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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: 128 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $1300
Description: Kilowatt output HF desktop linear
Product is in production.
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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. I’ve 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 I’ve 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.
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.
ND6P Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2012 10:25 Send this review to a friend
It's become 'Old Reliable'  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought mine used about 5 years ago, saving $500 from the list price.

It worked good for a long time before the 20 meter band went out. Some jiggling of the band switch would make it work, so I gave it a look and found it easy enough to fix. The switch's shaft position needed to be aligned. It's worked fine since then.

And one time I accidentally shorted out the 12 VDC accessory jack. I had to replace a flame-proof resistor inside the amp to fix that. That was also was easy enough.

Otherwise, it's been reliable. It tunes easily and repeatably. I used the products from CleanRF to test the linearity in SSB and it was good. It's wired for 220V and I use the QSK Master from Array Solutions for full break in and to eliminate the relay noise.

W8GTX Rating: 5/5 Oct 29, 2012 13:06 Send this review to a friend
Excellent value  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought mine at a deal for $400 minus the 3-500Z tube. The owner was unsure if it worked and had nothing to test it with. The amp is absolutely mint inside and out and is about 3 years old. It appears to have had very little use as there was no dust build-up on the fan or anywhere inside. At $400 I figured I couldn't go wrong at that price and sure enough after a new tube installed, she powered up fine. She has been in daily use and continues to hum along just fine. I use it mostly on 80/40m and 20m with occasional use on 12 & 10m bands. I rarely ever push it over 800 watts and find no need to. Total cost $600 beans with new tube, who could go wrong :-)
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