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Author Topic: Command Technologies 2500 amp aka Dedicated RF aka AN Wireless  (Read 95087 times)
WS8RM
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« on: January 08, 2012, 01:48:02 PM »

I have just been told by the latest new owner of the Command brand amplifiers, KK3AN, Dan Simmonds, Dedicated RF aka AN Wireless that:

1) they will not service existing amps
2) no parts for existing amps are available

Does anyone know of a person in OHIO that will service the amp.  Just minor issue, but I'm thinking about putting in the new pulse tubes, and will only buy the tubes from the person doing the work.

However, my amp still puts out 1000+ with about 50w drive, so running as is might be an option.

I'm also thinking about selling it and getting something that I CAN get serviced by the mfg and at the same time be a company that will be in business for a while... like Alpha or even MFJ.

Any thoughts?
WS8RM
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N3JBH
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2012, 03:57:00 PM »


"I'm also thinking about selling it and getting something that I CAN get serviced by the mfg and at the same time be a company that will be in business for a while... like Alpha or even MFJ."

Well Alpha has been sold or transferred in ownership a few times . So i say MFJ might be the longest single owner / Manufacture there is currently producing and i doubt there going away any time soon.
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KK3AN
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2012, 09:57:41 PM »

Clearly I need to step in and give a bit of background & insight to this.

There is a two-part reason as to why it's simply not possible nor practical for us to service pre-2012 Commander amplifiers.

First, from our own standpoint - with a few basic exceptions, it would be a logistical nightmare to support these earlier models, mainly because there have literally been countless (this means more than a couple) undocumented design variations over the years (decades) that would require us to maintain significant excess inventory that may or may never sell. Model numbers affixed on certain units cannot be traced back to a specific time they were produced with any real reliability. This is an unfortunate reality that we (past customers and I alike) must deal with.

Second, it would bring things down to a crawl for us here because nearly all our time would be sunk into 'seat-of-the-pants' type service work with no hard documentation to go by in most cases. In other words, to do this right, it would take someone dedicated just to perform service / repair work on older models, and there just isn't demand enough to warrant a salaried person doing this, in additional to maintaining significant inventory for out-of-production models.

Those who have been in the loop with me on this the past couple of years know & understand the specific situation I'm describing.

That being said, there are sources who can (and do) repair pre-2012 Commander amplifiers - most notably is Carl / KM1H. Carl has been repairing earlier Commander amps a long time, and right now it makes the most sense to push this work over to Carl. I am searching for others at this time who can also do this.

WS8RM, by alluding to the idea we may not be in business 'for a while' is presenting a statement which is blatantly false.

As it relates to this topic in general - I recently (late 2011) contacted Yaesu about having work done on my FT-1000D (late serial number). I was told that they no longer would take this radio in for service, and during the same phone call, I was told the parts I needed were no longer available. So it's certainly not out of the ordinary that this happens.

Dan KK3AN
Dedicated RF, LLC
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2012, 03:49:54 AM »


WS8RM, by alluding to the idea we may not be in business 'for a while' is presenting a statement which is blatantly false.

As it relates to this topic in general - I recently (late 2011) contacted Yaesu about having work done on my FT-1000D (late serial number). I was told that they no longer would take this radio in for service, and during the same phone call, I was told the parts I needed were no longer available. So it's certainly not out of the ordinary that this happens.

Dan KK3AN
Dedicated RF, LLC

Since you have decided not to support pre-2012 Commander amplifiers, you might as well be a new company with no history to rely on.  With the mess generated by your company selling out to Palstar and then buying the Commander rights back again, back and forth with no stability, instills no confidence that such a mess will not happen again.  That is what I think WS8RM was alluding to.  Whether you like it or not, this is how most guys who bought Commander amplifiers are going to feel.

Gene
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KK3AN
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2012, 05:10:55 AM »

Gene,

Your point noted and understood. Much of the history & reasoning for the changeovers to which you refer simply go far beyond the scope of this forum, and are not for me to disclose.

Now, man to man, I assure you that any 'mess' was inherited by me 1,000 times more than it was by anyone else. The few folks who know this understand this, and also understand the position I'm in - which is much less than spectacular right now. Not intending to make this sound one-sided here, but these are the facts.

Meanwhile, I'm working as best I can with those who do have legitimate product issues until things get rolling again with the product line.

Dan
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KE5JPP
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 05:25:33 AM »

Gene,

Your point noted and understood. Much of the history & reasoning for the changeovers to which you refer simply go far beyond the scope of this forum, and are not for me to disclose.

