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Author Topic: Any News on the new Legal Limit Amps from Elecraft and Flex  (Read 24634 times)
K2ACB
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Posts: 99




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« on: June 02, 2017, 06:17:02 AM »

I am curious about the latest news about the new solid state amps from Flex and Elecraft. When will these amps be available and what is their price? What solid state transistors do they use? Are these the latest and most up to date solid state transistors for hf amplifiers? If these transistors need to be replaced are they expensive? What are the IMD parameters for these new amps? Are they much better than previous solid state amps? How do these amps compare with tube amps? Have other companies besides Elecraft and Flex announced they will also come out with new solid state amps?

If anyone has any comments it would be appreciated.

73
Alan-K2ACB
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K6AER
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2017, 07:42:46 AM »

This subject has been discussed in much detail on E-Ham. A little research is in order.  

Flex had their amplifier at the Ham Convention with all the FCC test data. IMD on the third was better than 40 dB on 80 and 20 meters. Cost is $6995. 4/3 design team was there for questions. Power out is a bit under 2400 watts.

Elecraft had their amplifier on display. Still pending FCC certification. Price is $5999 for 1500 watts out.

Amplifier company from Germany, RF-Kits has a very nice unit that is capable of 2400 watts 6-160 meters for under $2600 using a pair of BFA-188 LDMOS devices. Very nice kit.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 07:46:23 AM by K6AER » Logged
N2RJ
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Posts: 2100




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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2017, 08:41:05 AM »

New stuff about PowerGenius XL:

Front panel and LCD has been redesigned. It's larger and looks a bit better. The case appears slimmed down a bit. The colored lights have been toned down a bit and the back panel has been changed. New drawings are available on Flex and Ranko's sites.
 
Tuner Genius by 4O3A is included for all PowerGenius XL orders placed in 2017. This was announced Thursday at the first Flex event.

First shipped units (preorders) are still on track for summer (July-August-September), from what Steve and Matt told me. Orders placed today will ship in the Fall.

Power out is 2kW+, 2400w as K6AER stated seems about correct. They are using two 1K50H transistors for better IMD and cooler operation. 50 watts in for 1500 watts out to comply with FCC 15dB rule.

Production version will have a larger power supply and will run quieter and cooler than pre-production model (per Gerald).

Uses vapor chamber heat sink. When I spoke to Ranko he said that it will help dissipate heat more efficiently.

Not so new things/recap:

Full flex integration with SmartSDR and Flex radios. In SmartSDR you will be able to control the amp as if it were part of the radio.

One wire needed for all control with flex radios - ethernet. Very simple setup. If you have another radio it has interfaces for the most popular ones (Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, Elecraft).

Full SO2R.

Control via a separate Windows app or Android app.

Price is $6999 plus shipping. $1000 gets you a place in the waiting list, and is refundable if you change your mind. From what I gather they will be shipped out of the US, probably out of Austin.

KPA1500:
Nothing really new at Dayton, the Visalia announcement is the latest info. I had a chance to see it in person and spoke to Wayne and the others in the Elecraft booth about it.

It uses two LDMOS transistors. They did not say which ones. However most of the 50 volt devices are interchangeable and I assume it would be the 1K50H.

It looks typical Elecraft, clean, simple and utilitarian. Power supply is separate. Fits well with the K-Line.

No SO2R but multiple antenna outputs.  

B26-PA RF2K5:
Very nice kit. My friend Chris, DL5NAM almost got me to buy one (I still may). Almost fully assembled. It is like assembling a computer with very little soldering required. Boards are assembled. Big color LCD touch screen display.

The control is via a Raspberry Pi and Arduino which is very nice, meaning if you have programming skills you can write programs to do things on the amplifier such as rig control and such. It also means it can be controlled via wifi or LAN from an android tablet or (I believe) web browser.

Since it is a kit it does not have to obey the FCC 15dB gain rule. As little as 2 watts can get you full output. This is user selectable, but requires soldering/replacement of the attenuator on the PA board. Just two wires and two screws.

Transistors are 2xLDMOS, BLF188XR. Other ones may be substituted as they are pretty much all drop in replacements (minor bias adjustment may be needed).

IMD is <-40dB 3rd order.

