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Author Topic: Is 500 Watts worth the cost?  (Read 88491 times)
N9AOP
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« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2014, 10:41:18 AM »

Last month I decided to see if I could live with 500 watts.  Out of 12 attempts to get into DX pileups there was only once that going to legal limit got the contact.  So if I can't get them with 500-800 watts then I probably wouldn't get them with legal.  Now I have to decide whether I want the KPA500 or the ACOM 1010.
Art, N9AOP
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2014, 12:11:52 PM »

I think it makes a difference. I've noticed in pileups you do get through a bit faster than if running 100w. I operate mostly CW and I usually use only 100w there.. I find the amp makes more of a difference on sideband... at least for me. The only time I definitely will use it is if there is some entity that has a very short window for propagation... if its a new one I'll give it everything I got to get that first QSO in the log. For some I only got one shot.
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KH2G
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« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2014, 03:24:00 PM »

Generally speaking the difference on 40/80M will be the difference between armchair copy and "gotta pay attention" copy.
Depending on band cndx it can mean being heard or not. I would keep the amp and use it when someone says your weak copy.
Regards,
Dick KH2G
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W8MW
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« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2014, 09:14:33 PM »

KH2G, you said it well.  There is a difference between one-time QSOs with strangers and frequent QSOs with people you come to know.  With strangers if the contact is a struggle, so what, it will be over quickly and you'll probably never work them again.  But on 75 meters the odds are you will talk to the same people with regularity unless your only interest is DX.  If you have regular contacts you will want to present them with an adequate or better-than-adeqate signal.  I don't know why this concept is so difficult to understand but it seems to be for some hams who have no interest in station building. I guess what I'm trying to say is 75 meter SSB isn't really the best place for people wanting to operate barefoot or QRP.  80 meter CW or digital is a different story.

73 Mike W8MW
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KM4AH
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2014, 03:28:13 AM »

Depends on the time of day you like to operate as well. There are a lot of morning operators that do fine without an amp. It can be pretty frustrating at night for both you and whoever is trying to copy you.
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W8JX
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« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2014, 03:45:56 AM »

Depends on the time of day you like to operate as well. There are a lot of morning operators that do fine without an amp. It can be pretty frustrating at night for both you and whoever is trying to copy you.

When I work 40 it is morning an into early afternoon and I am rarely barefoot. To me a amp is not as important on 20 and above for regular QSO's.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
N4UM
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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2014, 06:53:55 AM »

I recently sold my 30 year old Alpha 76 CA and managed to get enough out of it to buy a brand new, no tune Ameritron ALS-600 solid state amp with a lightweight switching supply that runs about 500 watts.  I'm only a very casual CW DXer so I don't particularly  miss the difference in the two amps in that regard.  I spend about 80 percent of my time on weak signal/high noise digital (high duty cycle) modes and the small amp makes a big difference - the difference between running 25 watts or so on the transceiver alone vs. 100-150 watts on the amp a 4 to 6 fold increase in power.  But, I digress - you asked specifically about 40 and 75 meter SSB.

I have occasionally operated on 75 meter sideband and have noted that the amp makes a significant difference in working around the state under NVIS conditions.  It often makes the difference between struggling and getting repeat requests vs. good copy the first time - particularly under summertime QRN conditions in South Florida.

One of the reasons I parted with my trusty Alpha was it's weight.  I'm getting too old to schlep that thing around!  The ALS-600 comes in two separate packages - the RF unit and the lightweight switching power supply.  Both are very easy to move. Together they still weigh far less than the Alpha.  A lightweight 500 watt amp seems to be the ideal amp for portable operation where weight and 220 vac availability can often be a problem.
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KM4AH
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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2014, 08:51:28 AM »

Depends on the time of day you like to operate as well. There are a lot of morning operators that do fine without an amp. It can be pretty frustrating at night for both you and whoever is trying to copy you.

When I work 40 it is morning an into early afternoon and I am rarely barefoot. To me a amp is not as important on 20 and above for regular QSO's.

There are multiple structured and unstructured nets on 75 meters starting as early as 4 AM Eastern.  Many of those guys don't even own an amp and as long as there is no intentional interference they can be copied easily. Evenings, in the summertime especially, they are a chore to copy.
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K3LRH
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« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2014, 05:19:32 PM »

........consider also the lower output required from the driver for most amps, whether 500W or legal limit.  Saves wear and tear on your rig.  But then you do have another piece of gear to maintain.  It seems like the "courtesy" angle on 75 and 40 is a strong worthwhile factor.
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K4RVN
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« Reply #24 on: August 13, 2014, 04:37:17 PM »

Bill,
500 watts makes a lot of difference when propagation is not good compared to 100 watts barefoot. Just remember you must get the 500 watts into an antenna and not be reflecting a lot of power. Do you have a good watt/relected power meter . Also don't overlook having a good antenna as an amp can only help so much and is not a solution to a bad antenna  for optimum results.
I run 500 watts most of the time on 40 meters and get 59 plus signals most of the time in the states and Europe. My old SB200 has been very cost effective and satisfying compared to 100 watts.