Now, man to man, I assure you that any 'mess' was inherited by me 1,000 times more than it was by anyone else. The few folks who know this understand this, and also understand the position I'm in - which is much less than spectacular right now. Not intending to make this sound one-sided here, but these are the facts.

Meanwhile, I'm working as best I can with those who do have legitimate product issues until things get rolling again with the product line.

Dan

Dan, I am not saying that your a wrong in the decision not to support pre-2012 amplifiers and I am sure you have taken all the business considerations into account.  Unfortunately, your business issues are not high on the list of guys who just want some kind of support for their pre-2012 commander amplifiers.  I can understand both sides, but I was just pointing out that I felt that WS8RM was justified in his comment "that I CAN get serviced by the mfg and at the same time be a company that will be in business for a while" given the messed up history of the Commander and the back and forth of who is responsible for supporting the amplifiers when they were manufactured by different companies.  Having no support for pre-2012 amps and with the history, I hope you can see that it does not instill much confidence in would-be customers going forward.

Gene
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KK3AN
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Posts: 42




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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2012, 05:43:15 AM »

Gene

Thank you for seeing both sides of this.

Honestly, I agree with you 100%.

Again, I sincerely hate not being able to keep everyone happy, but I've found myself in a very difficult position that I cannot fully control, and decisions need to be made in the cold light of day.

Perhaps there will be a point in time where we will be able to take on all (decades prior) repair work - though right now staffing (money), training (more money) and obsolete parts inventory (more money still) just doesn't allow it - plain and simple.

Rebuilding an entire brand like this takes time and money - aside from wading through all the issues I've inherited. I'm open to reasonable suggestions from those with more experience than I on any aspects in discussion here.

Thanks, Dan
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W5JON
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2012, 07:55:27 AM »

WS8RM,

You may want to consider QRO Technologies. My 7 year old QRO HF-2500DX has never missed a beat. If you do have any service issues Ray is always there, plus in your case they are in OHIO. A great solid company making great products, just read the reviews on EHam: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/422

73,

John W5JON
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 10:12:38 AM by W5JON » Logged
KI6SZ
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 11:01:44 AM »

Folks,

I'm going to partially weigh-in here.  I know ALL of the history behind these amps.  Most of the history is not important or is otherwise not appropriate for this venue.

I agree with Dan (KK3AN).  But I'm not at all unbiased -- just a warning up front.

I was involved in the original purchase of these amps from An Wireless by Palstar.  At the time, I knew these amps needed re-design and I ended up spending the next 14+ months redesigning the entire line of amplifiers.  This is the amplifier line that AN Wireless took back from Palstar.  These reasons will probably not be disclosed (certainly not by me).

The original Commander amplifier designs were terribly antiquated, with lots of undocumented changes, and most of these components are now obsolete or are otherwise "unobtainium."  These were OK designs in the 1980s, but were quite problematic and not up to contemporary standards for form, fit, or function.  After redesigning these amplifiers, the decision was made by Palstar not to support the legacy amplifiers.  I agreed with that position as I was one of the persons behind that decision.   The primary reason was obsolescence of the original design, but also due to the fact that some inherent problems, while engineered-out of the redesigned amps, were not feasible to "cure" by retrofit into the legacy amplifiers.  It is difficult (at least for me from an ethical standpoint -- my perspective only) to implement a repair in a legacy amplifier, knowing that the underlying problem/cause for failure remains, even after the repair.  One such example is the fact that the toroidal coil used in the tank for 160-80-40m operation would "melt down" when running high power on 80 or 40m.  This is not "preventable" in the stock legacy amplifier...

There are certainly others (as mentioned by Dan) that do service these legacy amplifiers and do a good job of it.  It made sense at the time, and it still does to me at least, to continue to endorse these other repair facilities that do service the legacy amplifiers. 

The decision by Palstar, and now by AN Wireless (Dedicated RF) not support the legacy amplifiers is one that I absolutely agree with.  This is not always an easy decision to make as one risks possible alienation of owners of legacy Commander amplifiers, but I think it is a necessary one.  I think most folks will recognize that this is also a reasoned and reasonable decision.  The last time I checked, neither Collins or Drake (both companies are still doing business) service Collins or Drake ham amplifiers.  It does not make sense for them to do so.

Again, just my biased 2 cents, but I agree with Dedicated RF's position on this issue and I would (and definitely will) recommend them to others.

Thanks,
Don
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K6AER
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 12:15:19 PM »

I might as well jump into this fray with the others.

When Commander sold it line, I started to service various legacy Commander amplifiers. Mostly the 6 meter and three hole HF designs. As Don and Dan have brought to the fore front in this quandary, the designs were undocumented, poorly built and for the most part completely ignorant of modern technology.  

