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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: 131 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $1300
Description: Kilowatt output HF desktop linear
Product is in production.
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N7RSN 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.
VK2LC Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2012 21:57 Send this review to a friend
Best Value for $$  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Simple to use, but the manual makes it sound hard, it gives you 2 pages on how the ALC works. A bit of over kill but it is thorough.

Ok now the bad bit. After a couple of hours of running it developed a loud buzzing sound. Initially I thought something had been sucked up into the fan but it was clear. Carefully bypassing the safety switch (not for the feint hearted) I found the noise was coming from the transformer. Expecting arcing I darkened the room but all looked ok.

Probing with a wooden spoon (kitchen high voltage probe) I found the lamination on the bottom of the transformer was buzzing so a bit of 5 minute epoxy resin and it was fixed.

I sent an Email to Ameritron and they replied it was their recommended fix.

So bottom line. MFJ quality (or lack there of) Simple design cheap Tube and built like a tank. Once you get past the self Quality Control as with all MFJ you get a good amp. And as Hams, whats wrong with pulling things apart, would be nice not having to do it the same day you get it!!
KI0Z Rating: 5/5 Nov 26, 2011 15:29 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Trusty AL-80B has been running every day for just short of 2 years . It has been a solid proformer in every way with just under 1000 watts out . The fan is so silent you only know it is on by the LED back lit Meters. It is unfortunate that when we buy anything we roll the dice. I inspected it inside and it looked first class to me.... I like the Instant on feature of the 3-500Z like the 572-B,& 3CX1200A7 NO WAITING HERE......!
N4JA Rating: 2/5 Nov 26, 2011 10:15 Send this review to a friend
plate tuning cap arcs  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
What is wrong with this amp is that you will get an amp that the plate tuning capacitor will arc. The problem lies with the supplier who sells the change-over relays to Ameritron.
You will assume that both sets of contacts would close at the same time. For the majority of these amps, this is true. But occasionally you will get the cange-over relay that the input side makes contact before the output side. This is what happens: The input side closes, makes contact and drives the amp into an open load before the output closes. This causes a millisecond arc of the plate tuning capacitor. If this happens enough times, the arc is sustained and the plate tuning capacitor is ruined. That is what happened to the one I just had. It lasted only 8 days. I sent it back. I once had an ALS 600 that would fault about every third transmission. I cured it's relay problem by slightly bending the output side of the relay so it would make contact before the input side. That cured the faulting problem.Most of these Al-80B's work properly. Since the change over relays are open framed, you can get to the relay contacts and by slightly and I mean SLIGHTLY bend the output relay contacts so the relay closes with the proper sequence. It is not a design or manufacturing problem with Ameritron. It is a problem caused by whoever supplies the the relays. I don't care whose amp you buy, you should make sure both sets of relay contacts close at the same time or are properly sequenced. I never had this problem with the AL 80A I owned more than 10 years ago. I assume the relays were of better quality. I also had this same problem with an AL-82.
WB6ANT Rating: 5/5 Oct 18, 2011 13:46 Send this review to a friend
Best value Amplifier  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
For the price, the AL-80B is hard to beat. The next move up, to the legal limit, is a big jump in cost for a relatively small performance gain. I am completely satisfied with the performance this amplifier provides. It is a solid design that has proven itself capable over many years. I don't operate much on the WARC bands, but using my rigs autotuner does allow full drive on 12 and 17 meters if I choose. I changed the internal jumpers and operate the AL-80B on 240-volts. It produces rated output on all bands. Hopefully, there is enough demand in the amateur market to keep China interested in producing the 3-500Z (and 811s / 572Bs) for many more years. For all of the bad ink that Ameritron amps seem to get, there sure are an awful lot of them operating on the ham bands, producing loud, clean signals when properly tuned and operated. 73, Jim
VE3BXB Rating: 5/5 Sep 12, 2011 09:54 Send this review to a friend
Best bang for the buck / Great Performance  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I just wish to say that this is my first amplifier that I have ever owned. I have only had it for about 4 months. I feel that I could not have purchased a better amp. For the price range of this amp, you can't go wrong. I do operate the amp on a 120 volt dedicated AC line with no problems. When transmitting into a dummy load the amp peaks out at 1.1kilwatt with no problems. It is very easy to tune as well for a manual tuner. The meters are nice and bright with the use of LED's
Under normal operation I typically operate between 600 to 800 watts in order to preserve the life of the tube
I can't say enough about the quality of this amp. I highly recommend this amp to anyone. The only other amp that I might have considered would be the AL 82 but there is a considerable difference in price.
Thanks for reading my posting VE3BXB
KT0NY Rating: 4/5 Apr 24, 2011 15:39 Send this review to a friend
Bang for the buck  Time owned: more than 12 months
I guess after owning this amp for 7 years I've had enough time to form an opinion.

