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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | SPE Expert 1.3K - FA Help

Reviews Summary for SPE Expert 1.3K - FA
SPE Expert 1.3K - FA Reviews: 40 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $3250 euro
Description: Solid state linear amplifier, up to 1.5 KW, the world's
lightest. fully automatic, perfect in the shack,
irreplaceable in the DXexpedition.

High reliability, just one LD Mosfet used. Switching power
supply and ATU inside.
Product is in production.
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G4PWO Rating: 5/5 Aug 4, 2017 08:49 Send this review to a friend
Excellent   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this amp for it's high gain (24dB in the EU version), meaning my 10W KX2 can drive it to full power, and for it's high power to weight ratio (about 140W/Kg) making it easy to take with me on my travels - I don't think this amplifier has much competition in those two areas currently. I don't really need all the power (especially as we are only allowed up to 400W here in the UK) although even when looking at lower power alternatives I could not find anything as small and light with the required gain.

It's a great amplifier, mine just works perfectly with no funny foibles that I've found so far, even at sustained high power levels it never gets particularly hot. It's not intended for full power use at a (RTTY or digimode) 100% duty cycle, but who needs a KW of RTTY? It's SSB where such power may be needed and it works perfectly for that, and I suspect this design choice is one of the things which has kept the amplifier small and light, so I think it's a good choice.

The inbuilt ATU only covers up to about 3.5:1 SWR, enough to bring the vagaries of a resonant portable antenna installation into a decent match but not enough to tune up random lengths of wire.

It also seems well built mechanically, mine just survived a return trip to the Maldives as checked baggage, judging by the marks on it's Pelican iM2620 case, baggage handling did not pay much heed to the "fragile" stickers, my amp is still working perfectly though!

According to one review, the IMD performance is not fantastic at 1.3KW, the reviewer noted that the performance was improved at 1KW or below - I certainly think it's a bad idea to drive it to it's maximum (1.5KW) on SSB, and in dB terms you are losing almost nothing meaningful by throttling it back to 1KW anyway.
DL1MEV Rating: 5/5 Jul 25, 2017 07:42 Send this review to a friend
A great progress  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
When chasing dx on different bands the fiddling around with the band switch, plate and load controls can be annoying so a modern solid -state PA with qsk appeared on my wish - list. Sure, putting the amp is a good deal of work first, but the operational comfort is unbeatable. Connecting the amp to the Elecraft K3 took some time reading the manuals of both first. Because of the high gain only qrp- power-levels are needed for drive.

Some rigs, whose power cannot be controlled exactly like the IC-7300, are not recommended in the 1.3k - manual.

Some complain that the user- interface may seem a little bit outdated but the safety of operation is more important than fancy frills. Neither the rig nor the amp is connected here with a internet- PC because of the danger of viruses.

Until now the amp with built-in atu works fine. There are no interferences from the switches psu. Sure it is not a cheap linear but really worth the money.
VK5SA Rating: 5/5 Jul 14, 2017 22:28 Send this review to a friend
Versatile and foolproof  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
My station is a 6-band hex beam, trapped 30/40m dipole and 80/160 via a 10m wire and SG-230 ATU.
The transceiver is an IC-7600, and the interface was simple and fast.
The hex is flat enough over 20/17/15/12 so I bypass the SPE internal ATU for those bands.
I use the ATU for 10, as I work CW and FM, so the hex won't cover the whole range, and the ATU does.
I also use the ATU for 6m to cover CW and SSB.
Since it's simple line flattener, I did not expect it to tune up to the FM part of 6m, and it doesn't.
The SPE auto-switches to the trapped dipole when I select 30/40m.
It's wide enough to cover all of 30m so I bypass the ATU for 30m, but I use the ATU to cover all of 40m.
The 10m wire and SG ATU are on antenna input 1 on the 7600, and the SPE yells at me and locks me out if I forget to switch there and try to transmit on 80/160 through the SPE.
This all happens automagically, and the set-up was really quick.
SPE has some beta firmware that lets you reduce power on the low power setting to the VK 400W limit, and it also works as advertised.
Working at this power level means that the temperature only goes up a few degrees after long QSOs, and the fan noise is minimal.
Using AGC to control the output power is a no-brainer.
We are limited to 120W for CW and RTTY, and 400W for SSB.
That means that I leave the amp off for CW and RTTY, and put out 100W, which is close enough.
Go SSB and turn on the amp and I see 400W without having to do anything else at the transceiver.
The insertion loss on the pocket was quite high, but the performance is stellar, and I am looking forward to a possible increase in allowable power here.
Local support (RF Solutions) is great.
IT9SEV Rating: 5/5 Jul 10, 2017 14:42 Send this review to a friend
Simply the best choice  Time owned: more than 12 months
The choice for this linear amplifier is because it is all automatic with an input for 2 different transceivers and output for 4 different antennas. The amplifier has 4 functions: 1) amplifier, 2) switch, 3) tuner (optional), 4) watt and rosmeter meter. All in a truly reduced space with a weight of 7.5 Kg. A 1.3 KW full power with a much lower absorption (about half) than a valve amplifier. In fact, the maximum power absorbs about 2.0KW of current, which for a 3.0KW home counter are ideal for the best absorption at reduced energy costs. It is equipped with a single robust component of the LD MOS power class AB. It is equipped with many protection circuits including the tuner it is almost impossible to blend the LD MOS. It is very quiet and has good ventilation. It's perfect and I recommend using the cat to have no problems. The assistance is also a good one, a very knowledgeable and always helpful laboratory to give advice on the use or any problems you may encounter to get it started. Worth all the money you spend to buy it and I highly recommend buying it. I always use it with minimum power in ssb, but when I want to push the maximum power, the amplifier heats in the standard but does not overheat. In RTTY or AM or where I was really good, for me the best!
N4DCD Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2017 07:08 Send this review to a friend
Best amp ever  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have had many amps, tubes and solid state. This amp has been a gem, cooling is great and very quiet. Nice small package and can be taken to a field day with ease. At full power I see near 1.5kw and the temp has not gone over 45c. If you thinking about getting one, pull the trigger, you wont be sorry. I know there are ham's out there that look down on solid state, they are stuck in the past. Get over the fact you don't see a glow in a box heating your shack.
SP7IDX Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2017 02:14 Send this review to a friend
Small, quiet, perfect! Absolutely GREAT !  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I finally retired my tube ALPIN 100MKII i ALPHA and bought a 1.3K-FA, I have to say that this amp is the smartest thing I have done. It is very small, very light, very quiet and very fast :) has very large and A readable LCD is a huge cannon giving you a powerful power of over 1600W! It's crazy! It's crazy! It's crazy!

