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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.
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You can write your own review of the Ameritron AL-80B.

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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 :-)
VO1GWK Rating: 5/5 Oct 16, 2012 12:09 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Amplifier  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased the AL-80BX about four years ago, and I've never had any problems. However, I'd like to suggest the following to others whom had problems. If you're intend to run a KW, you should purchase an amplifier rated for at least 1.5-KW, therefore, you won't be overdriving the tube, etc. Just because Ameritron says this amp will do a KW doesn't mean it can do it for very long. When I want to run a KW, I always use an amp that's rated for nothing less then 2 KW thus allowing me to operate at half my available power. I would give the Ameritron AL-80BX a 5 star rating, it's a great amp for such low cost.
KH6TA Rating: 5/5 Aug 12, 2012 12:58 Send this review to a friend
This Amp Rocks!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months

This is my 3rd upgrade, AL-811, AL-811H, and now the AL-80B, so I was already familiar with Ameritron amps.

I'm using it @ 125V on a 20a cuircut with just over a kw out with 67W drive from my IC-7600, no problems at all. The amp runs cool, fan is not noisy at all, and ALC is really smooth. Ameritron quality of parts & workmanship has improved notably in the past 5-6 years in my view. Thanks Ameritron.

My opinion is that you can't beat this amp in output vs price, I picked this one up used 4 mos old for $975, I like the single 3-500ZG much better than the 3 811A's in the AL-811H, however, I have nothing bad to say about the 811H, I just wanted more watts out.
N6TEA Rating: 5/5 May 8, 2012 22:35 Send this review to a friend
A Truly Fine Amplifier  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I needed an amp that would work on a 15 amp circuit which the AL-80B will with a bit of forethought. Tuning with Ameritron's Tuning Pulser II is quite simple, effective and quick. A major bonus is direct, unlimited, access to Tom, W8JI, who designed the amp and serves as the moderator for the Ameritron Yahoo Users' Group Forum. He has a talent for providing straight forward, simple answers to complex questions. Even Ameritron's tech support has been known to say that their AL-80B is their best quality amplifier. For instance, it includes an internal in-rush current protector. It is their only model with a two year warranty. This amp has enabled me to work about 25 DX countries since early March, 2012. Working a New Zealand station on 20 meters, the op said that I had "one of the strongest and easiest to read signals heard on the band in a long time; truly armchair copy." This, with a Butternut HF9V antenna, albeit deployed in a bare field with 60 radials, each 65' long. I gave the amp a "5" rating because of its ability to produce its full rated 1KW clean power in a desktop unit on only 120 VAC without slumping, a sophisticated ALC circuit that actually adds to the audio quality as well as protecting the amp, the quality of construction, support and entirely reasonable price. As others said, the venerable 3-500Z tube is a proven plow horse. Mine will tune 20/30, 15/17 and 12/10 bands with no adjustment from the factory settings for the tuning slugs. I do use a Palstar AT2KD differential tuner, however. Regardless, the AL-80B is a well proven amp that you can enjoy for under $1,500. If you chose to buy one, I am sure that you will be delighted.

73 de - - M
Mike Slate
K4GHR Rating: 5/5 Apr 30, 2012 17:11 Send this review to a friend
Great Amp for Beginner or Expert  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I find it very easy to use, delivering rated power even using 120VAC power to feed it. Signal reports are of very clean audio and strong signal. I love the time-tested 3-500Z design and what seems to be very good build quality. This amp will last a long, long time.

For the price, I think this amp would be very difficult to beat.

73, Brent

PS - As others have said, if you have an amp, you should have a dummy load for tuning and testing. Very helpful. MFJ-250 is about $70 and uses cheap mineral oil available at Walmart and others.
KC9TNH Rating: 4/5 Apr 22, 2012 09:08 Send this review to a friend
Great bang-for-buck  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Note up front: Too bad there isn't a 1/2 point system on this review engine - would've been a 4.5. But the amp gets a 4 ONLY because BY NOW, Ameritron should've fixed issues of decoupling the tuning slug for the 17/15m setting and just put a 10/12m setting on the thing. OK 15 yrs ago but current models should've by now had this incorporated into their design. Also, someone could spend a couple hours rewriting the current version of their manual which jumps around in ridiculous fashion on a couple of important topics.