You won't find a much better watts-per-dollar deal. The amp is rugged, runs on 120V, and is easy to set up and tune. The 3-500ZG is an excellent choice: widely available, inexpensive, and hard to hurt.

What are the negatives?

The fan isn't rackety, but it is noticeable.

The tuned input has stumped some of the users on this forum. My solution is to use the autotuner on my K3. I set the amp up for max drive on 20 and 15; then when I want to use the amp on 30 or 17, I turn it to Operate and push the ATU button on the K3. This completely cures the off-resonance drive issue on the Warc bands.

The design relies on an ALC connection to the transceiver. ON4UN expresses his opinion of that in his book Low-Band DXing: "ALC is evil." For maximum linearity, it's better to leave the ALC disconnected, and set drive on a per-band basis such that the ALC needle never moves or just barely ticks up on occasion. This reduces maximum output somewhat, but produces a cleaner signal.

If you understand this amp's limitations and operate within them, it is an excellent, long-lived, rugged performer and a great value.

Tony KT0NY
K4ZNC Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2011 11:34 Send this review to a friend
Know what your're paying for before you buy it  Time owned: more than 12 months
This will be my third review of the AL80B that I purchased almost 10 years ago. I knew when I purchased the amp that the WARC bands slugs would have to be peaked for those bands, and I knew it when I purchased the amp. No false advertising from Ameritron!

The AL80B was my first purchase of brand new equipment (other equipment was used). Occasional carelessness in tuning on my part did not damage this unit; very durable and reliable.

I recently sent this unit back to to Ameritron to replace one of the meters; they replaced both menters and charged me for only the damaged meter. Nice work Ameritron!
KI5FJ Rating: 3/5 Apr 17, 2011 08:25 Send this review to a friend
OK, Input SWR Issues  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
21 Years ago I built the SB-1000 (AKA AL-80A).
Still in use. I purchased the AL-80BQ with
Factory Installed QSK & GOP.The input SWR is poor,not broad-banded enough.This is NOT a new issue. Ameritron should switch the input separately for each band and allow for Front Panel QSY adjustment.
My ICOM-756ProIII Internal ATU clips the beginning of each word when the Input SWR is HIGH. Ameritron states: DO NOT use internal ATUs, live with the SWR!?! I now use a manual ATU, MFJ-949E, tuned for some bands, between the rig and amp.The QSK is amazing.I operate 30 to 40 Watts Input, 160-10 Meters.
W7DME Rating: 3/5 Apr 1, 2011 09:36 Send this review to a friend
Some Disapointment  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I found out today, that if you want to use an Ameritron AL-572 or any of their amps on the WARC bands, you have to retune the input filters for each band. I guess I'm picky, but I feel that when someone advertises that their equipment will do something, that it should do so without having to go into the equipment and change the internal settings. Obviously, if you retune the input, then the normal bands don't work now. Other than that, the amp work good so far. I just feel they falsely advertised their product.
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