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eHam Forums => Amplifiers => Topic started by: W1QJ on October 08, 2013, 01:43:29 PM



Title: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 08, 2013, 01:43:29 PM
OK, I have this figured out.  I thought the schematic was wrong and the amps were wired according to the schematic and that is why there is the prevailing problem.  Taking a closer look at the wiring I have found the problem.  The problem is with the actual wiring of the amp which DOES NOT follow the schematic.  I have 2 other big box Ameritrons here along with the one I am working on.  The others are Al-1500's which have a 3 minute timer.  Anyhow, The problem is the amps (all of them I have here) are all wired the same way and apparently ALL have the same wiring mistake.  Here is what is wrong.  Relay RLY2 is a contactor relay, double pole and it breaks and makes both sides of the 240v line.  One set of contacts simply breaks the one lead to the transformer.  The other line is "supposed" to go directly to S5 the safety switch.  If S5 is open that line is dead no matter what and no problems can exist.  BUT...That wire from the load side of RL2-2 DOES NOT go to S5.  Instead it goes to the relay contact and R3 junction, therefore that phase is not completely dead as it passes through the 10 ohm resistor.  Since that phase does not go directly to S5 and goes instead to R3 which is tied to the relay coil, there is a voltage that passes through the relay coil and R3 that creates 400vdc in the rectifier etc.  S5 breaks that phase AFTER the relay coil.  And that is the way the amps are wired.  I would have to conclude that as far as I can see ALL amps are wired this way which would lead me to believe ALL amps would have the same problem.  The 3 units I have here are all wired wrong. Hence, the proper fix is to  remove the wire from S5 which goes to the terminal strip to pick up the black/white transformer lead.  Remove the blue/white wire from the relay/R3 junction and move it to S5, then move the wire that was on S5 to where the blue/white wire was.  Moving the wires accomplishes the same task BUT...in doing so the relay coil cannot be energized and pass the voltage thru the coil on to the transformer.  I haven't tried the other amps but I have to think they will show the same problem.  My conclusion is that most likely ALL amps out there will show the 400vdc if S5 is open and the amp is turned on.  I would like to hear from others if this problem affects your amp.  This could be a universal problem with all 3 amps in that series.  I hope to hear from others if they see this problem with their amps.  Anybody out there have a rather new one they can test? 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: 9A4WY on October 08, 2013, 11:01:40 PM
OK, I have this figured out.  I thought the schematic was wrong and the amps were wired according to the schematic and that is why there is the prevailing problem.  Taking a closer look at the wiring I have found the problem.  The problem is with the actual wiring of the amp which DOES NOT follow the schematic.  I have 2 other big box Ameritrons here along with the one I am working on.  The others are Al-1500's which have a 3 minute timer.  Anyhow, The problem is the amps (all of them I have here) are all wired the same way and apparently ALL have the same wiring mistake.  Here is what is wrong.  Relay RLY2 is a contactor relay, double pole and it breaks and makes both sides of the 240v line.  One set of contacts simply breaks the one lead to the transformer.  The other line is "supposed" to go directly to S5 the safety switch.  If S5 is open that line is dead no matter what and no problems can exist.  BUT...That wire from the load side of RL2-2 DOES NOT go to S5.  Instead it goes to the relay contact and R3 junction, therefore that phase is not completely dead as it passes through the 10 ohm resistor.  Since that phase does not go directly to S5 and goes instead to R3 which is tied to the relay coil, there is a voltage that passes through the relay coil and R3 that creates 400vdc in the rectifier etc.  S5 breaks that phase AFTER the relay coil.  And that is the way the amps are wired.  I would have to conclude that as far as I can see ALL amps are wired this way which would lead me to believe ALL amps would have the same problem.  The 3 units I have here are all wired wrong. Hence, the proper fix is to  remove the wire from S5 which goes to the terminal strip to pick up the black/white transformer lead.  Remove the blue/white wire from the relay/R3 junction and move it to S5, then move the wire that was on S5 to where the blue/white wire was.  Moving the wires accomplishes the same task BUT...in doing so the relay coil cannot be energized and pass the voltage thru the coil on to the transformer.  I haven't tried the other amps but I have to think they will show the same problem.  My conclusion is that most likely ALL amps out there will show the 400vdc if S5 is open and the amp is turned on.  I would like to hear from others if this problem affects your amp.  This could be a universal problem with all 3 amps in that series.  I hope to hear from others if they see this problem with their amps.  Anybody out there have a rather new one they can test? 
If you leave amp with this wiring error on, without cover, for 20-30 seconds relay coil will open up.
Transformer has much less ESR than relay coil...so coil sees higher voltage than 110VAC.you have relay coil+transformer primary in series...so primary sees "VACin"-"coil voltage"= cca 20-30VAC, and then on secondary you see cca 350-400VDC rectified.
Kristian,9A4WY


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 09, 2013, 04:12:30 AM
Kristian. I assume you made the correction by switching the 2 wires I suggested?  Looks like you knew about this already.  Took me a long time to find out about this problem.  Also, I suggest moving the filament transformer primary lead from the line side of the fuse to the load side.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: 9A4WY on October 09, 2013, 04:35:58 AM
Hi Lou...
I couldn't remember what I did...but, for sure , problem is this posted above.
It was a year before maybe??...
Stepstart was still functional after my rewire.
Later...I install another one small relay with simple RC time delay to switch on coil of relay(RLY3) in schematic because I have 16A ultrafast fuse on this main outlet(to save plate transformer if something goes wrong  ;) )...now I can start the amp with 4A mainline fuses... ;D
very smooth "click" after 1 second
Kristian,9A4WY


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 09, 2013, 05:45:49 AM
This mod should be written in an ISO compliant format. Write it as a list of steps, include color photos or color drawings, and conclude with a test to confirm that the mod has been correctly implemented.

1. Test to determine if the amplifier is wired correctly (a visual check of the wiring or an electrical test of the HV Interlock)
2. Photo of correct wiring
3. Photo of incorrect wiring
4. Step 1
5. Step 2
6. Step 3
7. HV Interlock electrical test







Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on October 09, 2013, 06:12:59 AM
And get an ISO 9000 audit....


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W9FIB on October 09, 2013, 07:25:36 PM
I didn't know that ham radio required ISO certification. So much for junk box home brew!  :D


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 10, 2013, 03:21:33 AM
And get an ISO 9000 audit....

I brought this issue up on the Ameritron amp yahoo group.  Tom W8JI said that there was no law requiring that any interlocks be installed in amps.  We know that the SB-200 does not have one, The Amp Supply LK-500 I don't think has one.  Anyhow, it seemed that because one is not required by law it would not be illegal or maybe the term liability would be a better term if the interlock did not work or was faulty.  My only concern is that all owners of the amps should be aware of the issue.  What Ameritron does about it is their business not mine.  Tom said that the people at Ameritron probably did not know of the problem because it is their protocol not to ever turn amps on with the cover off.  I believe he said there is a warning about that in the manual.  Tell me, am I the only idiot that works on an amp with the cover off? 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: TANAKASAN on October 10, 2013, 05:44:55 AM
"Tell me, am I the only idiot that works on an amp with the cover off?  "

Maybe, it depends on the circumstances. Here at work we are allowed to work on equipment with the covers off but anything that uses greater than 230V requires:

1) Two engineers present at all times with one working on the equipment and one looking for mistakes.

2) Both engineers standing on thick rubber mats.

3) All tools to be insulated to withstand the voltages in use.

4) A bench emergency cutoff that's always within reach of the second man.

5) EVERYTHING documented before and after and the two engineers add their signatures at the bottom of the paperwork.


Tanakasan


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 10, 2013, 09:23:06 AM
And get an ISO 9000 audit....

I brought this issue up on the Ameritron amp yahoo group.  Tom W8JI said that there was no law requiring that any interlocks be installed in amps.  We know that the SB-200 does not have one, The Amp Supply LK-500 I don't think has one.  Anyhow, it seemed that because one is not required by law it would not be illegal or maybe the term liability would be a better term if the interlock did not work or was faulty.  My only concern is that all owners of the amps should be aware of the issue.  What Ameritron does about it is their business not mine.  Tom said that the people at Ameritron probably did not know of the problem because it is their protocol not to ever turn amps on with the cover off.  I believe he said there is a warning about that in the manual.  Tell me, am I the only idiot that works on an amp with the cover off?  

I looked at three other manufacturers of amateur radio tube RF amps and they all feature HV Safety Interlocks. From that I assume that the product safety standard that applies to amateur radio RF amplifiers requires this safety feature. If this is so, then the HV Safety Interlock MUST function. For example, UL60950 (information technology equipment) goes into great detail about safety interlocks.

There are AL-82, 1200, and 1500 models that are CE marked. These must conform to the European Union R&TTE directive and this includes safety. EN60215 appears to apply to amateur radio amplifiers.

If a HV Safety Interlock is not a requirement, but the equipment has one and it does not operate correctly, there may still be a problem; Ameritron describes the HV Safety Interlock in the Instruction Manual, leading the user to believe that the HV is OFF when the cover is removed. This creates a situation that invites an electrical shock.

