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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Ameritron AL-80B Help


Reviews Summary for Ameritron AL-80B
Ameritron AL-80B Reviews: 122 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $1300
Description: Kilowatt output HF desktop linear
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.ameritron.com/products.php?prodid=AL-80b
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Page 1 of 13 —>

W3SCA Rating: 5/5 Nov 10, 2014 09:57 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Amplifier!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I recently purchased a new AL-80B to replace a old AL-811H I had. All I can say is wow! I had seen the reviews about how this amp was the best bang for the buck and I couldn't agree more! I opened the box, followed the easy instructions and installed the tube and fuses and I was off and running. The amp is quiet, powerful and tunes extremely easy. I would highly recommend this amp to anyone. I dont see any signs of "Shoddy" workmanship like others have stated. This is a much more forgiving amp than the 811-H ever was and I would buy another in a heartbeat.
 
AK9S Rating: 5/5 Aug 14, 2014 16:28 Send this review to a friend
Pleasantly pleased...  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This amp is a steal!

Unpacked the amp and found the workmanship to be poor. The vents on the top and sides of the cover contained metal shavings and burrs. Typical MFJ quality - made in USA, yet the Chinese can do much better today. Real shame.

Now for the good news...

With the cap set to the default 125V, I was able to get 1 KW with 100 watts drive on 40M. This occurred with a plate voltage of 2900V, below the suggested 3100V. The amp was purring - quite effortlessly producing significant RF power. And it ran quietly and did not get very hot.

I changed the cap to 115V and the plate voltage increased to 3000V. I now get 1.1 KW with a 100W drive on 40M. On 17M, it will do 800W with 100W drive. I did not experience any SWR problem between the exciter and amp on either band, so no need to adjust tuning potentiometers.

Think of it, single tube design, no need to match tubes and no headaches with trying to find a failed tube - the 3-500ZG Taylor included is fantastic and only requires 5-seconds to warm up, unlike ceramics. And cheap to replace, readily available (unlike 572B's) with a very efficient and tough modern design. Also, 3-500Z's ideally need to be driven at maximum specified power for longevity, which makes me feel better when I push 100W from the exciter.

That said, $1,399 divided by 1100W is $1.27 per watt. I can live with the steel burrs on the cabinet vents at that price. As a side note about quality, the meters and knobs work well and their overall quality is quite good.

I recommend this amp to anyone who would be happy with 800W on the high bands and slightly over 1000W on the low bands without the need for a 240V socket. Also, with a depth of only 14-inches, it will fit in tight spaces quite well.




 
K8IKW Rating: 5/5 May 26, 2014 08:30 Send this review to a friend
followup report- 60 days in full station use  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
since placing unit in full service in May 2014 am now able to provide some observations as to functions and features.. while loading on all bands is easily done and settings suggested by mfr are seen as closely same in actual use, on 40 mtr to load dial control setting seems to be only 1.0 as different from suggested 4.5 setting.. on most bands it is seen 850-900 watt RF out except on 40 mtr i do see only abt 500 output there for some reason....all controls are responsive and i do not ue the ALC control system in my setup...i enjoy my unit very much and find it performs exactly as discribed as to expected output and features....i recommend the unit to others. for reference i am using 120 v AC as line voltage with no adjustment of power supply taps.. I use primarliy SSB so all readings above are SSB output readings...except for less power out on 40 mtr all readings are fully consistent with mfr expected outputs and loading readings.. i did receive report of some audio distortion on SSB and did attempt to locate audio problem by reduction of mic gain and reducing rf output level of exciter...may be a mic line issue and trying to resolve..may not be amp issue at all....
 
KS4TL Rating: 5/5 May 5, 2014 06:19 Send this review to a friend
Perhaps the best "starter" amp available  Time owned: more than 12 months
I picked mine up second-hand and have been using it for just short of a year. BTW, I recommend going used - you can find a good one for less than $900. At this price, it is an extraordinary bargain - at MSRP, not so much.

The pros of this amp are simple: it just works, reliably and without fuss. Tuning is straightforward - much easier than the manual makes it sound. (Check out W8JI's website for hints.) Mine has tolerated the usual newbie goofs (driver on wrong band, wrong antenna, etc.) with no harm done. I'm running it on a dedicated 120 V 20 amp circuit, and can get 700-800 watts out on most bands. A 240 V line would no doubt give a bit more.