No legends on the circuit boards. The schematics were grammatically just wrong.  The components in many cases were destined to fail due to bad engineering or no engineering at all. Even the meters were held in place by RTV smeared around the edges.

As mentioned, most of the parts needed for repair are un-obtainable. The tubes cost $900 apiece and even though many hams have an attachment for the models, it is easier to repair a 1961 Corvair. When the amplifier could be repaired most hams could not justify the repair for the amplifiers for they were not worth the repair cost.

Going back to the original post you would be far better off to cut your losses and sell the amplifier and buy a new unit.

The cost of an amplifier is not what you pay for it but what it depreciates. Buy an AL-1500 for $3700 and three years later it is worth $2100. Buy an Alpha for $4700 and three years later you sell it for $4500. The Alpha cost $200.

Currently ACOM, Alpha, THP and QRO are all holding their value.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 12:19:18 PM by K6AER » Logged
KK3AN
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Posts: 42




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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2012, 01:24:37 PM »

Some final comments for the day on this:

1) To emphasize the comments of Don, Mike and I, and the 'state' of things with the previous history of the company, even the FCC has absolutely no record on file of the Type Acceptance on any of the Commander models. (This, by the way will change going forward).

2) A link will be placed on the new company website - dedicatedrf.com - offering sources for repair of legacy Commander products, of which there are already two (2) sources with years of experience apiece.

3) Going forward, service / repair work on ALL new (2012 on) Commander models will be dealt with either internally (factory direct), through factory trained dealers / service centers, or both.

4) We currently have in excess of $78k invested just in new Eimac 3CPX inventory alone, and I can give my personal assurance that I am quite serious about building the company & a brand that will last.

I'm very greatful to Don Kessler and Mike Higgins for the tremendous help so far.

Dan Simmonds
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N3JBH
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2012, 03:03:09 PM »

Dan was looking over your web site. My your making some fantastic improvements by the sounds of it . Congratulations and i think you have a vastly superior design. Man i am jealous now i want one....Maybe i can swap the XYL she does do dishes  Grin.... Jeff
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W1QJ
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2012, 03:55:36 PM »

After recently repairing a couple of Command Tech amps sent to me I can attest to the fact that the documentation never fits the amp you are working on.  Changes were made and the schematics were never changed to reflect those changes.  No legends on the PC boards and traces on both sides of the boards makes it hard to check point to point since the schematics don't fit.  Fortunately I was able to fix both amps and the customers are happy now until the next problem comes up.  Then we start all over again with the seat of the pants repairs.  Basically the destiny of these amps when they are broken and can not be repaired by the owners is that they fall into the hands that can fix them or able to modify circuitry to work in place of original circuits.  As one gent said, cut your loses now and move on.  Some of us who do attempt to repair these older units in fact do but I suppose you have to pay the price if it is a complex "work around" fix due to unobtainable parts.  I know that both Carl KM1H and I will take these amps in for repair, we do are best to keep them alive for you guys at the best repair prices we can offer.  Eventually the old units will die off and the new era will take hold and capture the market.  Time heals all wounds.
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W8JI
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 05:29:53 AM »

This is what happens when engineers that don't even realize it is impossible to build a 4:1 current balun on a single core start dealing with more complex systems like amplifiers. A buddy of mine bought a deluxe expensive auto-tuner, and it had a forced 3:1 voltage imbalance on the balanced output terminals. It created terrible RFI.

Who would miss that problem that understood RF?

It all turns into a mess when things are not looked at carefully.

Anyone who has dealt with a certain person who goes in and out of business and through partners like water already understands what probably happened. Even his own relatives have been shafted in business deals.
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W1QJ
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2012, 04:56:34 AM »

Tom, I think you and I discussed this before, but for the benefit of the others who may have not seen ANY of the older Command Tech amps.  The HF and 6 meter Command Tech amps take a seemingly unique approach to the tank circuit.  In an effort to eliminate padding capacitors for load and tune on the lower bands the output uses a 4 to 1 (matching transformer) so that the tank circuit only has to match down to 200 ohms impedance, the 4 to 1 transformer on the output brings it down to 50 ohms to the antenna.  This design eliminates the padding caps and the switching needed to handle that chore.  A single plate and load capacitor covers all bands.  It sure makes things simple in the tank circuit.  I don't recall any of the other amp mfgers using this method.  Of course when I first noticed this I asked Tom about it and he had considerable input about such a system.  As I recall I think the new Commander amps still carry that design.
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