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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Elecraft KPA-500 Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft KPA-500
Elecraft KPA-500 Reviews: 69 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $1999.95 Kit Form
Description: KPA-500 Solid State Amplifier 160-10M Plus 6M, Auto Band
Switching via RF sense or cable connection.
Product is in production.
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NT5Q Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2014 10:59 Send this review to a friend
Great Amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had the KPA500 for over a year now and would not trade it for any other. It went together easily in about 4 hours (I really took my time) and worked seamlessly since then. I use it with the K3 and KAT500 and the total integration between the tuner and rig makes operating easy. It is definitely worth the money.
WB4HUC Rating: 5/5 Jun 5, 2014 17:59 Send this review to a friend
Seamless operation with my rig and software  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'm using the KPA500 with my Ten Tec OMNI VII.

I've used it on SSB and CW and it has operated perfectly in both modes with no problems.

The radio and amplifier are operated under the control of the N4PY software. It's so seamless it's like having a 500W transceiver.

I have nothing but good things to say about it.
VA3MW Rating: 5/5 Jun 1, 2014 19:11 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought my KPA500 to replace my SGC500 as I wanted to run 6M at my remote base.

If you know how to use a screwdriver, then I would recommend getting the kit. The instructions are very well written which is normal for Elecraft.

My amp will be used in a remote base 100% of its time. In my initial testing, I ran into a few issues, but the simple answer is to run your RS232 port to the amp at 38400 (don't change the default). If you do this, you won't have an issue with remote power on/off. Thanks to the Elecraft developers for jumping right in on my dialogue to help me debug this very quickly.

I love its size and ease of operation. I use it with a TS480 and I have only run it with a PTT lead (no ALC or Rig RS232). I keep an eye on the health of the amp with the Remote Utility. I am also running mine with 120AC and I have not seen a voltage sag at all.

An excellent choice. (I only give out 5's if it is worth it).
K2MK Rating: 5/5 May 20, 2014 11:22 Send this review to a friend
Absolutely Terrific  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I do have one regret. Why did I wait so long to purchase a KPA500? I have a big amp which I donít see myself selling any time soon but I do expect to be using it less and less. The KPA500 is so transparent that it is truly as if I were operating a 500 to 600 watt transceiver.

Iíve been using it a lot lately chasing the W1AW/n portable operations. What a pleasure to jump between bands and modes as the spots appear on the cluster. No warm up, no tune up and super quiet QSK.

This is a really easy and fun kit to build. I highly recommend the kit version. I also really like the additional benefit of using it with a K3. When the KPA500 is in operate mode the K3 power levels are as I set them on each band to achieve full output on the KPA500. When the KPA500 is in standby mode (or off) the K3 power levels are as I set them to achieve full output on my big amplifier.

Regardless of what rig you own, you will be extremely happy with a KPA500.
K6SBA Rating: 5/5 Feb 26, 2014 12:04 Send this review to a friend
Perfect Operating History  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have a relatively early serial number (#191)KPA500. Since purchasing,. I have operated the amp almost everyday into nonresonant antennas, originally matched with a Palstar manual tuner, but now with a KAT500 since it became available.

I haven't had a single problem, except for operator-induced ones, and the amp's protection circuits have kept me out of trouble.

I have used the amp with both my K3 and other transceivers without any problems. The K3-KPA500 combo is enhanced due to the communications between the two, but RF sensing has also worked fine with two different models of Yaesu transceivers.

No product is going to be 100% perfect, and component failure can happen especially from sourced parts over which the amp manufacturer cannot have complete control of QA/QC.

I can give an unqualified recommendation for the KPA500 to anyone who is looking for a medium power amp.

73 de K6SBA
David in Santa Barbara, CA

M5LRO Rating: 2/5 Feb 25, 2014 23:38 Send this review to a friend
Lovely BUT Flawed  Time owned: more than 12 months
The KPA500 is a super little amplifier but has its issues, issues that were for me unreasonable.
The amplifier worked fine from day one and I enjoyed many a good Q using this little machine. It works seamlessly with the K3/P3 combo and is just there on the bench ready to fire up and work. That's superb and I take my hat of to the guys at Elecraft for the intuitive design approach.
However, the amplifier I owned suffered not one but two failures which have been documented before. For some reason this little amplifier has poor components or design in the output matching stages. I was operating on 15m one day and had been for a while when all of a sudden cracking and smoke appeared from the top of the amplifer. Upon further investigation this appeared to be evident as a capacitor blown off the matching board on top of the RF deck. Elecraft swapped out the part, unit still well within warranty at this stage. Not really a good explanation as to what went wrong but back up and running. There was no reason for this to go faulty other than component failure as I use a Hexbeam here and that is resonant at all times on all bands.

