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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Ameritron AL-84 Help

Reviews Summary for Ameritron AL-84
Ameritron AL-84 Reviews: 22 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $300-400 used
Description: 1.8-22mhz Linear Amplifier
100w in, 400w min out
4x 6MJ6
120v or 240v
Product is in production.
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N1CKX Rating: 5/5 Sep 5, 2010 04:18 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful Little Amp  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I originally picked this amp up thinking I would gut the RF deck and build a small 6 meter amp using the Cabinet and Power Supply as a start.
The seller shipped the amp without removing the tubes and one of them broke in shipment. UPS wanted to pay the insurance and take the amp away to scrap it.
The seller finally agreed to reimburse me the cost of the tubes and I found some cheap in a local flea market, as I wanted to make sure the transformer and power supply were OK before I gutted the unit.
I hooked the unit up and initially had about a 300 volt drop in Plate Voltage when key down. This was NOT the fault of the amp, but a fault of my 115 volt house wiring. I have a #10 230 volt feed to the shack and hooked up an industrial isolation (2500kVA) transformer to that which allowed me to pull a clean 120 volt source.
This considerably “stiffened” up the power supply and now it only drops around 100 volts.
Note that a stiff AC supply is important for ANY amplifier. If the AC isn’t stiff, the amplifier power supply will sag on voice peaks removing a lot of punch from the PEP envelope.
A couple of quick tests showed that the RF envelope of the AL-84 was much cleaner on 20 meters than it was on my brand new AL-572. On a 200 MhZ Scope, the AL-572 shows definite second harmonic compliments. The AL-84 looks like a classic textbook Sine Wave. Hmmmm. ( I will dig into the 572 later to see what I can do about its issues)
I put the little amp on the air and the first contact I made commented on how good my signal sounded.
The second and third contacts also made unsolicited comments on signal. This has proven to be the norm when I operate the AL-84. My 572 provides more power, but signal reports on the AL-84 are excellent and usually are the first comment from whoever I contact.
Since 400 watts is usually more than enough power anyway, the AL-84 is now my “primary” amp and the 572 sits Idle until I need to break some pileup on a rare call. I am now searching for another cheap amp to gut for 6 meters.
The AL-84 will remain as is as my primary station amp. It’s that good.
AK7P Rating: 5/5 Mar 25, 2010 09:20 Send this review to a friend
Good lil' amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
When first looking for a small desktop amplifier I was limiting my search for something small enough to fit on my desk, light enough to pack around for field day, and budget friendly. Like many of the other people who have posted, look closely at the going prices for replacement tubes! I would recommend the 6mj6 over the 6lq6 tubes after reading posts web wide. The extra cost(s) to consider if buying one of these amps really depends on the condition of the existing tubes. Mine have gone a little flat and without a tube tester I know they aren't giving me 100% like they once did. To replace my tubes I anticipate to pay between $60-$90 each for NIB old stock.

***If you buy one of these amps ensure that the shipper removes the tubes and packages them separately. When I received my amplifier it blew the fuse, thinking nothing of it I replaced the fuse and it blew again. I had to remove the cover and found two things wrong. During shipping one of the tubes became dislodged from the socket and needed to be reseated. The second issue was on one of the caps, the solder had broke loose. Both were simple fixes but frustrating none the less and could have been avoided by removing the tubes before shipping.***

Enough about the tubes and onto the amp. I love the simplicity of the AL-84! Mine covers 15-160 meters less the WARC bands. I haven't looked into adding 10, 12, and 17 let alone 30 meters, probably won't. I have my AL-84 hooked up to my IC-746 through an ARB-704 which simplifies interfacing. To ensure I have a good match between my antenna(s) I tune up with my Palstar AT2K and then begin tuning up the AL-84 into my Palstar DL1500. The combination of equipment makes my life a whole lot easier to get the most out of my amplifier.

My amp used to give me a solid 400 watts on 80 meters with as little as 60-70 watts worth of drive. Comparable power was noted on 160 and 40 meters. As expected, the power goes down to nearly 300 on the higher bands. Lately I've noticed that my power out has decreased to just above 350 watts on 80 meters. I have made a conscious decision to reduce my drive power and run between 250-300 watts until I save up enough for a new set of tubes.

During QSOs with neighboring hams as well as during times when chasing DX they all comment on how clean and clear my signal is. I have to give credit to Ameritron for the AL-84s success not only in my shack but abroad as well.

Would I recommend purchasing one, yes! Just remember that tubes now days are costly and may cost more than the amp did.

W7MHZ Rating: 5/5 Dec 20, 2008 02:46 Send this review to a friend
Best LiL Amplifier  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought two of these when they first came out...
One for my Dad and one for myself... Never had a problem of any kind. Both worked perfectly and they were easy to use. Just tune at low power and for short periods to spare the tubes. They last a long time. Wish I had one now. The power is about what I use most of the time anyway. I have a SB-222 and a couple of Henry amps... all nice but the AL-84 is Handy. Get one if you get a chance.
M0JIY Rating: 5/5 Oct 2, 2008 14:28 Send this review to a friend
there is beauty in simplicity!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Excellent little amp! Perfect for us Brits with our license condition. With the sun-spot minimum I had virtually given up on HF. I could hear a little bit of activity but not work anything at all. Now- if I can hear it I can work it! I use a Hustler 6btv which is not the best aerial but good for my situation. Now I can work even those scratchy stations on 80m and get compliments for my signal strength and audio. Watch those valves though as they are getting hard to come by! When you buy this linear make sure that those valves are good.
When you open that cabinet it all looks very pretty inside: there is something beautiful about the simplicity that valve linears have.
It is dated because of the need to have four matching television sweep valves but it is 'great' because it is a beautiful little piece of kit that gets you heard nice and clearly out there in the ether!
K7UNZ Rating: 5/5 Dec 19, 2007 12:08 Send this review to a friend
Great Little Unit  Time owned: more than 12 months
Actually I had the AL-84X, which just means it was factory set for WARC/10 meter bands. The export model. This was in 1983, and while we had part of 30 meters, 12/17 were still not authorized in the USA.

