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Author Topic: Tube or solid state?? Which is better?  (Read 7049 times)
KC2UVX
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2011, 06:23:51 AM »

Frank you have a very practical out look, so do I. Thanks. I have 2 antennas, a GAP eagle vertical and a Saturn multi band wire antenna in an inverted V configuration. I run a Icom 746Pro rig. The Icom has an internal tuner which seems to work well. I operate mostly on 20m and 40m. So your saying to skip the MFJ998 intellituner, get the 80B (with tubes). My concern is this. Does the amp need to be tuned up on each band I use? I usually switch back and forth between the bands? I have read that one person decided to go with a SS amp with automatic tuning for just that reason. I do not contest but I dx often. What do you think?   Joe
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VE3FMC
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2011, 08:59:49 AM »

Frank you have a very practical out look, so do I. Thanks. I have 2 antennas, a GAP eagle vertical and a Saturn multi band wire antenna in an inverted V configuration. I run a Icom 746Pro rig. The Icom has an internal tuner which seems to work well. I operate mostly on 20m and 40m. So your saying to skip the MFJ998 intellituner, get the 80B (with tubes). My concern is this. Does the amp need to be tuned up on each band I use? I usually switch back and forth between the bands? I have read that one person decided to go with a SS amp with automatic tuning for just that reason. I do not contest but I dx often. What do you think?   Joe

Hi Joe

I have an AL-80A and it is a good amp. Drive with 50-60 watts and you will get enough power out to work DX all day long and never strain the amp.

Yes the amp needs to be tuned every time you change bands. But that is such a simple process once you get used to it. If you buy one once you can go through the tuning on each band into a dummy load. Simply make a cheat sheet with the plate and load settings so you will be able to change those when changing bands. Then a quick tune up into the dummy load and you are good to go.

Your internal tuner in the radio will not be required with the amp. What you might need is an external tuner that can handle 1200 Watts PEP. That goes in line with your antennas then you go from there to the amp, then to the radio.

You will not need an amp buffer because the keying voltage on the AL-80B is low enough it will not damage your keying circuit in your radio. I do not use one with my FT-950 and AL-80A.

I also do not use the ALC hookup on the amp. It is tough to over drive that amp with modern radios that put out 100 watts. And as I said, you do not need to drive with 100 watts.
I drive mine with 50-60 watts and the amp puts out 700 PEP with that amount of drive. If they can't hear you with 700 watts then 1000 watts will not do the trick either, at least that is what I have experienced.

My AL-80A has had the 10 Meter mod done. However the power output is slightly lower on 10 and 12 meters than it is on the lower bands. That is normal, at least with any tube amp I have owned. I get 600 watts out with 60 watts drive on 10 meters. If the band is open and you have a decent antenna that will work.

If you run an AL-80B at 700 watts that 3-500Z should outlive you  Smiley As long as you have good SWR's on your antennas.

My thoughts, buy an AL-80B, or AL-80A. New or used, used if you know the amp has been treated properly. New if you want a warranty. I have owned two used AL-80A's and both worked well for me.

Yes the idea of a no tune amp sounds tempting. But as I said once you learn how to tune the AL-80B you will do it so quickly it won't make any difference.

BTW, I do run mine off 120 V because at the present time I do not have 220 in my shack and I do not have any room on my breaker panel to put a 220 circuit. My only other choice would be to tap off the dryer circuit and I am not sure that is a good idea.

Good Luck, let us know which way you go.

Happy Easter, 73, Rick VE3FMC

« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 09:06:24 AM by VE3FMC » Logged
K4RVN
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2011, 09:09:59 AM »


Joe,
With the antennas you mentioned, I see no need to buy a tuner to use the AL 80B.
Yes you would have to retune for each band. I write down the amp settings once for each band and save them. By turning back to those settings it takes me less than one minute to change bands and peak the amp for my desired output. I use an Icom 7200 with the AL80A. Tuning is easily mastered.
If you have a ham friend to help you set up the amp and show you how to tune it that would be great. If not, there are plenty on this forum who own AL80B amps that can assist you in tuning it quickly. I am a tube amp person because I believe it is the most cost effective reliable forgiving
way to go especially for a first amp. I do not say they are better than solid state as I have never owned one and am not qualified to go there. I often run my 3-500 at 1000 watts out SSB. It has been about 17 years since I had a problem with a tube. I am satified with a tube amp and manual band switching is no chore to me. A novice amp buyer has no reason to fear tuning an amp with all the information available today. Many of us made it by reading the manual and trial and error.
You will do fine either way, tube, or solid state.  Enjoy your hobby.

Frank
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VE3FMC
Member

Posts: 39




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« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2011, 07:01:36 PM »


Joe,
With the antennas you mentioned, I see no need to buy a tuner to use the AL 80B.
Yes you would have to retune for each band. I write down the amp settings once for each band and save them. By turning back to those settings it takes me less than one minute to change bands and peak the amp for my desired output. I use an Icom 7200 with the AL80A. Tuning is easily mastered.
If you have a ham friend to help you set up the amp and show you how to tune it that would be great. If not, there are plenty on this forum who own AL80B amps that can assist you in tuning it quickly. I am a tube amp person because I believe it is the most cost effective reliable forgiving
way to go especially for a first amp. I do not say they are better than solid state as I have never owned one and am not qualified to go there. I often run my 3-500 at 1000 watts out SSB. It has been about 17 years since I had a problem with a tube. I am satified with a tube amp and manual band switching is no chore to me. A novice amp buyer has no reason to fear tuning an amp with all the information available today. Many of us made it by reading the manual and trial and error.
You will do fine either way, tube, or solid state.  Enjoy your hobby.