I see two possible fixes: One is to recall the affected amplifiers and fix them so that the HV Safety Interlock works. The second is to issue CE compliant warning stickers to place on the top cover and on the rear of the unit. Both fixes would be advertised for a sufficient length of time in CQ, QST, and on the Ameritron website. If the U.S. CPSC and European Union RAPEX are involved they will list the recall on their website.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 13, 2013, 05:45:51 AM
UPDATE:  I emailed Ameritron about this.  I got a quick response from Mike.  I was impressed with the quickness.  Anyhow, Mike told me Ameritron is aware of the problem and claimed that the newer units are now wired to eliminate the 400v problem.  He said the fix used was as I initially reported.  Break the tie between coil and adjacent relay connection and move coil wire over to S5.  That does fix the voltage problem but does not satisfy the schematic for the step start circuit.  That fix does not allow for the relay coil to charge through the step start resistor as shown in the schematic.  Thanks to WX7G who was kind enough to run the math, not charging through the resistor reduces the delay time of the relay from about 120ms to 20ms.  This is significant and the extra 100ms gives a bit more charging time to the filter caps.  Also, it appears that if the wiring was done according to the schematic 100%, if the step start resistor opens up the step start relay would not close telling the operator that the resistor is bad.  Wired the other way the relay will still close and no step start action would be accomplished.  It is a fairly common occurrence that the step start relay contacts weld.  Probably due to the lack of the delay time and no resistance in the primary line.  The relay would then need to be replaced.  I have always noticed a very bright spark coming from these step start relays and now I know why.  I've yet to see the starting action of a properly wired step start on these amps.  I intend to properly wire the unit I have here now and re-exam the step start action of the relay and see if the spark gets quenched some.  I would think it would.  So I would have to revise the "fix" to include not only switching the wire on S5 with the blue/white on the step start relay but to also ensure that the relay coil wire gets connected to the load side of the step start resistor.  That will then satisfy the schematic.  So unfortunately I think even the newer units need some additional work or at least to be sure the relay coil is on the load side of the step start resistor.  I doubt it will be.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: NU1O on October 13, 2013, 06:17:31 AM
What do they intend to do with all the defective units they sold?  Hardly a week goes by that I don't read about a product or food recall so I don't understand how they could get away without issuing a recall for those units which were not wired properly and advertising in amateur radio magazines and on the Web.  I would've thought the CPSC and its European counterpart would order them to issue a recall.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 13, 2013, 06:26:41 AM
What do they intend to do with all the defective units they sold?  Hardly a week goes by that I don't read about a product or food recall so I don't understand how they could get away without issuing a recall for those units which were not wired properly and advertising in amateur radio magazines and on the Web.  I would've thought the CPSC and its European counterpart would order them to issue a recall.

I don't know the answer to that, sorry.  Neither is that my concern.  my only concern at this point is to enlighten owners of these amps that the step start circuit is not wired according to the schematic which hinders its effectiveness,  Many amps do not interlocks nor do they have step start circuits.  If either of these are a necessity or not is not the debate. As far as I am concerned the post should be limited to the technical discussion of step start circuits and not to legal issues.  I am not a lawyer nor play one on TV ;D. 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 13, 2013, 07:01:16 AM
U.S law requires the manufacturer to contact the CPCS and report any unsafe product. A manufacturer cannot legally implement a safety fix or a recall without the CPCS being involved.

Even if there isn't an applicable safety standard requiring a HV Safety Interlock on amateur radio RF amplifiers, the CPCS can still initiate a recall of any unsafe product within their jurisdiction. 

If no injuries or deaths have occurred the CSPS may choose not to recall a product.





Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: NU1O on October 13, 2013, 08:44:05 AM
What do they intend to do with all the defective units they sold?  Hardly a week goes by that I don't read about a product or food recall so I don't understand how they could get away without issuing a recall for those units which were not wired properly and advertising in amateur radio magazines and on the Web.  I would've thought the CPSC and its European counterpart would order them to issue a recall.

I don't know the answer to that, sorry.  Neither is that my concern.  my only concern at this point is to enlighten owners of these amps that the step start circuit is not wired according to the schematic which hinders its effectiveness,  Many amps do not interlocks nor do they have step start circuits.  If either of these are a necessity or not is not the debate. As far as I am concerned the post should be limited to the technical discussion of step start circuits and not to legal issues.  I am not a lawyer nor play one on TV ;D. 
Lou,

I've read all your posts on this topic and I was under the impression from the start your primary concern was that somebody might attempt to repair one of the improperly wired amps under the impression there was no voltage because a safety interlock was built into the amp and wind up with a potentially lethal shock. I always thought the non-functioning step-start circuit was just an ancillary concern for you. 

The first sentence of your first message reads as follows:

"All owners of a particular run of these amps need to be aware of a potentially dangerous  shock hazard!"

IMO, it seemed your main concern at the start was a potential shock hazard and not the step-start circuit not working properly.

This has been a very interesting read so far.  I don't normally read the amp forum but I'm going to stick around.  I've already learned a lot in the past week or so.



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: V47JA on October 13, 2013, 09:47:14 AM
Hi,

Government mandated or not, a primary concern of every manufacturer should be the safety, and safe use of their products by their customers and agents.  It should not have to be ORDERED by a government agency.

73,

John


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 13, 2013, 09:50:59 AM
What do they intend to do with all the defective units they sold?  Hardly a week goes by that I don't read about a product or food recall so I don't understand how they could get away without issuing a recall for those units which were not wired properly and advertising in amateur radio magazines and on the Web.  I would've thought the CPSC and its European counterpart would order them to issue a recall.

I don't know the answer to that, sorry.  Neither is that my concern.  my only concern at this point is to enlighten owners of these amps that the step start circuit is not wired according to the schematic which hinders its effectiveness,  Many amps do not interlocks nor do they have step start circuits.  If either of these are a necessity or not is not the debate. As far as I am concerned the post should be limited to the technical discussion of step start circuits and not to legal issues.  I am not a lawyer nor play one on TV ;D. 
Lou,

I've read all your posts on this topic and I was under the impression from the start your primary concern was that somebody might attempt to repair one of the improperly wired amps under the impression there was no voltage because a safety interlock was built into the amp and wind up with a potentially lethal shock. I always thought the non-functioning step-start circuit was just an ancillary concern for you. 

The first sentence of your first message reads as follows:

"All owners of a particular run of these amps need to be aware of a potentially dangerous  shock hazard!"

IMO, it seemed your main concern at the start was a potential shock hazard and not the step-start circuit not working properly.

This has been a very interesting read so far.  I don't normally read the amp forum but I'm going to stick around.  I've already learned a lot in the past week or so.



Yes you are correct that I did, and still do have a concern about a potential for a shock.  The 2 circuits, S5 interlock and the step start circuit are pretty much interconnected and as a result the interlock and the step start circuit are both affected in their operation.  My intend was to bring the situation to the attention of those who may have these affected units.  It was NOT my intention to make a legal issue over it nor take any such action in that direction.  At this point any one owning the amps that are affected by this could decide for themselves if they want to consider taking steps to have the  amps conform to the schematic.    Over the 20 years I have worked with these amps I have seen several with welded step start contacts on the relay and replaced the relays.  Unfortunately I never discovered this problem before.  I can now see why there is quite a large spark at the step start contacts because as WX7G pointed out the delay of an additional 100ms is eliminated by the mis-wiring.  I would imagine if the units were wired according to the schematic both situations would be resolved.  It seems that the issue of the voltage has been taken care of in the newer amps but I believe that the step start circuit is still lacking the delay time due to the wiring of the primary of the step start relay coil.  I am still discussing that issue with Mike at Ameritron.  I expect I will hear back from him tomorrow.  I brought it to his attention that the whole circuit needs to be wired according to the schematic to gain maximum effectiveness of the step start and not just eliminating the voltage issue.  Would seem to me that doing the wiring correctly in the first place is no harder than doing it the way it has been done.  I'm not sure if the issue about the step start effectiveness is at question.  After all, it took me 20 years to find the problem and my fix would have been the same as theirs until WX7G noticed the timing issue which I think is significant.  Ultimately I will try to convince them to simply wire the amps as the schematic shows.  I'll see what happens.  


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 13, 2013, 09:59:07 AM
Hi,

Government mandated or not, a primary concern of every manufacturer should be the safety, and safe use of their products by their customers and agents.  It should not have to be ORDERED by a government agency.

73,

John

Agreed, but I'll bet if we continue to discuss issues about legalities and government mandates this thread will be closed by the moderator.  I suggest we keep the discussion geared toward the technical issue as it affects the amplifier itself.  I would hate to have the thread closed until we can resolve the technical issue and hopefully get subsequent amps leaving Ameritron wired according to the schematic.  I think we already got the idea about the non technical issue.  I have not seen anyone come forward looking to correct the issue with these amps.  I intend however  to re-wire the unit I am working on to reflect the proper wiring.  I want to see how it affects the "spark" I am accustom to seeing at the contacts when the SS relay closes.  It may or may not make a whole lot of difference but it seems that it very well may.  I will report my findings when I complete this.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: NU1O on October 13, 2013, 10:52:13 AM
Agreed, but I'll bet if we continue to discuss issues about legalities and government mandates this thread will be closed by the moderator.  I suggest we keep the discussion geared toward the technical issue as it affects the amplifier itself.  I would hate to have the thread closed until we can resolve the technical issue and hopefully get subsequent amps leaving Ameritron wired according to the schematic.  I think we already got the idea about the non technical issue.  I have not seen anyone come forward looking to correct the issue with these amps.  I intend however  to re-wire the unit I am working on to reflect the proper wiring.  I want to see how it affects the "spark" I am accustom to seeing at the contacts when the SS relay closes.  It may or may not make a whole lot of difference but it seems that it very well may.  I will report my findings when I complete this.

I agree that the focus should be to discuss the problem, the fix, and to pass on any pertinent news from Ameritron/MFJ but I also agree with John, now V47JA.





Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: AH6RR on October 13, 2013, 07:46:16 PM
Lou I have repaired a couple of the AL-82 that the Step Start relays had welded shut one of them twice but I always worked on them  unplugged. I also know one guy that has a AL-1500 and he has had to replace his relays 4 times so there is a problem with the wiring and timing with the amps because there should not be an arc/spark what the relay closes. I did send an email to the owners of these amps with a link to this discussion that will let them know why it happens. Lou thanks for the find and cure to this. The next time I get one in for repair the first thing I will do is wire it correctly.

Roland AH6RR


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 13, 2013, 09:52:48 PM
Lou I have repaired a couple of the AL-82 that the Step Start relays had welded shut one of them twice but I always worked on them  unplugged. I also know one guy that has a AL-1500 and he has had to replace his relays 4 times so there is a problem with the wiring and timing with the amps because there should not be an arc/spark what the relay closes. I did send an email to the owners of these amps with a link to this discussion that will let them know why it happens. Lou thanks for the find and cure to this. The next time I get one in for repair the first thing I will do is wire it correctly.

Roland AH6RR

Hi Roland nice to see you back in the discussions.  You have been silent lately.  Like I said, I have been working on these amps for 20 years and never picked up on this problem.  The step start relays welding the contacts is wide spread with these amps.  Due to the mis wiring there is virtually no step start action.  As WX7G pointed out, as wired (and as the fix that Ameritron now uses for the 400v problem) still does not address the step start problem.  That means that there is NOT ONE properly working step start circuit in ANY Al-82/1200/1500 EVER made.  ALL units out there no matter what vintage including the ones still on the shelf are ALL wired wrong.  Making it right should increase the step start timing and should reduce that "spark" and may also end the welded contact problem with these amps.  In addition Roland, there is another wiring error.  The line voltage circuit as in comes in from the plug and goes to the fuses are mis wired.  if you look at the schematic you will see that the black "line" wire should go from the terminal  strip to the line side of the fuse and then through the fuse to the load side and then up to the terminal barrier on the back wall.  Then it branches up to the low current fuse for the filament transformer.  BUT....the way it is wired is the black wire comes from the terminal strip directly to the terminal barrier and bypasses the fuse (15A) and then goes to the small fuse.  The other leg of the 240 for the filament transformer (white line wire)  is connected to the line side of the main fuse instead of the load side.  You need to dope out the primary line circuit and compare it to the schematic.  You will find a couple of errors.  Although the amp still works OK, the problem is that if the main fuse blows the HV goes off but the filament transformer is still powered up.  You get blower, lights, and filament voltage but no HV.  You can drive the tube with no HV, the grid current goes way high and tube damage may occur if you do not notice the HV is off.  It happened to me once and that is how I know.  I would think that if a main fuse blows (either one) the amp should go completely dead so the operator knows there is a problem.  One fuse can blow and you would not know it.  If the other one blows then the amp goes dead.  I don't like that.  The schematic is correct and shows that if either fuse blows the amp goes dead.  I brought this up to Ameritron years ago and they never made the change.  You may as well include that in your amp check ups.  I think perhaps a QST article pointing out these issues may be in order. Lou


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: AH6RR on October 14, 2013, 09:40:56 AM
Lou it is time for that article not only for QST but I think CQ and the RSGB and any other Ham publication I know there is a bunch like the VK/ZL and the DL since these amps are all over the world. I received an email from the guy who has the AL-1500 (he now has 4 of them) thanking me he is changing all of them. He had a 3CX-1500 tube at our swapmeet on the 5th of this month for $50 because it had an intermittent problem it would work for about 75 to 100 hours than it would just quit working and it came out of one of the AL-1500's I passed on it but I did pick up a pair of Eimac 3-500z's from him that were pulls from his Henry amp for under $100 both work just fine with over 90% power out, he had picked up a new set of Amprex tubes and swapped them out. So now I have a good pair of backup tubes for my SB-220 ;D. The main reason I have been absent is work has kept me busy as all get out.

73 Roland AH6RR


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on October 14, 2013, 12:10:27 PM
Something I don't understand about this....

I presume samples went off to an independent test house to get FCC approval. Were the samples wired right? What are the rules on QA for FCC? They must have had someone in Europe approve their results if they sell here: so did the Test House find a problem? Or if it didn't go to a Test House and was self assessed, how come their ISO 9000 required QA department didn't pick it up?

So if the German authorities ( the only ones in practice in Europe who bother) pick this up, Ameritron could have major problems in Europe - like a complete product recall and an ISO 9000 audit.

It could be cheaper for them to wave a finger and not sell in Europe.....tough on their distributors, though.

I rather think that this could escalate from an 'Oh sh*t' to something much worse....


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K7KBN on October 14, 2013, 12:59:14 PM
Here is the excerpt from Part 97 of the FCC Rules regarding the certification of external RF amplifiers.

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=7a3207595ee6f4b7797901c594b6e853&rgn=div8&view=text&node=47:5.0.1.1.6.4.157.9&idno=47

Underwhelmed yet?  It isn't FCC's job to ensure a radio-type product is safe, only that its emission properties are within specified limits.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 14, 2013, 01:23:56 PM
G3RZP, the Ameritron models imported into Europe have the CE mark. To obtain the CE mark a manufacturer can "self certify" and no outside test house or certified body is needed.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on October 14, 2013, 01:26:09 PM
Pat

there's the difference between Europe and  the US. If you certify in Europe, it has to be safe ( Low Voltage and Radio and Telecommunications Terminals Directives) and meet emission requirements and if it draws more than 75 watts, meet requirements on harmonics pushed into the power lines and power factor (EMC Directive). Now it isn't safe,  BUT somebody somewhere signed a certificate to say it met all the requirements to be able to sell in Europe. Now that may well have been on the basis of the Ameritron QA system, which has obviously failed......invalidating the  CE approval mark.

I figure somebody at Ameritron would be well advised to look for another job....how urgently depends on how much brown stuff hits the fan....


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on October 14, 2013, 01:29:44 PM
WX7G

Self certification requires an adequate QA system to be in place - basically ISO 9000 certification is needed.

That obviously isn't working in this case.....thus self certification is not going to be applicable - if anybody ever bothers. Which unless somebody moans, then officialdom won't bother - and maybe not even if they do.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: AH6RR on October 14, 2013, 01:57:59 PM
Here is a Summary for getting an amateur radio amplifier certified by the FCC from Mike K6AER.

" can answer your questions but excuse me this is going to be long.

I just finished the certification process (contract engineer) for the Alpha 8406 (6 Meter) and the re-certification of the Alpha 9500 (160-10 meters) a little over two years ago.

If everything goes smoothly, the cost can be as low as $10,000 and as high as $35,000. Much of the testing can only be done at a range where there is no interference. If you encounter a problem which is hard to fix it at the range, you have to reschedule for further testing after an engineering solution has been found.

There is a lot that is required to receive the FCC certificated approval.  The rules have change little over the years until about three years ago. Then the FCC clamped down hard on what used to be called (FCC Type Approval).

On amplifiers being offered for Amateur use, the process follows several areas and regulation areas depending on how high the frequency is.

•   All amplifiers are limited to 15 dB of gain.

•   All amplifiers must pass Part 15 for emissions to 1000 MHz.

•   All amplifiers must have zero gain at 26-28 MHz. This can be done by none resonate unmodifiable circuitry or with a microprocessor. As with any microprocessor embedded product, part 15 emissions becomes more difficult.

•   Amateur amplifiers are generally regulated under part 97 of the FCC rules except when operation is above 25 MHz. Then the testing process gets tough.

•   Amplifiers that can operate above 25 MHz must also pass commercial specifications contained in TIA-603C. Under TIA-603C Harmonics both conducted (coax connector) and case radiated must be down 43 plus the Log of the output power in dB OUT TO THE TENTH HARMONIC. This means an amplifier that produces 1500 watts must have harmonics and case radiation down 72 dBc from peak power. This is a ball buster.

Most amateur amplifiers will pass the older harmonic requirements but will not pass under commercial TIA-603C. When you look at the FCC Certification listing for most amateur amplifier manufactures, you will see they are all listed for operation below 25 MHz and the certification stops at 21.450 MHz or the top of the 15 meter band.  For a long time manufactures have left the twelve/ten meter low pass filter out of the circuit or placed the infamous green wire to be clipped if you had an amateur license. This is no longer condoned and allowed.

Beside your schematics, pictures of the assembly, circuit boards, manuals, tune up proceedures and in some cases safety radiation procedures must also be submitted. You can do much of the testing in house including shots of the test configurations, spectrum analyzer shots, graphs and tables of test results. If the tests don’t pass the sniff test they may require testing be done by an independent lab. In some post audit cases they may require an outside lab to do further testing if interference issues result from customer use.

Currently the only modern amplifiers I have seen certificated for HF operation above 15 meters are SPE Specific, Tokyo High Power and Alpha.

Some manufactures have quoted that their designs meet FCC rules but have no FCC approval Certificate on file. For the life on me I don't know how some amplifiers are being sold or imported under the new rules. When a new amplifier is offered for sale ask for the FCC Certificated registration number. If the manufacture does not have it they are not allowed to ship the amplifier.

Most of the certification process can be done on line with the FCC but your testing material has to be submitted in specific form and will be reviewed by an outside contract agency for the FCC. Once the testing and paperwork has been  approved, the certification number will be issued by the FCC and a short time.

Your FCC number has to be of a certain font and location on the amplifier. If you modify the amplifier beyond the general design then the amplifier has to be re-certified. In some cases the certification can be amended if you can show the modification will not affect the testing outcome.

