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Author Topic: Opinions on ACOM 1000, 1010, & 1011 Amps  (Read 7182 times)
W9CW
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Posts: 109




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« on: March 21, 2013, 06:40:41 AM »

I'm considering a new 500 to 1kW amp, and among the tube amps, I'm looking at the ACOM 1000, 1010, or 1011 (listed in descending order of price).  The 1000 and 1010 use a single 4CX800A/GU74B, whereas the 1011 uses a pair of 4CX250Bs.  The 1000 uses a larger transformer than the 1010, has a more rugged build (higher quality components) than either the lesser 1010 and 1011, supports full QSK, and covers 160-6m - whereas the 1010 and 1011 are 160-10m only.

Although the 4XC800A/GU74B has not been discontinued by Svetlana, their production runs are sporadic, and it is becoming more expensive (currently around $300 NOS), as are all tubes of course.  On the the hand, the 4CX250B remains rather plentiful, and certainly less expensive.

What's the general consensus on ACOM's lower-priced (relatively speaking of course) amps, and their long-term reliability.  The amps are sold, and backed, by Array Solutions here in the USA - a very fine and reputable company which offers excellent customer service.

The amp for this application would be used primarily on SSB, as I have another full QSK amp I use on CW.  Although it never hurts to have another full QSK capable amp in the shack...  the price differential between the low-end 1011 and the 1000 is $1,000.

I am also considering a couple of solid-state amps in the 500 to 1kW range.

Any thoughts would be appreciated...

Tnx
Don W9CW
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K3GM
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Posts: 1824




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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2013, 07:42:16 AM »

The 1000 was my at the top on my Dayton shopping list several years back, so my the data which forms my opinion is a few years old.  Nicely made with a great tube.  If you don't abuse it, the GU74B may last for many years. It covers 160-6 meters which is rare.  I was sold.  HOWEVER... I was turned off by the the sales team at Dayton which featured the owner K1LZ and his (at the time) US sales rep. So I moved onto the Emtron booth and received a warm welcome from their US rep and owner Rudi who pulled the covers off their DX1d, an amp which featured the same GU74B tube but which didn't have the 6m option.  That was a negative.  But I liked the sales force was friendly and willing to answers any questions.  The amp was beautifully constructed with a rugged chassis and transformer.  Is it unreasonalble to expect to be treated at least cordially when you've got a roll of $3500 in your pocket to drop on a hobby?  I didn't think so.  I went with the Emtron.

I guess if you buy from a distributor, you won't encounter personalities that make you form a general opinion of the product.  But at the time, neither amp was sold by a retail outlet (Emtron still isn't) so you were forced to seek out the individual that represented them in the US.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 07:46:26 AM by K3GM » Logged
K6AER
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Posts: 3528




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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 10:08:24 AM »

Everybody can have a bad day. Don’t let that color your technical considerations. In my opinion the 160-6 meter amplifier by Acom (1000) is one of the best bargains out there. Six meters is a very desirable band and having to buy only one amp for all the useful HF bands are a plus.

The cost of an amplifier is what it depreciates. ACOM  has a stellar reputation, the amplifier design is mature, many have been made and their resale is very good.

The 4CX800A7 (GU-74B) is very available and is also being made by the Chinese. This tube will be around for a long time.  The key to tube life is not trying to get the last 10% of power out of the tube.

As far as solid state amplifiers go remember they have a hard power output limit. Unlike tubes that go into power compression softly, transistors when they hit the rail voltage are very nonlinear. Also they are not tolerant of VSWR issues and will blow out instantly if the load is less than perfect.  If you use an antenna tuner to resonate the feed to your antenna, I would not use a solid state amplifier. One sleepy oppsey can be expensive.
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W9CW
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Posts: 109




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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 10:38:17 AM »

Thanks Mike.  BTW... I enjoyed our dinner together with Molly Hardman at Chili's at the 2010 Huntsville show, and the unscheduled stop at Walgreens on the way back to the hotel to pick up some Aleve Smiley. This, of course, was prior to my retirement from CQ at the end of that year. 