The price is incredible. 2457 Euro without ATU and with ATU it is 2716 Euro. In EU add 19% VAT. Shipping not included. Add a few hundred for shipping (from Germany).

SPE 1.5K-FA:
Pretty underwhelming. Gianfranco was there and demonstrated the new amp. It uses one MRF1K50H and has some additional enhancements for cleaning up IMD. But it's basically a 1.3K-FA with a 1K50H transistor, new firmware and an adaptive pre distortion sample output.

Specific questions:

Quote
Are these the latest and most up to date solid state transistors for hf amplifiers?

They are the latest technology which is LDMOS, and right now 50v LDMOS is hitting the mainstream. There are 60v devices up and coming that produce more power but they aren't commercially available yet (you can probably get an engineering sample.) They are made by NXP.

Quote
If these transistors need to be replaced are they expensive?

About $200 per transistor. Cheaper than ceramic tubes. Good designs use at least two. SPE uses one.  

Quote
What are the IMD parameters for these new amps? Are they much better than previous solid state amps?

They're about -40 dB 3rd order. They are better in many ways than previous solid state amps, including ruggedness and efficiency.

Quote
How do these amps compare with tube amps?

Tube amps are for all intents and purposes obsolete now. No 3 minute warmup, no gassy tubes, no high voltage and you can put a solid state amp in a carry on bag and fly to a DXpedition with it. IMD with two devices is going to be on par with tube amps now.

Quote
Have other companies besides Elecraft and Flex announced they will also come out with new solid state amps?

SPE has one and Alpha/Dishtronix is working on one. I don't know who else has announced. I wouldn't be surprised to see MFJ/Ameritron coming out with one.

If anyone has any comments it would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 08:50:44 AM by N2RJ » Logged
W9IQ
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2017, 08:49:35 AM »

I hope that is -40 dB!

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
N9AOP
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2017, 09:16:29 AM »

Someone said that for all intents and purposes tube amps are obsolete.  I agree because why would anyone want to pay $3500 for a tube amp when they can get the same power output in a solid state amp for $6500.
Art
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N2RJ
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2017, 09:25:29 AM »

Someone said that for all intents and purposes tube amps are obsolete.  I agree because why would anyone want to pay $3500 for a tube amp when they can get the same power output in a solid state amp for $6500.
Art

I said that they are obsolete. So let's compare some prices:

Tube:
Alpha 9500 - $7995
Acom 2000A - $6490
AL-1500 - $4295
AL-1200 - $4195
OM2000+ (manual) - $3479
OM2000A+ (auto) - $5999

Solid state:
KPA1500 - $6000
SPE 1.5K-FA - ~$4500
PowerGenius XL - $6999
B26-PA RF2K5 - ~$3200USD

All of the solid state amps are auto band select/auto tune. All of the tube amps I listed here are not. Some are, some aren't.

Only the OM power manual tube amp falls into the $3500 threshold. But so does the RF-Kit B26-PA.

What does the extra $ get you, in both the Alpha, Acom and solid state amps? They get you features and ruggedness, especially auto band select which is important in contesting and remote operation.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 09:30:53 AM by N2RJ » Logged
KC4ZGP
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Posts: 1961




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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2017, 09:47:00 AM »


You failed to list the state-of-the-art EB-104, $300.00.

Back to the paddle.

_ _ ... ... _ _

Kraus
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KB6DYA
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2017, 11:23:03 AM »

Until the radios get better IMD the new amps will not make much of a difference. Still have operators with all knobs to the right. Before we get all starry eyed over the new amps and say all tube amps are a p.o.s. lets see how these new amps do in the field?
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K7JQ
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Posts: 1314




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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2017, 11:52:40 AM »

Someone said that for all intents and purposes tube amps are obsolete.  I agree because why would anyone want to pay $3500 for a tube amp when they can get the same power output in a solid state amp for $6500.
Art

I said that they are obsolete. So let's compare some prices:

Tube:
Alpha 9500 - $7995
Acom 2000A - $6490
AL-1500 - $4295
AL-1200 - $4195
OM2000+ (manual) - $3479
OM2000A+ (auto) - $5999

Solid state:
KPA1500 - $6000
SPE 1.5K-FA - ~$4500
PowerGenius XL - $6999
B26-PA RF2K5 - ~$3200USD

All of the solid state amps are auto band select/auto tune. All of the tube amps I listed here are not. Some are, some aren't.

