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


Reviews Summary for Ameritron AL-80A
Ameritron AL-80A Reviews: 45 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $1399
Description: Ameritron AL-80a 1KW Output, 160-15, 10 possible with mod.
run a single 3-500z, 850 watts CW, 1000 watts SSB.
Product is in production.
More info: http://
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KJ4EOZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 9, 2016 04:47 Send this review to a friend
Almost legal limit   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A good ham buddy passed away and left me all his gear and one thing was a AL80A and wow what a amp .
Using my LP100A meter and my Yaseu meter shows the same . 80 meters full drive 1200 watts . Other bands 1100 watts +/- I run it most of the time with 65 watts 850 +/- out . and run super cool . Can't even hear it run . Tunes fast and easy . I was going to sell it guy had money in his hand to buy it from me but playing with it for a day or 2 and I told him I was keeping it lol .
 
KC9OET Rating: 5/5 Jan 29, 2016 12:51 Send this review to a friend
great  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought a used al-80a amp and sent it to ameritron and had the tech,fix everything that was wrong with it,and now it works flawless those amps are work horses with 50-watts drive I get 700-watts out I replaced the power triode with the 3-500zg it is easy to tune,and has a wisper quite fan,and with 3100-votes on the plate it is more than enough for the triode,most amps using 2-3-500z,s don,t have that much plate voltage so if you want a great amp get the al-80a you can,t go wrong
 
KR3DX Rating: 5/5 Nov 27, 2015 13:03 Send this review to a friend
ALL gear should be this good  Time owned: more than 12 months
The following are my personal observations and opinions. I bought my AL-80A new, in 1987. It was made in Ohio, before the Ameritron name was acquired by MFJ. The workmanship is flawless, it has good solder joints, and all mechanical connections are tight. One of the grain-of-wheat lamps that illuminate the meters burned out after a couple of months, I replaced all the lamps with LEDs, and they have been working fine since then. The only problem that I had was with the original Eimac tube. I was unlucky enough to get a tube from the bad batch that had a defective anode plate to cap weld, and it developed a tilt of the anode. Of course, this was not Ameritron's fault. By this time, Eimac had ceased production of glass tubes, so I bought an Amperex tube that was made in France. (I try to avoid buying anything made in China, it's ALL junk, in my opinion) I have used this amp for countless SSB ragchews, many of them lasting for an hour or longer. Most of this operation has been on 20M and 40M, with occasional use on the higher bands. I have used it during the PA-QSO Party, which requires constant cycling from transmit to receive. I have occasionally applied drive to it with the bandswitch in the wrong position. I have NEVER had any problem with this amp. It has always functioned flawlessly. About once a year, I remove the cover and vacuum the inside of the amp, and wipe down the tube envelope and HV anode areas with a lint-free cloth. This is the only maintenance that it has required in over 28 years. It's been a great amp, I would buy it again, without hesitation.

73,
Denny KR3DX
 
N8VIL Rating: 5/5 Jan 31, 2015 22:11 Send this review to a friend
Great amplifier with updates  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased this amplifier not working for $200.00. Most of my gear is purchased not working and I enjoy restoring to better than new condition. I replaced the terrible "step start" relay with the Harbach stepstart board. The new boards come with mounting holes at each corner. Mounted it to the inside rear cabinet with 1/4 X 3/4 hex standoffs and #6 screws. This board gives a nice 1/4 second start up sequence. Plate voltage ramps up to 1700 volts then 1/4 second later 3000 volts. Also replaced plate choke, current design from Ameritron, and RFP 3-500ZG tube. Added a 3 LED warm white strip to the top of each meter for meter lights. I find that 240 volts is a better way to power the amplifier. Less current on the AC line to the outlet and also the internal AC wiring in the amplifier. The wiring in the amplifier is a little thin for my taste and is also a little easier on the power switch and stepstart relay contacts.
I get about 800 watts CW during tune up with 75-80 drive. Signal reports have been great and I am very pleased with this amp. I spent about $250 in parts (stepstart board - plate choke - new tube) to bring this amplifier to its former glory.
I also sanded the top cover, primed and painted. It was all scratched up. I used an etching primer from Duplicolor to prime and Rusteloem makes a nice fine textured satin black paint that duplicates the original finish. You cant tell that it has been repainted. Anyways 5 star rating with me and I had to brag a bit about my latest restoration project
 
K1FBI Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2013 11:01 Send this review to a friend
Amazing  Time owned: more than 12 months
Decades later there is still full output from the original tube. My AL-80B was always light on the power and the AL-80A looks so much nicer. Maybe I should rate this a 4 because it's not a brand new top of the line, mega-dollar Alpha; just a $600 bargain that works great. (Hams, gotta luv 'em)
 
WA4DMV Rating: 4/5 May 21, 2013 11:01 Send this review to a friend
Bargain!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought an AL-80A a couple of months ago from another ham who was installing a higher power amp. Previously, this amp was in use daily. As far as he knew, the only mods were the 10M OEM mod and an add-on slow-start module.

Got the amp home and immediately started melting coax, as I was too anxious to get it on the air and tuned it with key down. Mah bad! The other dumb thing I did was "ass-ume" that a current balun rated at 300W would be able to handle "a little more". It didn't. Melted a piece of #14 wire inside it. Oh, and with the open balun, I had about a ton of reflected power, which my FT-920 didn't like. Smoke was seen and later I determined that the modulator was fried.

So I went out and bought an FT-DX3000D, as the local repair guy was backed up for a long while and who can go without an HF rig? I replaced the balun with one rated 5KW to make that end idiot (me) proof. I tuned it up and voila! I found that I was getting about 750 watts on 20M. I knew why I couldn't get more. The amp was wired for 120V when I got it, and I had plugged it into a shared 15A circuit. But then again, I was anxious to get the damn thing on the air, so who cares if the house burns down? With key down, the plate voltage would drop from 3100 to 2500 and the few remaining incandescent lights in the room would dim. That would need to be rectified, no pun intended.

