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Author Topic: Ameritron ALS-500 / MFJ Quality Lacks  (Read 59552 times)
N4ATS
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« on: January 30, 2012, 05:42:06 PM »

Customer sent me a brand new ALS-500 ( www.n4ats.com )  No output , relay chatter.

After investigation on this BRAND new amp and they told the customer 8 weeks ARO, he sent it to me....

MULTIPLE solder splashes , NOT cold solder joints but direct shorts with blobbed solder. Removed at least 6 HUGE solder blobs. Amplifier now works. THEN , believe it or not , customer ordered the 10 meter board , it arrived and he installed it , no output BUT 75 AMPS!!!!

Sent the amp to me and believe it or not , MASSIVE solder splash on one coil to ground...HOLY CRAP!!!!

HOW IN THE WORLD does this company survive..No wonder its 8 weeks turnaround.

GET QUALITY TOGETHER AMERITRON / MFJ
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K2CMH
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 04:27:25 AM »

I had the same problem with the 10 meter mod board for the ALS-600...big solder splash bridging two traces.  After removing the solder bridge, it worked fine.
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VE7RF
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 04:44:50 AM »

Customer sent me a brand new ALS-500 ( www.n4ats.com )  No output , relay chatter.

After investigation on this BRAND new amp and they told the customer 8 weeks ARO, he sent it to me....

MULTIPLE solder splashes , NOT cold solder joints but direct shorts with blobbed solder. Removed at least 6 HUGE solder blobs. Amplifier now works. THEN , believe it or not , customer ordered the 10 meter board , it arrived and he installed it , no output BUT 75 AMPS!!!!

Sent the amp to me and believe it or not , MASSIVE solder splash on one coil to ground...HOLY CRAP!!!!

HOW IN THE WORLD does this company survive..No wonder its 8 weeks turnaround.

GET QUALITY TOGETHER AMERITRON / MFJ

##  Can u imagine if some poor bastard in Africa, or out on some island somewhere bought that thing ?   The shipping costs will kill any profits in 2  secs flat.   VE6RF  was telling me yrs ago that his shiny new ALS-600  Ameritron amp  blew up. The replacement also blew up,  and the 3rd one is OK. Turns out the 1st 2 x amps  had a huge 1/16"  air gap between each of the four MRF-150's  and the heat sink !!!   IOW, their was no heatsink .  They vaporized instantly.  Ameritron lost all it's profit in the shipping costs to VE6 land..poof gone, just like that.

##  aren't you the fellow who  checks out/tests  all the ameritron amps..prior to the local ham store shipping them out Huh    Here in town, I have seen a  few AL-80BX's where the  EBS  was doa..right outa the box.  Draws normal idle current on RX..with zero drive....and no coax on the input....and PTT activated.  


Later... Jim  VE7RF
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VE7RF
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 04:55:53 AM »

Customer sent me a brand new ALS-500 ( www.n4ats.com )  No output , relay chatter.

After investigation on this BRAND new amp and they told the customer 8 weeks ARO, he sent it to me....

MULTIPLE solder splashes , NOT cold solder joints but direct shorts with blobbed solder. Removed at least 6 HUGE solder blobs. Amplifier now works. THEN , believe it or not , customer ordered the 10 meter board , it arrived and he installed it , no output BUT 75 AMPS!!!!

Sent the amp to me and believe it or not , MASSIVE solder splash on one coil to ground...HOLY CRAP!!!!

HOW IN THE WORLD does this company survive..No wonder its 8 weeks turnaround.

GET QUALITY TOGETHER AMERITRON / MFJ


##  Well obviously... this tells us all one thing. There is no way in hell that Ameritron tests any thing!   The amount of $$  they save  by not testing anything  would have to be greater than what it cost em in shipping costs.  Perhaps they call that risk management.  It's a stupid business model.  I think what hams need to do is to ask/plead..for the store they bought the unit from to pse test it on every band..1st..then ship it.  If they won't do that....then  buy 2 of em..and ship back whichever one blows up. If they are both duds..ship em both back. If they are both good, then ship one back. In the commercial world [real world], they would not last 6 x months in business.