Having had some reason to be skeptical of the quality of MFJ-assoicated gear in the past, I opened the (de-energized!) amp up and took a peek inside. Neat and clean component layout, good solder joints - no quality complaints here.

I'd strongly recommend a AL-80B over the 811 amps for a first amp. Much more forgiving of operating mistakes, and fewer issues with the tubes - the Chinese manufacturers seem to have licked the quality issues with 3-500Z production, I gather the 811 is a different story.

There are a few comparatively minor cons. At least on my unit, the silkscreened band markings don't quite line up with the bandswitch position. Doesn't affect function at all, but just enough out of register to be esthetically annoying.

Speaking of esthetics, the cosmetics of these amps seem to be based on 1950's era industrial design. It's as though the designer was looking at some WWII mil-surplus gear and said "I like that look, except that it's just too pretty..."

But while the AL-80B may look ugly, it works beautifully!
 
K4TAX Rating: 5/5 Mar 8, 2014 20:35 Send this review to a friend
Good amp and a very good value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The amp arrived in perfect condition and was double boxed with the tube double boxed and shipped separate. Ive found not one thing wrong with the amp functionally, mechanically, or cosmetically. It has performed perfectly and repeatedly so far on 75M, 40M, 20M, 17M, and 15M. I performed the mod to get 10m and 12m and found that to be easy and successful. Operation on SSB. CW and AM, at suggested power levels, has been most pleasing and with excellent quality signal reports.

While on the bench I changed the power transformer primary taps and fuses to10A 250V to accommodate 240VAC operation. The factory wires it for 125VAC and supplies 20A fuses. I discovered that that HV was running 3200 to 3250 and my line with load is 245VAC. Back in and set the jumpers for 245VAC. My concern was not the value of HV but the higher than normal voltage on the 3-500 filament. After configuring for 245VAC, the HV is 3100VDC and the 3-500 filament voltage is 5.1VAC at the tube. At 1000 watts output the HV is 2800VDC. I find that I have no problem getting 1000 watts output on all bands, 160M 10M. The third order IMD was measured to be -40 dB worst cases at rated output. I find the overall construction quality to be very satisfactory.

The input SWR is more than low enough NOT to be of concern as expressed by others. Therefore I did conclude no retuning of the inputs was necessary on any of the bands. I found the input SWR to be less than 2.5:1, worst case. This is no problem as the Tentec transceiver as does not fold back with this value of SWR. Driving power for rated 1000 watts out is 80 watts or less on some bands for an amp gain of 11 dB. I measured the output at some 1200 watts on some bands using a Bird 43P, 2500 watt element and Bird 50 ohm load.

The Dynamic Bias circuit works as described and is very efficient In listening to another receiver I did not hear nor with the spectrum analyzer did I measure any artifacts with regard to the circuit action. I did review earlier discussions and papers on this topic. It seems that later model amps have made noticeable improvements in this circuit.

The manual description of the ALC setup has several redundant paragraphs that seemed to be intertwined between two different ALC utilizations. Basically if one does not couple ALC back to the transceiver, then all that is necessary is to be mindful of drive power and make sure the amp is properly tuned and loaded. A lightly loaded amp may exhibit a flash-over or arc of the plate tuning capacitor and most likely will cause splatter on SSB. Having owned several more expensive amps, some legal limit, all in all, this is one of the smoothest tuning amps Ive ever encountered.

All the switches and knobs work without issue and seem solid. The meter indications are surprisingly accurate with regard to FWD power and REF power. No gas arcing was observed on initial start-up and thus the supplied MACHLETT tube seems to be good to go. Meters are easy to read and are stable and have good uniform illumination and scale markings. Fan noise is unobtrusive. The relay isn't that quiet but that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Clattering can get annoying on CW but adding a bit of post TX delay via the Tentec transceiver produces very smooth CW switching with no evidence of hot switching taking place. The measured RX/TX and TX/RX relay switching times, including settling, are in between 17ms and 20ms.

