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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: 120 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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WB5UAA Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2011 11:40 Send this review to a friend
Great Amp! Great Price  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is the second AL-80B I've owned. The first one I bought back in 2000, installed the grid protection circuit in it and ran it on 110 volts. I rode it hard and put it up wet regularly (that's cowboy talk for beating on it mercilessly). I replaced the tube in it about every year and a half because I rode it so hard. Never really followed the tuning procedures and relied on the grid protection circuit, which I tripped regularly. It worked flawlessly, as far as I'm concerned. With a new tube, it always put out more than rated. After glowing the tube anode a little too bright a little too many times with sagging line voltage and plate voltage, the tube would go soft. No surprises there. I did this until about 2007. Sold it (practically gave it away at a hamfest) because I was tired of moving it every year, since I was in the Air Force and moving about every year back then.

Now I'm settled and wanted to go QRO again. This amp is still the best bang for the buck. Single, relatively cheap tube (no neutralizing), less than 3db down from max legal power, works on 110V (even better on 220V), and it's only a little over a dollar a watt. This time, I was nervous after reading some of these reviews. Kind of like rolling the dice when I decided to go ahead and buy another one. Since the first one was such a fine workhorse for me, and looking at the ratio of good/bad reviews in here, I figured the odds were in my favor.

This time, before applying power, I did everything right to run a dedicated 220 volt circuit to the ham shack (246 Volts at the outlet!), rewired it for 245, did the 10M mod, plugged it in and since I forgot to order the GOP-100 along with it, I read the instructions this time. Following the instructions carefully, (1st limit ALC to 100 ma, then 180 ma, then back off exciter, then adjust ALC for that power) it puts out full rated power 80 to 10 and there's no voltage sag this time. Soon I'll have a Versa Tuner 5, some ladder line, and almost 300 feet of wire and I'll have this amp on 160. I'm sure it'll work fine there. I have the GOP-100 in hand and the next time I have it on the bench, I'll install it. This time, I'm expecting to have this amp for the rest of my life. I'm mainly a CW operator, so when I go QRO, I tune it up for max, and then back it off to 500 watts. I figure this amp is going to last me the rest of my life. And I'm expecting the tube to last a bit longer this time since I finally figured out there's not much difference between 800 watts CW and 500 watts CW. I've had this one for 3 months now, and it's working flawlessly.

There are a couple of bad reviews in here. I suppose there are a few bad apples that get through Ameritron QC every once in a while. I bought an ALS-600 for my father a few years ago and it was a lemon. Two of the MRF-150s popped like firecrackers first time power was applied. Sent the whole thing back, got another one. It's been working flawlessly since then (about 5 years ago.) So, what I'm saying is, for those of you reading these reviews, don't be afraid to get a lemon. If you get a lemon, Ameritron will take care of you. The biggest hassle is mailing the lemon back to them.
 
N5GOD Rating: 5/5 Jan 3, 2011 15:09 Send this review to a friend
Best Bang For The Buck!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have not had my AL80B but a couple of months. I had looked at bigger amps and I had a AL811H which did a very good job. I bought my AL80B new from HRO I have has no problems with it at all. With a Force 12 C4XL 1KW is all I need. It is the only amp Ameritron makes with a 2 year warranty. It may not be a racehorse but I do believe it is a workhorse as I have had friends that has had this same amp with great results. I would highly recommend Ameritron Amps. I have been to the factory and Mike gave me a tour and I called asking questions about Ameritron Amps after touring and before buying this amp and he was very helpful. If I ever did have problems with it I know where to get it fixed just down the road at Starkville, MS!
 
K8BZ Rating: 4/5 Dec 15, 2010 09:38 Send this review to a friend
Good Amp. Bad Documentation  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought the AL-80B over two years ago at a swap meet. The amp was like new in the original box. Re-wired it for 240v opeartion and did the 10 meter modification as described in the manual. The manual was not well written for these modifications but it was just adequate.

Used the Amp for a few months and a meter lamp burned out. Ameritron sent a replacement right away. Shipping cost more than the lamp. A few months later the amp had no output at all. Called Ameritron and described the problem and they were certain that the tube was bad and needed replaced. I browsed the web and found a well rated Chineese tube at a reasonable price and the amp worked fine after the tube was replaced.

Two years later I decided to order the QSK-5PC internal QSK board upgrade. The documentation for the QSK board installtion was very poor and in some instances was completely inadequate and you are left to guessing as to where some connections should be made. It required a few calls to Ameritron for clairification but the board is now installed and working properly.

