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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Alpha 89 Help


Reviews Summary for Alpha 89
Alpha 89 Reviews: 30 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $3995.00
Description: The Ultimate Manually-Tuned Linear Amplifier
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.rfconcepts.com
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K4IJ Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2013 21:04 Send this review to a friend
Good Amp  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was looking to replace my old SB220 when a friend suggested the Alpha 89. I was familiar with Alpha's quality so I found one. Let me say this far exceeds the 220 beast and is enjoyable to operate.
 
N7TVV Rating: 5/5 Jul 14, 2012 17:02 Send this review to a friend
Great Performance and Superb quality!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Outstanding performance, ease of tuning and operation separate this amplifier from all the rest of the pack, even those with comparable power tube complement!. The Alpha 89, while not the latest offering from the manufacturer, still holds it's own for smooth and easy tuning, robust construction, and power when needed. It is possibly the only amp to take FULL advantage of the 3CX800's outstanding capabilities. The entire package, with it's simple and fast tuning, make it
simply the best!
 
KD8HCY Rating: 5/5 Jun 21, 2012 05:14 Send this review to a friend
good work horse  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
i got this alpha 89 used from a good friend for my trailer used it for field day in the u.p. of mi
it works great for the job i ask of it
 
N0UY Rating: 4/5 May 20, 2012 05:14 Send this review to a friend
Reliable with TLC  Time owned: more than 12 months
I acquired this unit used from an estate of a local ham. It is easy to operate but occasionally needs the cover removed and most of the many board connections reseated to keep it happy. This is a early production unit and I only use it occasionally. It is a little low on output so I imagine the tubes are not up to spec. It's a keeper
 
W3BJ Rating: 5/5 Dec 10, 2010 06:27 Send this review to a friend
Alpha  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I broke down and bought an Alpha 89 from Rf concepts after debating this for years. I ran a Kenwood TL 922, 1200 Ameritron then an AL 82. They were good amps and I got very good service from them for years, but they cant compare to the Alpha product. The 89 is quiet, runs legal limit with 40 watts drive and will do it all day long. If your antenna system is not up to par, this amp defaults and will let you know something is wrong. They are very expensive, but over the long run its worth every penny. RF concepts was super to talk to, had all the load and tune settings put on a sheet for me so tuning was a snap.
 
KC4CP Rating: 5/5 Dec 8, 2009 03:57 Send this review to a friend
Perfection!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've owned a number of HF amps(PW-1, Commander, virtually every Ameritron, etc.) but I was always intriqued by Alpha amplifiers. Many of my friends own Alpha amps and they rave about them! Finally I determined to find out for myself.

I purchased an Alpha 89 made in 1995 ... and I have been amazed! This thing is a brute beast but behaves like a swiss watch; it is powerful but oh so refined. Truly, it is a work of art.

I do not use the rear fan (don't need it for my purposes) and without it, the 89 is unbelievably quite. Grap the knobs and it simply feels like quality. As for power, legal limit with 35 watts drive and well over 2.5K into a dummy load.

Some have noted having a difficult time getting accustomed to tuning the amp without tripping the protection circuits. I have had no such problems. It is a true "by the numbers" tuned amp, and the settings are 100% repeatable.

Yeah, I have now joined the ranks of those who rave about Alpha amplifiers! :)

David WR4N (ex KC4CP, AC4CP)
 
W2PA Rating: 5/5 Mar 4, 2006 08:48 Send this review to a friend
Solid quality  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is my first legal limit amplifier, having only owned an SB-200 since the early 70s. After deciding to get one, I researched it for a few months, watching prices and scoping out the alternatives, both new and used. I decided I wanted one with: capacity for legal-limit power at 100% duty cycle; QSK; 160m-10m coverage including WARC bands; and a price that was not in the stratosphere. So, in December 2005 I bought an Alpha 89 that was manufactured in 1994, according to a handwritten note in the manual (it has the older, ETO logo), but in excellent, near new condition. The 89 is basically the same amplifier (RF-wise) as the 87A, but without the auto-tune capability. It was discontinued shortly after the 99 came out.

Physically, it's a very well built and designed package. At 65 pounds, the unit is heavy, but not as heavy nor as big as other amps with similar capabilities, probably due to the efficient layout. Quality components are used throughout as you'd expect from something in this price range.