Some months later, now out of warranty I powered up the station only to hear a pop from the KPA500. On testing found no output whatsoever, on inspection found both transistors almost surgically removed from the PA board, no smoke, no burning - but then I had not transmitted????

Now at my significant cost the unit had to be shipped to Italy for repair. I had to pay for shipping both ways (KPA500 was now out of warranty - but the Power Brick was not - that was an earlier warranty replacement!!)

Not impressed and the last time I used it other than to test on return from Italy.

Sold it and have gone back to a big Tube, can never go wrong with a Tube!!!

Such a pity as my K line is now incomplete - buyer beware, this product is not as good as other outstanding Elecraft products which is a real shame.

WM6P Rating: 5/5 Feb 1, 2014 09:56 Send this review to a friend
Perfect  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought the KPA500 as a kit and had fun putting it together. The unit is silent, small and radiates very little heat. The power supply is built in and runs off of 115 or 220 VAC. It measures approximately 11X11X4 inches and weighs 26 pounds. It senses your transceivers RF signal, providing auto band switching. Circuits protect the unit from excessive drive or high SWR.

Assembly took about six hours and it fired right up. No alignment is required. All modules are factory tested. Elecraft has superior service. I also purchased the matching auto tuner that is great. This is replacing a Henry 2K and 30L-1.
Important tips: Buy a quality number 2 Philips head screwdriver. Do a careful inventory of all parts for familiarization and sort all screws prior to beginning.
K6RIM Rating: 5/5 Jan 5, 2014 14:32 Send this review to a friend
Truly Excellent!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Purchased the KPA500 as a backup to my Alpha 9500.

The KPA500 is my first solid-state amplifier.

There certainly is a lot to like about the KPA500, including instant-on, auto-tune and almost silent operation. And all of these features come in a small (and relatively light) package that looks similar to a baby Alpha 87A.

To date, the KPA has performed reliably and admirably, including a major DX contest and a RTTY contest.

I have become so fond of the little KPA500 that I use it most of the time, and I expect that the bad-boy Alpha 9500 will see significantly less use in my shack. For most of my garden-variety DXing, the KPA500 does the job and does it well. For the tough situations, and for my more serious contest efforts, the bigger amp will be called upon.

Kudos to Elecraft for designing and manufacturing a superb solid-state amplifier! Highly recommended!

W9DJ Rating: 5/5 Nov 16, 2013 07:37 Send this review to a friend
Update on Remote Operation  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After 5 months I continue to like this amp very much. I did have an RF deck failure. The amp quit amplifying, so I contacted Elecraft. They asked that I email them the software generated anomaly log reports, which I did, and they promptly diagnosed a failed RF deck. The replacement arrived quickly, and it was no problem making the swap. I have been operating it remotely quite a bit, and after solving some IP/serial interface issues (not Elecraft's fault, but a quirk of my multi-port IP/serial converter), remote operation is really slick. I am able to control my Omni VII, the KPA500, KTA500, and rotor directly over the internet without a computer in the shack. Outstanding product. All the protection features work great, and it is not stressed even by a.m. operation (at 125 watts carrier output). I keep an eye on the final temp, and it has never even come close to being too high. Maybe I am not long winded enough.
WV2M Rating: 2/5 Oct 31, 2013 11:47 Send this review to a friend
Turn for the Worst  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is an update to my review on August 1. The unit had been working flawlessly until last week when it would not amplify on 12 meters. There was a slight chattering sound and burning odor when applying the exciter power. All other bands were unaffected.

I called Elecraft and immediately got through to tech support. I explained the problem and the technician straight out knew what was wrong - a failed capacitor in the RF deck. He said this has happened before but usually on first power up after building the kit. In my case it has been 2+ months. He arranged for a replacement RF deck to be shipped to me. That was last Friday. I received the new RF deck yesterday (Tuesday) and installed last night. It took about 1 hour to disassemble and reassemble. All is well again!

I examined the old deck and indeed one of the surface mounted capacitors (C45?) was vaporized.

Since this is not an isolated incident, I am concerned that there is a latent design flaw (vs. a faulty component) and that this will rear it's ugly head again after the warranty period is up.
So regretfully I must reduce my rating pending a modification or redesign to correct the issue.

On the plus side the unit is a joy to operate and customer/technical support is outstanding!!

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