I consider this amp very dependable and it performs well, although it is not top quality as far as construction and the manuals are only fair, at best. The technical support staff at Ameritron have been very helpful and have been able to correctly dientify the problems I have had very quickly. If you are considering this amp and want to work QSK, I suggest you buy it with the QSK board installed and don't try to install it yourself folling the supplied instructions.
 
W0JIG Rating: 5/5 Aug 26, 2010 15:51 Send this review to a friend
Nice little amp/G5RV  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought the AL-80B after I zapped the band switch on my AL-572 when I forgot to reduce the exciter from 100W and did not have it tuned correct. I have to say the AL-80B is more forgiven if you make a mistake. I have used the amp for the last three months without a bit of trouble and get great feedback. I get over 1k with about 90W of drive on 80 meters and 120V - I have not tested it on other bands yet but I think it will do fine. Also for the price it's hard to beat. So far so good. Joe W0JIG
 
VO1GWK Rating: 5/5 May 24, 2010 17:36 Send this review to a friend
AL-80BX  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I recently purchased a new Ameritron AL-80BX and it's a great amp. Like any amp, if you run it with a high VSWR and or are exciting it with too much drive you will have problems with it, that's only common sense unless one don't know the difference. All you have to do is look at the 3-500Z tube, if it's running bright red you're driving it too hard and or it's not loaded correctly. Run the amp so the tube is running a nice dull red color with x amount of power, high or low, and it will last for years without any problems.
 
KB3OJM Rating: 4/5 May 14, 2010 12:32 Send this review to a friend
Nice AMP  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I read all the reviews, looked at all the specs and even called Ameritron before buying this Amp. I picked up the AL-80B from HRO, I am running it on 120volts normal house hold current but on it's own line. I had a few problems with tuning and could not get the amp to hit 1K, 15-17 meters would feed back high SWRs and shut down half the power. Called Ameritron f tech support and they felt it might be a bad resister. after several days of trying to get the tng to work I decided to take it back to HRO in Delaware. Chuck at hro was very helpful and offered to check the amp out to see if it was a bad amp or just needed to be tuned. After hooking it up to an icom 7700 we still could not get the amp to tune on 15-17 meters. Half the store was trying to figure this out. they found a paper from Ameritron showing that 2 jumpers had to be cut in order to get the swrs down and make 15 and 17 meters work. This is not in the instructions that come with the amp. it does need to be added. Once the jumpers were cut the amp gave me 1k on 20-80 meters 650 - 900 watts on 15 and 17. 160 was not tested.
been using the amp now for about 3 weeks with out any problems, very easy to tune with about 70 watts drive. the cross needle meters add a nice plus for tuning. I am happy with the product and the support from ameriton is also very good. I would give this amp a 5 but with a key part of the instructions missing and dragging the amp around getting it fixed I'll leave it at a 4. I would recommend this amp. You can’t beat the quality for the price.
 
TURBOBOB Rating: 5/5 May 3, 2010 13:59 Send this review to a friend
Good Value - Good Quality  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have had my AL-80B for just over 12 months. It arrived well packed and with no issues. The component quality is better than I would have expected given some of the Ameritron reviews on this site. The amp is very easy to tune using my Elecraft K3 to drive it and I have not needed to hook up the ALC. Note that Elecraft does not recommend using an ALC.

Mine is wired for 240 volts and puts out about rated power on SSB on all bands through 10 meters with 85 watts drive. I like the “cross needle” meters and the power output indication matches the output noted on my Palstar AT2K tuner. I had to retune the 15/17 input so that I could get my K3 to drive the amp on 17 meters without rolling back due to high SWR on 17. I could have used the internal antenna tuner on the K3 however, I like the simplicity of not having to mess with it during tuning.

If you haven’t looked at amplifier tube prices lately you may not appreciate the single 3-500Z triode as the power tube. It is a very tolerant tube during tuning and its replacement price is not in the stratosphere. Overall I am very happy with this amp and I consider it a good vale.

K9FHY - Bob
 
WA5NNV Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2010 05:27 Send this review to a friend
Good Value  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased this amp from Ebay at half the price of a new unit. Upon receipt, I opened the unit to install the tube and look for anything out of order. Finding a burnt resistor in the 12 VDC Aux Output line which was easily replaced.

The amp was rewired for 220 VAC operation and has been in service at my QTH for six months.

Operation during this period has shown the unit to be quiet in operation, reliable, easy to tune following the recommended process in the owners manual. Normally driven by an Icom Pro-3 the output is close to the advertised specifications.

I would rate the AL-80B as good value for the dollar spent, especially if you find a good previously owned unit.

