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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | SPE Expert 1K-FA Help

Reviews Summary for SPE Expert 1K-FA
SPE  Expert 1K-FA Reviews: 89 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $ 2700 Euro
Description: 1 KW Solid State Fully Automatic Linear Amplifier HF and 50Mhz

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I2DMI Rating: 5/5 Dec 3, 2011 00:42 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful toy!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Last summer I operated as CE0Y/I2DMI from Easter Island. Transceiver was a Kenwood TS-480 with an EXPERT 1KA amplifier and N1MM+MVARI software. I am very satisfied from both the hardware and software. I made about 2800 QSOs in RTTY only (AFSK mode) by using 550/600 watts of my Expert. I used it in HALF POWER and CONTEST mode. The PA temperature never went over 65°C at full duty. The fans were very quiet and I could operate while my wife was sleeping in the room. I had no RF problems so far with my DELL 6600 PC. The apparatus has never shown operative tiredness considering that the activity was made in RTTY only.
My main concern had to deal with the air transportation and the potential damage to the amplifier. I was granted by SPE that their packaging (double boxing) was guaranteed to any kind of shipping, across the Atlantic as well. I trusted in them and luckily the Expert went to E.I. and got back to Italy safe (abt 25.000 KM), along with the cases and the antenna.
Just to have an idea of the intense activity done in RTTY, please watch the video you can find at the bottom of my homepage:
73 Frank I2DMI
W9AC Rating: 4/5 Oct 22, 2011 18:41 Send this review to a friend
Highly Reliable Design  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased my amp two years ago from SteppIR. It's been a reliable amp with no difficulties and it attains full output power on all bands. The amp interfaces nicely with my transceivers although I would like to see SPE offer an output vacuum relay and/or PIN diode option.

The amp produces quite a bit of fan noise as the PA deck temperature rises but that's something owners must live with for solid-state convenience. Output power falls off a bit too as the PA deck temperature rises.

I like the amp for its no wait time power and its solid construction solid quality, but I would not rely on it as my only amp. Tube amps still offer much more cost-effective operating headroom capability and generally, output power remains constant with PA deck temperature.
N4DXB Rating: 5/5 Sep 29, 2011 22:32 Send this review to a friend
Awe-inspiring Amp!  Time owned: more than 12 months
One of my favorite items in the shack. This has changed my operating procedure for the better. I have complete confidence in the amp and it's incredibly accurate tuner. It is connected to my TS-2000 and responds immediately to my changing the bands on the radio, and tunes as soon as I press the PTT. Seeing the internal temperature of the amp on it's front display is so helpful when you are operating full power. There is a half power button on the front to dial back the power output when you don't need the full 1kw (it's actually 1.1 - 1.2kw). I feed the output through a Array Solutions Power Master SWR meter to see what is really coming out of the amp. The backlit display and the compact size of this unit make it a great, but very pricy (and heavy)addition to the shack. This amp, purchased in 2008, has helped me make contacts from San Diego to New Zealand, South Korea, European Russia, and southernmost South America, as well as all the US and Canada. It feeds a Windom Wire at 55 ft and a Steppir Small Vertical with 60 radials.
IZ1TMF Rating: 5/5 Jul 21, 2011 05:06 Send this review to a friend
Great Solid State Amplifier  Time owned: more than 12 months
This amplifier work great!!
Really fast (two second ) and you are in frequency, without tune or turn knob for more than minute like a lot of others amplifiers. All is under control, SWR,Power,Alarm and more.Quiet and no warm added in your location when is in recive or in stby, and really compact for the size ideal for expeditions, the best one with the antenna tuner inside all included.
For my point of view is a balanced union of cost and performace for the radioham with medium budget to spend for this class of amplifier.
PY2ADR Rating: 5/5 Apr 3, 2011 12:03 Send this review to a friend
1 year on  Time owned: more than 12 months
After 1 year - still rocking !!!
Mainly DX & Contests (SSB, CW and DATA on 1/2 pwr)no problems at all. The pwr drops a little bit after a long time running but not a big deal.
Completly satisfied.

YV5AM Rating: 5/5 Mar 31, 2011 11:35 Send this review to a friend
Great amplifier in small and easy to carry package  Time owned: more than 12 months
I picked up my amplifier at the factory in Rome on my way to the IARU-R1 Conference in the fall of 2008. I hand carried it in his convenient padded bag thru Dubrovnik, Frankfurt, Madrid and finally home Caracas. No trouble on any of the 3 airlines or airports.
The amplifier has been used in activation of some of the Venezuelan rare provinces and prefix like YV8 and YV9, promoted by the Radio Club with some inexperienced and young hams as operators. Once connected the amplifier to the antennas and the exciter an IC 7000, after configure the right antennas to the bands in use and going once thru the tuner settings I confidently let the novel guys operate knowing that no damage can be done,. The linear tracked automatically the band changes, if something went wrong the many protection features worked fast.
The voltages taps on the transformer primary is much convenient, when once the line voltage was very low I changed to the 100 volts tap and the rig keeps working happily. At home I use the 220 volts tap.
I bought the amplifier with the idea to be used during our IOAT islands hopping in Venezuela and possible DXpeditions but later I am using it almost all the time at home, and the big and heavy tube amplifier with the “longest” three minutes delay has been relegated to one corner of the shack
WC4X Rating: 5/5 Feb 21, 2011 15:40 Send this review to a friend
Great amp-Loads of features  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
About one year ago, I got the wild hair to get rid of my QRO HF 2500 "rock crusher" in favor of something a little smaller with the ability to do quick changes between bands to support my mostly casual operating style. Wanting to go all solid state without totally breaking the bank, the "race" was between the THP and the SPE. I have good friends who own both and they are very satisfied with their respective decisions.

