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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Ameritron AL-80 Help

Reviews Summary for Ameritron AL-80
Ameritron AL-80 Reviews: 10 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $700.00
Description: Compact HF Linear Amplifier
Product is in production.
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PA9H Rating: 4/5 Feb 19, 2013 09:06 Send this review to a friend
Nice amp!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After a few years I decided buying an amp for HF. A second hand AL-80 showed up and became mine. Happy with it so far. Previous owners did some undefinable work in it. The relay was treated with contact oil and failed function due to that. Therefore I replaced the relay by another one. This time a closed type. Working excellent after this modification. The tuning capacitor had a killing meltingspot due to misoperation.
This had to be grinded away to obtain the original gap yielding the max. arcingvoltage again. Although the cabinet has received some severe punishment and the bandswitch was abused, it's still working great, giving 700W TX power key down. The 3-500Z tube looks nice, performs even better. Overall the amp has a small footprint for stout power. It's quiet as well. At least good to start with even as it has had a rough life previous. The only thing is it's poor fabrication quality. Leads running all over the place and high voltage lead with dangerous thin insulation wilst running over sharp cabinet edges. This one I replaced by a supreme 10kV rated high voltage cable the way from the rectifier to the feedingpoint near the tube. However repair was needed, it remains a great amp!
K8DGL Rating: 5/5 Oct 6, 2006 10:24 Send this review to a friend
Nice and compact.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Really small package but still layed out so you can work on it. Stout transformer should last and last. Can get more than 700 watts output with no problem. Fan noise was reduced by adding Dynamat pads to inside of cabinet. No wonder they are so popular.
KI4INB Rating: 4/5 Jun 5, 2006 05:55 Send this review to a friend
Back To Basics  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought mine in January. I am very pleased. It is modified for 12 and 17 meters. It maxes out at around 500-600 watts on most bands, but I can get almost 900 watts on 40 meters. I had to replace the original internal fan recently. With this amplifier I have been able to work stations that I would notmally not be able to as I only have a vertical antenna. Reports gnerally give me a 3 or more S-unit difference. I like the AL-80 and wish they would bring back this version with a little more power. It matches very well with my ICOM746PRO.
W9DJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 10, 2003 13:23 Send this review to a friend
Great Bang for Buck  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned an AL-80A since 1990. I have the same tube, and it's never been repaired except for cleaning the T/R relay once in a while. I usually run it at about 700 watts out indicated, although on some bands it will only put out 500 or so. I try to keep the plate current at about 400 ma, and the grid current at around 150 ma. No bangs, pops, or other weirdness. It, like most things, likes to see a good match. I run it on 120 vac. Yes, I'd probably like an Alpha more, but this one is just fine.
KE5UT Rating: 5/5 Apr 27, 2003 00:17 Send this review to a friend
Good Amplifier  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have an AL-80A for little more than 6 months now. It is in pristine condition with an original EIMAC in it with low hours. Easy to tune, predictable to re-tune. About 1100 watts out max within grid and plate current ratings, as measured by a Bird on 80-20 meters, 950 watts out on 15 meters, and 850 watts on 10 meters, all with about 75 watts of drive, although I seldom push it that hard on any of the bands. The fan is quiet. Nothing fancy - no QSK - but it does have current inrush protection, and a forgiving, single 3-500Z. For what it is, I am pleased with this amplifier.
KB0FHP Rating: 5/5 Oct 5, 2002 23:03 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought an AL-80A amp on Ebay, and paid less then what I would pay for most amps used. I met the gentleman and picked up the amp, so I wouldn't have to deal with shipping. After dealing with putting in a new 220VAC line for the amp, and hoking it up, I have been well pleased. It is quiet, and turns my vertical from a dummy load to at least somewhat competitive. Amp loads well, and puts out 1K all the time from 60-70 watts. Well worth getting. Now if I can just figure out how to get a tower in my small yard.....
K6SDW Rating: 4/5 Jul 31, 2002 20:29 Send this review to a friend
Stable, reliable amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
Great, reliable amp! My only problem is on 15 meters, doesn't want to produce full output. Heard from others that have trouble on 15 meters as well. Could have to do with swamping resistor. A must run on 220v, however....

K0WA Rating: 4/5 May 12, 2001 12:45 Send this review to a friend
My Experience  Time owned: more than 12 months
Well, here we go again with BANGs and POPs in an amplifier. I am fully aware of all the issues surrounding the parasitic debate. I've never had that happen to me the 5 years I've owned my used AL80A. Never has it one BANGed or POPed. Why? I load it differently. Many people load their amps way to "light" and I found that loading an amp (any amp) a little "heavy" it takes care of some of those problems. I proved this to myself (which really counts) with an old SB220 I had. Loaded light it would BANG and POP. Loaded heavy it never did and it had the stock suppressors in it. I did take out the grid crap and just grounded the grids and did much of the other usefull stuff as mentioned in a whole bunch of articles by a whole bunch of "experts." The 220 worked very well.