Many manufactures have been using the same certification number for many models and in a lot of cases the following on products have slipped under the FCC RADAR. For an example, if you changed the design from a triode to a tetrode or changed the output circuit from a Pi-l to a Pi you would have to recertify the amplifier. Going from a 4CX1000A to a 4CX1500B would only require a modification.

This is why new amplifiers are so expensive. The FCC certification process can actually keep a new product from being built for the amateur radio market due to certification cost."

That shows all testing is in house and since the schematic is correct there should have been no reason to think that they were wired wrong. These amps have been in production for many years they met all the requirements at that time. They have been built since at least 1996.  I do not think that once it is certified that is needed unless they make some major modification to the design. As for the ISO9000 I do not think that it ever was done back then. But I am not sure.

Roland AH6RR

 



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: AA4HA on October 14, 2013, 02:57:14 PM
I guess the disappointing thing is that nobody who is in a position of authority from Ameritron is willing to step in and say "thank you for pointing out the problem, we are now aware of it and are working out a way to notify the owners of our product".

Somewhere between when the schematic was created, the prototype was built and the fabrication instructions were made for manufacturing there was a disconnect <pun> in the process. If this is one of those "no user serviceable parts inside" types of products than the amplifiers that are in the field will either need to go back to the factory, an authorized service center or have a big warning sticker affixed to the case.

As there are amateurs who can and will open the case to modify (correct) the wiring error than the manufacturer should provide a detailed, step-by-step procedure in how to do this in a safe manner.

Unfortunately the fear of legal action steps between many manufacturers and customers. There are probably legions of lawyers who are weighing in on this and giving such sage advice as "pretend you do not know about it and it will go away". Somewhere along the line you would hope that an ethical position would be taken to be honest with the customers, come up with a quick solution and to move forward from here. Nobody wants to wait for a tragedy to unfold before action is forced by some outside agency.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: NU1O on October 14, 2013, 04:01:23 PM
I guess the disappointing thing is that nobody who is in a position of authority from Ameritron is willing to step in and say "thank you for pointing out the problem, we are now aware of it and are working out a way to notify the owners of our product".

I guess this proves the old adage that "NO good deed goes unpunished" is true. 



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: AH6RR on October 14, 2013, 05:08:54 PM
This is most likely is how they will get away with it.


Caution: This amplifier must be disconnected from t
he power mains before removing the cover. See the
warning on page 16.


WARNING!!!
MAKE NO ATTEMPT TO PUT THIS AMPLIFIER IN SERVICE WI
TH THE COVER REMOVED! CONTACT
WITH VOLTAGES INSIDE THIS AMPLIFIER CAN BE FATAL!
 
ALWAYS DISCONNECT THE AMPLIFIER
FROM THE POWER MAINS AND WAIT FOR THE FILTER
CAPACITORS TO DISCHARGE BEFORE
REMOVING THE COVER.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W9FIB on October 16, 2013, 02:01:56 AM
It is just like the warning on McDonalds coffee cups. It states the obvious because it is true. But without the warning, there are always those who can claim damages because the obvious was not obvious to them. Or so they say.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 16, 2013, 04:35:54 AM
OK, I contacted Ameritron and had several email exchanges with MIKE.  He says they were aware of the problem and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.  He did not say when, but he did say that they are now making the fix so this voltage is not present.  I assume whatever is coming out now should be free of this problem.  That is as far as I went with that issue.  I asked him if it would be too much trouble to wire that circuit according to the schematic and he said he would look into that.  To fix the problem is simple, it requires moving one wire.   As for amplifier certification'  I am in the process of certifying our Lunar Link LA-62 6 meter amplifier. Most if not all testing will be done in our own lab.  Self certification is possible if the equipment you are using is acceptable to the FCC.  A list of the equipment you are using along with photographs of the equipment and the unit under test is shown in the photographs you can self certify 100%.  Now although I have not gotten to the point where I have submitted any of this, we do have a test lab suitable for self certification.  It is pubic domain to download others information submitted for their amplifier certification.  We have chosen a "model" certification presentation that has passed FCC regs. and will be using that model to submit for our testing data.  In the early stages of my work, I can see that most of the concern of the FCC is RF wise with purity of the emissions.  Harmonic and IMD specs are high on the list.  15db gain max.  and things like that.  I don't see anywhere in the requirements for interlocks and the like.  There may be something I have not seen yet that requires some sort of attesting to in regard to the low voltage and line voltage safety.  As I move further into this process I can keep you updated with the trials and tribulations.  In the short run it seems pretty straight forward as long as your unit will meet the regulations.  K1FO the original designer of our product was very concerned about  emissions of all his amplifier line, although there are no regulations above 144mhz.  Our 144,220,and 432 amps all have harmonic filters on them.  Our whole line of amps run on a pair of 3CX800 or 3CPx800 tubes.   Our 6 meter amp is the only one that needs certifying.  I'll have more information on this as time goes on and we move through the process.  K1FO had already performed the data necessary and as I reviewed it, the unit should pass with no problem.  More as it happens.  If you are not familiar with Lunar Link amps, you can visit our website at www.lunarlink.com  Lou


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 16, 2013, 08:11:42 AM
W1QJ,

your amp needs to be designed to the applicable safety standard. UL60950 seems to be the default standard for equipment that does not fall neatly into another standard. You should purchase a copy of UL60950-1 but if you look around on the web there are pirated copies to be found.

The Ameritron amps are not a good example of how to meet UL60950 or EN60950 or to obtain the CE mark as they are (in my opinion) not fully compliant.

Redesigning to meet safety can be expensive and it pays to do it right the first time. It's not hard to do. My comments here are not complete and may contain errors. They are meant only to get you thinking about what is needed as you read UL60950-1. The bottom line is that given a "single fault" (one component opening or shorting) the unit will not present a shock or fire hazard. UL60950, like every safety standard I've seen, is difficult to follow and seems to be open to interpretation in spots. It can cost $10,000 to have your unit looked over and blessed yet takes only a few hours.  

If you want to pay for consulting on this I can give you the contact information of someone who does this. I do safety design but usually defer to someone who does it full time.  

Bonding. The screw attaching the AC ground must not be able to be loosened from outside the enclosure.
The unit (if intended to be plugged into a 20 amp AC circuit) must support 30 A RMS for 2 minutes with a voltage drop of no more than 2 volts. This current is applied between the AC power GND and any conductive point on the enclosure. To obtain the CE mark the AC ground wiring must be green/yellow stripped.

Y-caps (EMI caps from Line-to-GND or Neutral-to-GND) must be "safety rated." These caps are not included in the "single fault" analysis.

100% of units sold must be Hipot tested. 2121 VDC is applied to Line/Neutral for 1 minute.

Do not use MOVs. These are not needed in a properly designed unit and they complicate the Hipot test (they must be disconnected for Hipot) and they now require series fuses.

Creepage and Clearance (spacing between Line-to-GND, neutral-to-GND, and line-to-neutral).

AC wiring must be double insulated. It is acceptable to slip heat shrink tubing over each AC wire.

Touch Current (current from chassis to GND with the chassis not grounded) must not exceed 3.5 mA. This limits the Y-caps to 68 nF. They should be smaller than this to reduce nuisance tripping of GFIs.

UL60950-1, page 101 describes Safety Interlocks. Quoting page 101:

"SAFETY INTERLOCKS shall be provided where OPERATOR access involves areas normally presenting
hazards in the meaning of this standard."

My interpretation is that because the user may access the HV area to change tubes, a HV Safety Interlock is required.

I believe 100% testing of this feature is required. That is, every amp sold must have the HV Safety Interlock tested.

Line impulse test. This is not a problem and it taken care of with a line-to-neutral capacitor.

Thermal. The fan must be stalled (locked rotor test) and the fan and the unit must not get too hot, cause a fire, and any primary transformer windings must not exceed the temperature rating of their insulating materials. Temperature sensors, fan rotation sensors, air-flow sensors, and the like can be used.

Surface temperature must not exceed X degrees. It can exceed this by Y degrees if the appropriate warning sticker is attached. The sticker must meet standards and they can be ordered for a dollar or two.

EMC: A proper line filter is probably needed. This is a $20 off-the-shelf part. I'm a NARTE Certified EMC consultant and can give you a few hours of free consulting. My specialty is the design of Military EMC Filters.









Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 16, 2013, 12:54:55 PM
I typically do not see CE or UL stickers on most ham amplifiers.  Some may have them but not sure most have these stickers, and I assume if they did, they would have met the criteria you spoke about.  I am wondering if only certain types of appliances require all that certification you speak about.  You have to admit an amplifier is no different than any other item that comes with a line cord plug that goes into a wall socket.  I don't see any CE or UL listing on Ameritron amps that I can see. 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: AA4PB on October 16, 2013, 01:33:43 PM
I don't think UL certification is required in the U.S. except for devices that fall under OSHA requirements for worker safety. Your local electrical code may require some permanently installed parts of your home's electrical system to be UL certified. Consumer appliances are often voluntarily UL certified in order to improve their desirability.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 16, 2013, 02:08:29 PM
The Ameritron amps shipped to Europe have the CE Mark.

In the US there are other NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) besides UL. I have a space heater that has the ETL Mark but not UL Mark.

I read different things about whether a product sold in the U.S. needs to be tested at an NRTL or not. But it's my understanding that whether marked or not it needs to be compliant to the applicable safety standard. When a product doesn't fall neatly into any particular standard the NRTL can choose one or more standards. I see UL60950 chosen for things that are not "information technology equipment." I have used UL60950 and also the lab equipment safety standard (I forget the UL number) and to me they seemed to be quite similar.

The bottom line seems to be that any single fault can occur and the result cannot harm anyone.