Later... Jim  VE7RF
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W8JX
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 05:03:47 AM »

I suspect they pay minimum wage and cannot attract of retain people the can solder well and are using the "model" of keeping building costs to a minimum in hopes to maximize profit and hope for best. They surely do not have a QA department because if they do, how ever is in it should be fired. Yet, people still buy their stuff.  Myself and others used to call it "Might Fine Junk" years ago. It really is a shame that no one else is in the entry level amp game because if they were and had good quality Ameritron would surely go under.
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N4ATS
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 05:17:18 AM »

##  aren't you the fellow who  checks out/tests  all the ameritron amps..prior to the local ham store shipping them out....?

Yes, I am..

I am in no way blaming it on the "designer" , who is active eHam poster , however it makes me sick to my stomach the way these amps are built.

I would guess that 3 out or 5 amps I check , I have to actually finish soldering wires , replace stripped PEM's , remove solder splashes, fix cracked meters , you name it.

There is NO excuse for it , a simple quality step could take their 8 week backlog down to 0 as far as returns.

Another example , "BRAND new out of the box Al-1200" , I took off the lids and first thing I noted , the relay (open frame) pins were more narrow than the board layout , so the assembler "pushed" the relay in  (tight fit) THUS the center arm was crushed between N/O and N/C positions , i.e ZERO relay travel. It wiped my FT-920 test radio out in about 2 seconds after power up.

This amplifer was NOT tested , it could never have been.

The bottom line , I recommend to everyone , when you buy an MFJ product , get it tested EXACTLY where you buy it FIRST , then if being shipped, have a letter stating is "HAS BEEN TESTED" and the date.

The fall out rate on MFJ products must be flipping HUGE...
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 05:31:26 AM by N4ATS » Logged
W8JI
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 05:28:55 AM »

I forwarded this to the appropriate people, where it might do some good.
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 06:11:18 AM »

The bottom line , I recommend to everyone , when you buy an MFJ product , get it tested EXACTLY where you buy it FIRST , then if being shipped, have a letter stating is "HAS BEEN TESTED" and the date.
Nice thought, but I'm not seeing the big resellers doing this. It'd be nice if they did; maybe it would also eliminate finger-pointing between the mfr and the com'l package carrier if there was something on it that showed it tested within normal limits before re-packaging and calling Brown or Purple for pickup.

I'm still working toward getting my AL-80B, but I'll be like a cat on a cactus till it's running full-tilt boogie across the spectrum. At least I'm learning more about what to include in the inspection upon opening the cartons...  doubtless, things like this make a used, known-to-be-running amp very attractive for some.
 Cool
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
N4ATS
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Posts: 848




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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 06:34:52 AM »

The bottom line , I recommend to everyone , when you buy an MFJ product , get it tested EXACTLY where you buy it FIRST , then if being shipped, have a letter stating is "HAS BEEN TESTED" and the date.
Nice thought, but I'm not seeing the big resellers doing this. It'd be nice if they did; maybe it would also eliminate finger-pointing between the mfr and the com'l package carrier if there was something on it that showed it tested within normal limits before re-packaging and calling Brown or Purple for pickup.



I AM doing it for a local company here and appears to be working very well , Maybe other companies will think about it and install their own quality control thus making them stand out of the crowd?Huh

It is a total shame to sell a product "KNOWN" to have a 50-50 power up and/or operate status. Some Hams are strapped for cash , buying cheaper brands like MFJ to keep them on the air , which is GOOD but to be "taken" is not.
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 08:02:27 AM »

I AM doing it for a local company here and appears to be working very well , Maybe other companies will think about it and install their own quality control thus making them stand out of the crowd?Huh
We're in agreement; such focus to the product going to the customer certainly gets my attention, absolutely.  I'm not "strapped" but I don't have the United Nations' budget to throw away either. When shopping my AL-80B and a bunch of ancillaries, for example, I weighed against history of order turn-around, price of the item, cost (if any) of shipping etc.  In one case the free-shipping was offset by the fact that Company A would have to charge me state sales tax, versus Company H or Company R, and so on. Big money? Not to some perhaps but I was trying to compare apples to apples.