Had done alot of research into how close one can get to 800-1000w in my budget range. Other than an older SB-220 which may/may not have to get a thorough going-over and/or some mods, and the (seeming) increasing number of QC squawks about the 811 series of amps these days, the AL-80B was the logical choice. The design is very mature and mods, support and issues, if any, well-documented.

I am third owner of this amp made in Feb '95 which had also had a QSK board installed by the factory in Feb '97. It still has its Eimac tube. The ALC SET knob is glitchy but I don't run ALC. I keep my grid current happy & don't overdrive the amp from the rig; result is happy tube, cool running, smooth audio & no splatter. The original manual came with it and it's notably less convoluted than the current offering as downloaded from Ameritron's web site. The amp already had the 10m and 17/15m mod performed on it. These are well-known on "the net" or available from Ameritron.

The amp runs fine on my solid residential AC line; with everything running full-tilt boogie in the old commo bunker I get a hair under 3000V idle plate current, call it 2975. With the amp under its full load that drops to about 2650; fine business. Depending upon band I get anywhere from 500 (10m) to an honest KW SSB on 40m. 80/75m about 800-950, 700-750 are easily done on the others. I followed the guidance of the manual (after many re-reads) and a couple of Elmers who've had this amp longer than I've been a ham and glad I did.

*IF* loaded up properly with the drive necessary to produce max possible power & the grid current is happy (not under-loaded) the amp is quite linear in use and one can back the drive down with little change needed. For example when one wants just a bit more signal to give to the distant end (vs. holding even a conversation at all sometimes in da Nortland on 75m when the aurora dips) you can back the drive down & simply put that extra S-unit out there.

If one is considering a first amp this should be high on the list of contenders. Do not be intimidated by a tube-amp. Read the manual, once you get your optimum tuning settings done on a couple of bands you'll realize it was easier than you thought. The settings are VERY repeatable so just write your individual settings down on a chart and you can refer to them with ease & changing bands is no issue. You will not get anywhere near the bang-for-buck with a solid-state amp. My term for this is Clydesdale, and like a Siberian Husky it's happiest when working. The single 3-500Z design is, as stated, very mature. If you don't overdrive the amp from the rig, and don't underLOAD the amp the 3-500Z will outlive you. If you need one, serviceable 3-500Z's are available from RFParts.