I must agree on the strange instructions to load the AL80A to 550 mills on SSB and let it go. I've never done that and will not when all the liturature says 400 mills max. Now, back several decades ago, I knew a guy who ran his 220 at 1 amp and got away with it for years. It just ran the crud out it. Getting back to the 80A, the amp is really fine if it is fed and watered correctly. I usually run it around 500 watts on CW and around 600 watts PEP as indicated on my PEP watt meter. It has given me flawless operation. - K0WA - Lee
N0SP Rating: 4/5 May 12, 2001 10:49 Send this review to a friend
A great amp AFTER you solve a few problems with the design.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently had the opportunity to purchase an AL-80A for eventual sale to
another ham friend of mine. One thing that was troubling began happening
right away.. approx. 2 or 3 times in a few hours of operating. At various
times while transmitting a loud firecracker-like "BANG" would go off in the
amp. At first I thought it was an arc in the plate capacitor. Several
inspections and cleaning sessions yielded no relief. Then I happened to be
looking at the amp once when it blew. The grid current meter slammed so
hard against the pin I thought it would bend.. THAT was the clue. This was
a powerful VHF parasitic causing the trouble. So I re-designed the stock
parasitic suppressor with a design that Richard, AG6K, has talked about in
some QST articles and his website. He also sells a kit to fix the problem..
very inexpensive, something like $7 or $17.. can't remember, but WELL worth
it. After the installation of the new parasitic suppressor there has not
been a single "pop" in some 20 or 30 hours of operating.
Let me mention some other pitfalls one is likely to experience with
this amp if they follow the manufacturer's instructions... It troubles me
that the manual from Ameritron (really MFJ) tells the operator to tune up
the amp to a condition that substantially exceeds the ratings on the 3-500Z
tube! These tubes, when operated according to Eimac specs, should give 20
years and thousands of hours of service. This will NOT be the case if you
tune it up like MFJ tells you to. MFJ says to load it up to 550 mils plate
current yielding about 1000 watts out. The Eimac data sheet for the 3-500Z
clearly places the maximum rating at 400 mils. Also, when tuned to this
excessive condition the grid current will exceed the limit and you will be
driving the tube out of linearity. The real way to operate this amp would
be to increase drive power to the level where the plate current dip is at
400 mils. This is around 65 watts from the exciter if the 3-500Z is healthy. Then limit your
absolute voice peaks to the 65 watt level. This will produce about 750
watts peak output, long life of the tube, and clean operation. A
peak-reading wattmeter is very helpful. These numbers assume approx. 3,100
volt on the plate and 220 volt operation. I recommend using 220 if
possible. The high voltage regulation is a bit better.
One other thing you might check is filament voltage applied to the tube.
With the cover off the amp attach two probes to the filament contacts on the
socket and use a good DVM to read the A.C. voltage. It should be 4.8 volts.
If it is much higher, over about 5 volts, you'll experience substantial
reduction in the life of the tube. A 3 to 5% increase will shorten the tube
life by roughly half. This amp was at 5.0 volts. I'm adding a few inches
of smallish wire in the filament circuit to introduce some added resistance
to reduce it a bit. But some operators have found much higher heater
voltage in their amps. With 5.1 or higher I would fix this without delay.
One note.. BE CAREFUL when reading filament voltage. Use an alligator clip
to attach the leads and read it remotely. DO NOT attempt to hold the leads
by hand. You're very close to the high voltage lead if you do. You will
have to defeat the cover safety switch to make the measurement.
With these things in mind the amp will give good service for many years.
I have a Heathkit SB-1000 which is the same design. I've had it 12 years
with the original tube. It shows no signs of stress or discoloration. The
very useful information on AG6K's website shows how to correct these
problems in linear amplifiers. These were incorporated in my SB-1000 when I
first got it and it has been trouble-free ever since. His website is:
These amps are a good investment and provide output only 3db below the
maximum legal limit with about 8db less dollars than the big amps. You
should be able to find a used one in good condition in the $500 range.
They're easy to work on... just ignore the operating instructions and apply
the limits Eimac recommends and you'll be happy with it.
One note.. using a new 600 watt variant of the 3-500Z that is being
offered by some is NOT a solution to the excessive rating problems. This
new tube may last a bit longer at the 550 mil tuning conditon but you will
still be operating out of linearity. Other operating paramaters have to be
changed to preserve clean output. Simply increasing the plate current does
not get it done. An amplifier re-design would be necessary.
73 and have fun with the amp... after you make the changes!
KG5BV Rating: 4/5 Aug 3, 2000 12:20 Send this review to a friend
Good product.  Time owned: more than 12 months
This was Ameritrons first product. A single Eimac 3-500Z in a small desktop package for $ 699.00 (in 1984). I had to have one! I sent off my check, and a week later it arrived. Packed like a tank, bolted to a piece of 1/2" plywood, tube shipped seperately. I got it on the air in time for field day! Worked great.
Weak points? It was said to be "full QSK capable". So was my Drake TR-5, but between CW characters the TR-5 receiver would oscillate. The "QSK module" in the amp was really a capacitive voltage divider connected between the input and output jacks! Disconnected it, and the TR-5 was happy. Cheezy. And during extended operation, the cabinet gets HOT! I never experienced failure due to the heat, but other operators told me of melted solder dripping from the tube pins, and one even blew the tube and the plate choke! Guess they pushed theirs harder than I did.
And it's compact alright! When you have to work on it, it is so tight (especially in the power supply) that you must remove the transformer to do anything! Royal pain. But it never required much work. Other than disconnecting the "QSK module", I added the factory supplied 10 meter kit, and replaced a noisy fan and the 3-500Z tube a few years back. The Eimac tube was still going strong, but I replaced it just on principle and use it as a spare.
I still see one for sale every now and then. If you are looking for a good basic amp that will give you good service (don't push it too hard, contesters beware!), I highly recommend it.

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