I use it in my home QTH, I will take SPE 1.3K-FA with me on small IOTA DXpedition.
I waited a year for this little kid to get me home but it was worth the wait!
1. Very high quality physical construction
2. Intuitive software interface
3. Excellent support from selling dealer
4. Automatic protective features, protects your investment
5. Very well conceived and evolved design, including all interfaces
6. Padded and fitted carrying case for transport to field locations
7. Power supply is flexible and automatic as to AC primary or mains supply
8. ATU is effective and remembers tune parameters for your favorite frequencies

I very pleased with the SPE 1.3K-FA !
Congratulations EXPERT Team.
N7BD Rating: 5/5 Apr 10, 2017 03:30 Send this review to a friend
N7BD - A perfect amp for me  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Last December I decided I wanted the new Expert Amp 1.3K-FA. Given the fact I’ve had substantial radio costs this year due to a faulty 2nd hand antenna purchase, I needed to sell “something” to stay fiscally neutral. (XYL requirements) In the attempt to stay off the well-worn path to the “Dog House”, I agreed.

Enter Bob Hardie (W5UQ) into the picture. As Bob stated, “We're a customer friendly company.” They have lived up to that statement and then some! What a deal … no payment or deposit until ready for shipment. I immediately placed my Alpha 9500 up for sale and, one week from scheduled amp arrival into the USA, the Alpha sold.
I ordered the interface cables from Dan, KC5PCB, who indicated they would be placed in the box with the amp … and they were, before my check even cleared!