I just looked at ten AC operated appliances in the house and seven have the UL Mark, one has the ETL Mark, and two have nothing. The two that have nothing are an Astron power supply and a $99 Chinese tube audio amp.

For tube amps the UL60950 standard seems reasonable. The electrical safety part can drive the AC primary circuitry design and perhaps screws and connectors subject to the 30 amp ground bond test.

The fire safety part of UL60950 can drive the placement of combustible components and the location of cooling holes (they don't want flaming bits to get out of the enclosure). And printed circuit boards need to be "self extinguishing." They need to be marked 94V0 to denote this. I understand that is how G10 PCB material became FR-4, FR for Fire Retardant.

An example of fire testing is that at Tektronix we would do the stalled rotor test on cooling fans. We would also block the fan inlet but leave the fan running. The power transformer winding temperature was monitored (by the change of resistance method) and had to not exceed X degrees after it stablized, sometimes hours later. A temperature sensing device can be used to shut things down if I'm reading UL60950 right each and every unit needs this feature tested.

Then there's the "UL Finger" test where a mechanical finger is poked around to see if it gets chopped off in a moving part or if it can reach into an electrical area.

http://www.ergonomicsusa.com/product/ul-standard-articulated-finger-probe/







Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4OI on October 16, 2013, 06:52:51 PM
I typically do not see CE or UL stickers on most ham amplifiers.  Some may have them but not sure most have these stickers, and I assume if they did, they would have met the criteria you spoke about.  I am wondering if only certain types of appliances require all that certification you speak about.  You have to admit an amplifier is no different than any other item that comes with a line cord plug that goes into a wall socket.  I don't see any CE or UL listing on Ameritron amps that I can see. 

I have heard that hams have become appliance operators -- now we are demanding to be "certified" appliance operators!  I think I am going to plug a couple of bare wires in the wall and practice making sparks.... maybe shock the cat....  (scratch that)....

73


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on October 17, 2013, 01:51:56 AM
WX7G

Is UL60950 the transposition into US National Standards of IEC60950 which would also be transposed to EN60950 in Europe? Sounds a bit like it.

Applying the CE mark to an equipment means it meets all applicable standards - in the case of an amplifier,  that means the requirements of the Radio and Telecommunications Terminals Equipment Directive (which inherently requires compliance to Electro Magnetic Compatibility Directive) and the Low Voltage Directive. In theory, failure to meet the requirements but applying the CE mark and selling the equipment could get you a fine of up to about $7500 and 6 months in prison. However, in practice, at least in the UK, enforcement is zero!

So Ameritron amps sold here should meet the safety requirements. However, if voltages above 50 volts require a tool such as a screwdriver to access them, that is considered a suitable safety measure, so there is an argument that even with this fault, the equipment still meets legal  requirements.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 17, 2013, 07:53:45 AM
G3RZP, it

UL60950-1, page 101 describes Safety Interlocks. Quoting page 101:

"SAFETY INTERLOCKS shall be provided where OPERATOR access involves areas normally presenting
hazards in the meaning of this standard."

What is the definition of OPERATOR access?

"1.2.7.1 OPERATOR ACCESS AREA: An area to which, under normal operating conditions, one of the
following applies:
– access can be gained without the use of a TOOL;
– the means of access is deliberately provided to the OPERATOR;
– the OPERATOR is instructed to enter regardless of whether or not a TOOL is needed to
gain access."

The UL60950 sentence "the OPERATOR is instructed to enter regardless of whether or not a TOOL is needed to
gain access" is invoked by four sections of the the Ameritron AL-82 Operator Manual:

The SAFETY INTERLOCK section describes the procedure for the operator to access the HV area.

The PERIODIC MAINTENANCE section instructs the operator to access the HV section every 90 days.

The TRANSFORMER INSTALLATION, TUBE INSTALLATION also instruct the operator to access the HV section.


It looks like IEC 62368-1 is to replace IEC 60950 and IEC 60065.

http://www.ul.com/global/documents/offerings/industries/hightech/resources/general/hbse_brochure_final.pdf

http://electronicdesign.com/test-amp-measurement/abcs-iec-62368-1-emerging-safety-standard


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N3QE on October 17, 2013, 08:14:04 AM
The SAFETY INTERLOCK section describes the procedure for the operator to access the HV area.

The PERIODIC MAINTENANCE section instructs the operator to access the HV section every 90 days.

The TRANSFORMER INSTALLATION, TUBE INSTALLATION also instruct the operator to access the HV section.

And in each and every one of the above cases, the manual also tells you to unplug the amp, and observe HV decay to zero on the panel meter, only then to remove the cover, and gives explicit directions to short out the HV to ground while doing any work. To me the instructions seem well written and to address the corner cases of interlock wrong-side failures, bad resistors in meter divider, non-functional bleeder resistors, and electrolytic soakage.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 17, 2013, 04:32:56 PM
I looked through UL 60950 again and a warning in the instruction manual does not remove the requirement for a safety interlock. However, having both a warning in the instruction manual and a warning sticker on the unit can remove this requirement if the following is the case (quoting from U 60950)"

   "Where it is not possible to comply fully with the above access requirements and also allow the equipment to function as
   intended
."

A HV safety interlock on an RF amp doesn't meet this requirement because it does allow the equipment to function as intended.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on October 18, 2013, 02:18:22 AM
But don't you need a tool ( a screwdriver) to get this access?


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KH6AQ on October 18, 2013, 06:44:01 AM
A screwdriver is needed to access the HV area. Under UL 60950, 1.2.7.1 only one of three conditions is needed to invoke the Safety Interlock requirement. This condition applies: "the OPERATOR is instructed to enter regardless of whether or not a TOOL is needed to
gain access."



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: V47JA on October 21, 2013, 05:04:07 AM
OK, I contacted Ameritron and had several email exchanges with MIKE.  He says they were aware of the problem and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.  He did not say when, but he did say that they are now making the fix so this voltage is not present. ........

If Ameritron was "aware of the problem", why did they do nothing to FIX or notify the Amateur community of the potentially lethal problem. Also, it has now been almost two weeks, since W1QJ found the problem (that they were "aware of"), and still not a word of the problem, or a fix from Ameritron.

73,

John  W5JON  -  V47JA



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 21, 2013, 05:23:04 AM
OK, I contacted Ameritron and had several email exchanges with MIKE.  He says they were aware of the problem and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.  He did not say when, but he did say that they are now making the fix so this voltage is not present. ........

If Ameritron was "aware of the problem", why did they do nothing to FIX or notify the Amateur community of the potentially lethal problem. Also, it has now been almost two weeks, since W1QJ found the problem (that they were "aware of"), and still not a word of the problem, or a fix from Ameritron.

73,

John  W5JON  -  V47JA

I finally emailed with Mike at Ameritron.  He told me that they knew about the problem and they made the fix.  He did not tell me when they started to change the amps so that the problem goes away.  But just yesterday I received a private email from a friend who read this thread.  His amp had the fix.  He said his amp is a 2008 vintage.  SO it appears that the fix goes back at least until 2008.  So that means (at least for now) that amps back to 2008 or maybe earlier already have the fix.  The amp I discovered this problem on was made in the late 90's.  The fix is obvious just by looking at your amp.  If you want to visually tell if your amp has the fix you can look to see if you have a white wire going from the right hand side relay coil contact on the step start relay (relay on rear wall left of center)to the left hand side of S5 (interlock switch).  If you have that white wire, your amp is OK and no action is necessary. 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: NU1O on October 21, 2013, 06:26:58 AM
OK, I contacted Ameritron and had several email exchanges with MIKE.  He says they were aware of the problem and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.  He did not say when, but he did say that they are now making the fix so this voltage is not present. ........

If Ameritron was "aware of the problem", why did they do nothing to FIX or notify the Amateur community of the potentially lethal problem. Also, it has now been almost two weeks, since W1QJ found the problem (that they were "aware of"), and still not a word of the problem, or a fix from Ameritron.

73,

John  W5JON  -  V47JA

I finally emailed with Mike at Ameritron.  He told me that they knew about the problem and they made the fix.  He did not tell me when they started to change the amps so that the problem goes away.  But just yesterday I received a private email from a friend who read this thread.  His amp had the fix.  He said his amp is a 2008 vintage.  SO it appears that the fix goes back at least until 2008.  So that means (at least for now) that amps back to 2008 or maybe earlier already have the fix.  The amp I discovered this problem on was made in the late 90's.  The fix is obvious just by looking at your amp.  If you want to visually tell if your amp has the fix you can look to see if you have a white wire going from the right hand side relay coil contact on the step start relay (relay on rear wall left of center)to the left hand side of S5 (interlock switch).  If you have that white wire, your amp is OK and no action is necessary. 


I called Ameritron late last week to ask some questions about the AL-1500.  I recognized the tech's voice because he has answered my questions about my SB-1000 and Cushcraft A3S, and other products going back at least 5 years. He told me ha has been there a long time. This guy does know what he's talking about as opposed to others I've spoken with.  My last question was about the step-start wiring error I read about in this amp forum.  He said they haven't wired amps that way for at least 10 years. Lou, they aren't what I'd call fans of you down in Ole Miss but I'm sure you know that and could care less.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 21, 2013, 07:00:09 AM
Chris, I NEVER have to talk with Ameritron on the phone about tech support so I would not know.  I only talk to them to order parts.  I had a short email exchange with Mike who apparently is the amplifier guy over there.  He had no qualms about my talking with him about this problem.  Like I have mentioned several times, he did say that they made the fix and amps are no longer wired such that the 400vdc appears.  He didn't say when they made the change but the other day a friend of mine with a 2008 vintage unit said his had the fix.  I hope they don't have a problem with me at Ameritron because I recommend to most hams to buy an Ameritron amps.  I have owned dozens of them and still do. I just bought another used AL-1500 last week.  As you well know Chris, I suggesedt you look into the Al-1500 and dump the light show.  Lou


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on October 23, 2013, 01:30:41 PM
For anyone who actually cares about the facts, they (being Mike Enis, Manager of Ameritron) have been aware of the problem and "fixed" it years ago! This eham thread had nothing to do with it.

