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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Alpha 86 Help

Reviews Summary for Alpha 86
Alpha 86 Reviews: 21 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $New 2200
Description: Legal-limit HF linear amplifier, manufactured from 12/87 to 5/92.
Product is not in production.
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N5AX Rating: 5/5 Jun 24, 2011 15:06 Send this review to a friend
Purchased in 1988  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my Alpha 86 (S/N 001) for $2995.00)
in 1988.
While it took me a one year wait to get the "Printed" Instruction manual, it still is in daily use!
Solid. Full legal limit PO to this very day.
Outstanding Quality.
This Amplifier replace my first one.
A Hallicrafters HLX-1.
What a up grade!
K9KEN Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2007 15:42 Send this review to a friend
THE BEST AMP  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Just bought one of these 6 MONTHS AGO on ebay for $2,600.00! What an amp! New tubes new blower motor and checked with ALPHA and verifyed the ownership before I bought it with all the updates ! WHAT A TANK, BUT THE BEST YOU CAN BUY !45 WATTS 1500 OUT loafing!!!!!!!!!!! TRY 95 watts 2300 OUT ! WOW GREAT STUFF ! HIGHLY RECOMENDED !
W9AC Rating: 5/5 May 5, 2007 13:49 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Product  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The 86 is the predecessor to Alpha's 89 manually-tuned amp. Clean Lexan panel layout, excellent metering, outstanding reliability and loafs at the legal limit. A solid 5.
AB3CX Rating: 5/5 Oct 28, 2006 22:07 Send this review to a friend
WOW  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased one of the commercial, continuous coverage Alpha 86 amps from Natan, W6XR about 3 days ago. It is serial number 6-88380059. If you work MARS, you would like this amp. My first amp was a Ten Tec Centurion, which I like, but this amp I love. The metering is great, and I find the simultaneous reflected and forward power very useful. Very easy to tune. It is no noisier than the Ten Tec and has a two speed switchable fan. I run it on the low speed; nothing gets very warm. There is an ALC adjust on the rear. QSK with my Yaesu 1000 Mk V is flawless using only the TX-GND to Relay In. The way I would describe the feel of the 86 is like what you get from a piece of MacIntosh stereo gear. It's really well designed and built. Putting it through the paces in the CQ WWDX this weekend, it is quietly doing a super job with no groans at age 20. Newer power transformers do not seem to match up to the horse in this amp. It's a "Bad Boy" amp and will exceed legal limit. This amp was well maintained by the previous owners, and it performs like I imagine a new one would. The protect circuits prevent expensive mistakes. At about 2400 dollars on the used market, it's half the price of a new manual tune Alpha and with care should continue to deliver for a long time.
K8AC Rating: 5/5 Oct 7, 2005 09:04 Send this review to a friend
A good buy used!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently acquired a nice 86 and will limit my comments to considerations of buying a used one. First, it appears that not all 86s were created equal. Mine is apparently the "commercial" model and has 9 bandswitch positions covering 1.8 - 30 MHz continuous. 17 shares a bandswitch position with 15, and 12 with 10. Not a problem, but different from what others have stated. The blower was VERY noisy and I found the blower motor bearing cup was touching one side of the hole in the rear panel. That indicates whoever installed the blower last didn't do a very good job of it. When looking at one of these, make sure the blower bearing is reasonably centered in the hole in the rear panel. The hole is located just to the right of the RF input connector. To their great credit, Alpha still sells the blower motor assembly for this amplifier, as well as the optional fan that mounts on the rear panel. There is no ALC adjustment on the 86, and while the ALC output voltage may be right for Kenwoods and Yaesus, it may be too high for your Icom rig. This is pointed out on Page 11 of the manual as is the solution - using a 100K pot across the ALC line and using the wiper for the adjustable output. If you fail to heed this warning, you may find you're unable to drive the amp to full output on some bands as the ALC will clamp your transceiver output too soon. I've found that Alpha ships parts quickly for the amp, and you are easily able to talk to knowledgeable technical people about the amp. If in the market for one of these, make sure to check for full output on 10 meters with somewhere around 50 watts of drive. Replacing the tubes is expensive, but the 3CX800s seem to last forever if not abused. Unlike many other amps, it's NOT necessary to remove the tubes from the 86 for shipment. They're held in place with some non-conductive rods fastened to the cabinet.

The T/R switching circuitry uses a small fuse to protect the receiver from certain faults. If that fuse is open, you won't hear anything on your receiver. Alpha still carries the fuses although they're a bit expensive. It would be a good idea to have a spare on hand and know how to install it. While I had some doubts about the LED displays at first, I now like them better than meters as they have much faster response and take up less panel space than meters would for the same functions. If you can find one of these amps with good tubes at a reasonable price, don't pass it up!
KB9FMV Rating: 5/5 Aug 19, 2005 21:03 Send this review to a friend
GREATEST AMP EVER OWNED  Time owned: more than 12 months
I still have my Alpha 86and al I can say is it is the best amp I have ever owned! It is still running excellent on all the bands! 50 in 1500 out ! Who could ask for more!!!!!!!!!!

WD0CT Rating: 5/5 Jul 24, 2005 01:11 Send this review to a friend
just a very good amp  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I owned one a few months ago for a couple of months. I traded for one in mint condition.

I had zero problems. The amp always ran into my homebrew tuner. Tune and load settings were very repeatable and I noticed no drift on the tuning.

It was quiet, did legal limit with the drive requirement as specified in the manual, and would do legal limit all day long.

You can't expect any better.

I only sold it because I'm getting to the point that I don't want to horse heavy amps around any longer.
N4DEK Rating: 5/5 Jun 14, 2005 16:38 Send this review to a friend
Nothing but solid performance  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First let me say that if you're having trouble with the PIN Diodes going south then there's a reason for it and you probably need to take a look at your antenna. Don't blame it on the amplifier because you tried to run 1500 watts into your G5RV on all bands and the high SWR fried your diodes! I've heard countless stories from many people that have owned or still do own the 86 and claim it is one of the best amplifiers that they have ever had on their table. I just bought mine but from what I've seen from it so far I don't think I'll be buying another amplifier anytime soon. Built like a tank and runs at whatever power level you want for however long you want and never even breaks a sweat. Legal limit is just a tease to this one. It has got to be the smoothest tuning amp I have ever tuned up and the metering is great also. I had the Ameritron AL-800H before this one and as good as the Ameritron is it's not even in the same ball park as the Alpha. Just no comparison in the build quality between the two amps. If you want alot of bang for the buck then go for the Ameritron but if you want the best for your buck then look no further than the Alpha's.
W4PIG Rating: 0/5 Apr 4, 2004 18:03 Send this review to a friend
WHAT A DOG  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
KB9FMV Rating: 5/5 Mar 15, 2004 14:04 Send this review to a friend
BEST AMP I EVER OWNED  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned this amp for three years now and operates flawless! It takes about 40 to 60 watts of drive for 1500 watts out and it will run it forever! If you want to drive it for more it will take it but I would not recommend running past 2000 watts! Plus it it is not leagle! The 3cx800a7 are getting cheaper to find and also there are the new 3cpx800a7's which I bought for mine and runs great !By the way I have the original 1986 tubes which are still good ! Well if you can find one of these and it is in working order grab it ! If it is not working still grab it or let me know who is selling it I will but it! ! Alpha still repairs them if you need to send in in! Well good luck finding one they still are selling for about $1900 to $2800 DOLLARS ! THIS UNIT IS BUILT LIKE A TANK ! THANK ALPHA!

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