connected or hanging loose, and obvious solder splatter across critical components.  Even the most basic and cursory visual examination at the factory by a QC person would have identified those obvious problems.  The lack or care or concern about QC problems such as those are what have earned MFJ their bad reputation, not 'lies' from a few individuals as you claim.  

But we all know that you are only one of a handful of smart people left in this world, all the rest of us are lying, deluded dummies.   ::)

Gene


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K3STX on November 02, 2012, 05:24:34 AM
The lack or care or concern about QC problems such as those are what have earned MFJ their bad reputation

If their reputation is so bad why do people continue to buy their products in DROVES?

Why don't you guys agree to disagree:

1. YOU think there is horrible QC and that the amount of equipment coming out of MFJ that is defective is UNREASONABLE.

2. TOM thinks the QC is not horrible (but concedes there have been problems) and that the amount of equipment coming out of MFJ that is defective is REASONABLE.

You will never agree with him and he will never agree with you. The CONSUMER will decide how horrible MFJ is: if it is junk they won't buy it. I suspect Ameritron sells more amps to Hams than all others combined. That tells volumes.

paul


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KE5JPP on November 02, 2012, 05:53:02 AM
The lack or care or concern about QC problems such as those are what have earned MFJ their bad reputation

If their reputation is so bad why do people continue to buy their products in DROVES?

Why don't you guys agree to disagree:

1. YOU think there is horrible QC and that the amount of equipment coming out of MFJ that is defective is UNREASONABLE.

2. TOM thinks the QC is not horrible (but concedes there have been problems) and that the amount of equipment coming out of MFJ that is defective is REASONABLE.

You will never agree with him and he will never agree with you. The CONSUMER will decide how horrible MFJ is: if it is junk they won't buy it. I suspect Ameritron sells more amps to Hams than all others combined. That tells volumes.

paul


You are deluded or naive if you believe this.  The consumer will still buy junk if it is cheap enough and the only game in town.  That's why US consumers have no problem buying all the Chinese junk in places like Walmart.

All its says is that a lot of Hams are cheap.  They are willing to put up with 'iffy' quality in exchange for a lower price.  Still, there is no excuse for equipment leaving the factory without wires soldered or wire hanging loose, without components installed, and with solder splashes that render the equipment inoperative.  This can be corrected without increasing costs or raising the price.  That things like this continue to happen 'tells volumes' as you say.  It tells us that MFJ just does not care about quality.  They would rather use the customer as their quality department.

You get what you pay for.

Gene


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KH6AQ on November 02, 2012, 06:20:49 AM
Paul has summed things up succinctly.



Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K9FV on November 03, 2012, 08:08:26 AM
I try very hard not to get involved in these "bash MFJ" threads, but some folks just go too far. 

Paul, - well said.

Tom, I wish to say a big THANK YOU!! for all the help you've been to me and the whole group in sharing your knowledge. THANK YOU for driving up to Starkville and working with MFJ to improve QC and some issues.

73 de Ken H>


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W8JI on November 03, 2012, 09:07:31 AM
I'm sorry threads get this way, but it is impossible to have reasonable, logical, factual, conversations in some instances.

Certainly everyone knows MFJ needs to do better with QC, but the claim they don't care at all or don't test anything is false. Everything is tested and inspected.

There are also different lines, in different buildings, with entirely different people, as well as externally manufactured products. 

The issue comes down to missing things the final tester, and people on the line, should not miss. They do take this issue seriously, even though there are some people that cannot offer anything except useless vitriol.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KT0DD on November 03, 2012, 12:18:06 PM
Hello, I do appreciate all the constructive input, and am going with the AL80B and having N4ATS check it out for me.

I really didn't intend to start too much of a pissing contest with this thread, and hope everyone can agree to disagree or whatever and get along.

73, Todd - KT0DD


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4ATS on November 03, 2012, 02:10:34 PM
"Certainly everyone knows MFJ needs to do better with QC, but the claim they don't care at all or don't test anything is false. Everything is tested and inspected"

Now it is...good job...


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W9PMZ on November 03, 2012, 02:58:53 PM
From the very first post...
"I'm starting to get concerned that I may be opening a can of worms"
To...
"I really didn't intend to start too much of a pissing contest with this thread, and hope everyone can agree to disagree or whatever and get along."
Thanks Rodney...
ROTFLMAO


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: K0CWO on November 03, 2012, 06:01:08 PM
Got it in the right place now;)

FWIW, I've owned seven Ameritron amps over the last 10 years. (AL-811, AL-80A, AL-80B, AL-1200, AL-1500, ALS-600, ALS-1300)  I still own three.  With the exception of the ALS-1300 I'm fond of all of them.  I have a 22 year old AL-80A (probably not Mississippi made?) with original tube that works flawless.  I also have a five year old AL-1500 that I believe is good bang for the buck.  I have had other amplifiers.  I do not want to bash any brand but some of those have had occasional issues.  No more no less than most reputable amateur amplifiers on the market that I now and hear of.  If I was in the market for a new amp I think I would try an AL-82.  I've owned an AL-80B.  If I was in the market for a 1KW amp I would buy another AL-80B in a heartbeat.  For a person who does not want go through the trouble of getting 240 into the shack this little amp works great with a stiff 120 supply.

