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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.
More info:
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ON8VP Rating: 5/5 Feb 24, 2017 07:10 Send this review to a friend
3 times statisfied  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Collected my SPE 1.3KA last January, connected to a Flex 6500 via a genuine USB hardware cable and pointed out the exciter power limits in the Flex destinated CAT set up. The 1.3 KA, just as my 2 previous SPE amplifiers, works as advertized. No spurious peaks on my panadapter , no HF returns whatever! Full automtic, 100 % ready and safe to be used by a dummy.
This amplifier is very easy to command trough the remote on your pc screen. Easy 1500 W output in CW.
My SPE 1.3 KA and Flex 6500 signature , a great combo for DX chasers, ragchewers and contesters.
I will take 2 SPE 1.3 KA with me on my DXpedition to Märket Reef EU-053 beginning of July 2017.

Peter ON8VP
W7MH Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2017 12:52 Send this review to a friend
Big power in a small package  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The SPE Expert 1.3K-FA is a legal limit amp in a very small package! I opted for the tuner delete and use an external Palstar HF-AUTO tuner. XCVR is Yaesu FT-5000D so I also had Dan make up a "Y" cable to interface all three! Maximum exciter power used is 35 watts with an ALC connection.
Bob, the SPE Expert dealer in Texas, is top-notch in answering questions and service.
Every amp is tested for 24 hours before shipping to the customer.
AF7EL Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2017 09:16 Send this review to a friend
Best amp and customer service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just received my SPE Expert 1.3-FA amplifier and couldn't be happier. With the excellent customer service of Dan "The Cable Man", my Yaesu FTDX3000, SteppIR DB-32, PC, and SPE 1.3-FA all auto tracts perfectly. Customer service after the sale is very important and they excell at it. That amplifier is remarkable and does EVERYTHING it advertises to do. It is great.
K4ELO Rating: 5/5 Jan 13, 2017 13:29 Send this review to a friend
Super Amp  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Love this amplifier. My 40M loop has about 1.5:1 swr but the amp easily puts 1300w with about 32w drive to it no problem. With headphones on I never hear the fans when transmitting. In standby without the phones on I can't even hear the fans. As others have said the manual could be more complete but once you experiment with the menu settings it's not hard to figure out. Bought the model without the ATU. Just use my Palstar AT-Auto when needed and it works fine. My advice is to buy without the ATU even if you need to buy an outboard tuner. More versatile setup. The connectors on the back are quite closely spaced so you will need someone who does not have fat fingers to make the connections.
Overall I am very happy with the amp. When they say fully automatic they mean it.
HS0ZIA Rating: 5/5 Nov 23, 2016 01:11 Send this review to a friend
Very nice  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Very good performance through several contests at mid power setting. There was no wait to get one at Maxxcom, their agent in Hong Kong, and the customer service was outstanding.
K5ML Rating: 5/5 Nov 13, 2016 01:15 Send this review to a friend
The Best Amplifier in a Small Package  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
For almost a year I read about 1.3K-FA with great interest as well as its big brother, the 2.4K-FA. What deterred me from ordering one was the very long wait to get one in the USA.

Then I learned two very interesting things:

First, the 1.3K-FA runs legal limit and weighs less than half as much as the 2.4K-FA. I got that information from a friend who had received his 1.3K-FA after a 10-month wait. The 1.3K is also about $2,000 cheaper than its big brother.

Second, I heard a US ham on 20 meters say that he had gotten his 1.3K-FA in a week by ordering it from Australia. I got the name of the Australian distributor, RF Solutions and sent them an e-mail asking if they had any in stock. In less than an hour I got a reply that they had them in stock, ready to ship and quoted me a price. The price was right, I ordered one and it arrived about 10 days later along with a set of CAT cables for my IC-7600. Carsten Pederson at RF Solutions promptly answered all of my questions and provided great service. He is a class act.

It took me the better part of an afternoon to setup and learn how to program the amplifier and antenna tuner. The amplifier has worked flawlessly in the 4+ months I have owned it. Twenty watts of drive provides 1.5 KW out on almost all bands. On 40 meters it takes 25 watts. The amplifier is unbelievably quiet. It has more than enough protection circuitry to make it totally idiot proof. If the internal temperature gets too high, it cuts back to medium power. If the SWR or the drive is too high, it automatically switches to standby. The protection circuitry keeps me so much on the straight and narrow that I suspect a Catholic school nun may have designed it in the nearby Vatican. It puts up with no foolishness.

My friend Steve, W4YHD is a very accomplished RF engineer. He sent me this video of a power transistor very similar or identical to the one used in the SPE 1.3K-FA. I was amazed:

As others have mentioned, the auto-tuner is somewhat restrictive due to the physical size of the amplifier. Folks, let’s be reasonable. They can only fit that much power, an internal power supply and so much auto tuner into such a small package weighing less than 21 lbs. However, It tunes my K4KIO hex beam on all bands from 20 through 10 meters with no trouble. On 6 meters it tunes the hex beam from 50.00 – 50.480. I also have a ZeroFive non-resonant vertical that I use on 40 through 10 meters. When using the vertical, I bypass the auto tuner in the 1.3K and use a Dentron MT-2000A manual tuner. The SPE is so small and light that I have it sitting atop the Dentron tuner.

On 2 occasions I had questions about the amplifier, believing something had malfunctioned. I e-mailed SPE and got replies from Gianfranco and Marco in less than a day. In both cases the problem was not with the amplifier but something that I was not aware of.

