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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Ameritron AL-811 Help

Reviews Summary for Ameritron AL-811
Ameritron AL-811 Reviews: 155 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $650
Description: Uses three tough 811A transmitting tubes
Product is in production.
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KC9MOS Rating: 2/5 Nov 14, 2013 10:38 Send this review to a friend
Stopped working after 3 month  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this amp from DX-Engineering and it worked fine for 3 month. All of a sudden it would not power on any more, no matter what I tried. I called Ameritron and was told to send it in, that was $30 via FEDEX. I got a ticket and was told by John: "Ok, we will keep an eye out for it and get it back as soon as possible." Today I received another message with a slightly different tune "We are a bit backed up, so it might be a couple weeks after we receive it before we can get to it." I will keep you updated about what's going to happen. Ben
N5RNY Rating: 4/5 Sep 26, 2013 18:20 Send this review to a friend
decent amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought used about 2 years ago, finally got it hooked up and running on a new vertical. I run reduced drive most of the time (happier neighbors) and it works well. Easy to tune, quiet fan, clean output. Will probably run forever at 300-400 watts SSB.
WY4J Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2013 13:49 Send this review to a friend
I got my Money's Worth  Time owned: more than 12 months
For the money, you just cannot beat the AL-811. I purchased mine brand new some 8 years ago. It worked flawlessly from the day I pulled it out of the box and put the tubes in the sockets. I later sold it where it traveled to Bismark North Dakota and where it is still performing without a hitch for its new owner. So I can truthfully state that two hams have received what they paid for, which is a hell of a good amplifier. BTW, it was replaced by an Ameritron ALS-600 amp. Also a hell of a good amp.

I would just like to add that I have been purchasing MFJ products since I became a ham in 1976 and to this day I have never purchased anything that was defective, broken, broke, with cold solders, hot solders, loose solders, missing parts, screws, wires, meters, manuals, scratched, bent, incorrect parts or anything else the imagination might come up with. Did I mention that MFJ has a great customer service department and a bunch of nice folks working there.
N4KC Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2013 12:02 Send this review to a friend
Yes, you DO get what you pay for  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is only one of the most popular amplifiers in the world and even here on eHam, where folks tend to fashionably low-ball any MFJ/Ameritron product, it has a 4.5-out-of-5.0 rating after 143 reviews.

With thousands sold and in service, I suppose it is possible for someone to get one that has an issue. And with hundreds and hundreds passing from one user to another, some will have suffered abuse. And yes, because of its economical design, if you do not follow proper tune-up and operating parameters, you can do some damage.

The truth is, though, that this is a solid amp, brilliantly designed, and has for many, many years enabled thousands of users to economically and cleanly add multiple decibels to their transmitted signal when needed. I urge anyone who believes he can design, manufacture, and sell something better for less than $800 brand new to have at it. You just better be prepared for guys to give it a "0 - Awful!" rating on eHam even if hundreds more find it to be a fine piece of reasonably-priced gear.

Mine was heavily used prior to my purchase, still has (so far as I can tell) the original tubes, is at least 15 years old, and still works like a champ on all bands except for a high input SWR on 12 and 17. I choose not to try to tweak it out because I use it more on 15 and 10 and it performs wonderfully on those bands. But the previous owners (apparently) and I know how to tune and run the amp. Check W8JI's web site and you will, too.


Don N4KC

AC4R Rating: 0/5 Sep 22, 2013 08:27 Send this review to a friend
Pass on this one  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a AL-811 new and it was downhill from there. One trip back to Ameritron for repairs , and to another repair man within 6 months. after the next failure i gave the amp away to get it out of the shack. you get what you pay ! You have been warned.

VK2IMM Rating: 4/5 Mar 7, 2013 18:56 Send this review to a friend
Good but not without problems  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I had experience similar with previous reviewer.

My AL811 was purchased brand new from DXE. No issues on delivery.

Later discovered that load capacitor did not have enough capacitance on 80m. Moved coil tap by couple of turns to add inductance instead. About 3 months into operation one of the front panel switches failed. It is very hard to get these switches out from front panel as I found and they are made from some cheap plastic. In fact, I had to replace whole front panel at the end and new front panel assembly that I purchased from Ameritron had three rocker switches already pre-installed.

The same problem with having not enough capacitance was also found in the lower part of 160m band. Not fixed in my PA yet but I will add a capacitor.

Good amplifier and it delivers power as expected. It runs well with 450W on CW and 500-600W on SSB, output power is a bit less on 10 and 15m.

On WARC bands 17m works best.