The 89 is very quiet in two ways. The standard blower is only about as noisy as a desktop computer. With the auxiliary fan operating (mounted on the rear panel air inlet) it's quite a bit noisier - similar to other high power amps - so I leave mine disconnected during casual operation. I plan to build a speed control for it, but for now, I just unplug the power lead at the fan unit. The keying is also incredibly quiet - silent, in fact, because it uses PIN diode switching just like the 87A. As a result, operating QSK is a pleasure. You can either key the amp and let it key the rig (useful if you have sequencing problems), or vice versa.

Tune-up is fairly easy but you need to start by setting it up close to the proper settings according to the manual. Once you determine the right settings for your antennas, resetting is easy "by-the-numbers", as they say, because the tune and load controls are geared down and the lighted scales are finely marked. It has a "Tune" setting for the LED display that permits tune-up at a low power level, but you can also tune up the old fashioned way (peak everything). The LED display monitors RF output power, grid current, and reflected power at all times in three separate bar graphs. A fourth one can be set to read plate current, HV, drive power, SWR or the "Tune" function mentioned above. It is definitely a new experience if you're used to reading meters, but you get used to it quickly. As you transmit, those flashing lights are impressive.

A sophisticated collection of monitoring functions protects the amplifier from operator errors (we all make them). If you do something wrong it clicks into "Fault" condition and flashes LEDs to show what was wrong. After correcting the problem, you cycle the OPR/STBY switch and everything's fine. It will trip for excessive grid or plate current, high SWR, excessive drive power and other things. You might find this annoying at first, but as you get familiar with the amp, it gradually occurs less often until it hardly ever trips. Then, you're grateful when it does trip because you were too sleepy and forgot to switch antennas, or change the band switch (or have made some other dumb mistake).

The 89 puts out 1500W easily with only 30 or 40W of drive, and it's got plenty of headroom at that level. You notice quite a rise in exhaust air temperature at full output. If you plan to use it at high duty-cycle levels (contests, digital modes, etc.), the manual "recommends" the auxiliary fan, but I'd say it's a requirement.

I've been using it now for a little over 3 months DXing, dabbling in the contests, and making casual QSOs and am completely satisfied. It's got a very solid feel, electronically and mechanically. QRP is fun, but QRO is fun too - you don't have to choose one or the other. It sure made a difference in the 3Y0X pileups. With the prices of new amplifiers rising so rapidly, an older Alpha can be a real bargain.
 
W7IS Rating: 5/5 Jan 14, 2005 22:56 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Before I bought a used Alpha 89, I did a web search to find out what out problems others have had with the product over the years. And there were many comments about the large number of tin plated connectors possibly causing problems. So before using the amp, I closely inspected all the connectors. All were bright and shinny except for one connector located under the HV power supply board. This is a 3 pin connector on U2 (Lm305 power regulator). The regulator is attached to the aluminum chassis as a heat sink and hard wired over the circuit board. This 3 pin connector was very loose fitting on the Lm305 and didnít appear to be the type that should have been used on a power device. So I cut the connector off and soldered the wires directly to U2. That was the only weak link I found in the amp. The connector is easy to see under the HV circuit board and only took a few minutes for this procedure. After recording the initial tune up settings, QSY is very fast since the veneer tuning has lighted log scales. This is not your average amp. Itís Great Amp. But you do have to have respect for the expensive tubes and take care not to exceed the grip current rating. Frank W7IS
 
K4QL Rating: 4/5 Jan 15, 2004 17:20 Send this review to a friend
Nice When It Works  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned my 89 for a number of years. It hasn't been trouble free but the service I've received from ALpha has been fine. I've had the problem with the squirrel cage coming off the motor shaft recently. Mine failed very loudly as the cage made a screaming noise at slipped on the motor shaft. The amp is built around the blower so one has to almost disassemble the entire RF section to replace the blower. A blower, being a mechanical beast is gonna fail sooner or later. It would be nice if the blower were mounted on an access plate similar to the access plate below the tube deck for ease of maintenance. As it is, its about the hardest thing to replace in the entire amp. So my biggest compliant is that it is not maintenance friendly. Anyone that has had to replace the TUNE and LOAD lamps knows what I mean. It has failed two other times other than the blower failure. Both times it failed just while idling, no RF input applied. Go figure. But when it works,
it works great. I haven't operated an amp that is quieter. All and all, I'm pleased.
 
PA1K Rating: 5/5 Nov 20, 2003 19:45 Send this review to a friend
great amp as usual  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought an 89 last week used.
I have an 87A, but this unit (89) comes very close.
Like to tune it by the numbers.
Silent,lots of power and very nice to use with any radio.
Still i think that Alpha is producing the best amps but more important the best aftersales service.
I advice anyone, if you buy an amplifier go for ALPHA power..
 
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