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Author Topic: Ameritron ALS-600 vs. Tokyo HL-550FX  (Read 46367 times)
KD8MJR
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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2011, 10:06:22 AM »

This Guy ZENKI comes on the forum with some really outrageous and totally wrong claims.   My advice to all eham members is never listen to anybody on the Forum who is not using their real Call Sign.  Being Anonymous allows people to say anything without a fear of looking bad.

  The finals in the Tokyo Hy-Power HL1.2KFX are ST Micro SD2933 which can be replaced from most online electronics parts store such as Digi-Key, RF Parts, etc. so I don't know what Zenki is talking about being customized finals.

If you have the means, any Tokyo Hy-Power linear would be a great addition to your fine station.
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KH6AQ
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2011, 10:07:51 AM »

An amp draw attention? Maybe and maybe not. I am in a similar situation with what you might call a flagpole antenna. It's 13' from my house and 40' from the neighbor's houses. I've run 1200 watts with no RFI issues from 160 thru 15 meters.

At the other end of the RF link: Small antenna + big amp = big antenna + no amp
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KD8MJR
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2011, 10:24:39 AM »

True for Tx but unfortunately not for Rx


At the other end of the RF link: Small antenna + big amp = big antenna + no amp
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KH6AQ
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2011, 10:25:37 AM »

The THP HL-1.2KFX uses four SD2933 transistors. $124 each at Digikey. Thermal resistance junction-to-case is 0.27 deg C/W

The ALS-600 uses four MRF150 transistors. $50 each at RF Parts. Thermal resistance junction-to-case is 0.6 deg C/W.

Running 600 watts output in CW mode (300 W average output) and with 50% DC-RF efficiency each transistor dissipates 75 watts. The THP transistor junctions run 20 deg C above the heatsink spot temperature (at the transistor). The ALS-600 transistors run 45 deg C above the heatsink spot temperature.

Both transistors are rated for a maximum junction temperature of 200 deg C. Both transistors are rated for 125 volts Drain-to-source. The THP transistor is rated for 40 amps while the ALS is 16 amps. The device capacitances of the THP transistor are roughly twice the ALS.

Given the thermal resistance, current rating, and the capacitances the SD2933 is about twice the transistor the MRF150 is.
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K3JB
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2011, 04:38:27 AM »

I too am looking at the THP 550 vs ALS-600. I couple of Hams I know are using the ALS-600 with no problem,many folks do not have the luxury or availability to plug into 220v with their Amp. The ALS-600 just plugs direcly into house current and I am not sure this will be the case with the 550. I have a friend in an apartment building who is also looking and does not have 220v, it is just not available he only has 110v house current in his Shack.

The ALS-600 has been out for a number of years and has a good track record, the 550 is new to the market and I will be interested to hear what people feel about them once some are out being used. That being said, THP has a great history of success with their products.

The price issue is going to be interesting to see how THP places the 550 on the market.

Richard
K3JB
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KH6AQ
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« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2011, 06:17:14 AM »

No doubt the THP is the better amp and if money is no object it's the one to get. Now given a fixed amount of money - say $2400 - the contest is between the ALS-1300 at 1200 watts and the THP at 600 watts.
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K7PEH
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« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2011, 08:05:58 AM »

I am late to this discussion and maybe all the decisions have been made.  I noticed that you (original poster) said you might be upgrading to a K3.  I also noticed that someone said the Elecraft KPA500 would be forthcoming but no one knows when (promised for years) and price will be high (over $2000).

Well, the KPA500 is very close.  It is in field test right now with beta test users.  The price has been mentioned by Wayne of Elecraft (on the Elecraft e-mail reflector) to be $1995 for the kit version (which of course is the only way to go with an Elecraft in my opinion).  It is close for release though and I am thinking to have my money ready to add to my K3 within the next few months.

73, phil, K7PEH
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KD8MJR
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« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2011, 10:15:35 AM »

As stated before if you get a ALS-1300 you better be prepared to pack it up and send it back to Ameritron every 6 Months for replacement finals.  The Reliability record for this amp is dismal.

