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Author Topic: AMERITRON KITS??  (Read 7021 times)
K7NSW
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Posts: 58




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« on: March 03, 2011, 07:51:28 AM »

A visual exam of Ameritron amplifiers tells me they would be terrific products in kit form.  They contain the kind of components you can get your hands on and assemble.  I grew up in ham radio with Heathkits.  The building experience was wonderful and they always worked just fine for me.  What do you think?
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WB0YLE
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2011, 10:45:49 AM »

compared to the quality (or not...) that MFJ/Ameritron/Mirage/? builds them, I can't see that they'd be any worse...after all, most of the hams (not all...not polyannaish...) I know take pride in crafting a kit...

I'm thinking it's a liability/support/? issue on their part, and the low volume that would be generated...after all, how many new hams do you think, who do a one-day cram course to get a ticket, starting from 0 and walking out with a general or extra, would be able to know which end of the soldering iron to hold?

Lots of appliance operators out there.  Not denigrating them, mind you, since the hobby is big enough for all types to enjoy...but...a newly minted general building a kit that has, at its core, lethal voltages without having some guidance looking over his shoulder?

73 Bryan WB0YLE
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KE4JOY
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2011, 12:21:52 PM »

People get a little squirley about selling kits that have lethal voltages in them.

That and FCC compliance.
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W3JKS
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2011, 02:18:58 PM »

People get a little squirley about selling kits that have lethal voltages in them.

That and FCC compliance.

On the other hand, there would probably be fewer cold solder joints and loose parts!  Grin

73,
john W3JKS/AAT3BF/AAM3EDE/AAM3RE/AAA9SL
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WB0YLE
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 11:01:55 AM »

People get a little squirley about selling kits that have lethal voltages in them.

That and FCC compliance.

On the other hand, there would probably be fewer cold solder joints and loose parts!  Grin

73,
john W3JKS/AAT3BF/AAM3EDE/AAM3RE/AAA9SL

Ya think?  Just spent a good 2 hours in an Alinco reflowing a lot of them...

None that I know of in a 40-year-old SB200 though.

Difference between a craftsman and an assembly line worker...Wink

73 Bryan WB0YLE
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WB2EOD
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Posts: 218




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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2011, 11:50:24 AM »

I own an AL811H and the same thought crossed my mind.
 
Given the parts and instructions, there isn't anything in there that a technically competent ham couldn't build using tools that he probably owns. 

I raised this question with the Ameritron/MFJ folks at Dayton 2010 and even volunteered to assist in proof builds and manual preparation. They pointed out that I was not the first (and won't be the last) to suggest this.

The Ameritron/MFJ people felt the relatively small number of kits sold couldn't justify the additional costs of manual publication and subsequent support when what you built didn't work 

But wait! There's more!
Another reason why they don't offer amplifier kits is legal.  We as hams know (or should know) and respect the hazards of high voltage.  Forty years ago, if you got killed by your SB200, it was tragic but essentially your own fault.  Today, in spite of warnings, cautions, disclaimers, bold red print and interlocks, it would be too costly to defend against a lawsuit brought by the family of a kit builder accidentally killed or injured by high voltage.   

This is a real pity.  I would have enjoyed assembling my 811H.

73
WB2EOD
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KG6AF
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 12:23:22 PM »

The Ameritron/MFJ people felt the relatively small number of kits sold couldn't justify the additional costs of manual publication and subsequent support when what you built didn't work 

Why don't they write a baseline assembly manual, put it on their site in the form of a wiki, and let customers update the manual with corrections, hints, etc?  They depend on customers to touch up their soldering, why not their writing?

As for the cost to support customers whose equipment doesn't work, how's that any different from the costs they incur for such support now?

Today, in spite of warnings, cautions, disclaimers, bold red print and interlocks, it would be too costly to defend against a lawsuit brought by the family of a kit builder accidentally killed or injured by high voltage.   

And how much would it cost for them to defend against a lawsuit filed by someone who heard something rattling around in their factory-built linear, took the lid off to investigate, and got blasted across the room?