Only the OM power manual tube amp falls into the $3500 threshold. But so does the RF-Kit B26-PA.

What does the extra $ get you, in both the Alpha, Acom and solid state amps? They get you features and ruggedness, especially auto band select which is important in contesting and remote operation.


You forgot the Acom 1500. $3,995, but sometimes on sale (HRO) for $3,400. Change bands and tune up in 10-15 seconds. Can handle 3:1 SWR without a tuner. Rugged, bullet-proof protection. Can put it in a large suitcase, but have to be physically fit to carry it Cheesy. Three minute warm-up not bad, just go to the bathroom, and when you come back, it's ready Wink.

Admittedly, solid state is the future, but I believe tube amps will still be around for a bit. Not obsolete just yet.

 
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N2RJ
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2017, 12:10:24 PM »

You forgot the Acom 1500. $3,995, but sometimes on sale (HRO) for $3,400. Change bands and tune up in 10-15 seconds. Can handle 3:1 SWR without a tuner. Rugged, bullet-proof protection. Can put it in a large suitcase, but have to be physically fit to carry it Cheesy. Three minute warm-up not bad, just go to the bathroom, and when you come back, it's ready Wink.

Admittedly, solid state is the future, but I believe tube amps will still be around for a bit. Not obsolete just yet.
 

I thought we were making an equivalent comparison. A manual tune 1.2kw amp is not equivalent to a 1.5kw+ (2.4kW capable) auto tune amp.

Might as well compare it to an AL-811H, or maybe even a SB-220.

Tube amps will still be around but I think that manufacturers will soon stop making them, except maybe for Ameritron who makes cheap tube amplifiers. Tubes are already getting hard to find.

Quote
Can put it in a large suitcase, but have to be physically fit to carry it Cheesy. Three minute warm-up not bad, just go to the bathroom, and when you come back, it's ready Wink.

It's almost 60lb. Won't be allowed in carry on luggage. Extra baggage fees with checked in many cases. Solid state amps weigh in around 35lb. The SPE weighs in around 20lb.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 12:13:20 PM by N2RJ » Logged
K7JQ
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2017, 02:45:53 PM »

You forgot the Acom 1500. $3,995, but sometimes on sale (HRO) for $3,400. Change bands and tune up in 10-15 seconds. Can handle 3:1 SWR without a tuner. Rugged, bullet-proof protection. Can put it in a large suitcase, but have to be physically fit to carry it Cheesy. Three minute warm-up not bad, just go to the bathroom, and when you come back, it's ready Wink.

Admittedly, solid state is the future, but I believe tube amps will still be around for a bit. Not obsolete just yet.
 

I thought we were making an equivalent comparison. A manual tune 1.2kw amp is not equivalent to a 1.5kw+ (2.4kW capable) auto tune amp.

Might as well compare it to an AL-811H, or maybe even a SB-220.

Tube amps will still be around but I think that manufacturers will soon stop making them, except maybe for Ameritron who makes cheap tube amplifiers. Tubes are already getting hard to find.

Quote
Can put it in a large suitcase, but have to be physically fit to carry it Cheesy. Three minute warm-up not bad, just go to the bathroom, and when you come back, it's ready Wink.

It's almost 60lb. Won't be allowed in carry on luggage. Extra baggage fees with checked in many cases. Solid state amps weigh in around 35lb. The SPE weighs in around 20lb.

An Acom 1500 compared to an Ameritron AL-811H or Heath SB220??? I think Acom's owner would take offense at that remark. You did mention a manual tune OM2000+, although it is a few hundred watts continuous. I was including the 1500 as a viable price comparison.

The quips about its' weight and warm-up time we're jokes. You gotta lighten up a little.
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N2RJ
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2017, 09:10:19 PM »


An Acom 1500 compared to an Ameritron AL-811H or Heath SB220??? I think Acom's owner would take offense at that remark. You did mention a manual tune OM2000+, although it is a few hundred watts continuous. I was including the 1500 as a viable price comparison.