Frank

Frank, as long as Joe's antennas are near resonance on the frequencies he will use the amp he might be wise to have an external tuner.

Personally I would not run the amp into an antenna with an SWR higher than 2:1. But that is my opinion, others may vary from those thoughts.

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AH6RR
Member

Posts: 846




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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2011, 02:48:25 AM »

Frank you have a very practical out look, so do I. Thanks. I have 2 antennas, a GAP eagle vertical and a Saturn multi band wire antenna in an inverted V configuration. I run a Icom 746Pro rig. The Icom has an internal tuner which seems to work well. I operate mostly on 20m and 40m. So your saying to skip the MFJ998 intellituner, get the 80B (with tubes). My concern is this. Does the amp need to be tuned up on each band I use? I usually switch back and forth between the bands? I have read that one person decided to go with a SS amp with automatic tuning for just that reason. I do not contest but I dx often. What do you think?   Joe

 Aloha Joe,
 I think you have the wrong information on the Solid State amps. They do not need to be tuned but they need to be switched between bands and some SS amps have Auto Band Switching with the right radio interface cable/box. As for tuning the manual tune tube amps after a short learning time it is very fast and easy. Make sure the antennas are tuned for at least a 2.5:1 (lower is much better) SWR for each band you operate. Since you use mostly 20 and 40 meters you might want to use Mono-Band antennas for those 2 bands that way you can get the SWR to under 1.5:1 and not have to use a tuner at all.
Roland AH6RR
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KC2UVX
Member

Posts: 26




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« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2011, 05:22:13 AM »

Thanks to everyone! After reading all the helpful replies  I guess it comes down to personal preference. Seems there are pros and cons to both types. Everyone has made valid . well informed points. I thank you. At this point I will be digesting all the info and experience that all you patient Elmers have offered. Whatever my decision, I am sure I will be posting a forum topic to seek advice. 73's to all. 

Joe
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K4RVN
Member

Posts: 50




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« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2011, 02:44:14 PM »

VE3FMC
Hello,
In reply to your comments, both the antennas mentioned can be operated at 2:1 or less.
Both can and should be adjusted for the best SWR and not use a tuner as a crutch in my opinion. I did put a disclaimer and say it depended on individual circumstances. If Joe is worried about tuning an amp, then he should also be worried about tuning a tuner. I have never owned a tuner, but any
amateur is welcome to buy and use one as I don't knock those that use them instead of a good antenna for the operating freq. I realize that all don't have the room, hoas and ccrs to contend with.
I agree about antennas with 2:1 or less SWR. I am presently able to load max power and get good results with over 3:1 SWR on two bands because it is a real chore to take the quad down and add some wire. I'll get around to it one day soon perhaps.
You made some good points and I don't disagree . I'll be anxious to see what Joe does. The AL 80 B would be my choice with the 2 year warranty. The choice is his and I hope he makes the one that suits him. I happy with the ones I have made.

Frank
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KC2VDM
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Posts: 145




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« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2011, 04:13:21 AM »

Go with tubes. Solid state amp technology has only been around a few years, while tube amplifiers have been around  for God knows how long! They are much easier to service! you can find any tube at a hamfest! it's more fun too, older tube amps change in brightness with voice peaks. it adds some pizazz to th hamshack!  Grin

-alex
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KC2UVX
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2011, 04:58:17 AM »

Alex thanks for your input. Still have not gotten an amp yet. I am leaning toward tube as you, and others, have suggested. You make a good point that tubes can be gotten anywhere. Hopefully, I will not need to replace them.   
Joe
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KX5JT
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Posts: 217




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« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2011, 05:30:45 AM »

No big deal.  If you use your amplifier a lot, eventually you WILL need to replace them.  Don't worry, you won't even need a soldering iron.  Besides, if you get an amp with good tubes they can last a LONG time.
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W8JX
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Posts: 12095




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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2011, 06:26:38 AM »

No big deal.  If you use your amplifier a lot, eventually you WILL need to replace them.  Don't worry, you won't even need a soldering iron.  Besides, if you get an amp with good tubes they can last a LONG time.

Eventually tends to suggest a time frame that can be long or short. The are many out their running amps with tubes 20 and 30 years old. If you get a amp with decent tubes (not 811's) and treat it right you will likely get bored with it before you wear it out.
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--------------------------------------
Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
KC2UVX
Member

Posts: 26




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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2011, 07:15:25 AM »

I am thinking of the AL 80B which has gotten good reviews from members of this site. Any other suggestions I should consider based on individual's personal experiences/preferences? I want to use 120 v in the power  supply.
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G4FUT
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Posts: 89




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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2011, 08:55:31 AM »

Reference tuning a tube amp., particularly a grounded grid;-as mentioned in August QST 1960, the tuning is NOT the same as that of a PA stage in a transmitter where the plate current dip coincides with maximum output of RF. It is necessary to have an external RF meter (VSWR bridge) to check output.  I know the amps mentioned above may not be grounded grids, but thought it appropriate to state this.  I noticed this in my own home-built 2 x 813 amp.
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Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas
KH6AQ
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Posts: 7718




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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2011, 11:03:04 AM »

Tubes? How quaint.

I've owned two 3-500 amps, one 811 amp, a 572B amp, and three solid state amps. I prefer solid state for the convenience and zero heat output when not driven.

Two of my tube amps had tube problems while none of the solid state amps had any problems.
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