Frank
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 04:40:32 PM by K4RVN » Logged
G3RZP
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« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2014, 09:53:28 PM »

Where it does make a big difference is for DXing on 160 and to some extent, 80.
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ZENKI
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« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2014, 03:12:23 AM »

Find someone with a quiet location and the SDR radio and I am sure that they will be able to measure the difference. Unfortunately most of the SDR makers make radios for the Shortwave market and  dont make radios with ham radio SSB  signal strength reporting in mind. The sampling rate and  averaging need to be set just right to have a reliable indicator. If this is not done right you can have  s-meter that is almost as useless as a uncalibrated s-meter. Settings such as peak, quasi peak, average, sample and hold can  be easily implemented in a SDR radio. Unfortunately most companies who design SDR radios dont appear to use the products that they sell. Their features are so poorly designed you wonder sometimes if they ever turn their radios on and tune the bands they so poorly designed.

The vast majority of ham equipment used  these days  have  useless S-meters that  are  not really able  to discern such small differences accurately.
Even on the higher bands where I routinely reduce my output from 100 watts  down to 25watts, nobody will  make a comment that my signal has dropped.
They cant  really detect the difference because of the AGC slope  and the useless s-meter's poor resolution. S-meters on all ham radios models are useless and hams will tell you that its hobby and it makes no  difference if the s-meter is accurate or not. This is a just a very unprofessional and dumb attitude to  have in what is supposed to be a technical hobby that is science that should be researched well. Having a uncalibrated s-meter is unprofessional.

 Worst still is that most stations these days have so much noise  that the noise is effectively making it impossible  to tell the difference. Then there is also the question of the AGC slope and how the  6db is perceived. Then we have the problem that on some radio modes the S-meter can have a scale that  is very unpredictable. Radios cost so much these days we really get short changed  when a radio does not have a calibrated s-meter. Its so easy today to implement a calibrated s-meter in a radio. A really good s-meter scale is the DbUv scale as used on most professional commercial/mil receivers. This scale has sufficient resolution  and averaging that can typically discern the fading and typical differences encountered on a HF circuit. I wish some ham manufacturer would produce a ham transceiver or receiver with a true DbUv S-meter scale.

In anybodies  book 6db is a  massive boost  that should not be underestimated. Try generating 6db over your existing  antenna system and see how hard and expensive that is.
The first 6db to 10db   in amplifier gain is  bargain that is well worth it especially  on the lower bands. The sad reality of band pollution in many cities means that  most city stations can struggle to copy  anything below s7 or even worst. 6db will certainly help these stations copy your signal much easier. 6db means very little on short NVIS  conditions where signals are already strong. Dont have any doubts about 6db  when most stations dont have the skills or equipment to measure such differences.

There is a technique that used  a audio db meter connected to the audio output  of the receiver. You disabled the AGC. This method i used for many years on my old boat anchor radios. It could measure  very small differences and could be used in place of a calibrated s-meter. I think it was N6NB? Wayne Overnbeck(apolgise if its wrong) Who popularized this measurement  method It was either published in Ham Radio Magazine(RIP) or maybe one of the ARRL books that published his method. If you used this method you could easily see the difference.

The bottom line is that every ham should endeavor to be as loud as hell, 6db is a lot in  when generated  from amplifiers  or  antennas. I would not worry that other hams with useless equipment  that cant detect it. Go to the DX window on 75 meters and get a report from Europe. I can assure you that a European station will notice 6db in the DX window even with no S-meter.



This is an opinion and experience question for the 75 and 40 meter gang - not a scientific db gain question.

In your experience on 75 and 40 meters sideband, is the difference at the receiving end of the QSO at 500 Watts significantly improved using 500 Watts compared to 100 Watts? In theory, the gain should be a tad over 6 db.

To get this started, I have been making "with" and "without" the 500 Watt amplifier for several months. My findings have been dismal. Dismal in the number of stations reporting a real increase in received signal strength. Most reports indicate a difference on the S-meter, but not a difference in what is being heard. And, the meter difference is small.

This makes me think that - in most instances - the 500 Watt amplifier is not pulling its weight on a cost/value/performance scale.

I look forward to reading what others have experienced.

Bill W2BLC

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W1BR
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« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2014, 08:27:06 AM »

In anybodies  book 6db is a  massive boost  that should not be underestimated. Try generating 6db over your existing  antenna system and see how hard and expensive that is.
The first 6db to 10db   in amplifier gain is  bargain that is well worth it especially  on the lower bands. The sad reality of band pollution in many cities means that  most city stations can struggle to copy  anything below s7 or even worst. 6db will certainly help these stations copy your signal much easier. 6db means very little on short NVIS  conditions where signals are already strong. Dont have any doubts about 6db  when most stations dont have the skills or equipment to measure such differences
.

Good reply.  If this was not true, one could argue there is no difference going between 100 and 25 watts, or 25 down to 6 watts... etc. etc.

Pete
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W5WSS
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« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2014, 10:14:56 AM »

The THP HL-450B with the matching HL 460 PS 45 watts drive produces the boost and Draws about 7 amps off the AC mains.

I have done the on off signal reports around town and the boost is worth the added cost per watt vs the rig alone at 100 watts.

73

 
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N1UK
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« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2014, 12:49:47 PM »

Another reason that I like to run an amp is that I am not beating the dickens out of my transceiver.

I can set my TS930S for about 30 watts out and my Ten Tec amp is loafing along at 1000 watts.. 


Mark N1UK
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