I'm glad you asked the Ameritron people these questions, but the answers seem pretty specious.
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WB2EOD
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 05:37:45 AM »

KG6AF raises some valid counter arguments and I agree with them
I was simply quoting that which the MFJ/Ameritron people shared with me.
Whatever reasons Ameritron gives, it's my impression that they are simply not interested.
This is not intended as MFJ bashing. 
My experience with their products and service has been very good.

And I repeat:
"This is a real pity.  I would have enjoyed assembling my 811H".

73
WB2EOD
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KD8MJR
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 12:16:08 PM »

You guys are going about this the wrong way.

What Ameritron needs to do is sell Replacement Cabinets and Circuit Boards and Parts Wink
When you look and see that you can order all the parts seperately and that on the Internet and Ham websites their are instructions for DYI, it gets Ameritron off the hook and you can save some cash.  They already have most of the main parts in the Catalog already, it's just Boards and Cabinet that are the missing pieces
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AD6KA
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Posts: 2236




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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 05:13:58 PM »

What Ameritron needs to do is sell Replacement Cabinets and Circuit Boards and Parts Wink
I would buy reasonably priced enclosures from them, and
I bet a lot of other builders would also. I do believe MFJ does
a lot, if not most, of their metal fabrication on site?

Ten Tec offers a selection of outstanding finished and unfinished
off the shelf enclosures. They also do custom runs.
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KA4DQJ
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Posts: 44




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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2011, 09:10:48 PM »

Kits succeeded back in their heydey because you could build a kit a lot cheaper than you could buy the finished product.  Those were the days before circuit integration on a chip and SMT's.  Even the factory made equipment were labor intensive with point-to-point wiring.

Today it just doesn't pay for the manufacturers or the buyers to be big in the kit business.  Entire circuits have been compacted into a single IC, the electronic industry is automated with minimal human hands-on, and the manufacturing base has moved from the U.S. to Asia where everything is produced far more cheaply.

Companies could still offer kits, but the price difference would be little different from the finished product and there just isn't enough demand to make it profitable.  Plus, businesses which offer kits need an expanded (and expensive) customer service operation.  I can even see kits costing more than the finished product after all the factors are factored it.

As much pleasure as I got out of building and operating my own stuff in the old days, I sadly think that the days of large-scale kit offerings is long behind us.
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W9OY
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« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2011, 03:01:57 AM »

They do sell all the components 
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2011, 07:26:04 AM »

They do sell all the components 

And the cost of the individual components will probably exceed the cost of a factory-built amp, especially when you figure in the cost of fabricating the boards, chassis, cabinet and front panel.
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WB0YLE
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2011, 05:57:22 AM »

They do sell all the components 

And the cost of the individual components will probably exceed the cost of a factory-built amp, especially when you figure in the cost of fabricating the boards, chassis, cabinet and front panel.

Well...considering that the Ameritrons I've seen are pretty much assembled by hand....the components are already sitting in bins...so, instead of picking one, soldering in place, picking the next one, repeat...its a case of two people, one reading the bill of materials, a second one putting the parts as they're called out into a box, packing up the parts (which already exist) and shipping a box of parts to a customer. That's what they do anyway (you DO give anything from MFJ the shake test before you plug it in, right?).  I'm sure there's an assembly manual that's already been written to guide the assembly hands to build and wire up the boxes down there in Mississippi, so, editing and checking for content would be the last step...

Remember...we're talking buying an AL-80 or AL-XXX that's either been assembled by semi-trained labor who will never use the device in their shack...or one that will be put together by someone who wants to be able to point with pride to the finished device and say "look what I did".  Look at how many green boxes are still on the air.  So, it can be a worthwhile way to acquire toys for the shack.  (not that I can do SMT with my eyes anymore...)

Parts is parts.  All we're removing is the assembly labor cost from the equation.  It would be nice to have that option for a lot of equipment. 

My $.03.

73 Bryan WB0YLE
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W3LK
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2011, 07:58:35 AM »

Some people seem to be unable to understand the concept of "no, we aren't interested in doing that". <g>

FWIW, I have about a dozen items from MFJ and all of them worked just fine out of the box. IMHO, the quality control problems are blown way out of proportion by a vocal few - and we all know if someone posts something on the Internet, then it MUST be true.
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