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Author Topic: Start Small, or Go All the Way?  (Read 5232 times)
K0CWO
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Posts: 419




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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2013, 08:42:00 AM »

I've gone from small to large (AL-811 to AL-1500) and a bunch in between.  The AL-1500 was my 7th amplifier and I still own it today.  At first I was concerned about operating an amplifier with such an expensive tube.  What if I did something wrong and blew that $1200 fuse?  Long story short; the AL-1500 is a great machine is easy to tune and it has good grid protection in case you do something wrong.  I've had it for 5 years and it continues to work like the day I got it (new).  I've also had an AL-80B and currently own a 20+ year old AL-80A.  They too are excellent CW/SSB boxes unless you want to get into semi serious continuous carrier work.  The AL-80A & B produce 1KW SSB and I can't remember a time that 1500 watts had an edge over 1000 watts during my rag chew operating habits 160-40 (I very rarely use an amp 20-10).  I've seriously considered an AL-82 but ended up with a used QRO HF-2000 instead.  These two 3600 volt+ amplifiers run .8 amps of plate current without sweat but need more drive to attain legal limit output compared to the AL-1500.  I really don't think you can go wrong with any of the three.  The 8877 tube may need a little closer attention drive wise but that tube is not working very hard at 1KW output, two 3-500's compare closely, whereas a single 3-500 is working pretty hard to produce 1KW output.  I have not had any issues with either tube pushing them hard or not so hard.

The choice is yours but if I had the money to buy a new AL-1500 assuming I did not have one right now and needed an amplifier today, I would not hesitate to order one.

Pardon my ramble,

73, BJ
k0cwo
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N4KC
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Posts: 288


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« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2013, 08:50:51 AM »

Well, I waited almost fifty years before adding that first amplifier, and only then as a favor to a Silent Key's widow who needed the money more than an amp.  But I really enjoy my AL-811 3-tube amp.  It's at least 15 years old, still has its original 811s, and makes power on most bands where I've used it.  It DOES make a difference.

All that said, if I were debating full-legal-limit vs. an 811 or 811H, I'd probably opt for the big boy, and especially if I had a dedicated power feed, preferably 240V.  Other than a bit more strain on feedlines and antennas and maybe more risk of TVI, the operation of a 500-watt amp as opposed to a 1,500-watt beauty are the same.  Besides, you can always crank it down if it don't need it.  You'll never be able to get 1.5KW out of four 811s.

PS: ignore all that grousing about MFJ/Ameritron reliability.  I'd bet, if you looked as the number of units sold and in use, the percentage of problems with amps out of Mississippi is about the same as anybody else's.  There are tens of thousands of Ameritrons out there, amplifying normally everyday.

73 and we'll look for you on the air with that "loudenboomer" soon...

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com

(Author of the new book RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO)
 
 
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W8JX
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Posts: 6083




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« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2013, 10:44:45 AM »

Why is it we always go with one extreme or other with amps and ignore a lot of options in between? It is like get a 811 or get a 8877 period. While a 8877 is a good amp, it is easy to wreck on on a bad tuning accident and you will cry when you replace it and do not depend on cheap medical pulls much longer as they will dry up one day. Also unlike tubes like 3-500z's or 572's that are basically instant on, 8877's need 3 minutes to warm up. When 3-500z's and 572's are used properly they will last a long time but proper use is NOT using a 572's in a 811 amp that may never heat tube enough to properly keep it gettered. Them there is power vs signal strength. Once you get to 1000 watts, the legal limit adds less than 2 db to signal which is negligible in field. That first 800 to 1000 watts or so gives you 9 to 10db over barefoot. For this a AL80b does nicely. Something else that may deserve a look at is a AL800 with a single import tube. It can be had for around 2 grand and will make 1200+ watts out and uses a reasonably priced import tube. It also shares same power supply as two tubed version for amp so it will not be remotely straining there. The AL572 is a near legal limit amp too for around 1700.

Point is you can spend 8k for a Alpha but 1500 watts is 1500 watts and you can get a decent amp for 2k or less. Myself I use a old Dentron with four 572's in it and the original tubes will still easily make 1000+ watts of output with 55 to 60 watts of drive. The AL 811 is greatly over rated though because to reach its rated output you have to exceed tubes ratings and can easily fry them tuning if not careful.
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WA2OLZ
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Posts: 64




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« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2013, 02:03:08 PM »

I find it very interesting that with all of the amplifier manufacturer's to choose from that the responses have been almost exclusively Ameritron. I'm not saying they are good, bad or indifferent but the OP should at least consider alternatives.
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W8JX
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Posts: 6083




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« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2013, 02:16:15 PM »

I find it very interesting that with all of the amplifier manufacturer's to choose from that the responses have been almost exclusively Ameritron. I'm not saying they are good, bad or indifferent but the OP should at least consider alternatives.