Yes, the ACOM line look like a nice amps, and well engineered with super build quality and well-protected.  Re. solid-state amps and VSWR protection, especially as to its use with an antenna tuner... it appears the Elecraft KPA500 is well-protected against most loads, and other "oops" moments.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 03:30:04 PM »

I'm serously thinking about an Acom 1500 - one reason being that I have a couple of good 4CX1000 in stock. I've figured that I am now not in good enough health to do the building and the question before buying an amp is what the doctors are going to tell me about life expetency. The pension guys are giving me an 8% return on the pension pot which doesn't bode that well.....

Getting old is a sh*t, especially at 66..............just the alternative is worse.

But the Acom 1500 looks very good......and likely to outlive me.
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K0WA
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Posts: 95




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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2013, 03:17:59 PM »

I do not own on of these amps, but I got to operate the 1000 for SS in Nebraska this past year ... both CW and SSB ... as K0S.  The 1000 is superb.  Very quiet.  We were driving it with a K3 and it operated very well.  Ran full power on CW and never had a glitch with it.  Works just as well on SSB. I would love to own one of these gems.

Lee - K0WA
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AB0Z
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Posts: 72




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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 05:02:41 PM »

Don - I've had and operate an ACOM 1010 basically since they were first available in the U.S. - early 2006.  With a solid distributor like Array Solutions things will only be better.  Even back then, the ACOM distributor was extra friendly and I had direct support from Bulgaria that was top-notch.

I've abused this amplifier!  It's been on a dozen plane rides with me.  The only problem I've ever had was that with all this banging around, and with this early design, I needed to replace and mechanically reinforce a capacitor.  Also, back then there was a popular mod that reduced the fan speed, which was unnecessarily fast.   Neither of these is any issue with new models, no worries - my point is that the factory guided me promptly and flawlessly through the issues.  A++ for responsiveness!

Honestly, the extra few watts to upgrade to an ACOM 1000 are not really an issue for me.  The fully automatic operation really is kind of tempting, though!  However, the tune-up for the 1010 is very easy with well thought-out readouts.  It doesn't have fast inter-character QSK, but the transmit/receive switching is good enough for high speed CW, definitely for SSB.

This amp is, for me, just so second-nature that I can't imagine replacing it.  Bulletproof, easy to use, and just works. 

Mni 73 es gud DX de David AB0Z
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KC4MOP
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 04:42:35 AM »

I have read stories about the finals and that they must be special hand-picked and matched by Acom. The amp or your defective finals have to be sent back to Acom to get it right.
Any truth to that?
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W9CW
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Posts: 109




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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 08:05:22 AM »

Well, in the case of the ACOM 1000 and the 1010, there is only one tube - no tubes to match.  The statement in the manual regarding tube replacement, e.g. sending it back to an authorized ACOM dealer, is based upon EU liability laws, not applicable here in the USA.  If the final tube needs replacement, I am sure any technically-inclined ham could do so - with the technical assistance of Array Solutions if necessary.  No truth whatsoever that you would have to send the tube or the amp back to ACOM, or an authorized dealer.  Array Solutions has all of the technical info on tube replacement and can easily "walk you through" the tube replacement scenario if necessary.  Using the amp properly, the GU74B should last a very long time.

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W7ARX
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Posts: 470




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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2014, 12:51:46 PM »

Well, I am not sure what to think about ACOM.  I purchased a brand new 1000 amp about 10 years ago.  Unit arrived damaged due to poor packaging (bought it via K6ND).  A replacement amp was sent to me, noted the serial number was much, much lower then the "new" one I had initially been sent.  Not sure at that time if it meant anything or not.

Initially, thought the amp was okay, but couldn't get it to work on 6 meters. 

Had to drive 100 miles to Array solutions to work on it, was there like a month or so.

Nice bill for the repair since "out of warranty". 