No doubt the THP is the better amp and if money is no object it's the one to get. Now given a fixed amount of money - say $2400 - the contest is between the ALS-1300 at 1200 watts and the THP at 600 watts.
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W8JX
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« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2011, 10:21:56 AM »

It seems that the THP is basically a 800 watt amp rated at 600 out and lasts a long time even when run hard while AL1300 is basically a 800 watt or so amp rated at 1300 and suffers a short life when run hard. If Ameritron would have design/rated that amp at 900 or so it would last far longer and get better press. 
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
KD8MJR
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« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2011, 10:25:45 AM »

The 550 is the same as the 1.1kfx with just the addition of a board to add in 6M. So in that regard it has been tested for years.  In regards to the Voltage, all the THP amps I have seen have a 110/220V switch at the back, all you need to do is throw the switch.
Internaly each side of the switch can be wired for voltages between 100V-130V/200V-260V
The Default is 110V/220V.

The ALS-600 just plugs direcly into house current and I am not sure this will be the case with the 550. I have a friend in an apartment building who is also looking and does not have 220v, it is just not available he only has 110v house current in his Shack.

The ALS-600 has been out for a number of years and has a good track record, the 550 is new to the market and I will be interested to hear what people feel about them once some are out being used. That being said, THP has a great history of success with their products.

The price issue is going to be interesting to see how THP places the 550 on the market.

Richard
K3JB
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KH6AQ
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« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2011, 02:23:09 PM »

It seems that the THP is basically a 800 watt amp rated at 600 out and lasts a long time even when run hard while AL1300 is basically a 800 watt or so amp rated at 1300 and suffers a short life when run hard. If Ameritron would have design/rated that amp at 900 or so it would last far longer and get better press.  

The THP 1.2Kfx is a 600 watt amp using the same transistors as the 1.5Kfx 900 watt amp. The 1.2Kfx has a lower drain voltage. In this respect the 1.2Kfx is over-engineered. However, if the heat sinking/cooling is less on the 1.2Kfx such that the transistor temperature is the same as the 1.5Kfx the output device reliability will be the same.

The ALS-1300 is rated for 1200 watts. It is essentially two ALS-600 amps (rated at 600 watts) and these have what looks to be a good reliability record the past few years if the eham reviews are a good snapshot. If the ALS-1300 is failing more often why is it? Being that it has eight transistors vs. the four transistors in the ALS-600 it is expected that transistor failures will occur twice as often. This 2X reliability hit could be remedied by reducing the die temp in the ALS-1300 by 10-15 degrees C. That means more cooling.

Reducing RF power output will not appreciably reduce transistor temperature. These amps have a fixed output impedance ratio that is set to give maximum efficiency at maximum power. Reduce output power and the input power drops about as fast, yielding no appreciable decrease in dissipation. The DC-RF efficiency drops. If one wanted to turn the ALS-1200 into an 800 watt amp the drain voltage could be lowered from 50 volts to 42 volts or the output transformer turns ratio could be modified. The decrease in die temp, all other things equal, is 15 deg C plus some for the thermal interface thermal resistance.

Since the ALS-600 has demonstrated good reliability the ALS-1300 should also. I suspect the ALS-1300 failures are not due to pushing them too hard per se but are due to workmanship errors. Backing the power down via modification could decrease the incidence of output device failures by masking workmanship errors.

Running 50% duty cycle (CW) at 1200 watts and given 50% DC-RF conversion efficiency each of the eight MRF-150 transistors dissipate 75 watts. The thermal resistance is 0.6 deg/W giving a die temp rise of 45 deg C. As long as the heatsink spot temp (under the transistor) does not greatly exceed 100 deg C the transistors should be fine. I suspect the thermal interface is the workmanship error. A loose screw, too much heatsink paste, too little heatsink paste, or an uneven heatsink surface and the thermal interface resistance is compromised and the transistor will become hot enough to fail.


« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 03:06:17 PM by WX7G » Logged
N6TV
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« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2011, 07:34:39 PM »

My rig is a bare-bones Icom 706 but I plan on purchasing a K3 soon . . . Would welcome recommendations . . .Tnx . . . peteD (W2FGU)

Well, the KPA500 is very close.  It is in field test right now with beta test users.  The price has been mentioned by Wayne of Elecraft (on the Elecraft e-mail reflector) to be $1995 for the kit version (which of course is the only way to go with an Elecraft in my opinion).

I am currently field testing an Elecraft KPA500.   Imagine a mini Alpha at 1/3rd the weight, 1/3rd the cost, and 1/3rd the output power.

Though I've only had it a few days, I think it is safe to say that the Elecraft KPA500 is by far the most capable solid-state 500-600W amplifier that you will be able to buy this year, with many features not available on the ALS-600, THP HL-550fx, SPE, etc.  I am really impressed with this little guy.

Elecraft KPA500 features
  • Automatic band change via high-speed RF sensing, switches very fast
  • No reason to touch the band switches; it works with any radio, no "band data" lines required
  • Accurate 3-color LED power and SWR bar graphs, but with a peak hold feature that actually works
  • Digital LCD display shows Band in MHz, HV, IP, TEMP of finals, SWR, RF OUT, plus a menu of customizable settings such as LED / LCD brightness
  • Full totally silent high speed click-free QSK up to 80 WPM using PIN diodes, no noisy relays to wear out!  For a CW guy like me, this is the Holy Grail.
  • Efficient power supply provides full output power on an ordinary 115 VAC 15A house circuit, or you can use 230 VAC
  • It draws about 1050 W or 1225 VA max, key down
  • Outputs 500 W easy (RTTY), 600-650 max for CW / SSB, with only 30-35W drive.
  • Successfully powered this amp with a single Honda EU-2000i 125 VAC generator running the KPA500, K3, and the shack computer, making this amp ideal for DXpeditions or County Expeditions.
  • Advanced protection circuits detect high SWR, high or low voltage, etc., to protect finals.  Automatically resets itself from soft faults like temporary high SWR
  • Covers 160-6M
  • Instant on, no warm-up
  • 4-speed fan runs very quiet in normal use, can ramp up to loud in very hot environments running RTTY
  • RS-232 port for downloading firmware updates from a PC using the free KPA500 Utility software, or to control the amp. remotely
  • K3 compatible ACC port for band data if you want it, but you really don't need it because the automatic RF Sensing and switching works so well
  • Same size as a K3 , about 11.5 inches (29.2 cm) square including the fan
  • Weighs 26 lbs

The only disadvantage I can think of comparing the KPA500 to the ALS-600 and HL-550fx is that it weighs more.  As a broadband amp. it also needs an SWR < 2:1 or else you will have to use an external tuner such as the LDG AT-600Pro.

In sum, I think the KPA500 is a real winner compared to the competition.  Of course it will take time to know if it will really last over many years of contest or DXpedition conditions, but knowing that it is engineered by contesters who really understand what kind of pounding it has to take, I think it's destined to become another winner from Elecraft.

Disclosure:  I am not an Elecraft employee and I receive no compensation for being a Field Tester other than a small discount for purchasing an early unit.  Though I am very good friends with several Elecraft employees, I think I am also one of their toughest critics.  It has been really hard for me to come up with anything about this amp. that I don't like, other than I wish they had used a switching supply to make it about 20% lighter (though that probably would have made it about as expensive as the HL-550fx, so they probably made the right decision).

73,
Bob, N6TV
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 11:32:26 AM by N6TV » Logged

73,
Bob, N6TV
KH6AQ
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« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2011, 08:09:01 PM »

The KPA500 sounds like a great amp. Do you know what transistors and how many it uses?

26 lbs. Is that too heavy to set on top of a K3? I set an ALS-600 on a K3.

PIN diode QSK sounds wonderful. I could do without the fancy microprocessor and metering features though. The automatic reset for high SWR and the four speed fan sound good.