You guys have fun!

BJ
k0cwo




Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: KB8BAB on November 03, 2012, 06:59:05 PM
To get back to the original post...

A+ for the AL-80B here as well, bought it used and saved some $.
Has what looks to be the original Eimac tube in it and performs just fine. Still puts out the rated power.
Mine is on 240V since the 120 line in here was not stiff enough.
Easy to tune and is forgiving to my hic-ups.....

As an added bonus, it provides reading light and heats my shack as well......LOL

73

Bart


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4UM on November 04, 2012, 02:19:12 PM
Eham equipment reviews? Let's compare apples to apples with the Ameritron AL-82 and the Ten Tec Centurion; amps that both have two 3-500Z tubes.  

The AL-82 gets a 4.8/5 in 36 reviews

The Centurion gets a 4.9/5 in 54 reviews

What can we infer from this?

You can't infer much without knowing something about the distribution of the ratings for each of the two amplifiers.  If the variability in the ratings within each of the two groups is very small, then the small difference in average ratings (4.8 vs. 4.9) night be statistically significant.  If the variability in ratings is large, the difference is probably not statistically significant.


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: N4CR on November 04, 2012, 07:15:09 PM
That said, it would greatly add to your credibility if you would acknowleddge that, without knowing those figures, the actual warranty statistics cannot be accurately determined.

If someone chooses to fix a device during the warranty period and doesn't engage the warranty department of the entity in question, it's not a warranty statistic.

Because there was no warranty work and no warranty parts were involved.

Warranty statistics are not all encompassing failure statistics and never have been for any manufacturer. Why would you expect it to be for this company?


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NN4X on November 05, 2012, 04:53:57 AM
Ken -

I'd like to toss some kudos n the direction of N4ATS, who has put a spotlight on this issue.  Without such public pressue, I'm not convinced that MFJ would have taken any action.

73,
Steve
NN4X



I try very hard not to get involved in these "bash MFJ" threads, but some folks just go too far. 

Paul, - well said.

Tom, I wish to say a big THANK YOU!! for all the help you've been to me and the whole group in sharing your knowledge. THANK YOU for driving up to Starkville and working with MFJ to improve QC and some issues.

73 de Ken H>


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W7RY on November 23, 2012, 02:32:45 PM
I don't think N4ATS had ANYTHING to do with it... Tom, W8JI probably did.

73
Jim W7RY


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: MAGNUM257 on November 23, 2012, 06:34:14 PM
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Well, Todd, its been about a month since you posted. I believe you decided on the AL-80.  The first line of your post is what caught me, "I am on a limited budget". Well so am I, which is why I followed this post as it wandered around, trying to answer your question.

I bought an AL-811, used, thru Ebay several years ago. It has worked well, with one new set of tubes last year. But I'm looking to upgrade soon after the Holidays, so have you received your new amp, and how is it working?

-chuck


Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: W4LI on November 26, 2012, 02:59:25 PM
I'll add my few cents.

First, I purchased an AL-80B and it has been a solid performer.  A friend acquired one used based on my experience and similarly has had very good results.  Admittedly, a nonrandom sample of two, but my point is not regarding the statistics.

While some people bash MFJ, I'll add a contrasting viewpoint.  I see elegance of simplicity in construction and design that are impressive.  Producing a niche electronic product in their typical price / feature / quality range is a very solid accomplishment.  I presume the majority of MFJ products are also around a similar price / feature / quality scenario as well. 

Managing margin and pricing constraints successfully is a complex feat, as is building near failure proof, rich feature set systems at milspec or life critical cost levels.  These are large, heavy items, subject to considerable stresses when shipped.  Designing and testing to catch nearly early failure before it leaves the factory and then being fully resilient to virtually all shipping and handling scenarios will multiply the cost.  Aside from slip-ups we may hear about disproportionally, shipping damage, and early mortality of components, their products seem solid to me.  Like any company, I'm sure they've had issues from time to time and periods that are better than others.  These are intended to be Chevrolet grade, not Rolls Royce. 


Dan Hoogterp, W4LI






Title: RE: W8JI - Is it worth buying a new Ameritron AL-80B?
Post by: NN4X on November 27, 2012, 05:02:11 AM
Jim -

Are you saying that with the "Ameritron ALS-500 / MFJ Quality Lacks" thread, started by N4ATS, read 28904 times, and with FOURTEEN PAGES of comments, that MFJ would have done anything different than they'd been doing already?  That strikes me as an incredible leap of faith...


73,
Steve
NN4X


I don't think N4ATS had ANYTHING to do with it... Tom, W8JI probably did.

73
Jim W7RY