Amp since then has had multiple issues.  2 vacuum relays replaced, cap on power supply bad, reference voltage on the control board was NEVER set correctly, and now, a relay may be failing.  Upon providing ACOM with the SN of this unit, I get told:

SB2B Fault
QSK
   x
Virus Software
   x
Chris Hays   
Hi I experienced for the very first time and not sure why, a self protection ...
   Oct 19 (5 days ago)
ACOM   
Hi Chris, That grid to cathode intermittent short circuit in the tube. It may...
   Oct 20 (4 days ago)
Chris Hays   
Man, this AMP is no end to problems. WIsh I had known that when I bought it. ...
   Oct 20 (4 days ago)
Chris Hays   
Here are the codes as of 10/20/2014. Any help with these?
   AttachmentsOct 20 (4 days ago)
ACOM   
Chris, Sorry, my reply to your email was the last job I did yesterday. It was...
   Oct 21 (3 days ago)
Chris Hays   
Val Here is the chronology on this particular amplifier, SN 020253 (note, thi...
   Oct 21 (3 days ago)
ACOM
   
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
      
to me
Chris,

I'm really astonished by that all. I never though that there could be so many troubles packed in a single amplifier.

I see that this serial number have been produced 12 years ago and probably heavy used before you got it. Actually it was in a pretty bad shape at that time. The next interventions have not been very successful.

I can only say sorry and may help you to troubleshoot the current failure by yourself.

There are thousands ACOM 1000 around, many of them older than yours, that are working without a single failure.

Your RX tests show that the relay is OK. Most probably there are 3 small SMD capacitors that have to be replaced. I will send you more instructions tomorrow. Sorry, it is too late now.

73, Val




    Val

    Here is the chronology on this particular amplifier, SN 020253 (note,
    this is NOT the one I had purchased.  It was a much higher serial number).

    Bought this amp from K6ND direct, received it severely damaged.

    1.Initial amp purchased was damaged in shipment to me, sent it back and
    received a replacement (much lower serial number).  Case was scratched
    all up from a heavy duty staple thru the box cover. No big deal but it
    was scratched up.  Lived with it.

    Noticed from day one, many of the parameters didn’t seem to read
    correctly (i.e. 40 watts of drive shows 17-22 watts on the amp’s power
    meter).  The manual never provided any specs, (i.e. 240VAC Nominal HV
    should read xxxx – xxxx V), etc.  So never really had a firm
    understanding where the amp actually was operating.  It worked, but I
    never really had confidence in any values.

    2.Experienced problems loading on 6 meters and the issue mentioned

Chris Hays   
So, you are telling me this was a used amplifier?
   Oct 22 (2 days ago)
Chris Hays   
According to Array Solutions, the replacement of the vaccuum relays is consid...
   Oct 22 (2 days ago)
Chris Hays   
So Val Are you telling me, from the serial number I identified on m ine, that...
   Oct 22 (2 days ago)
ACOM   
Well, it was produced in 2002 and as you described it, it had been too far fr...
   1:11 AM (13 hours ago)
Chris Hays   
I purchased it like in 2003 or 2004 form K6ND your rep.
   7:38 AM (7 hours ago)
Chris Hays <hayscb57@gmail.com>
   
7:39 AM (7 hours ago)
      
to ACOM
Keep in mind, this isn't the one initially sent to me. I have no idea the history on this "replacement" sent to me".
   
 "I see that this serial number have been produced 12 years ago and probably heavy used before you got it. Actually it was in a pretty bad shape at that time. "

What does that all mean?  The amp was a previously owned unit, heavily used, had issues and they (K6ND) sent me a used/abused amp as new?

From all the problems I have had with this amp, certainly makes sense.  I sent this info to Array Solutions and of course, I haven't had any replies back.

I told ACOM directly, that if this info is correct, then someone either owes me a real new amp or funds back on this problem child I inherited. I am really disappointed.  At the price I paid to have a top notch amp, no one will step up and do the right thing and all I can do is to try and maintain this thing myself, with relays, caps, and who knows what is next.  I have had the cover off this thing more then I can count.  I never had that issue with my old SB-220/SB-1000.  They never gave me any troubles (of course, I built both of them myself).

So, all in all, I like the ACOM 1000 concept, but I certainly am not happy with the reliability of this particular serial number nor the idea I may have inherited a defective amp and out of $$ in the purchase, maintenance, gas to have it serviced, etc.  Shame on them if this is in fact, true.  I have no way to find out.  I have asked but no answers from anyone.  Odd, no one even has this SN under my ownership which kinda indicates it was sent from the back room and no traceability.  Perhaps for a reason?
 