Ameritron was nice enough to send it to me in the States as I was heading for a tour in Norway under military orders. At the time, the power limit in Norway was 400 watts output, so it was the perfect amp for my needs.

Well, used it a bit in Norway, followed by a few years in Italy, than returned to the States. The amp kinda just sat in the closet most of the time, but did get pulled out once in a while for 80 meters. Never a glitch! Turn it on, let it warm a bit, and away she goes! Ran it on 220V overseas, and 120V in the States. Never even blew a fuse in 20+ years of service!

Bought an AL-811 a couple of years ago, and the little '84 was spending all it's time in the closet. So, gave it to a local high school radio club a few months ago, along with a few other things.

Still running fine on the original tubes, still looked new, still performed like new. What more can I say?

Now I kinda miss it....

73, Jim/k7unz

WA2DTW Rating: 5/5 Oct 26, 2007 07:14 Send this review to a friend
Ditto  Time owned: more than 12 months
Nice, simple to operate amplifier that takes up little space, and is easily liftable.
My only gripe is that it will not do AM, because the sweep tubes will not take a continuous duty cycle.
NL7FK Rating: 5/5 Oct 25, 2007 23:42 Send this review to a friend
Beauty and a Beast  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ok, This little amp may not be a big beast but for the size and what it is this little beauty is one heck of an amplifier.

This amplifier fits a number of needs. First off we all know the first 500 to 600 watts is the most noticable on the distant end. This little amp will get you about 450 watts on CW and 600 watts on phone. This fits the needs of a large majority of the ops out there today. It will get you through the QRN on the lower bands and will make you a larger presence on the higher end of the spectrum. Best of all it will not break the bank in the process.

Another key issue to consider is the footprint of this amplifier. It is a nice small package that packs a punch. It is quiet and no one will ever complain about the loud fan noise when you key up. There is no need to run 220 volt wiring in the shack with this gem because it works great and purrs along on common 110 volt house current.

What not to do. Do not be afraid of the 4 sweep tubes. Many think that those tubes are expensive to replace. Well, that is not necessairly true. One just has to care when loading the amplifier. Those tubes are not quite as durable and forgiving as tubes such as a 3-500 and others but they will take a licking and keep on ticking.

For the money to be spent on the used market I highly reccomend picking up one as either a good first amp or as a back-up. You will not go wrong.
One thing to take note of is nice amps will bring a premium price but they are definately worth the investment. Current market price is in the $350.00 to $450.00 for premium.
NA5Z Rating: 4/5 May 25, 2007 01:44 Send this review to a friend
Nice Rugged Little Amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've used this little amp for years upon years now (since 88 or 89). It's small enough to be easily portable without creating a hernia (not something you can say about many tube amps) and it tunes up pretty easily just about anywhere into a variety of loads.

I'd post some negatives about it if I had them... but I don't. This amp's been all over and even operated from the top of Rudder Tower at Texas A&M and at special event station for the Fightin Texas Aggie Bonfire (whoop!).

As far as drive levels go, I tend to do as posted earlier - tune it at low input power, run the drive up to about 400W out (avg) and tweak again if necessary to keep the current down. Usually that's only a problem when the antenna return loss is starting to get out of hand.

What sells me repeatedly on this amp, is I've used a variety of the older 2kW tube amps (Henry, Drake, Heath) and this one always felt quicker and easier to tune up. I'm not saying I prefer 400W to a full boat (hi hi), but even if I find another "big boy" amp, this one will still be my favorite for portable op's.
K5PNV Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2007 05:49 Send this review to a friend
Good little amp!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently picked up a reasonably priced AL-84 from an owner who said the tubes tested good but no RF output from the amp. I traced the problem to two plate cap leads that needed a resolder job and, of all things, the cover screw on the right side, closest to the plate capacitor. The screw he was using, while the same length as those in the other holes, was long enough to cause an interaction with the variable capacitor. When it was screwed in, no output! I removed it completely, and the little amp was in business.

With both the old tubes, and with 4 NOS 6MJ6s that I had on hand, it puts out a solid 400+ watts with only 60 watts drive. The output looks great on the scope. It is definitely a keeper, and I've got the old tubes (93% good) if the NOS set gets tired.
WEB01 Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2006 21:56 Send this review to a friend
KG0WX Hit the anil on the head!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a great little starter amp. I don't like the short tuning time but once you get used to it, not to bas at all. It's a nice small size and works very well and I don't drive it more than 70w. I've owned mine for years now and it's
the most reliable amplifier I have ever owned to date. My tubes are still at 95% and no problems with them. I have no trouble finding a set of 4 for about 60 bucks if I don't have any in my tube pile. I bought a matched set 2 years ago just in case for 60 bucks so I got lucky I guess.
It is an easy to operate all around good mid power amp that helps with qrm and pile ups. I only use it when conditions warrant the need.
I do like the set up and feel of it and controls are straight forward. If you have newer rigs, you may scratch your head about getting the relay cable hooked up to your radio but once passed that it really is smooth sailing.
Good amp, Good brand. Well done for the price they can be had for these days.
Rich W2EBR
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