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Author Topic: Why one would want an amplifier  (Read 11485 times)
K0UA
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Posts: 4380




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« on: June 08, 2017, 11:46:33 AM »

I have never owned an amplifier.  I have considered them and certainly wanted one several times like when the static on 160 or 80 meters is so high you can hardly get through.  BUT with the recent openings to Europe and Asia on 6 meters in the last few days, I have felt the frustration of hearing juicy DX that I cannot seem to work. 

Here is what is going on, I can copy many European and Asian stations but they are weak.  Very weak in fact.  BUT they are there, and If I had another 10 to 13 db of signal to push towards them, I could be working them. I cannot seem to get past the "Atlantic and Pacific walls" of hams on our coasts.  I did get "heard" a few times in Europe according to PSK reporter yesterday, but just barely.

  Meanwhile I watch "neighbors" ( guys withing 200 miles of me) work them like they are M&M candy,  just one after the other.  So they are all running big amplifiers and I am not.  Most of them have bigger beams too, but I believe If I had an amp I could do it with what I have.

So, my conclusion, while I have worked thousands of stations over the years, and never really considered an amp really worth the hassle, but on 6 meters, it sure can make the difference. (probably on other bands during really rotten conditions too.  Grin)
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KC4ZGP
Member

Posts: 1961




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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2017, 12:00:55 PM »


One gentleman in another section asked the same, does he need an amplifier.

Tough answer.

If propagation is crap to nolo-existo, even an amplifier won't help. There simply is no path.

I use about 500 watts on 160 just to get over the noise a tad. I suspect though come wintertime I might
not need the amplifier as I have much confidence in my big loop. It's 500 plus feet-er-oonies of 12AWG solid
copper strung over the river and through the woods. We'll see.

I shall get back on 160 this weekend just to see how the band is faring. Gotta keep an eye on things.

I love my amplifier B.T.W.

Back to 160 meters phone.

Kraus
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K1HMS
Member

Posts: 527




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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2017, 05:19:16 PM »

With the right antenna you can easily work Europe on 17, 20, and 40 with a 100w from MO. With antennas pointed near straight up which low horizontal dipoles are, you will weakly hear strong DX stations that over come the low gain of your antennas at low angles. As a weak signal they will not hear you.

With a 40m delta loop at 92 feet Europe is easy (NH is half way there) but I also reliably work So Africa and the Middle East on 40 and 20. To work VK and JA I need 10dB more gain. I could get it with a yagi but do not have a tower (yet), so I use a amplifier. Since I hear VKs well it says he has bridged  the 10 dB gap with antenna gain or a amp on his end.

Say a JA has 1000w and I have 100w over the same link path. I hear him, he doesn't hear me, unless his local noise is higher he will hear me with a 1000w. (Not all links are bi-directional, but often come close). Many times I've hit the amp switch and made contact.

Play with power, antenna type and height in voacap and voacap area. It will give you an idea of what you can do.

Nice 6m set up on your QRZ page, it looks like you have some tall trees also.

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W1VT
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Posts: 3310




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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 05:43:49 PM »

I got up to 40+ countries on 160 running 100 watts to a wires just 36 feet high.
I got an amp, not for 160m, but to make easier for stations in the ARRL Centennial Celebration to hear me.
That was in 2014.  Now in 2017 I have 111 countries confirmed on 160.   Grin

I didn't need an amp on 80M--it took just a few months to collect the 100 cards for DXCC.

I don't expect to get my 6M DXCC anytime soon, though it certainly is easier to work Europe with an amp and a beam.

Zack W1VT
« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 05:48:20 PM by W1VT » Logged
K6AER
Member

Posts: 5694




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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2017, 06:07:18 PM »

All the replays really anetdotal . If they cannot hear you you need an amplifier. Most hams have a high noise level in their suburban QTH. If you could put up a better antenna you would have done so.
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K0UA
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Posts: 4380




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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2017, 07:44:46 AM »

All the replays really anetdotal . If they cannot hear you you need an amplifier. Most hams have a high noise level in their suburban QTH. If you could put up a better antenna you would have done so.

You have hit upon one facet of the problem.  I have a fairly low noise level, and I can hear better than a lot of the guys in urban areas can. 
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
G4AON
Member

Posts: 1382




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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2017, 08:09:26 AM »

I have operated portable from a local hill on 6m for several years. I thought my 4 element quad on a 25 foot mast would be good from a hill top, yet guys much lower in elevation were working DX I couldn't hear (only their side of the QSO). The difference was probably their antenna height, typically 60 foot or higher. My noise level was as near zero as makes no difference... If you check out stations working DX on the cluster, you will find they are typically running 4 element yagis, or larger, on decent height towers.