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W7AIT
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« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2011, 08:57:31 PM »

I just went through the exact same decision analysis / purchase last month. 

I originally ordered a THP HL-1.2-Kfx from HRO.  Turns out there is a THP document stating / describing how finicky the AMP is (not shown or provided with sales literature hype unless you ask for it) and THP documents therein how critical it is for:
1.   Transformer voltages must be set right on or it will trip off. 
2.   Finicky antenna SWR shutdown or it will trip off. 
3.   Amp is susceptible to stray RF fields and will also shut down in a multiple transmitter site.  I'd had this problem with a FT817/ THP 100 watt unit I tried but was forced to return for credit because of it tripping off when a second transmitter was operated nearby – it was very susceptible to RFI, unterminated CPU lines brought out to a connector - they would pick up the stray RF and make the amp do crazy things.
4.   Finicky to 110 vs 240, and THP really wants you to run 240.  Critical.

Read THP document “THP Tip Sheet” rev A and see all of this.  You'll have to ask for it, HRO doesn't offer it unless you ask; HRO provided to me and I cancelled the order after reading the document.

I'd erroneously thought AMERITRON was poor quality as tagged by MFJ moniker but I was **totally wrong about that** - they make a decent,  reasonable quality piece of gear, observed when I installed the 10 meter kit, (albeit not to the “pretty” Kenwood, Yaesu, or THP workmanship), BUT THE ALS-600 IS BULLET PROOF, is not finicky in any way, to wit:
1.   Transformer isn't finicky – I didn't have to set anything, just plug into my 110 wall socket and play.
2.   No finicky SWR hair trigger circuit, forgiving if kept below 2:1.
3.   Not susceptible to stray RF field and does NOT shut down in a multiple transmitter site.
4.   Is not finicky about 110 or 240, just plug in to 110 and play.

I've had ZERO problems with the ALS-600, easy to set up, plug and play, and measured the following with power meter / Spectrum analyzer:
1.   Gives a solid 9 db gain & pumps out a solid 400 to 600 watts, all day, every day.
2.   No spurious and no harmonics, 2nd and 3rd’s well below FCC requirements.
3.   Great signal reports and now get stations on first try.  Work a lot of DX.

Fortunately, I cancelled the THP  HL-1.2-Kfx from HRO because they couldn't get any, backordered - so they didn't charge me a restocking fee.

I'd say THP shot themselves in the foot by publishing the “THP Tip Sheet” rev A.  Not a good thing to show customers, especially for those customers desiring a bullet proof, easy to use, no tune amp.

I'm VERY happy with my ALS-600.  Highly recommended.  I'm glad I didn't buy the THP.  BTW, I got the ALS-600SPS with the switcher, no hash, nice and quiet.


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N6TV
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« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2011, 11:10:46 PM »

The KPA500 sounds like a great amp. Do you know what transistors and how many it uses?

The KPA500 uses pair of VRF2933 finals, which are very similar to the SD2933 used in the HL-550fx, but "designed for broadband commercial and military applications."  See  http://www.microsemi.com/datasheets/vrf2933_a.pdf for the specs.

26 lbs. Is that too heavy to set on top of a K3? I set an ALS-600 on a K3.

You really don't want to put anything on top of a K3, because I discovered during Field Day operating in a hot tent that the entire ventilation intake grill in the top cover of the K3 is really important for proper cooling.

A simple shelf that puts a couple inches of space between the K3 and KPA500 is all that you need to properly stack a KPA500 above a K3.

My rig is a bare-bones Icom 706 but I plan on purchasing a K3 soon . . . Would welcome recommendations . . .Tnx . . . peteD (W2FGU)

I have to mention that apparently the IC-706 and IC-7000 have terrible power overshoot problems, i.e., you can set them for 30 W output, but they will still output 100 W for many milliseconds before dropping back, so those radios are really unusable with any amp. rated for 30-60 W input max.  So Pete, get the K3 first (or an amp. rated for 100W input).
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73,
Bob, N6TV
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