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Author Topic: Is Astron still king?  (Read 2350 times)
W9WD
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« on: July 16, 2019, 05:54:47 AM »

Buying a new PS soon, and I'm looking real hard at the Astron VS-50M.

Is Astron still the king, or are there challengers?
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Greg
On the continental divide in the wilds of New Mexico.
KA5IPF
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2019, 05:59:34 AM »

AFAIK. I have a 33+ yr old VS50M on my bench that has never failed. Also a couple of SS-30's for odd jobs.
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W9CN
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2019, 06:03:35 AM »

If you need an RFI quiet, linear power supply that will pretty much run forever, the Astron's are hard to beat. 

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W5DXP
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2019, 06:32:56 AM »

I am impressed with my PowerMax PM4-100LX for $180. Advertised as an RV battery charger, works great as a stand-alone switching power supply. Used to power my SG-500 amp.

https://powermaxconverters.com/product/pm4-series-2/
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My antenna says, "What makes me happy is when the tuner is adjusted for maximum available current through my radiation resistance!" 73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
K0UA
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2019, 07:32:26 AM »

Believe it or not I am running switcher power supplys I got off of Amazon for all my rigs. They seem to be quiet and seem to work well. I put the old Astron on the service bench. I sure love the switchers or carrying around. They are as light as a feather and put out 50 amps. Yeah I can't believe it myself, but you can teach old dogs new tricks.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L5QU616/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
W9CN
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2019, 08:20:57 AM »

I have had zero success with switching power supplies and HF.  They have all created various RFI issues on various bands at various levels.  If you have a relatively high HF noise floor, it may not be noticeable or problematic. 

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K0UA
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2019, 08:34:51 AM »

I have had zero success with switching power supplies and HF.  They have all created various RFI issues on various bands at various levels.  If you have a relatively high HF noise floor, it may not be noticeable or problematic. 



I have a very low HF noise floor. SOME switchers have no RFI.  I know, I can't believe I am "championing" switchers, as I have stated in the past there is a special place in He77 for the inventor of the switching power supply. BUT a friend of mine turned me on to his Switcher installation, and I couldn't believe it, but bought one of my own, and then another. SOME switchers are quiet. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes on the waterfall and own ears. 
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
W5DXP
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2019, 09:15:50 AM »

It's 11am CDST here and 40m is really dead quiet. I just ran a scan with my RTL-SDR/SpyVerter and SDRsharp. I cannot tell from the scan whether the 100 amp PowerMax P4 is on or off. I've listened for birdies and have not heard a single one.


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My antenna says, "What makes me happy is when the tuner is adjusted for maximum available current through my radiation resistance!" 73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
W9CN
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2019, 01:14:15 PM »

It would be helpful to have a dBm scale on the waterfall. 

Again If your noise floor is -75 dBm you will never see the switching power supply RFI at -95 dBm.

The Astron SS30 I have generated multiple "spikes" on the 40M band at -80 dBm.

I can't post a screen capture off from my Flex 6700 because it requires a public URL link.
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N2SR
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2019, 01:28:10 PM »

Buying a new PS soon, and I'm looking real hard at the Astron VS-50M.

Is Astron still the king, or are there challengers?

While people have considered them the "king" for many years, and they seem to demand high prices, there are many brands that are much better than 40 year old technology. 

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If no one is doing it that way, there is a probably a very good reason.
W9CN
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2019, 02:19:36 PM »

That would be switching power supplies. 

And many of those have serious RFI issues that make them less than suitable for use in HF enviroments.

Linear supplies need large, heavy, transformers, multiple power transistors, big heatsinks and enclosures.  All of that is not inexpensive..

But from an RFI generation standpoint, linear power supplies are virtually silent. 

Which makes them ideal for HF applications.
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N8FVJ
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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2019, 07:05:08 AM »

Regarding linear type power supplies, no one does it better than Astron. Switching type power supplies are a different type and a few excellent manufactures exist besides Astron.
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NO2A
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2019, 09:37:21 AM »

Regarding linear type power supplies, no one does it better than Astron. Switching type power supplies are a different type and a few excellent manufactures exist besides Astron.
Amen!   Smiley
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W9IQ
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2019, 10:06:53 AM »

While not the rule, commonly switching type supplies utilize a fan to keep the dense electronics cool. This adds audible noise that most linear supplies do not. It also happens to introduce the most common failure mode - the failure of the fan "bearings".

Most linear supplies do not use a fan for cooling because the electronics are not as dense and simple convection flow often does the job for cooling the heatsink.

So here is a representative pro/con of switching vs linear supplies:



If you do choose linear, I think the Aston line makes an excellent choice - they are well documented (schematics, service knowledge, commonly available parts, etc.) and they generally have an output crowbar circuit to protect your radio in the event of a power supply over voltage failure mode.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
W4JCK
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2019, 10:12:04 AM »

Buying a new PS soon, and I'm looking real hard at the Astron VS-50M.

Is Astron still the king, or are there challengers?

While people have considered them the "king" for many years, and they seem to demand high prices, there are many brands that are much better than 40 year old technology. 



I'm curious - what aspects of a linear heavy duty, high-current power supply should Astron update?  What specific brands of "modern" linear power supplies would you recommend?  I'm not being an ass, as I am truly interested in who else is making reliable, reasonably-priced linear power supplies for the amateur market.

Cheers
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