BTW, for those a bit dull on their sports geography, Ole Miss is the University of Mississippi. It's located in Oxford. Starkville is the home of Mississippi State University. Kinda like getting Texas and Texas A&M confused.

I can say from first hand information, MFJ doesn't hold grudges...and they're nice to their detractors when they call up on the phone to be chummy!

73,

Frank
K4FMH

OK, I contacted Ameritron and had several email exchanges with MIKE.  He says they were aware of the problem and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.  He did not say when, but he did say that they are now making the fix so this voltage is not present. ........

If Ameritron was "aware of the problem", why did they do nothing to FIX or notify the Amateur community of the potentially lethal problem. Also, it has now been almost two weeks, since W1QJ found the problem (that they were "aware of"), and still not a word of the problem, or a fix from Ameritron.

73,

John  W5JON  -  V47JA

I finally emailed with Mike at Ameritron.  He told me that they knew about the problem and they made the fix.  He did not tell me when they started to change the amps so that the problem goes away.  But just yesterday I received a private email from a friend who read this thread.  His amp had the fix.  He said his amp is a 2008 vintage.  SO it appears that the fix goes back at least until 2008.  So that means (at least for now) that amps back to 2008 or maybe earlier already have the fix.  The amp I discovered this problem on was made in the late 90's.  The fix is obvious just by looking at your amp.  If you want to visually tell if your amp has the fix you can look to see if you have a white wire going from the right hand side relay coil contact on the step start relay (relay on rear wall left of center)to the left hand side of S5 (interlock switch).  If you have that white wire, your amp is OK and no action is necessary. 


I called Ameritron late last week to ask some questions about the AL-1500.  I recognized the tech's voice because he has answered my questions about my SB-1000 and Cushcraft A3S, and other products going back at least 5 years. He told me ha has been there a long time. This guy does know what he's talking about as opposed to others I've spoken with.  My last question was about the step-start wiring error I read about in this amp forum.  He said they haven't wired amps that way for at least 10 years. Lou, they aren't what I'd call fans of you down in Ole Miss but I'm sure you know that and could care less.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W7VO on October 23, 2013, 02:31:06 PM
"For anyone who actually cares about the facts, they (being Mike Enis, Manager of Ameritron) have been aware of the problem and "fixed" it years ago!"

OK, so they supposedly fixed this "problem". I wonder if there is a list of affected serial numbers for the various AL-xxxx amps that could possibly have this "problem"? I have an early AL-1500 (was originally built without the HV glitch resistor), and while I have no plans on operating it with the cover off, it would be good to know if it was affected or not.

Mike, W7VO


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 23, 2013, 04:09:22 PM
"For anyone who actually cares about the facts, they (being Mike Enis, Manager of Ameritron) have been aware of the problem and "fixed" it years ago!"

OK, so they supposedly fixed this "problem". I wonder if there is a list of affected serial numbers for the various AL-xxxx amps that could possibly have this "problem"? I have an early AL-1500 (was originally built without the HV glitch resistor), and while I have no plans on operating it with the cover off, it would be good to know if it was affected or not.

Mike, W7VO

Mike, you don't have to operate the amp with the lid off to see if you have the problem.  Remove he cover and look at the step start relay.  On the right hand coil terminal looking from the front, see if you have a white wire that goes from that terminal over to the left side of S5.  If it does, your amp has the fix.  If it does not then it needs the fix performed.  The fix is simple.  read the thread and I have mentioned the fix several times. Lou


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on October 24, 2013, 08:42:49 AM
Mike,

Good question...but you'd have to contact either Richard Stubbs (MFJ Customer Service) or Mike Enis (Manager, Ameritron)...note they're in separate buildings several miles apart...to find about potentially affected serial numbers. But, how old is your amplifier? That might answer your question right there.

Have you called Ameritron for your answer? eHam.net isn't their technical support system.

73,

Frank
K4FMH

"For anyone who actually cares about the facts, they (being Mike Enis, Manager of Ameritron) have been aware of the problem and "fixed" it years ago!"

OK, so they supposedly fixed this "problem". I wonder if there is a list of affected serial numbers for the various AL-xxxx amps that could possibly have this "problem"? I have an early AL-1500 (was originally built without the HV glitch resistor), and while I have no plans on operating it with the cover off, it would be good to know if it was affected or not.

Mike, W7VO


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: V47JA on October 24, 2013, 09:28:28 AM
Mike,

Good question...but you'd have to contact either Richard Stubbs (MFJ Customer Service) or Mike Enis (Manager, Ameritron)...note they're in separate buildings several miles apart...to find about potentially affected serial numbers. But, how old is your amplifier? That might answer your question right there.

Have you called Ameritron for your answer? eHam.net isn't their technical support system.

73,

Frank
K4FMH

"For anyone who actually cares about the facts, they (being Mike Enis, Manager of Ameritron) have been aware of the problem and "fixed" it years ago!"

OK, so they supposedly fixed this "problem". I wonder if there is a list of affected serial numbers for the various AL-xxxx amps that could possibly have this "problem"? I have an early AL-1500 (was originally built without the HV glitch resistor), and while I have no plans on operating it with the cover off, it would be good to know if it was affected or not.

Mike, W7VO

OR ...... Ameritron could provide the Serial Numbers and/or manufacture dates, on their Web Site and elsewhere, so that THOUSANDS of owners  of these amplifiers do not EACH have to call Ameritron, or open the case to see if they need the "fix".  It does not make sense that they would prefer their Managers get many phone calls, all with the same question.

Also, if they have known about the problem for "a while", I would have thought this information should have been posted, BY Ameritron by now.

73,

John   V47JA  (and proud of it)  -  W5JON  


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on October 24, 2013, 06:32:54 PM
Mike,

Good question...but you'd have to contact either Richard Stubbs (MFJ Customer Service) or Mike Enis (Manager, Ameritron)...note they're in separate buildings several miles apart...to find about potentially affected serial numbers. But, how old is your amplifier? That might answer your question right there.

Have you called Ameritron for your answer? eHam.net isn't their technical support system.

73,

Frank
K4FMH

Hi John,

Why don't you talk this plan over with Richard Stubbs, Customer Service Director, in Dayton next year when you buy him that beer? Or when you stop by and shake your friend Martin's hand? I'm sure they'd appreciate your management advice...since it's only an issue if you don't follow the big red sticker on the back of the amplifier .... Or don't take Lou's less risky advice.

Watch out for the hurricanes down there in St Kitts...hot air makes them unhappy!

Frank (and proud of it)
K4FMH


OR ...... Ameritron could provide the Serial Numbers and/or manufacture dates, on their Web Site and elsewhere, so that THOUSANDS of owners  of these amplifiers do not EACH have to call Ameritron, or open the case to see if they need the "fix".  It does not make sense that they would prefer their Managers get many phone calls, all with the same question.

Also, if they have known about the problem for "a while", I would have thought this information should have been posted, BY Ameritron by now.

73,

John   V47JA  (and proud of it)  -  W5JON  


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KC4MOP on October 25, 2013, 03:44:11 AM
Lou helped me to verify that my AL 1500, possibly made in 2008, does indeed have the mod to the step-start relay.
And YES, a serial number search, or what actual serial number was the start of the mod would be nice to know. So, owners can know if their unit is in need of this simple mod.
That would eliminate the need to get into the amp. and actually look. Reducing the possibility of contact with the HV circuits.
At my age, I am getting a LOT more cautious around HV. You only touch it one time.
Fred


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on October 25, 2013, 06:06:21 AM
The Al-1200,1500,82 all have common wiring and the amp in question does not get determined until further on down the build process so all the amps no matter which one should have the fix at the same time.  So far the fix goes back to 2008, it may go back further but no one with an earlier model has come forward to report the fix.  AS I mentioned a simple inspection of the step start relay will determine if the fix is in place.  No actual operation of the amp is necessary. 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W7VO on October 25, 2013, 11:36:56 AM
Mike,

Good question...but you'd have to contact either Richard Stubbs (MFJ Customer Service) or Mike Enis (Manager, Ameritron)...note they're in separate buildings several miles apart...to find about potentially affected serial numbers. But, how old is your amplifier? That might answer your question right there. Have you called Ameritron for your answer? eHam.net isn't their technical support system.


 I am not going to remove the multitude of screws and man-handle this 80 lb amp around to investigate unless I need to get into it for something else, and my guess is that most people are not going to do anything either. This is not a really a performance or "inherent safety in normal use" issue.

I also have no idea how old the amp is. (I bought it (SN 11955) used several years ago). I know that it is old enough that it did not have the big HV glitch resistor installed, nor the rubber insulator on the fan. I added both mods myself when I had to repair the shorted bias protection diode. (Which is the reason I got a great deal on the broken amp). What I will do is file this info away and check when I do my next semi-yearly tube rotation.

My question to Ameritron (besides which serial numbers might be affected) would be whether or not they automatically do this "upgrade" when repairing amps. Somebody on this list may be able to answer that question. Anybody had an older AL-xxxx fixed by Ameritron lately?