If you look at the pattern from a yagi (or quad) at various heights on 6m, you will see the big difference increasing the height makes. James, I note from your QRZ page that you don't appear to have an effective 6m antenna, assuming you are using the antennas shown.

73 Dave
ps the main lobe from a 4 ele quad at 25' is 11 degrees, at 75' it's 4 degrees. A big difference.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 08:15:05 AM by G4AON » Logged
KM4AH
Member

Posts: 945




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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2017, 09:09:20 AM »

The amplifier is not for you, it is for the people you are asking to communicate with you.
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K8AXW
Member

Posts: 7036




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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2017, 09:20:01 AM »

I learned the hard way that having a beam antenna is the #1 goal.

Then, the amp would be the #2 goal.

Said another way, an amp feeding a mediocre antenna helps some but the results are somewhat mediocre.  (CBrs refer to this as having an "alligator" station.  Mostly mouth and no ears)

100w feeding a beam on a tower results in an unbelievable increase in results.

A beam antenna with an amplifier put you in there 'amoungst' them!
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A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!
K7JQ
Member

Posts: 1271




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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2017, 09:25:39 AM »

Then again, if you have no alternative to improve your antenna (HOA/CC&R restrictions, tiny yard, etc), then by all means do everything you can to increase your power. To the point of not causing RFI repercussions.
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WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 21836




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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2017, 09:51:53 AM »

Even with great antennas, not having an amplifier is still evident when "the others" who you're hearing are using them.

6m amps are pretty common today, and some HF amps also include six meters.    As such, if you're hearing weak stations who are using amplifiers, irrespective of your antenna system, and they can't hear you: Bingo.
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KC4ZGP
Member

Posts: 1961




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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2017, 11:14:04 AM »


The bottom line and there's always a bottom line.

If you can't hear them you can't use an amplifier anyway or something like
that. I'm not good with old sayings unless I write them myself.

_ _ ... ... _ _

Kraus
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K0UA
Member

Posts: 4380




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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2017, 11:30:42 AM »


The bottom line and there's always a bottom line.

If you can't hear them you can't use an amplifier anyway or something like
that. I'm not good with old sayings unless I write them myself.

_ _ ... ... _ _

Kraus


The quote your are trying to recall goes like this:  "ya can't work 'em if ya can't hear 'em". 

My problem is I can hear them, weak though they are, and they can't hear my 100 watts.   On 6 meters 100 watts is QRP in some modes at least.   Oh sure I have worked hundreds of contacts on 6 meters with 100 watts.  And have 30 states on meteor scatter, but I can tell you this, 1000 watts would have made it a heck of a lot easier, and most meteor scatter guys (ping jockeys) are running anywhere from 350 to 1500 watts, with the majority around 1000.  newbies to MS like me always show up with their 100 watt radio and some with compromise antennas, but the guys that eat, sleep and live for weak signal modes, have power amps.  There are times for QRP, and I love it, but then there are times for QRO.
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KC4ZGP
Member

Posts: 1961




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« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2017, 12:11:15 PM »


Just because you can hear them and they don't hear you doesn't mean something is wrong at your end.
Some folks put much into sending a signal and put very little into receiving a signal.

If that the case, your 1,000 watt signal won't be heard.

I'm happy to have a QSO with folks across the US, Canada and those few who speak
English in the Caribbean or South America. I usually use a 100 watts CW or 50 watts PSK-31.

Now on 160 and this time of year, I use an amplifier at about 500 watts just to overcome the noise
but that doesn't always work either.

Propagation has the final say. No path, no communicate.

_ _ ... ... _ _

Kraus
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KK4YDR
Member

Posts: 673




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« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2017, 09:06:53 PM »

A 1 megawatt amplifier will not make a difference if propagation sucks.

However, what I have learned from using amplifiers, is that a bigger signal = being heard better. Thats about the only reason. Remember an amplifier is not for you. It is for others. You are literally spending your money to please others. Plus it is pleasing when people actually want to talk to you because they can hear you above the noise.

There really is no justification for an amplifier unless you want to be kind to other operators and reduce their having to struggle to hear you. Ultimately that is the ONLY use for an amplifier.

If you know that you are not too worried about big power and just want to be heard on the noisiest nights then get a lesser expensive AL-811 or Al-80b or Als-600 and it will be More than enough.

I run an ALS-1306 and I have just sold my AL-800H. I am going to get an AL-82 if I get another amplifier for legal limit. the 1306 will do 1200 watts without flinching and it is 100% more than I need to get 20/9's left and right.
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