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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: 73 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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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!!

AC8BT Rating: 5/5 Aug 7, 2013 21:54 Send this review to a friend
Sturdy little amp  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I built the kit in a very leisurely 6 hours. In a way, I was sad to be finished. Growing up with Heathkits the assembly is always part of the fun. There is no good reason that I see not to go with the kit. The build is all mechanical assembly and the well-documented assembly manual makes it a breeze. The way I look at it, I saved $300, or $25 per hour while enjoying the thrill of building my amp.

I have a full K-Line station now, K3, P3, KAT-500, and now the KPA-500. Using the enhanced interface cabling with the K-Line neatly integrates everything together. Tune the K3 and transmit, and the KPA-500 instantly switches - no tuning required. Likewise the other way around - press one of the band buttons on the amp and the K3 switches to that band. Alphanumeric messages appear in the K3 that echo the status of the amp.

I am able to get a full 500 watts with only about 30 watts of drive. I mostly work SSB on the low bands and, even in a windy QSO, the fan only comes on to level 2 (of 6). The amp is fault tolerant and will reduce power or shut down to protect itself, depending on the severity of the fault. Clear the fault and you're back in business in a jiffy.

Integration with the KAT-500 is likewise seamless, with the Elecraft enhanced cabling. The KAT-500 will hold the key line open while it tunes to protect the amp, if needed. A quick press of the Tune button on the K3 and away you go. The KAT-500 can be rather noisy as it searches for a match, but it memorizes matches throughout the bands and immediately switches the appropriate L an C into play when you key up on a band segment that has already been used.

All-in-all, the KPA-500 is a rugged, well-integrated, and robust amp that is a joy to build in kit form.
N1KDO Rating: 5/5 Jul 25, 2013 16:40 Send this review to a friend
It makes a 500+ watt K3  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Used with the K3, it is like having a 500+ watt radio.

It is better than seamless integration with the K3, because if you use the proper interface cable, the band select buttons on the KPA500 change band on the K3 -- it actually adds features to your K3, not just power.

The amp is quiet, lightweight, and small. It is the same size as the K3 and a match in styling. It looks good on the desk next to the K3, but where it really shines is in how it works.

The integration is complete with the K3, just press the "OPER" button and the K3 reduces power to drive the amp to rated output. The fans are quiet, and even after extended use, I've never heard them on full speed.

I had a near-legal-limit amp before, with a pair of 3-500s, and though the KPA500 is slightly less than half the output power, it is far more satisfying to use. The tube amp required re-tuning for band changes, and that slowed down QSYs to chase spots; the KPA500 is no-tune, instant band change, 160-6. Change bands and transmit, no more knob twisting.

I've only used it with the K3, and I must say I am very happy I bought it. An excellent piece of gear.
K6RB Rating: 5/5 Jul 24, 2013 11:29 Send this review to a friend
Love it  Time owned: more than 12 months
Built the KPA-500 almost two years ago and it replaced a Ten Tec Centurion in an SO2R set up. I have had zero problems with it, and use it in a K3/P3 station. I did not get the cable that switches bands in step with band changes in the K3. Instead, I let the unit sense the band change from the RF sample. Works fine. Very robust. Has been operated full blast in many contests including RTTY ones. Never missed a beat. I am currently contemplating replacing an Alpha 87A with another KPA-500 so that the SO2R station would be just 500 watts out. The fact that I'm even considering it should tell you how much I've come to enjoy using the KPA, and how much respect I have for it.
K4IA Rating: 5/5 Jul 11, 2013 08:48 Send this review to a friend
K Line Rocks!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Mated with my K3 and the KAT500 Autotuner into an OCF doublet Windom cut for 80mtrs. The tuner tunes all the bands with no sweat. Everything works together so you feel like you are operating a 500w transceiver. One button-push and you've changed bands without any knob fiddling. The K3 knows when the amp is online and automatically reduces drive power to the proper level. Take the amp offline and full drive is restored. The entire system is seamless and dumb mistake proof.

Well done Elecraft. Well done.
KM4D Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2013 09:04 Send this review to a friend
Terrific Amplifier  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Received the KPA500 in very short time from ordering. It only takes about 5 hours if you stick with it to assemble. Build quality is excellent and components are excellent quality as well. As usual,
factory correspondence is very good. Weighs just 26 lbs. Mates very nicely with the K3 for automatic band switching. For 25-29 watts the KPA500 puts out 500+ watts. Coming from the old school of legal limit, using 500 watts and how well it does is a real surprise. Has of lots of protective circuits. Would recommend as a kit or factory build. The nice part about building is you get to know your amplifier. 73!
VE7IG Rating: 5/5 Jun 9, 2013 08:26 Send this review to a friend
Excellent!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Obtained for a remote installation along with the
KAT500 auto tuner, the amplifier and tuner work very well controlled over the internet using either the older control program or the new internet control program currently available as a Beta from Elecraft's site. No need to say much about the operation of the amplifier, it works perfectly with 500w output at about 30 watts drive and band switches automatically with RF detection.

For anyone using the Remoterig RRC boxes, both the KPA500 and the KAT500 auto tuner will work on com1 and com2 simultaneously using serial port setting 4 for both ports. There will be no extra com port for CAT in this case and you will need a serial server (such as the Moxa 5450) for Ham Radio Deluxe, for instance.
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