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Author Topic: Ameritron ALS1306 factory repair  (Read 1644 times)
NI0K
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Posts: 3




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« on: December 31, 2018, 09:37:58 PM »

My 1306 failed under warranty with a PA light and complete lockout. I sent the amp to the factory for repair. They quoted 2-3 week turnaround. After 3 weeks, a phone call to the factory resulted in a projected 6 week wait. Are that many Ameritron SS amps failing? I would imagine that there is only one tech repairing SS amps at Ameritron, and guessing at 5-6 amp repairs per day means about 35 amps are in the backlog. My amp has an 8xx serial number. 5 of my HF on-air hams friends have 1306's and only one has had a failure. Any comments?
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ZS5WC
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2018, 11:22:37 PM »

I have seen these and other SS amps fail mostly whilst being used on digital modes.
Output power too high, and the duty cycle is excessive for the amps.
The latest culprit being FT-8.
Most SS amps are not 100% duty cycle, and you need to lower the output on those modes to recommended levels. Normally about 25% of max PEP output.
On digi modes huge power is not needed anyway.
They also are very well protected, but is sensitive to overheating and swr.
I run the EXPERT 1K for the past 5 years, and have had no issues.. I keep it within limits.
Not sure under which conditions your failed?.

73 de William
ZS4L / ZS5WC
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N4ATS
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2019, 10:01:47 AM »

That's because MFJ specs them at ridicules power, and if you drive the crap out of them, you may see the MAX power BUT they do not tell you to only do it for a few seconds. Look at the Yaesu VL-1000 Quadra amplifier compared to the ALS-1300 for example , It has the exact same PA (MRF-150) 8 of them, BUT the spec is 1000 watts max and rarely do they go bonkers. ? The difference is Yaesu is built to last, MFJ hypes it up.


« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 10:03:57 AM by N4ATS » Logged
WY7CHY
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Posts: 933




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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2019, 02:38:25 PM »

My 1306 failed under warranty with a PA light and complete lockout. I sent the amp to the factory for repair. They quoted 2-3 week turnaround. After 3 weeks, a phone call to the factory resulted in a projected 6 week wait. Are that many Ameritron SS amps failing? I would imagine that there is only one tech repairing SS amps at Ameritron, and guessing at 5-6 amp repairs per day means about 35 amps are in the backlog. My amp has an 8xx serial number. 5 of my HF on-air hams friends have 1306's and only one has had a failure. Any comments?
I think your theory of 5-6 repairs per day, and only 1 repair technician, is more of a conspiracy theory. I'm sure there's more than 1 repair technician. Unlike "Operators", "Sales", "Customer Service", etc. repair technicians can do a lot more for the company. I'm sure they have a number of individuals who work on numerous electronics; repair, testing, building, etc. And as for the 5-6 failed amps per day?Huh? Where do you come up with that number? Not even really "Out of the blue". More like just grabbed a number?

Nothing against the other 2 replies; but I would venture to guess that the quoted 2-3 weeks turnaround, being adjusted to add 3 additional weeks, has to do with one of 2 things.
1. They need to repair a part that they don't have in stock and they have to wait for a shipment.
2. Going ALONG with #1 to some degree. (IT'S THE HOLIDAYS!!!!). Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don't care what the service, manufacturer, etc. is. You cannot expect the same timely response that you get from February to October. I'm sure that they have a lot of employees that want to take christmas and/or new years off. Probably 97.784949% of ALL of their resources for parts, materials, shipping, etc. have a lot of their employees wanting some time off for the holidays too.

Don't let a lot of negative Ameritron, MFJ, Cushcraft, etc. posts make you have 2nd thoughts and dream up conspiracy theories. If you had said this in June, I'd simply say that they are waiting on parts or materials to fix the issue. (I DON'T BELIEVE it's because they have 5-6 broken amps coming in every day on their bench; or that they only have 1 repair technician working on amps). Just keep a positive; or at least more realistic approach on the situation.
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Born Wild - Raised Proud: 73
Cheyenne, Wyoming
N4ATS
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2019, 04:31:05 PM »

"Don't let a lot of negative Ameritron, MFJ, Cushcraft, etc. posts make you have 2nd thoughts and dream up conspiracy theories. If you had said this in June, I'd simply say that they are waiting on parts or materials to fix the issue. (I DON'T BELIEVE it's because they have 5-6 broken amps coming in every day on their bench; or that they only have 1 repair technician working on amps). Just keep a positive; or at least more realistic approach on the situation."