I installed a new 60A service for the second-story bedroom I have converted to a ham shack, and I installed an L6-20 outlet. Followed Ameritron's simple conversion instructions -- changing two jumpers on a barrier strip -- five-minute job (all that's happening here is that two separate primary windings which were used in parallel for 120V are connected in series for 240V). I removed the soft-start circuit, as I doubted that it would function with the amp wired for 240, and besides, the designer of this amp has stated that the only reason for the soft-start was to reduce inrush current load on the power switch -- and wouldn't really help or hurt anything else. Buttoned 'er up and got a hernia lifting 'er back into position.

Fired 'er up. First problem: blown fuse. I pulled the fuses and found that the previous owner had installed a 7A 250V fuse on one side of the line and a 15A 32V fuse on the other. Ameritron's specs call for 10A 250V on both sides. Obviously, it was the 7A fuse that blew. My parts bin was no help, so off to the local surplus emporium, where I got what I thought was 2 10A fuses, but in actuality, one was a 9/10A. So, anxious to operate guy that I am, I installed the 10A along with the 15A. (Yeah, I know.)

Powered it up and my first observation was that the key-down drop in plate voltage was minuscule. Yes! Tuned up (using keyer) and found that I can get about 900 watts out while limiting grid current to the recommended 200ma. This is on 20M with about 60W drive. I haven't spent a lot of time with it on other bands.

Clearly, the 3-500Z had been replaced sometime along the way, as the tube bore the RF Parts label -- a private-labeled tube manufactured in the dreaded China. RF Parts sells them for $190, whereas the Amperex tube (made currently in France) goes for $330.

I heard that WARC bands were an issue with this amp, but I had no trouble on 17, even when I was dimming the lights with each pronounced syllable. Speaking of lights, three out of four incandescent meter lamps were burned out. It was obvious that these were added at some point in the amp's long life, as they were taped to the top of the meter cases. I ordered some LED replacements from MFJ, wired them up, and it looks like a new amp! (You do have to glue them to the meter housing, but a drop of hot glue works quite well.)

I gave the old boat anchor a four rating because it isn't a modern, solid-state amp with automatic tuning and band switching. Otherwise, I say buy one if you get a chance. I paid $650 for mine. If you get one without a manual, MFJ/Ameritron has a PDF of the manual on-line. Also, their tech support is responsive to questions about the AL-80A. That's great support for a product this long in the tooth.

I hope you find my narrative reviews engaging. I am, after all, a ham.
 
N5OP Rating: 5/5 May 16, 2013 09:21 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Amp for the $  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a very early version of this around 1985 and still have it. I have modified mine for 4 kV B+ (open load) and about 3.6 kV under full load (400 mA) using a FWB. I don't use it as a matter of course, but only when needed. I've contested (CW) with it only a couple of times. Mine has the current production full QSK board in it (the old one bit the dust) along with the current production plate choke (no resonance issues on the WARC bands. Increasing B+ required modifications to the output tank, but that is expected. It still has the original 3-500Z in it though I have a spare.

Because of the modification, I'm always careful tuning it up so that it is never lightly loaded. Typical drive levels run about 70 W. Output runs just shy of 1000 W key down on 40 m, but drops off a bit on 80 m, and even more on 160 m. Output drops slightly on 20 m, and is progressively less on 15 and 10 m, falling to about 650 W on 10 m.
 
N3DWS Rating: 5/5 Apr 28, 2013 20:45 Send this review to a friend
Very happy with mine  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought mine from someone off of QTH.com. The amplifier pictures that were sent to me showed the amp to be immaculate inside. BUT... the amp had not been used for over five years which caused me to worry about a "Gassy" 3-500Z. I received the amp and powered it up on 80M. The out put was at about 800 watts CW but the tube was showing a blueish purpleish haze at the top of the tube when keyed... Gassy !!!. Ordered a new tube and installed it in the amp.

After playing with the amp abit, I am able to get a full 1000 watts out on all bands. The amp has proven to be a good one for me and is very clean (when tuned properly) as attested to by a fellow ham which looked at my transmitted signal. If I hadn't had to get a new tube, the price was right. A very good 1KW amp for the money you can get them for.

The only con is that the fan that is in mine is a bit louder than I would like. I am hoping to get a new fan for it at Dayton or on line. You can't go wrong with this amp if you take care of it, keep it clean and run it as the manual says to. If you are considering one, go for it!
 
KE4COL Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2013 11:56 Send this review to a friend
Best amp for the money  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought this amp used in November. There were a few minor problems with it, and I must say Ameriron was very help-full. I chose the al80a over other amps because;
The 3-500Z tube will out last a pile of sweep tubes.
They can be found at a great price.
Excellent support from Ameritron.
If you are looking for a 1KW amp at a great price, this one gets my vote.
 
K7UA Rating: 4/5 Jan 29, 2013 13:41 Send this review to a friend
Nice little amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
A friend gave me an AL80A that he had blown up by accidentally driving it with 200 watts. It was in pretty bad shape after that with a blown tube and some other damage. I eventually got it all fixed up and put in some new meter lights. That made it a pretty nice backup amp to my Alpha. If you don't beat them too hard they will run well for a long time. I eventually had mine converted to 6M by King Conversions. Lou did a great job converting it and it made a fine 6M amp. I later sold it having somewhat regretted not keeping it stock for HF. If you find one at a reasonable price grab it. A single 3-500 final tube is still very popular and I like the looks of the AL80A better than the later model.
 
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