The quips about its' weight and warm-up time we're jokes. You gotta lighten up a little.

He probably would, but comparing a 1.2kW continuous amp to a legal limit continuous amp is really not an equivalent, fair comparison. You could compare it to the SPE 1.3K-FA which is about $3500 now.
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W8JX
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2017, 04:39:33 AM »

Someone said that for all intents and purposes tube amps are obsolete.  I agree because why would anyone want to pay $3500 for a tube amp when they can get the same power output in a solid state amp for $6500.
Art

Now that is silly, I will pay twice as much for same power but less reliability and higher repair costs. A decent tube amp is is far more rugged and easy to repair. high power SS device have a way of going obsolete several years after they come out while tubes for tube amp have been available for decades. Aso you can reduce drive on a tube amp to reduce output and and efficiency of tube amp does not drop much but with a SS amp it can run just as hot at 50% power as full because efficiency, which BTW is markedly less with a SS amp, goes down hill quick as drive is reduced.

Tubes are more forgiving than SS device will still be viable until SS amp get cheaper and more reliable and cheaper/easier to repair.
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N3QE
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2017, 06:33:02 AM »

My gut feeling is that the KPA1500 is going to be the one heard on the air all the time. So many locals started selling off their older solid-state and tube amps when the KPA1500 was announced.

I say the above because about 80% of the contesters and DXpeditions I work are already using Elecraft gear.

The Flex amp will have its online following but not be heard on the air very often. Just like the Flex radios!

The other brands mentioned, those are completely in the noise, even below the low level of the Flex in terms of real world usage.

I don't think the tube amps are going away. If you're a tube amp fan, both fancy auto-tune tube amps and manual tune tube amps are going to be increasingly available on the used market as folks move to KPA1500. This is the time to get a couple spares.

The new tube amp market was already suffering from the fact that a tube amp has a lifetime measured in a good chunk of a century. I don't think the solid-state amps will ever be that long-lasting. Overall it's probably better for the amp industry to move to selling new solid-state amps simply because tube amps last forever.

The market for used solid-state amps will be extremely flaky. As soon as the power semiconductor or microprocessor in them becomes obsolete, their sale-ability on the used market will drop to near zero, even if the amp is working fine. Again, this is a good thing for the amp manufacturers because this cycle is not measured in a good chunk of a century, but is measured in just a few years.

Because the used tube amps last forever, there will still be new Chinese 3-500Z's and 8877's available for replenishment. I suspect the FU728F is made by the same factories that make 8877's although I have to admit it is not awful obvious if the current FU728F's are new manufacture or NOS Chinese military surplus. The Russian tetrodes, many of them are now unobtanium but the GU74B's still have some supply (although maybe running thin?)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2017, 06:50:54 AM by N3QE » Logged
VK3BL
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2017, 06:47:06 AM »

Someone said that for all intents and purposes tube amps are obsolete.  I agree because why would anyone want to pay $3500 for a tube amp when they can get the same power output in a solid state amp for $6500.
Art

Now that is silly, I will pay twice as much for same power but less reliability and higher repair costs. A decent tube amp is is far more rugged and easy to repair. high power SS device have a way of going obsolete several years after they come out while tubes for tube amp have been available for decades. Aso you can reduce drive on a tube amp to reduce output and and efficiency of tube amp does not drop much but with a SS amp it can run just as hot at 50% power as full because efficiency, which BTW is markedly less with a SS amp, goes down hill quick as drive is reduced.

Tubes are more forgiving than SS device will still be viable until SS amp get cheaper and more reliable and cheaper/easier to repair.

It seems the ARF-1500s used in the THP HL-2.5Kfx are still available a decade later... and I doubt the NXP/Ampleon BLF188XR and equivalent are going away any time soon, not to mention the updates have proven to be package and circuit compatible.

As for the efficiency of a tube amp not dropping much, perhaps you should look at the wall meter vs doing the P=IV calculations from the respective meters... for one, heater current on any decent tube amp is going to significantly add to your idle consumption... and unless you're a contester then you're going to be doing a fair amount of idling vs transmitting...

The minute pre-disortion starts being built into IC-7300 style SDRs tube amps under 4Kw are dead...
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J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
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