 
KE1EV Rating: 3/5 Jan 27, 2010 08:10 Send this review to a friend
Nice amp but doesn't meet specs  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I originally purchased a new AL-811 at HRO about a month ago. After checking it out I found that it wasn't putting out anywhere near rated power on 10 meters. I discussed the problem with Ameritron customer service. He indicated that there was likely something wrong with the rig so I returned it. Since I was driving all the way to HRO, I decided to upgrade to the AL-811h. I got that out of the box and found similar behavior. Good power out on most of the bands, but weak power on 10 meters. I figure an amp should put out at least 75% of what its spec'd for. I was getting out about 50% power on 10 meters and adjusting the bandpass coils didn't help. I called Ameritron again and was told that the 811 tubes don't perform well at the higher frequencies. I don't work 10m much so I guess that's not a real issue. I called the salesman at HRO and discusse the issue with him and decided to exchange it for an AL-80b. He had an open-box unit so the exchange wouldn't cost much. (you can read my AL-811H review on the associated page).

I've had the AL-80b for two weeks now and I've worked it a lot, about 4 hours each day. It works well. It is easy to tune, runs cool and quite. I get great signal reports. I can get through a pile-up at the flick of a switch. I like having the frontpanel power meters. It has an optional Grid Overload Protection board. At only $40, I don't understand why this isn't standard. Mine is on order at HRO.

I get close to rated power on most bands. I can't work 30m, but we're not authorized to run power on that band anyway. I can either work 15 or 17 meters, but not both. I can adjust the bandpass filter to use either band but its not wide enough for both. Since I use both of these bands, I find this a weakness. I can split performance between the 10/12m bands, getting 400w on 12 and 500 at the top of 10. Splitting is why I don't get rated power on these bands. I may be better off adjusting the tuning for one or the other. I see no reason that the bandpass couldn't be fixed to accommodate all bands. It would probably add less than $50 to the cost of the amp.

I set the jumpers on my unit to match my 115v line voltage and get as much as 1050W pep on 40m.
I tuned the rig and measured output power for both SSB and CW at 5khz steps through the amateur bands and recorded output power as indicated by the front-panel meter. Not including the 30m and 17m bands that don't work, I get an average of 754w SSB/693w CW. This is a 750w SSB/ 700w CW amp, not an 800W amp and it doesn't work on all bands (of course the meter could be off, but it agrees with my other two power meters). Here's what I get on the center of each band SSB/CW as measured on the amp power meter into a dummy load.

160 750/600
80 950/750
40 1050/950
30 N/A
20 780/780
17 High SWR to exciter
15 820/820
12 400/400
10 620/620

I buit a pecker-tuner and installed it in my rigblaster. I highly recommend the accessory. It makes tuning the amp much easier. SSB mesurements were made with the pecker tuner.

I think the AL-82b is a good value. After evaluating the 811, 811h, and 80b, I think this is the best of the bunch. The 811h is probably the best value if you have a good external meter that reads PEP. All three are good amps however. The next step up in amplifier power costs considerably more and once you get over a KW, you need to watch the quality of your feed line and you're into 220v. Another option is probably the ALS-600. The tube finals in these rigs are more forgiving than the FETs and much easier to replace. Once you make a table for setting the amp, tuning is a snap. I use my AL-80b with either my 2kw roller inductor tuner or my LDG-AT1000 autotuner. The manual tuner is more precise but the autotuner is easier to use. The amp seems happier with an SWR close to 1.0:1. I get better power out with the manual tuner.

MFJ makes the MFJ-828, a digital SWR meter that provides high SWR protection for the amp. I have one on order. This should help insure a long life for the final tube.

I gave the 811h a 3/5 rating because of low power on 10m. This amp has better power on 10m, but doesn't work all bands. I'd give it a 3.5 but there's no way to split it.

I can be contacted through my ARRL email account for questions. KE1EV
 
W7DBR Rating: 5/5 Jan 23, 2010 20:48 Send this review to a friend
Compact, Quiet, Cool, and Quick Kilowatt For A Kilobuck  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The summary says it all. The AL-80B is a simple to operate, compact, quiet, and cool HF amplifier that delivers a Kilowatt PEP on 120VAC for just over a thousand dollars. It offers incredible value as long as the quality hangs in there. An inspection of the components and manufacturing looks adequate, but it is not a tank like the $5000 amps. Time will tell on QRD. But for now, I am very happy with the performance. With my new Hy-Gain AV18HT Hy-Tower vertical antenna and the AL-80B, I am able to break through most pile-ups on the first call! And I get "Strong Signal!" reports with "Great Audio!" as well. QRD notwithstanding, the other reviews are right on the money: no other HF amp comes close to the value provided by the AL-80B.


W7DBR
 
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