BTW, my amp does have a big red "DANGER: DO NOT OPERATE WITH THE COVER REMOVED" sticker on it. That pretty much says it all. 

Thanks to all that are responding to this interesting thread!

73;

Mike, W7VO


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on October 26, 2013, 01:11:56 PM

Hi John,

Why don't you talk this plan over with Richard Stubbs, Customer Service Director, in Dayton next year when you buy him that beer? Or when you stop by and shake your friend Martin's hand? I'm sure they'd appreciate your management advice...since it's only an issue if you don't follow the big red sticker on the back of the amplifier .... Or don't take Lou's less risky advice.

Watch out for the hurricanes down there in St Kitts...hot air makes them unhappy!

Frank (and proud of it)
K4FMH



Mike,

Good question...but you'd have to contact either Richard Stubbs (MFJ Customer Service) or Mike Enis (Manager, Ameritron)...note they're in separate buildings several miles apart...to find about potentially affected serial numbers. But, how old is your amplifier? That might answer your question right there.

Have you called Ameritron for your answer? eHam.net isn't their technical support system.

73,

Frank
K4FMH

Hi John,

Why don't you talk this plan over with Richard Stubbs, Customer Service Director, in Dayton next year when you buy him that beer? Or when you stop by and shake your friend Martin's hand? I'm sure they'd appreciate your management advice...since it's only an issue if you don't follow the big red sticker on the back of the amplifier .... Or don't take Lou's less risky advice.

Watch out for the hurricanes down there in St Kitts...hot air makes them unhappy!

Frank (and proud of it)
K4FMH
 :P


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on October 26, 2013, 01:20:34 PM
Lou,

This is the most reasonable solution....I applaud you for posting it. All the rancor directed to Ameritron without telling it directly to Mike Enis, Mgr at Ameritron, is just hot air. Your solution works for any ham who feels comfortable making repairs like you spell out. As Richard Stubbs, MFJ Customer Service Director fir MFJ Enterprises, said to me when I met with him on this last month, leave it to professionals if you don't know what you're doing. That's why Ameritron (but apparently not Yaesu, among others) puts the prominent sticker on the back!

My recommendation is to follow your advice, Lou, and see if you have the problem before you fire it up without the cover. And close this thread! Talk directly to Ameritron.

Thanks for your insights, Lou.

73,

Frank
K4FMH


The Al-1200,1500,82 all have common wiring and the amp in question does not get determined until further on down the build process so all the amps no matter which one should have the fix at the same time.  So far the fix goes back to 2008, it may go back further but no one with an earlier model has come forward to report the fix.  AS I mentioned a simple inspection of the step start relay will determine if the fix is in place.  No actual operation of the amp is necessary. 


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on November 08, 2013, 07:49:46 AM
All,

I received this message based upon my earlier direct inquiry to MFJ Enterprises about this amplifier issue. It appears that Ameritron had this problem prior to MFJ acquiring them. Tom W8JI's intimate knowledge of both manufacturing sites led to his understanding of the problem. Please contact Mike Enis directly by email, phone, fax or walk-in on this issue if you have an issue. It's not difficult to do that!

73,

Frank
K4FMH

=======================Message from Ameritron to anyone who asked them directly=================
Hi Frank,
Not sure how old the amplifier is that the person is working on.  Back around the end of 1993, Ameritron noticed the High voltage staying at about 300 volts when the inter lock switch was released.  This was due to the relay coil was allowing enough current to power the HV transformer up to 300 volts.
   
This problem was passed down from the previous Manufacturer.
 
This problem was resolved by connecting the relay coil wire to the other side of the inter lock switch.
The step start relay now has four wires and a resistor attached to it. The previous units had 3 wires with a resistor attached. 
 
It would be great if I had a serial number of the unit that has the problem.
 
The older units had a four digit serial numbers. The newer model have a 5 digit serial number.
 
Mike Enis (KB5YJF)
AMERITRON
ph; 662-323-8211
fax; 662-323-6551
email; menis@ameritron.com
=================================================================================


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on November 18, 2013, 07:04:42 AM
I met with Martin Jue last Thursday in the MFJ facilities. I mentioned the Ameritron issue raised here in this Forum. Martin said that the problem occurred when Prime Instruments owned the Ameritron line. MFJ's Ameritron personnel have an issue on "customer recall" notices for various reasons much like Alpha or other manufacturers do: a lack of consistent product registration AFTER the first sale! Hamfests, eBay, QRZ, QTH, eHam and so forth all post ads for reselling used Ameritron amplifiers. The original purchaser largely doesn't know, doesn't keep records, etc., on who currently owns the amp at any subsequent date. This isn't much different from automobiles even though there is a national VIN database with millions of dollars attached to it rather than a small market niche amateur radio amplifier!

It seems to me that we should not jump to conclusions about manufacturers without the whole story. It's often found by contacting the appropriate management personnel at the manufacturer first. That's what I did.

73,

Frank
K4FMH


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4ATS on November 18, 2013, 08:36:00 AM
Been there tried that...Typical story with MFJ.

When I spoke to them about the tons of repairs eveyone has to do on there own MFJ products on numorius occasions,they always argued, they assured me records were kept VERY well and they knew the score.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W9GB on November 18, 2013, 11:05:06 AM
Quote
The original purchaser largely doesn't know, doesn't keep records, etc., on who currently owns the amp at any subsequent date.
When I started in early 1970s ENGINEERING Logs were required by FCC for Commercial stations, and Amateur Radio operators also were required to keep paper logs.
In many ways, FCC ran much like the FAA after WW2.

However, by 1980, that changed and started the process (market discipline) that we have today.
This approach has its negatives, as well, and this is one of them.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: KC4MOP on November 19, 2013, 03:45:47 AM
I met with Martin Jue last Thursday in the MFJ facilities. I mentioned the Ameritron issue raised here in this Forum. Martin said that the problem occurred when Prime Instruments owned the Ameritron line. MFJ's Ameritron personnel have an issue on "customer recall" notices for various reasons much like Alpha or other manufacturers do: a lack of consistent product registration AFTER the first sale! Hamfests, eBay, QRZ, QTH, eHam and so forth all post ads for reselling used Ameritron amplifiers. The original purchaser largely doesn't know, doesn't keep records, etc., on who currently owns the amp at any subsequent date. This isn't much different from automobiles even though there is a national VIN database with millions of dollars attached to it rather than a small market niche amateur radio amplifier!

It seems to me that we should not jump to conclusions about manufacturers without the whole story. It's often found by contacting the appropriate management personnel at the manufacturer first. That's what I did.

73,

Frank
K4FMH
This was an eye opener.
I own a 2007 Ameritron AL1500 and several other MFJ devices and the assembly and quality of the wiring seems pretty solid. A few years ago there were complaints about bad soldering and loose hardware.
MFJ must have a small staff of assemblers and techs; and it must be hard to keep up with demand, when they are offering many products at a little cheaper price.
Remember!!! MFJ "Mighty Fine Junque"
Fred


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4ATS on November 19, 2013, 04:43:39 AM
Hi Fred , I don't think it is the assemblers as they only know what they are taught. The so called upper folks know if something sells a lot of, they mass produce it broken or not knowing most ham's will fix it them selves or scrap it for the little they have into it.

Take Cushcraft, now owned by MFJ. The complaints come in EVERY day. The reviews are really sliding downwards as a result a buying non working out of the box MFJ stuff. These posts are on eHam every single day in the reviews section.

Read the top 4 threads , how sad.

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/1901

As long as we keep buying their fine products , they will keep the screws loose


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on November 19, 2013, 07:18:56 AM
Dude! Don't you read? MFJ did not own Ameritron when this wiring occurred! How the hell could MFJ have records of a "mistake" (see a dictionary on definition of a mistake) made by the previous owner, Prime Instruments? MFJ fixed it! And they know which serial numbers were involved! But they do not know---and cannot know---who owns Ameritron amps produced by Prime Instruments.

When you walk the shop floor at Ameritron, get back to me on what you think you "know".

Frank
K4FNH

Been there tried that...Typical story with MFJ.

When I spoke to them about the tons of repairs eveyone has to do on there own MFJ products on numorius occasions,they always argued, they assured me records were kept VERY well and they knew the score.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4ATS on November 19, 2013, 08:27:50 AM
Dude! Don't you read?

Yep , clearly.

You must have missed the comment I made above, that's OK...

"When I spoke to them about the tons of repairs everyone has to do on there own MFJ products on numerous occasions, they always argued, they assured me records were kept VERY well and they knew the score."

"This was about the amp issues of the past"

Plus the same fellow designed the Ameritron (MFJ) amplifiers as is the same guy today who is well known and pretty darn smart. Records were tracked, bank on it. What they are trying to do is push the issue back onto some unknown territory to get it off their plates...

And that's what "typical" means.

I went back in the threads where we talked about that time they were built elsewhere , and here is the exact statement made from MFJ clearly stating they track it all...

"They think a dozen things or a few dozen problems out of 10,000 or 20,000 in service implies ......"


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on November 19, 2013, 01:44:06 PM
This is as FOS as the earlier statement.

"What they are trying to do is push the issue back onto some unknown territory to get it off their plates..."

What you're stating here is that Martin Jue is outright lying to me and to others. I know him well enough to know that is simply not true.

Tom W8JI works for Martin, full-time. The records transferred from Prime Instruments to MFJ Enterprises when the latter acquired Ameritron (rather than let it simply go out of business) were records from "the past". That is when the wiring error occurred. Tom W8JI and Mike Enis KB5YJF corrected it under MFJ's ownership. Tom may be very smart---and I wholly agree---but he lives in Barnesville GA, not Starkville MS, and is not involved in tracking serial numbers these days. He's trying to update product designs, not customer service, unless called on by Stephen Pan or Mike Enis.