One last thing for first-time amp owners. Please, please, this is your excuse to go out & finally buy that robust dummy-load you wanted. You'll wonder how you ever lived without one when you start tuning up the amp & getting your settings, and many people you've never met will be happy that you did.
73 ;)
N3SCP Rating: 5/5 Apr 5, 2012 14:44 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Value  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I just had to write a review on this Amplifier. This is my first HF amp and had read hundreds of reviews on all manufactures and models. First off, I was very hesitant buying this amp because most of the reviews stated that it would only put out 800 watts on SSB. Some stated that the ALC would distort the audio and would push the 3-500 tube too hard. Well, I did buy the amp. In fact I had to buy an antenna and tuner to go with it. I live in an area where I can’t have antennas outside of the house. So I got a six band vertical that I can put up at night and take down for the day and got a 1KW auto antenna tuner. I unboxed the amp and set it up just as the manual stated. I have a Kenwood TS-2000 Radio that has connections for the ALC and made the necessary connections. I set the radio to one of my favorite nets on 40m. I tuned the tuner, which was not really necessary do to the nicely tuned vertical antenna. Now, I was ready to try the new amp. I set the ALC, plate and grid controls. I called out to someone on the net and adjusted the amp to 400watts. Wow, they could hear me. The audio was clear and the signal was strong. So I decided to see what it could do. I reset the ALC and adjusted the amp to max output. Again, Wow…. I was peaking at 1100 watts on SSB. I asked how my audio was and I was 20+ over 9 and the audio was superb. I spent the whole night making contacts to Hams everywhere. Days later I found two other reviews with the AL-80b and a Kenwood TS-2000 and they had the same experience. The ALC is very important if you want to get the full potential of this AMP. I don’t keep the output high all the time but it is good to know it can put out over 1000 watts if I need it. Great Amp.
KQ4D Rating: 4/5 Feb 26, 2012 15:38 Send this review to a friend
Very Good  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have owned this amplifier for almost 2 years now and found it to be very good. In my use of this amplifier it appears to me to be a great 800 watt output amplifier on voice peaks, no more. Recently I purchased a new tube at a cost of $200 including shipping and found no increase in power output. Pushing to 1000 watts out is far too much for the tube I have found. The ALC in my unit has never worked but no matter as I never plan to use it. If I had the purchase to do over I would have gotten the two tube amplifier.
N7EJT Rating: 4/5 Feb 8, 2012 09:58 Send this review to a friend
A considerable improvement over my Al-811.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought my first amplifier, a new AL-811 back in October. I wanted a low end "beginner's" amp. as all my marginal station required was a few hundred extra watts without having to run a 220v line. Within a day or two the 811 had blown two fuses (12 amp. and difficult to find) a diode governing meter accuracy and finally an 811 tube. I replaced and repaired everything at my time and expense. Shortly thereafter more things began happening and I ultimately shipped the amp. back to Ameritron for repair. They graciously absorbed the shipping charges both ways and ultimately returned it to me with three new 811 tubes as well as another replaced diode. All was fine for about two weeks and then for reasons I'm still loathe to comprehend the amp. blew two fuses as soon as I turned the power on. I replaced them and they blew immediately. I then replaced them AGAIN and again they blew (six fuses in five minutes.) I'd had enough. I'm willing to concede that some of these issues may have been the result of my inexperience using an amplifier but I certainly wasn't going to presume to operate the unit without carefully reading the manual and making sure that all voltages and current values were within proscribed operating parameters. What am I going to do.....spend $700 on a device and then second guess the manufacturer and NOT read the manual? And yes, my Palstar tuner provided flat SWR and I likewise tuned plate/load/plate each at less than five second intervals. I will never know whether it was my unfortunate luck to have drawn the short straw and gotten stuck with a lemon or if the Al-811 is just flimsy junk which must be coddled and used very gently to ensure its safe operation as well as some degree of longevity.
I worked out a deal with Ameritron and upgraded to an AL-80B. While I've had it for less than two weeks I can attest that this unit appears to be infinitely superior to the AL-811. Of course, it's twice the cost but a perfunctory examination of the inside reveals what would appear to be solid, clean construction; no evident cold solder joints and the like. The 3-500Z is rugged and doesn't require babying as do the 811s. The 80B has thus far performed as anticipated delivering the promised power dependably and efficiently. As an added perk, the fan makes less than half the noise that the Al-811's does-a pleasant surprise as I don't use headphones.
I am nevertheless assigning a less than perfect 4/5 rating to the 80B for two reasons. As happy as I am with this amp. I was less than pleased with the discovery of a non-working grid current meter. According to Ameritron my 80B had just come off of the assembly line and had been tested and thoroughly checked prior to shipping. REALLY? How could a non working meter (especially for something as important as grid current) have escaped the attention of anyone supposedly running quality control? It would not have been beyond the realm of reason for Ameritron to have either replaced the unit or to at least have offered to make the repair. No, they were apologetic but offered only to send me a new replacement meter. Guess who was expected to do the repair. And while they didn't insist, the gentleman at Ameritron with whom I spoke suggested that he'd like to have the defective meter back. Of course, I obliged and sent it to him. I'm happy to report that despite my occasional clumsiness with a soldering iron I was able to change out the meter with no difficulty. Now, my AL-80B works perfectly and I am at least for now content.
The other minor grievance I have is with the manual which despite its being fairly comprehensive seems to me to be a bit ambiguous with respect to certain items like recommended plate and grid current levels for solid carrier modes like FM and AM (both of which I use) versus maximum PEP current. I've found what appear to be safe levels at which to maintain these values despite the somewhat nebulous instructions in the manual and I feel confident that I can operate the amp. in any mode without damaging the 3-500Z.
Overall, despite the brief time I've owned the 80B and the two issues described I am very happy with it and in retrospect regret not having bought it to begin with. A world of difference between the AL-80B and the AL-811. If possible, get the 80B and steer clear of the 811. And by all means take the notion of quality control with respect to Ameritron with two bags of salt.
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