I agree 100% BUT when you see how many I get each month for "stupid" things like cold solder joints , poor workmanship , missing wires and a host of other non-competent manufacturing issues , you would think twice...If they would only test things before they left the plant....

Look on YouTube, I post things ...

here is an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJB7mmg4cP0
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 04:46:09 PM by N4ATS » Logged
WY7CHY
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2019, 05:46:45 PM »

That's all fine and good. Fortunately for me, I haven't run into any issues. Then again, my AL-811H is one of the older original production amps. You can tell by the old style parasitic suppressor. Not the board mounted type. I bought it from a friend who bought it new. He had it for quite a while and never had an issue with it. I've had it for a few years now; also with no problems. I'm a tweaker, so I did do a few updates to the amp. I replaced the parasitic with the new board type. The amp had the original tubes in it. They looked beat up but still worked. I put a set of NOS Ryazan G-811 in them. I also swap in an out a set of NOS Taylor 572b tubes. I replaced the power capacitors as well as the main resistors. Most of this was to simply maximize it's efficiency. The output voltage to the caps balanced out at 1700v; about 425v per cap. So I didn't mess too much with that. I also did some cosmetic changes; like adding LED lighting to the meters.

I don't question you that "Some" of the Ameritron amps have had production faults. But that's not the amp's fault. That's simply shoddy workmanship. The AL-811H "ITSELF" is a good amp. I wish it was beefed up a bit more with the power transformer, but that's ok. If I wanted a beefier AL-811H, they have one. it's called the AL-572. Basically the same amp, with 572b tubes and more voltage to create more power. But again; any discrepancies you fine when people bring them to you isn't the amp's fault.

So, is it fair to say, that based on your observation that: if the AL-811H DIDN'T HAVE "cold solder joints , poor workmanship , missing wires and a host of other non-competent manufacturing issues", and similar "Man Made Issues"; that you would consider the amp to be a pretty good amp? I would. Again, maybe I'm lucky because I got an early production AL-811H and maybe the workmanship was better back then.
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Born Wild - Raised Proud: 73
Cheyenne, Wyoming
N4ATS
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Posts: 1274




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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2019, 04:59:32 AM »

So, is it fair to say, that based on your observation that: if the AL-811H DIDN'T HAVE "cold solder joints , poor workmanship , missing wires and a host of other non-competent manufacturing issues", and similar "Man Made Issues"; that you would consider the amp to be a pretty good amp? I would. Again, maybe I'm lucky because I got an early production AL-811H and maybe the workmanship was better back then.

I think they are a great amp when they work as with most Ameritrons. They are a good priced solution for extra power without ripping into your wallet. Problem is the company that builds them.
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W5JON
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2019, 06:47:13 AM »


So, is it fair to say, that based on your observation that: if the AL-811H DIDN'T HAVE "cold solder joints , poor workmanship , missing wires and a host of other non-competent manufacturing issues", and similar "Man Made Issues"; that you would consider the amp to be a pretty good amp?


Other then that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?...…  Roll Eyes

73,

John
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NK7Z
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2019, 10:19:51 AM »

Just sent in a 1306 to Ameritron for repair...  I will post timelines...  It arrived at Ameritron Repair today...
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Thanks,
Dave
Amateur Radio: RFI help, Reviews, Setup information, and more...
https://www.nk7z.net
NI0K
Member

Posts: 3




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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2019, 05:38:18 PM »

de NI0K (original poster)

Re-reading my original post I realize it may have sounded a bit snarky. I didn't intend for it to come across that way.

Yes, I realize people need vacations... they are more productive when they come back to work. Please note that I spent 27 years in electronic repairs. Please also note that when you tell someone '3 weeks' they may not be happy when after three weeks you tell them 'no, it is really 6 weeks'. Further note that usually repair techs tend to specialize. Amp techs work on amps- they don't work on low power stuff because the bench setup is completely different. So, my estimate of an amp tech fixing 5-6 amps per day, on average, is a fair number. Remember the tech has to fetch the next repair from the pile, unpack the box, read the paperwork, connect it to the bench setup, confirm the problem, disassemble, troubleshoot, remove the bad part, get the needed part from the parts stock, install the new part, reassemble, test and (hopefully) confirm the repair, do the paperwork and deliver the unit to shipping. Some repairs will be quick NTF (no trouble found), others may take several hours. Sometimes phone or email contact with the customer may be required, which means the unit will have to be set aside for later repair. I know this stuff because I did it for years.