Now.... if Company A said "we're also going to unbox the amp & tube and make sure it's fully functional to advertised PEP into a dummy load with no glitches before we ship it to you" I assure you THAT would be a HUGE game-changer in their favor. Or if they said you can spend 2-1/2 hours & drive over here to pick it up and we'll verify/demo the item before we place it in your hands & take your money, same tip of the scale in their favor.

I hope your approach catches on; in fact, I will go back to the prospective places and pose that very question.
 Smiley
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Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
N4ATS
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 11:03:31 AM »

"Now.... if Company A said "we're also going to unbox the amp & tube and make sure it's fully functional to advertised PEP into a dummy load with no glitches before we ship it to you" I assure you THAT would be a HUGE game-changer in their favor...... "

Exactly my point , I hope some "watchers" start acting as it very well COULD be a game changer in their favor.

It takes a whopping 10 minutes to test an amp using a person that understands how to do things fast at the same at a professional level.

In my opinion , it is a safe guard for BOTH the seller AND buyer.

The Seller: Knows the unit works , is wired correctly for the AC source, Makes a 25 second JPEG of the unit in operation and logs the details which is included on a CD in the box OR can actually watch it  (below). Total 10 -15 minutes tops it takes me and protects the seller from inadvertent mishap from a know-nothing amateur.

The Buyer: Knows the unit works when it left the seller, has a record and does not have to worry about return 8 week ARO and if it DON'T work , he has a shack / hookup problem which saves time.

I take pictures during my repairs quite frequent to let the owner know status at any time of his/her repair..

Example from   http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/5836

" Sent Bill (N4ATS) my ailing QRO 2500DX for repair and renewal. In little more than a day or so the problems were diagnosed and completely taken care of.

As the work began on the amp, from opening the case through buttoning it back up again for return, images were taken at each step in the repair process and emailed so I could follow along with all the work being done."

Its VERY easy and as a matter of fact , I am launching a web-cam thru SKYPE as we speak if you wish to "watch" your rig get fixed. The link is on my web now...

« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 11:06:35 AM by N4ATS » Logged
W9PMZ
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 12:40:05 PM »

"It takes a whopping 10 minutes to test an amp using a person that understands how to do things fast at the same at a professional level. "

Not trying to jump into the debate regarding Ameritron's Quality Control this statement just is not true.  I have been a manufacturing test engineer for the past 30 years, and a amplifier test engineer for the past 10 years,  and 10 minutes is not a reasonable time.

First you need to cable up the amp.
Then you need to make initial tests, e.g. the smoke test.
Then you need to tune all of the input tuning inductors.
Then you need to tune for output on all bands and check for some type of emission test.
Then you need to disconnect the amp.

This is not a 10 minute job...

It's more like a 30 minute job. 

But assuming it were done there is not excuse for receiving defective equipment.

Regarding solder balls and solder splashes there are commercial specifications the detail what is good and what is bad.  And solder balls and splashed are permitted under certain condition.

Don't be so condemning unless all of the facts are know.

As far as when a unit leaves the factory any factory that has competent control should have a test and manufacturing record for each unit.

But again, as I stated, having a customer receiving defective equipment is unacceptable.  And in my business this would require a thorough failure mode analysis be performed.

73,

Carl - W9PMZ
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W8JX
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2012, 01:02:07 PM »

Even a 5 or 10 minute check before shipping would be far better than no check at all.
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KA5N
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 01:09:10 PM »

I wonder how much revenue they lose because of people who want to order some of their
products but don't want to take the risk of a poorly assembled  item and the expense and
consternation with getting it fixed? 

Allen
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W8JX
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 01:26:40 PM »

You could also argue how much money do they make or cash flow do they generate shipping bad equipment the is finally fixed months later long after it was paid for vs if it was never shipped?
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