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K3VAT
Member

Posts: 756




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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2014, 09:50:28 PM »

There were several fairly recent threads on the ACOM 1000 which will provide you with more info.

Just use the Forum Search Engine http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php?action=search.
NOTE: this is the first place one should go as a large majority of newly posted topics have been widely covered.

But be advised that there is a somewhat lengthy waiting list for the ACOMs (including the new SS amp) - if you do decide, call Jay at Array Solutions to be put on the list.

GL, 73, Rich, K3VAT
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W7ARX
Member

Posts: 470




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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2014, 04:25:52 PM »

I already have an ACOM and believe it was a used unit sold as NEW per ACOM direct.  Yes, have emailed Jay about it and never heard back.  So, left wondering...
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KE2TR
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Posts: 190




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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 11:13:55 AM »

I own a Acom 1000, its about 4 years old and is in mint condition, bought it used a few months back and it was originally from Array  Solutions when new. On the used market they hold there price and for a little more money a good used 1000 could be had for around  $2k and most are in excellent condition. There design dating back when Acom was not even a amp company but they built the Alpha 91B's back in the 90ies is very much the same except only one tube, smaller xfmr but a great PiL tank that will load into 3:1 SWR, very quiet, fast vacum relay, excellent protection, plain and simple they are built like Alpha's and it will do a solid KW out plus a little more but it will not make much difference between this amp and an amp running 1500W. The smaller amps are also very good but if you want an amp to do SSB,CW and RTTY contests the 1000 would be IMO the best of the pack. I sold a KW solid state amp before I picked this amp up and loved the instant band changing but SS amps need close to a 50 ohm load all the time were this amp is more forgiving of SWR, yes I miss the SS but this amp  tunes fast and just make a cheat sheet for fast band changes if you need it. I used this amp this past weekend during the CQWW SSB contest for 30+ hours without issues and in the dead of night when I hit the wrong antenna, had the band switch in the wrong band or my SWR was way high cause I use an antenna tuner on some bands it just went into protect mode until I corrected what I did wrong. I really don't think the tube has any issues and even at $300+ for a new one just price out an Eimac 3CX800 new or the ones made in China, they are still bucks up over the 4CX800. I know many an Alpha 91B owner who drive the crap out of a pair of these tubes at over 2.4 out so this tube run wright at around a KW will last a long time. As far as the scuttle but about the tetrodes not being as clean as the triodes just read the QST reviews of the Acom amp's, there 3rd and 5th order IMD numbers are extremely good. The tube is very easy to drive and the input is padded so around 60-70m will drive it to a KW so your radio doesn't need to run full bore just to get some output and the standard 100W rigs will be cleaner. If you have one of the big Yaesu's that will do 75W in class A then you will squeaky clean IMD. If you wanna have a big signal on six then the 1000 is the way to go, I have only tryed that band but it makes a big difference but I only run a low band antenna there. I used this amp on 10mtrs during a sunday run and it was loading into a 2:1 SWR for hours (40mtr Loop) with no problems and ended up with over 500Q's on that band. Yes I would recommend the Acom 1000, great amp.
Jim
KE2TR
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W7ARX
Member

Posts: 470




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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2014, 09:33:57 AM »

I think basically, they are nice amps.  I am just mystified why mine was so problemmatic and why no one would be up front about the replacement serial number I received.  Too many little "problems" for an amp over $2500 and certainly, a concern if in fact this was a previously owned amp sold as new to me.  Oh well. 

Will try and maintain it myself.  Silence sometimes speaks volumes.
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W3RSW
Member

Posts: 170




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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2014, 10:47:56 AM »

Disclaimer of legal advice since I'm a layman, but a lawsuit may be able to chronologically line up sales, transactions, repairs , refurbished and new by serial number in the discovery process. Competent attorneys keep digging. Conditions of Settlement may be sudden and surprising. "Loss or confusion of records" and other obfuscation may be interesting from the settlement perspective too.
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