There is an upside and a downside to buying the amplifier from out of the country as I did. The upside is that it doesn’t have the 15 db. pad required by the FCC that limits the output. Hopefully that antiquated rule will soon be set aside. The downside is that if anything goes wrong with the amplifier during the 2-year warranty period, it needs to be shipped back to the distributor where it was purchased to honor the warranty. I was willing to take the risk to reduce the waiting period. As for the price, the price from Australia in US dollars plus shipping and insurance was slightly less than the US price. However had the amplifier been readily available in the US without the wait, I would have ordered it from the US distributor. At my age I don’t buy green bananas.

In summary, if you are looking for the most watts per dollar in an amplifier, there are less expensive options. But if you want the most watts per pound in a totally automatic, self-contained, state-of-the-art amplifier, get one. It’s a great value for the money and you’ll love it.
NO9E Rating: 5/5 Nov 12, 2016 07:53 Send this review to a friend
Game changer for DXpeditions  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This amp is wonderful for dxpeditions. I used it at CE0Y/NO9E and ZS5/NO9E. Big difference from 100W as nearly all stations that are heard reply, no matter how high and what the antenna. Lightweight at about 10 kg and compact to fit an airplane overhead compartment. Automatic 110/220V power supply eliminating possibility of fatal mistakes. After mods, full KW when driven by KX3. With endfed EFHW4010HP (40-20-15-10) or 8010 (80-10) + 12m spiderbeam pole, a complete KW station weighing only 20 kg. Fully automatic with cables from Dan Tassel. 4 output antenna connections to have choices with one possibly designated as receive only. That receive connection can be very useful when sites with power are noisy but a separate antenna can be positioned away from the noise. Slight RFI from PS but well above local noise where I used it. ATU sometimes has trouble matching at 5 W but multiple efforts always successful. On some bands automatic change from MAX to MID probably due to voltage sag.

One needs to be careful with input drive for SSB operation as the power meter in 1.3k is not peak and overdriving is easy. My way was applying CW low power and extrapolating to 1.0-1.2 KW. If 1 W input CW generates 150 W output, set the driving power to 8 W max.

When stationary, the amp could stand a few fixes. The fans are pretty loud to me even in standby so no operation without headphones unless the amp is at a distance. No full CAT control. But compared to Expert 2k-fa, much more accurate SWR meter at low power and better matching at low power.
AA6VB Rating: 5/5 Nov 11, 2016 08:27 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Amplifier   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Let me begin by saying I give the amplifier a rating of "5" and the tuner, should you select that option, a "2" because it "needs help".

This little amp is a gem. Fit and finish, and construction quality - to all outward appearances - is excellent. It works as advertised in all respects. No tune, no warm up, automatic band switching, and automatic antenna selection of up to 4 antennas. I have no trouble getting 1.3 KW output and assume it will do more but don't see the point of stressing the unit. I love the fact it is light and portable, controls up to 4 antennas, and works with two radios, all automatically.

The fans are quiet in standby but a bit loud for my taste at full output. The temperature rises (as one would expect) when running full power but cools down "very" fast after the transmission stops.

Lots of useful information on the screen, such as output, voltage, current, tuned SWR and SWR on the output side of the amplifier which is nice to know.

One thing to keep in mind, and I don't consider this a fault, is that the amp will only tolerate an SWR of 1.6/1 before an alarm sounds, so be prepared with resonant antennas or get the optional tuner (more on that below)

I highly recommend the control cables made by Dan Tassell, which makes the installation process simple and less tedious.

The tuner has a limited range and simply WILL NOT tune my beam at the low end of 15 meters even though the SWR is no more than 2.5/1, nor will it tune my 1/4 wave 80 meter vertical on 30 meters where it is nearly a 5/8 wave and has an SWR of just over 2/1. (My Elecraft KAT500 had no trouble whatsoever handling these conditions.) The shortcomings of the tuner are not unique to me, as other hams have mentioned difficulties with their tuners.

The manual lacks clarity in some respects and is missing some needed information, such as how to save tuner settings when tuning in manual mode, but the Yahoo Group is very helpful.

There is a recent Eham review of the SPE 1.3K which shows that the power supply generates spurious signals into the receiver every 39 kc on 80 meters and other bands (but only when the ATU is engaged) in the reviewer's unit. The problem is apparently due to a batch of defective parts used in "some" but not all, power supplies.

Here is the link to the YouTube Video:

I tested my unit (which is only a few weeks old) exactly as the reviewer tested his, and I have no such issue (I only tested 80 meters).

Anyway, as far as the amp goes, it's wonderful so I rate the amplifier itself as a solid "5".



SM6ENG Rating: 3/5 Nov 11, 2016 02:06 Send this review to a friend
This amp generates spurioses into the receiver.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This power amplifier generates spuriouses into the receiver. This can under some circumstances degrade RX performance when you are listning on very week signals. The amount/level of the spuriouses depends somewhat on how you use the power amplifier but this also differs between different units. The impact is of course also dependent of the noise levels on the bands. The problem is demonstrated in a video on YouTube. Use the link below.

73 de SM6ENG
N2RJ Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2016 08:32 Send this review to a friend
Very nice amp, innovative features  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just absolutely love this amp. It is so small and compact and not noisy at all, except when the fans are running full speed. Even then it is not as loud as most tube amps. There is no warm up period, just switch it on and operate. I get 1.5kW easily but I prefer to run the amp at 1kW.

The tuner is the only weak point but in this compact package I don't expect a wide range legal limit autotuner. It matches up to about 3:1 SWR, similar to the built in tuner in most modern rigs.

SO2R is possible with a dedicated receive antenna port which switches the inactive rig to it.

I have the non-US version which requires very little drive power. If you buy the US version from the US dealer it will have an attenuator at the input to bring it into compliance with the FCC 15dB gain rule.
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