<fireproof suit on>
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AF6LJ
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2019, 08:00:58 PM »

Recently repaired an ALS-600 for a friend.
typical MFJ except for the 7" teflon wire (Not Coax) that went from the PA output directional coupler to the low pass filter board.

The amp wouldn't even do rated power on ten meters.
A short piece of coax brought up the power to rated level on ten meters and the amplifier was easier to drive on every band except for eighty and one-sixty.

Oh...
Two problems brought the amp to me.
broken connection in the ALC circuit.
The other problem was a loose nut rattling around from a previous repair in the power supply.

They need a heat spreader under that heat sink.

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Take Care
Sue,
AF6LJ

Don't Kalifornicate My Life
WA4DOU
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Posts: 576




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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2019, 10:47:44 PM »

My 1306 failed under warranty with a PA light and complete lockout. I sent the amp to the factory for repair. They quoted 2-3 week turnaround. After 3 weeks, a phone call to the factory resulted in a projected 6 week wait. Are that many Ameritron SS amps failing? I would imagine that there is only one tech repairing SS amps at Ameritron, and guessing at 5-6 amp repairs per day means about 35 amps are in the backlog. My amp has an 8xx serial number. 5 of my HF on-air hams friends have 1306's and only one has had a failure. Any comments?

I've had an ALS-1306 for about 1.5 years and an AL-600S for 3-4 years prior, both without any trouble at all.
The 1306 is basically two 606's with outputs combined. The 600/S, 606 amps are rated at 600 watts pep out on SSB and 500 watts on cw. Ameritron rates the 1300/1306 amps at 1200 pep and make no mention of a cw rating, which I think should be 1000 watts. That 1200 watt SSB rating applies to properly adjusted audio, without speech processing. Prudence would dictate derating these amps for heavy speech processing, and even moreso for RTTY and digital modes.

The 2-3 week "quote" for turnaround of the amplifier repair, should be understood as an estimate and nothing more. Thru the year that timeline could vary widely from a low 1 week to a month-6 weeks, because the tech. can't control all the variables that can affect it. It's just a guess on his part.
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KX2T
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 09:36:21 AM »

I owned the early version of the 1306 back a few years ago, nice amp when it worked but you have to really look long and hard at the specs, I ran mine at 1000PEP output and on CW at 800W and two transistors still failed after one years time but I bought the extended warranty back then which was a good idea. When the MRF 150's failed it was on power up, I simply turned it on and it never even got a chance to light up which tells me something went south in the PA bias which they were supposed to change in the newer 1306. I also looked around inside when I bought the amp and I would say there were no bad solder joints yet you have no idea of the quality of the parts and in some cases were the tolerance of the parts should be better they use cheap replacements.
I am surprised that W8JI hasn't chimed in on this post, I believe he designed this amp and runs the balls off his personal 1300 but I would bet my bottom dollar it has best quality components and not one off Ameritrons/MFJ assembly line along with cherry picked  MRF150's. I am surprised that they haven't changed the design to one of the newer hi power block transistor packages were they could use one transistor package, have no spliter/combiner issues  and a better biasing circuit but I guess they bought a ship load of Chinese MRF150's. These amps are not in that lower of a price point any more and for what they charge today they should have a lot better quality then what they are producing these days.
Above one amp which seems to have good QC and performs well also is the Expert amps which seems true but when the guys go in and give them the low drive mod I guarantee 50% of those modified fail cause they drive the crap out of them and that they will do a lot of output with little drive but these  dummies overdrive the amp with a 100w exciter and pop goes the weasel !
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N9AOP
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 01:22:54 PM »

I don't know the job description of the 'repair man'.  Maybe he also has to multitask i.e. sweep the floor and take out the papers and the trash.
Art
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K6AER
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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 05:19:41 PM »

I don't know if Ameritron uses a heat sink paste to attach the transistors to the heat sink or if they solder them directly to the copper heat spreader. If they are using paste the transistors (MRF-150) can have thermal run away very quickly in a high duty cycle application. The only cure is lots of air flow. At this point the amplifier might have a better duty cycle but who wants a Hover vacuum on the radio bench.

On solid state amplifiers there is a big difference between 1300 watts SSB and 1300 watts RTTTY and other digital modes.  Also remember amplifiers lose cooling efficiency of 3% per thousand feet. Even at Alpha we had a 8000 foot ceiling limit on the 9500.
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