Having said that I am not happy to have these issues in a brand new unit.
W6JHB Rating: 4/5 Mar 6, 2013 19:39 Send this review to a friend
Not an Alpha, but for the money, not too bad!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I've had two other amplifiers in the past: an SB-221 and an Elecraft KPA500. The SB-221 is long gone. The KPA500 worked OK and interfaced nicely with my K3, but had to get rid of it for several reasons. Couple months ago I decided to go back to QRO. Not a whole lot of money to spend, and after reading reviews, decided on the AL-811. $700 for a brand new 500-watt amp? Why not? If they were total junk, Ameritron/MFJ would not have been able to sell thousands of them. Mine came from DXE. - $709.

I carefully plugged in the three 811A tubes, read the operating manual a few times, read W8JI's tune-up procedure a few more times, and gave it a try. Worked fine. My only issue was that I could not get it completely tuned up at the bottom of 80 meters. Not enough capacitance in the tank. Several calls to Ameritron resulted in them sending to me (no charge) several additional padding caps to add to the band switch for 80 meters. It took a couple minutes to open the cabinet, solder in the additional caps, and that was all it needed. Loads up fine now on 80 and easily puts out 500+ watts down to the bottom of the band.

I drive the amp with an Elecraft K3. Following the amp is an LDG AT-600 Pro II and the M-600 meter. The tuner connects to one of three antennas via an external switch: 160 meter Inverted L, 80 meter Inverted L, and an 88-foot long, 45-foot high doublet fed with 450 ohm ladder line and a home brew 1:1 KW balun. The AL-811 has no problem producing 500 watts on 160-10 meters in this configuration.

Not the most powerful amp on the market, but I doubt anyone is going to find a new, under-warranty 500 watt amplifier for less money. Treat it right and you should enjoy having a bit more muscle in your signal!
N4KC Rating: 5/5 Mar 6, 2013 13:24 Send this review to a friend
Best 7db of gain you will ever buy  Time owned: more than 12 months
Yes, it is a basic 400/600-watt amplifier with few bells and whistles, but it works remarkably well and gives you considerable gain over your typical 100-watt transceiver...when you need it.

The 811 tube is easily available, inexpensive, requires no "netralization," and, though not that forgiving if run for long periods without being properly tuned or over-driven, can last a long, long time if not abused.

There are literally thousands of them out there...and thousands more of its big brother, the 811H...and I defy anyone to identify one on the air by observing any spurious output emissions if it is being properly operated. You can coax plenty of spurs out of just about any amplifier on the market if you try hard enough.

I bought mine used and the previous owner had about ten years worth of vigorous enjoyment before going SK. Yes, the T/R relay had started to get a little balky, but it was a simple matter to clean the contacts. It has been working flawlessly for another five years now, and still with the original tubes.

Anyone would be foolish to replace the 811s with 572Bs solely in an attempt to get more power out. That puts strain on other components not intended to deliver more than the rated power.

It is also foolish to compare the price of this amp when bought new to used amps in the same class. Yes, you can find old Heathkits or other brands out there, but unless you are comfortable evaluating amplifiers that may have been abused, and then sourcing parts for and repairing them, you may want to stay with new gear. Even then, you can often find used AL-811s for about half the new price. As noted, they have sold thousands of them. They are easy to work on and, as mentioned, you don't have to mortgage the house to re-tube one.

Sorry if at least one of you wants to take a hammer to one of these things. You can just send it to me next time and I'll be happy to take care of it for you!


Don N4KC

PU1KGZ Rating: 5/5 Mar 5, 2013 05:21 Send this review to a friend
Works as designed. Works Great!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'm new to amplifiers and I read the manual and did a quick web research on the subject before trying to operate my new acquisition.

Once tuned, it worked fine in 40 and 15 meters. I use a MFJ969 antenna tuner to tune my antena with SWR below 2:1 and the peak power meter on the MFJ969 indicates the antenna get 550+ watts. If you do not overdrive it (I set my Yaesu 950 to Tx pwr 75W), there will be no distorsion, since the amp will work within its linearity range.

Before buying this amp I compared the price for tube and solid state amps and dcided to go with the tube, besides the additional complexities. Overall, I believe it is a good buy, with a very good cost/benefit trade-off.

Good luck to all.
W6WUH Rating: 0/5 Mar 4, 2013 13:36 Send this review to a friend
Burping Bread Box for Appliance Ops.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Common Fellas ! Only hams who don't know anything about radio will buy this piece of junk!

First of all.. it has NO Netralization ! It is a giant oscillator, if keyed up off resonance.

So, no... it will not give you a Clean Signal.
You may think so... but un-uh.

Second, it is absolute hell to service the circuit board where you will find a tiny relay smaller than your thumb acting as the T/R relay.

Good bunch of luck changing that out.

572-B's in this thing ? Maybe 2.. but use three and you are on a fast road to hell. About the only thing "good" about this thing is the power supply.... and parts availability.

Tell me why you would pay $650 for this burping bread box ... when you could buy a bullet proof Heathkit SB-200 for less than half the money.??

I took a hammer to mine, so it wouldnt go back on the air EVER. FCC Commercial Op.
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