I was prepared to be disappointed in some way but I can't find a single thing to complain about or even make note. The manual has a few areas that improvement could be incorporated. I must say I'm impressed and 100% satisfied and find this to be an excellent amp and very good value for the price.
 
AD5HD Rating: 5/5 Jan 4, 2014 21:06 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Arrived in perfect condition, not a thing wrong with it functionally, mechanically, or cosmetically. Works perfectly and repeatedly so far on 75m, 40m, 20m, 17m, and 15m. 10m and 12m have seen little to no use to date so mod hasn't been done to use them yet.

Input SWR on 15m and 17m is more than low enough to be of no concern with reflected power less than ten percent of forward on 15m and zero on 17m. No retuning of input filter necessary.

Changed the power transformer primary taps to accommodate 115VAC operation, factory wires it for 125VAC. At 120VAC input the plate voltage is right at 3100V, where it ought to be, and drops to about 2700V under load, also about where it ought to be.

About 40W continuous carrier input yields just about 500W out on 40m, nearly 600W on 15m. On the air reports are excellent, no splattering, no distortion, and very clean audio. Trapezoid pattern using a preciseRF station monitor indicates very close to perfectly linear operation when testing with a two tone signal so this correlates well enough. But the user needs to be sure the loading is correct for optimal linearity.

Meters are LED illuminated according to Ameritron customer service although they don't have the same color, one is bluish white and the other a noticeably warmer white. After a while the difference becomes unnoticeable so not a worry.

All the switches and knobs work without issue and seem solid. No gas arcing, Taylor tube seems to be good to go. Meters are easy to read and are stable. Fan noise is unobtrusive. Relay isn't but that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Clattering can get annoying on CW but with headphones it's not really audible.

Was prepared to be disappointed or at least underwhelmed, I wasn't and I'm not. At all. Really can't find a single thing to complain about or even make note of. And the box took a fairly good hit in transit, breaking the styrofoam spacers in the bottom between the outer and inner boxes. There wasn't even any dust on the amplifier itself. Gotta say I'm impressed.
 
KM6CQ Rating: 3/5 Jul 9, 2013 16:11 Send this review to a friend
Adequate   Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned this since 2009. I purchased it new from HRO. The first one they sent me had an interment keying issue. So I sent the amp back and they sent me another. It has been just fine and works as advertised. I lost 100.00 on shipping fees because of it. If you buy an MFJ product consider buying from a place like HRO that will exchange it, or refund your money. They were great. I think MFJ does not test their products, they let you do that. I think of them as a kit manufacture. When you get it, you have to figure out why it does not work and repair it yourself or finish the job. If I had it to do over again, I would buy from a better manufacture. You do get what you pay for.
 
N5HNY Rating: 5/5 May 4, 2013 20:40 Send this review to a friend
Nice Amplifier  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I haven't owned my AL-80B that long. I bought a complete station from a guy and the amp came with it. My other two amps are a Dentron GLA-1000 sweep tube amp and a KW Electronics KW-1000 572B amp. I ran the other two at 300 watts output. I run the AL-80B at 500 watts output. It's nice to have a amp that has a quiet fan and soft start. You can't hear the power supply buzzing like the other amps when you push them a bit. The amp is easy to tune and works well with the Ameritron ATR-30 antenna tuner. I think this amp will last me quite awhile. Oh yeah, the multimeter switch is a bit flaky but I think it just needs to be tightened up.
 
N7JJK Rating: 5/5 Feb 28, 2013 18:30 Send this review to a friend
Great amp, trouble free  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got my amp used about five years ago, and it was basically a "plug and play" device. I haven't had any problems with it, other than dimming the lights when I use it at 500+ watts. I usually run 150 - 200 watts.
 
NT6U Rating: 4/5 Feb 28, 2013 17:59 Send this review to a friend
Seems to get the job done  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bang for buck it is a good solid amplifier. It is a reliable 700-800 watt amp. Squeezing 1KW is pushing it. Owned since March 0f 2010 running it on 240 V. Not a single problem with it and I use it few times a week. Enough power to make the difference. She gets a 4 because she is good. Not great, not really a KW amp and 12 and 17 meter is compromised.
 
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