"They think a dozen things or a few dozen problems out of 10,000 or 20,000 in service implies ......"

A back of the envelope estimation of probabilities and production issues is just that, a back of the envelope thing. I taught statistics for 35 years and continue to publish and edit books on it. To say that the Prime Instruments error affects current production is bogus. Period. End of story. And to continue to propagate it is potentially actionable. Do you know what that means?

I've heard Martin himself say: if you don't want to buy his products, he doesn't want you to have them. You can make your scurrilous claims all you want but there are so many more of "us" than "you" who value this company, buy it's products, and do not have problems.

Frank
K4FMH

Dude! Don't you read?

Yep , clearly.

You must have missed the comment I made above, that's OK...

"When I spoke to them about the tons of repairs everyone has to do on there own MFJ products on numerous occasions, they always argued, they assured me records were kept VERY well and they knew the score."

"This was about the amp issues of the past"

Plus the same fellow designed the Ameritron (MFJ) amplifiers as is the same guy today who is well known and pretty darn smart. Records were tracked, bank on it. What they are trying to do is push the issue back onto some unknown territory to get it off their plates...

And that's what "typical" means.

I went back in the threads where we talked about that time they were built elsewhere , and here is the exact statement made from MFJ clearly stating they track it all...

"They think a dozen things or a few dozen problems out of 10,000 or 20,000 in service implies ......"


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4ATS on November 19, 2013, 04:41:56 PM
WOW , sound mad bro..

You win , I had No idea more folks love MFJ , I guess I just trust what people continue to write on eHam reviews. I suppose they all are all just troublemakers. Sorry

Cheers


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W4LI on November 19, 2013, 05:14:18 PM
This MFJ quality "debate" is such a weird ongoing war for such a simple issue. Why is this bordering on religious debates in intensity?  No one has to buy their products, or their competitors, for that matter.

MFJ targets aggressive (low) price points.  They also have a very wide array of products and variations within each across many brands.  They most likely out ship the "competition" by a wide margin on a quantity basis for most of these products.  They've obviously had some particular quality issues at times with certain products or models.  Take all of this, and there are plenty of vignettes on bad product experiences.

However, there are many, many, hams with MFJ products, of all types, working properly in their stations, without issues or comments. The generally satisfied customers don't jump into every thread. I'm personally happy to have the competition and choice for our small ham market.

I own a variety of MFJ products and all are built and delivered reasonably well for the features and price point. I also own other brands, some very high end. They are built more robustly, have more headroom, but at substantially higher cost.

MFJ couldn't function if the bad quality statements were true writ large. The return-repair-customer service overhead would crush them. Most of the products must work as designed most of the time. It would not be in their interest, or even sustainable, to ship products that don't work out of the box for the vast majority of customers.

Just my .02.  By the way, I do appreciate calling out specific issues and especially patterns, with MFJ or any vendor.

73... Dan, W4LI


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: K4FMH on November 20, 2013, 08:56:19 AM
Thank you, Dan. Your two cents are worth gold...as in a reasonable perspective for a change.

Indeed, I did get a mad-on when haters go after any company, especially one where I have personal knowledge that the assertions are not even close to the truth!

As I've said to Mike the Admin here on eHam.net: my sentiments are to help eHam Forums to become more useful to all readers. One day, even vendors might find them worth their labor costs to read them.

But I've got a dark, dark truth to reveal just to you, Dan. After over 20 years of buying MFJ Enterprises products, I bought a product that had a real manufacturing problem. I bought a $79 MFJ-1903 Tile-Base to put on a vertical in my yard. The sorry, low-down scoundrels mis-counted two washers and two nuts, sending me two that were (slightly) too small! I tried to put them on twice myself since they appeared to be the right size. I had to walk three steps to my Craftsmen tool drawer (which came with the wrong keys....but that's another issue that I'm just incensed about) and rumble around my nuts-and-bolts drawer to find replacements that fit. Dag nab-it.

How could anyone make such a mistake on an assembly line? Didn't the QC member at the end of the line (I've watched them) recount them instead of just looking at the plastic sack? How much time would that take? I mean, I'd pay $125 for a $79 product just to absolutely know for a certainty that each and every part in each and every item in their 2,000 product line was accounted for each and every time, wouldn't you, Dan?

I think that Martin tells them to do that just to torture us eHam subscribers. Yea, that's it! He does it to get at us eHamers! He's probably behind CQ Magazine being late in not shipping....and not even paying authors. Martin's like that, you know. With five companies, one located across town with all that StarkVegas traffic to negotiate, he has plenty of time to figure out ways to mess guys like me up. Wait a minute, that doesn't sound right. It's Richard Stubbs, Customer Service Director. I've known him for 15 years or so. He's the one doing this...just to get back at some of the absolute nuts who blow-up his phone (this doesn't count Joe Walsh, though...he sends signed pctures). Gonna give you a piece of my mind, Richard, when you get back from your current hamfest run! ::)

Enjoy the attempted humor, Dan. You're a good OM!

73,

Frank
K4FMH

This MFJ quality "debate" is such a weird ongoing war for such a simple issue. Why is this bordering on religious debates in intensity?  No one has to buy their products, or their competitors, for that matter.

MFJ targets aggressive (low) price points.  They also have a very wide array of products and variations within each across many brands.  They most likely out ship the "competition" by a wide margin on a quantity basis for most of these products.  They've obviously had some particular quality issues at times with certain products or models.  Take all of this, and there are plenty of vignettes on bad product experiences.

However, there are many, many, hams with MFJ products, of all types, working properly in their stations, without issues or comments. The generally satisfied customers don't jump into every thread. I'm personally happy to have the competition and choice for our small ham market.

I own a variety of MFJ products and all are built and delivered reasonably well for the features and price point. I also own other brands, some very high end. They are built more robustly, have more headroom, but at substantially higher cost.

MFJ couldn't function if the bad quality statements were true writ large. The return-repair-customer service overhead would crush them. Most of the products must work as designed most of the time. It would not be in their interest, or even sustainable, to ship products that don't work out of the box for the vast majority of customers.

Just my .02.  By the way, I do appreciate calling out specific issues and especially patterns, with MFJ or any vendor.

73... Dan, W4LI



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4ATS on November 20, 2013, 10:52:29 AM
"Indeed, I did get a mad-on when haters go after any company, especially one where I have personal knowledge that the assertions are not even close to the truth!"

I guess you are kinda right , it is annoying, Geeze , I just counted well over 250 zeros on the product reviews, then stopped counting, from folks posting negative comments about stuff that did not work. They post that crap every day! They need to grow up. I need to stop viewing all the negative feedback from so many people , I guess it just became interesting to hear about loose parts, no solder, radios frying from the power supplies, meters not reading right, amps blowing up out of the box, analysers with missing parts , Cushcraft problems and it goes on and on.

I mean really , this guy can't be telling the truth can he?

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/11416



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W5JON on November 20, 2013, 11:39:20 AM
Yup, it is all just a vast conspiracy against MFJ/Ameritron by all those "buy USA" haters.  They all just spend their waking hours making up all those false negative and "0" reviews, and trying to put down a US Company. Yup, just a vast conspiracy with no basis in fact, and all in those hundreds of hateful folks imaginations'.

73,

John    


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W7HBP on November 20, 2013, 12:43:01 PM
... I am not a lawyer nor play one on TV ;D. 

Have you ever stayed at a Holiday Inn?

I have an AL80B I just bought new spring of 2013 from DX engineering. Do you know when Ameritron made the correction?  Be interested to know if mine is improved or not.

Great info also. Nice work!  ;)


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: G3RZP on November 20, 2013, 02:16:22 PM
Any lawyers there answer this hypothetical case?

Bill Smith Electronics build some amplifiers: a wiring fault means that a production batch are potentially lethal if someone goes inside. Bill Smith Electronics goes broke: the design rights are bought from the liquidators by John Doe Electronics who makes the amplifiers but without the design fault. John Doe Electronics  goes into liquidation and ceases trading and the design rights are sold by the liquidators to Fred Smith Radio, who build the amps without the faults.

Who is legally liable in the US if a Bill Smith amplifier kills or injures someone?



Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: W1QJ on November 20, 2013, 03:46:50 PM
... I am not a lawyer nor play one on TV ;D. 

Have you ever stayed at a Holiday Inn?

I have an AL80B I just bought new spring of 2013 from DX engineering. Do you know when Ameritron made the correction?  Be interested to know if mine is improved or not.

Great info also. Nice work!  ;)

The AL-8oB is not in this discussion.  It doesn't have the problem.


Title: RE: Ameritron warning-UPDATE
Post by: N4OI on November 20, 2013, 05:12:59 PM
Any lawyers there answer this hypothetical case?

Bill Smith Electronics build some amplifiers: a wiring fault means that a production batch are potentially lethal if someone goes inside. Bill Smith Electronics goes broke: the design rights are bought from the liquidators by John Doe Electronics who makes the amplifiers but without the design fault. John Doe Electronics  goes into liquidation and ceases trading and the design rights are sold by the liquidators to Fred Smith Radio, who build the amps without the faults.

Who is legally liable in the US if a Bill Smith amplifier kills or injures someone?



Let me guess…..  Uh, THE INJURED PERSON IS RESPONSIBLE!   Even a toaster is "potentially lethal if someone goes inside."  Let's get some personal responsibility here and leave the lawyers to help the poor and vulnerable population -- those who really need it…. 

I am going off to stick some wires in an outlet and make some sparks now…

73