Yes it is but when you talk a good amp for around a KW, the AL80 is hard to beat.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20612




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« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2013, 02:30:41 PM »

I find it very interesting that with all of the amplifier manufacturer's to choose from that the responses have been almost exclusively Ameritron. I'm not saying they are good, bad or indifferent but the OP should at least consider alternatives.

There aren't many.  The AL-82 is a much better (and more powerful) amp than the Ten Tec; the Acoms and Emcoms and such are nice but imported and quite pricey; Alphas are American made and also very pricey; Commanders have had a spotty history; QRO makes some nice stuff but is a very small company who is "on vacation" right now Wink ;etc.  Ameritron is the only amateur radio tube amplifier manufacturer I can think of who is in continuous production, in business many years, is "local," and has an excellent distributor/reseller system -- so for many it's possible to just drive to a local store and pick one up (like I did, at HRO).

Probably due to these reasons, I'm sure they outsell all the others combined.

As I've found after 40 years in business, the way to sell stuff is to have it readily available for those who make spot decisions to buy.  The ham who received a tax refund on May 1st and feels like spending it on May 2nd can have an Ameritron amp on May 3rd.  Not many other options for impulse buyers.

Can't knock success. Smiley

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W8GP
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Posts: 215




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« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2013, 02:31:39 PM »

AL-80B
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WA2OLZ
Member

Posts: 64




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« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2013, 02:40:32 PM »

I find it very interesting that with all of the amplifier manufacturer's to choose from that the responses have been almost exclusively Ameritron. I'm not saying they are good, bad or indifferent but the OP should at least consider alternatives.

There aren't many.  The AL-82 is a much better (and more powerful) amp than the Ten Tec; the Acoms and Emcoms and such are nice but imported and quite pricey; Alphas are American made and also very pricey; Commanders have had a spotty history; QRO makes some nice stuff but is a very small company who is "on vacation" right now Wink ;etc.  Ameritron is the only amateur radio tube amplifier manufacturer I can think of who is in continuous production, in business many years, is "local," and has an excellent distributor/reseller system -- so for many it's possible to just drive to a local store and pick one up (like I did, at HRO).

Probably due to these reasons, I'm sure they outsell all the others combined.

As I've found after 40 years in business, the way to sell stuff is to have it readily available for those who make spot decisions to buy.  The ham who received a tax refund on May 1st and feels like spending it on May 2nd can have an Ameritron amp on May 3rd.  Not many other options for impulse buyers.

Can't knock success. Smiley



Pablum for the masses  Smiley  Of course, I'm somewhat prejudiced. My first amp was a Kenwood TL-922 and now I run an ACOM. A tad pricey? Sure, but it will last longer than I do!
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W6UV
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Posts: 538




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« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2013, 02:50:06 PM »

now I run an ACOM. A tad pricey? Sure, but it will last longer than I do!

That means nothing to me. For all I know, you're 99 years old and will croak next week.
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WA2OLZ
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Posts: 64




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« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2013, 04:21:30 PM »

Wow - that was a civil reply!
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W6UV
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Posts: 538




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« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2013, 04:34:55 PM »

Wow - that was a civil reply!
Sorry, I forgot the smiley.  Wink

It's just that replies like "it'll last longer than me" really mean nothing without context. If you're 15 years old, then yes, that probably means the thing will last a long time. If you're 70, then not so long.
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WA2OLZ
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Posts: 64




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« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2013, 04:48:21 PM »

No hard feelings  Smiley

Closer to 70 than 15 - a whole lot closer!
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NK7Z
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« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2013, 04:49:17 PM »

Wow - that was a civil reply!
Welcome to eHam...  Smiley  Happens a lot here...
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
NK7Z
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Posts: 822


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« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2013, 04:55:11 PM »

I'm going to be buying my first HF amp soon. I've been licensed for 32 years, but have never owned an amp. My only experience with them was with the Clipperton-L we had at the club station in college.

Should I try to keep things small with an Ameritron AL-811H at first, to learn the ropes, or should I go for the whole enchilada and get an AL-1500 right off the bat?
Hi,

I would go all the way...  I used to have a Heath SB-200, very nice amp, but it did not cut it on full power RTTY, or digital...  I now have an AL-82 and love the difference...  The tubes on the AL-82 have glass chimneys for cooling, I can now run key down RTTY, etc., at full power...  The AL-82 runs cooler, and in general nicer...  Just don't try and run your new amp off of 110 V, get a 220 volt line in place...  Makes a very big difference...  Also, when you do decide you need more power, you will already have it, so you won't have to sell your old amp...   
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
N4CR
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Posts: 1672




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« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2013, 08:23:16 PM »

You can get a good full output medical pull for about $350.00 cheaper than a pair of 3-500 tubes.  There are many reputable people who sell tested 8877 pulls and you are assured of getting a good one or else send it back.

Do you have any links for this? I've looked but not found those prices anywhere.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
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