My decision was made at Dayton last year---and it was a close call---but the advanced features of the SPE won me over. I received my new amplifier in June 2010.

Steppir was very good at keeping me informed throughout the order and delivery process. They have also been excellent in responding to the two issues that I have had. They are;

1. My unit had a defective fan that produced way more noise than it should. Steppir sent me a new fan as soon as I made them aware of the problem. Easily replaced and --problem solved.

2. One of the front panel switches (Input 1/2) did not work--I only noticed it in December when I tried to use that feature for the first time. Once again, Steppir responded immediately to my quiry and after a few e mails back and forth it was determined that in fact the front panel switch was defective. Steppir put their east coast rep, Jim Streible on the case. Since I live relatively close to him, Jim actually came to my home and did the repair on the spot. Now that's service definitely above and beyond what is expected or required.

The amp itself is a dream to use. It interfaces perfectly with my 756 Pro 3 and computer. I do not miss the difference in power between 1.5KW and 1KW. At half power it is hardly working. At full power it is definitely working but not stressed. I especially appreciate the protection built into the unit to save me from those times that the wrong antenna is selected. The protection works well---every time.

In summary, this is a great little amplifier with ample power, good protection circuitry, and in the US supported well by Steppir. I have not regretted my purchase decision.
W1WC Rating: 5/5 Feb 10, 2011 13:57 Send this review to a friend
100% Up and running  Time owned: more than 12 months
After a few months back the SPE 1K is back to operating to its max efficiency. Service was outstanding and repair was completed perfect. The amp is by far one of the best on the market. Still working DX pileups with it and will continue.
K8GTQ Rating: 5/5 Nov 9, 2010 09:37 Send this review to a friend
great Amp - Cannot Kill it!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Got this amp in dec. 2007 from array solutions. It was upgraded free of charge in dec of 2008 by B&B. Works great with my Ten Tec Orion 2 driving it. only takes 8 to 10 watts at the 1/2 power setting. antenna tuner "remembers" previous setting at the current frequency. If antenna changes (or I forget to switch antennas), the amplifier saves itself from problems by kicking into standby/error mode. A push of the tune button lets the auto tuner find a new setting which is then stored for further reference. Note: If the antenna itself has changed, the tuner doesn't know it! The amp follows my rig from band to band overall does a great job. Note that the antenna tuner works for an antenna SWR of up to about 3:1. Beyond that you will need to reduce drive to operate on a mis-matched antenna.
Great amp - can't kill it and that fact alone is worth paying for.
K4ZMV Rating: 1/5 Oct 15, 2010 12:02 Send this review to a friend
Nice amplifier, poor support  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought my SPE 1K-FA from SteppIR in December, 2009. My exciter for the amplifier is a K3. The initial set up and programming of the 1K-FA was very simple and straight forward. The amp requires 25 watts or less of RF to drive it to full output. I used the amplifier for ten months without any problem to speak of. I did notice that the 1K-FA is very sensitive to temperature and will reduce power as the temperature rises. I am a CW only operator and primarily a DX'er, so not much of a problem to me. In August, 2009, I noticed that the T/R relay was sticking (not releasing to receive). I called SteppIR and was informed that the T/R relay would only switch at 15 ms. I had my K3 set to 8 ms. There is no information from SPE or SteppIR regarding that problem. I was advised to set my switching speed to 15 ms and the problem 'might go away'. Well, it did not and I was advised to ship the amplifier to SteppIR in Bellevue, Washington. The shipping cost was over $100. Even though the amp was still under warranty, I was responsible for the return shipping. SteppIR received the amplifier on September 15, 2010. I know that only because UPS notified me via email of delivery. After hearing nothing for three weeks, I called and was told SteppIR was waiting for parts from SPE. I called again a week later and was informed that SPE had still not sent any parts. I was told that they could replace the T/R switch, but they would not guarantee the problem would not occur again and that I needed an upgrade kit with firmware. I opted for the upgrade. I still have no idea when I will get the amplifier back.

The SPE 1K-FA cost me $4095, plus shipping. I would expect better support for that amount of money. I also know that SteppIR has a number of 1K-FA's waiting for repair for the same reason and for other computer related problems. It would be my advice to some one thinking about purchasing an SPE amplifier to consider other amplifiers in the same price range.

Jim, K4ZMV
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