Bottom line: Bob and his company are quality people who do exactly as promised and my, what an amp the 1.3K-FA is! I’m completely satisfied with it and it performs equal to or better than advertised on all bands. BTW, I’ve not missed the Alpha 9500 one time! The CAT connection provides perfect control through my ICOM IC-7300.
N4DCD Rating: 5/5 Apr 2, 2017 18:50 Send this review to a friend
Buy one! Fantastic amp!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have had many amps tubes and solid state. This amp is one the best all around. I have had some big amps (over 2,5k) but legal limit is more than enough and this amp is the one to have. Low IMD, instant on and no more than 30 watts in will yield you 1500W. Buy one...
VK4SX Rating: 5/5 Mar 25, 2017 21:23 Send this review to a friend
Excellent experience  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ok I did submit a review back in FEB 2015, but failed to save correctly, I have already left a 5 rating review on this SPE 1.3 KFA amplifier,
but I feel the need to do so again, I have had the 1.3 K FA EUROPEAN DESIGN (NO ATT) amp here since JAN/FEB 2015, and use mostly with ELAD FDM DUO & K3-(S) both LOW power devices, with the K3 POWER BY BAND,( Both ELAD & K3 = NO ALC)
I have also used the 1.3 K FA with IC-7300, FTDX3K, FT1000MPMKV,
I also am not an EX-SPURT, nor a design compentent Techo in SS LDMOS design, but what I do know is that from reading documents relating to the LDMOS device used in the SPE 1.3 KFA, that it is a robust device, youtube vids on high reflected power, grounding the device under load, still alive, BUT, RF OVER DRIVE WILL KILL IT DEAD, VERY VERY QUICKLY, if you have an exciter with NO working ALC connection, and apply 17w DRIVE, I would expect the LDMOS device to die,
17w rf drive with ALC, YES ok, NO ALC, NO WORKY AMP,
the units huge amount of safety features are useless if the cable isn't connected, ,or the exciter has no ALC option?
I understand Gianfranco has tried to PROOF his range of RF Amplifiers, he has done a wonderful job on the complete range,
but any RF above 10ws drive on any band into a EUROPEAN SPE 1.3 KFA ( NO ALC) is just looking for
I have polished my crystal ball, and it tells me, plenty more dead RF power devices from over drive in the future,
absolutely wonderful product, I had a Near New ACOM 1500 (SEPT 2012) the onset of severe bouts of rheumatoid in both hands, prompted the leap to the Dark Side of SS LDMOS RF power amplifiers, and I couldn't be more happier,
my advice to early shooters of the EU SPE 1.3, was if they DIDN'T HAVE ALC working connection, to use a BIRD 6db inline attenuator on RF in, until they became used to the extremely high gain produced,
my good friends CEO told me the other day,
BAD News & innuendo is TWICE around the globe, BEFORE Good News & Facts puts on it's boots,

Dennis vk4sx
KJ8KJ Rating: 3/5 Mar 12, 2017 15:54 Send this review to a friend
NOT as full proof as advertised!.   Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have not written many reviews for products. Mainly because I have a very busy life, but I appreciate the effort other users have taken to take the time for a solid review of a product. I feel obliagated to report the problems I have had with my new SPE 1.3K-FA that I purchased new from MLS in the UK. I received the amp new after waiting over my 7 months from time of initial order. It came, and indeed, I recommend reading the included directions that are on the CD and online. I say this because SPE recommends it strongly, and I figured if they went out of their way to state this repeatedly there must be a reason. So obviously given my lower rating of this amp, I must have had a problem, but I will assure anyone reading this that the problem was NOT user error. Despite SPE stating it was. Essentially what happened, was after spending hours reading the manual and a couple more hours "tuning" the rig to my Flex 6700, I enjoyed the use of the amp for about 3 months when suddenly the amp would no longer "amplify" my RF from the 6700. This is a VERY efficient amplifier. Since it is not a USA restricted 15dB product, I was able to get the 1.2 to 1.3 kW, very easily from 5 watts to 15 watts depending on frequency. (Lower HF frequencies only required 5-7 watts and the Higher HF frequencies on 15 and 10 meters required up to 15 watts to get the maximum 1.3 kW). My MAIN PROBLEM and the reason I would STRONGLY recommend buyer beware from SPE is NOT the quality of the amp. My main problem is that while the amp did display "warnings" of the very aggressive "protection" circuitry, and indeed, since the earlier Flex SDR software did not allow for USB direct radio to amp connection AND the Flex 6700 has NO direct ALC control, the protection circuitry on 4 or 5 occasions came to the rescue if I was putting in too much RF input (the MOST I ever imputed was 17 watts once on 10meters). Hardly a severe issue, if one considers the self advertised "protection circuitry" from SPE. HOWEVER, I found that I had blown the MOSFET finals after sending it first to MLS, who then is required to send it to Rome, to SPE. The rig should be under full 100% warranty. But, SPE refused to honor the repair, stating "owner abuse". Despite documentation of the failsafe circuitry kicking in those few times, and the fact that if 17 watts on 10 meters for a few seconds as "owner abuse" , then I don't even know how to respond to that. My main problem is that while they did offer to "pay for the labor", they would not pay for the MOSFET finals, thus I was out over $1,250 counting the round trip shipping, plus the labor repair job.
Hats off to MLS, and Steve V., who is one of the MLS service coordinators. I don't want to put him on the spot, but he genuinely supported my view, and my position during this endeavor, and he did go to bat for me with SPE, but to no avail.
I therefore, must give a 3 star for this amp. Had they merely repaired it under warranty, I would give the amp a 4 out of 5, because even though it performs very well for what it is, a very lightweight and advanced solid state HF amp, capable of near legal limit for a few minutes at a time. But, there protection circuitry is NOT capable of preventing the finals from burning up, even from an owner who not only cares about his equipment, but also who is very gently with his equipment. I am no expert, but I KNOW I did NOT abuse that amp, but I am glad I got it back. BUT BEWARE OF SPE and them NOT honoring their warranties!
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