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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Alpha 86 Help

Reviews Summary for Alpha 86
Alpha 86 Reviews: 21 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $New 2200
Description: Legal-limit HF linear amplifier, manufactured from 12/87 to 5/92.
Product is not in production.
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VE7AGW Rating: 5/5 Mar 20, 2015 19:22 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Amp  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Update on my Alpha 86, it's been about three months since I purchased it locally and I've now installed the updated relay board in place of the pin diodes. This board has made a big improvement with the output and speed in recovery from TX to RX, the response in digital modes has improved tremendously as well. The LED metering sensors are also on the new vacuum relay board and they seem more accurate now. Setting the metering was a bit of a problem at first till I found drawings for the metering board as this amp was one of the first series manufactured and there was three different control boards made. With the new vacuum relay board installed this amp performs with no problems and it is now my man amp and used on a daily basis. I have confidence that I will keep this amp for many years and get plenty of use out it. I would venture to say that if you happen to find an Alpha 86 buy it before someone else does, you will get years of enjoyment from it.
AF4RK Rating: 5/5 Dec 24, 2013 11:08 Send this review to a friend
Very Reliable  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I use the Alpha 86 for CW, RTTY contests and DXing. Since I had RF Concepts put in the vacuum relays, the reliability has been excellent
N2OAM Rating: 5/5 Jul 31, 2013 11:18 Send this review to a friend
Solid Performance and Dependable  Time owned: more than 12 months
I picked up a really clean Alpha 86 at a small ham fest 3 years ago. The owner was firm at $1200 :) I had a T-T Titan 425, But couldn't pass up an Alpha at a bargain price. Easy tune-up, excellent tube protection and loafs at the legal limit. Still has the original PIN diodes! I use a Powermaster meter set to trip the PTT line
if I exceed 1.5:1 SWR. I sold the T-T Titan amp. A solid 5!
K1ZR Rating: 5/5 Dec 11, 2012 14:12 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Outstanding amplifier for heavy duty contesting. I use the 86 for the run station and an Alpha 76PA for the mult station in a SO2R configuration. The 86 runs 1.5kw without breaking a sweat.
UN8GEQ Rating: 5/5 Dec 5, 2012 21:28 Send this review to a friend
Class A+++++++  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought my "Rare jewel"((c)KK5DR) exactly one year ago. In rfconcept directly. No modifications! Stock PIN diodes. Magnificent machine! LEGAL limit - no problem! The only thing that I did - first SSB gave me is not good REPORTS concerning the bias current of the tubes. I put the diode D7 little less voltage. The problem has improved, but remains too early. Then I just removed the old tubes and put two 3cpx800a7 used, which he bought on ebay. Problem as a "grandmother shot witchcraft"!;) All passed and I still continue to please his colleagues over the air.
As for protection - it is simply wonderful! There are all sorts - and the antenna were torn at the moment the snow and they showered and forgot to switch the antenna, changing the band- protection works just fine!
I am: cubical quad 2 elements on 10 and 15 meters (and CB band), a cubical quad one element at 20 m, and a delta of 40 meters.
KJ4KBC Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2012 05:44 Send this review to a friend
High quality!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have three amplifiers including a Clipperton L with custom power supply and industrial tubes and its a nice amp but The Alpha is hands down the best amp in the shack. Never needed a new power supply or anything I may add. Tune easily. 1500 watts out if that's what you need. Several hundred watts more if you wanted to get in trouble! I've read of issues with the diode switching. I say put a cheap keying interface between the amp and exciter and you'll never have an issue. This is good advise when using an amp with any newer radio as voltage spikes on the keying line can destroy keying circuits and possibly the finals in your nice Radio. Either way, if you have an opportunity to try an 86, I think you'll be as happy as I have. 73's
N0JD Rating: 5/5 Feb 23, 2012 19:04 Send this review to a friend
A very reliable amplifier that is very Dependable  Time owned: more than 12 months
My experience with the Alpha 87A is well taken by its composition of dependability and rarely , for a moment, it will not display failure. This is why I rate it number 5. With other amplifiers it was not dependable and forever breaking down and their modes consist of frustration on behaf of communication. I realize the Alpha 87A is one outstanding amplifier for contesting, CQ's, and just every day use. I highly recommend this alpha 87a over all amplifiers and the technicians are very helplful.
N7QT Rating: 5/5 Jan 31, 2012 00:20 Send this review to a friend
Great Amp  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought this amp from it's previous owner 15 years ago and its still running like a champ. The original tubes are still in great shape with less than 40W drive for full output on all bands. I tune up by the numbers, then dial it in for lowest grid current & max power out. I've had 2 pin diode failures shortly after buying the amp, but the failures were due to my trying to transmit 1.5KW without the antenna switched in. Not being mechanically inclined, I found it pretty simple to replace them myself. Overall it's a solid amplifier with continous tune across the HF frequencies. Recently I turned down the opportunity to trade this amp for the 87A because the 86 is a keeper. Bought the 87A for the auto tune features, and will use the 86 at my other qth.
K2DC Rating: 5/5 Jan 17, 2012 03:03 Send this review to a friend
Love It  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my 86 for about 4 1/2 years now. I already had a 78, but couldn't resist the price on this one and I'm glad I bought it. Mine is the "commercial" model with continuous coverage from 1.8-30 MHz, and had also been converted from PIN diodes to vacuum relay switching. Very solid performer, tunes by the numbers and legal limit at about 50W input. Only two things I'd have differently if I could:

- The VSWR fault is a little touchy, and will pop just above 1.7:1

- Fault trips don't just go to standby, they go to "start over" and you have to wait out the 3 minute timer.

Minor inconviniences, but not enough to drop from a 5 rating to a 4.
N9LB Rating: 5/5 Sep 29, 2011 08:53 Send this review to a friend
Simplicity in the Sweet Spot of Amplifier Evolution  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The big question is: what level of technology are you comfortable with?

The Alpha 86 has the newer and better LED bargraphs and hypersil transformer, but does NOT have a micro-processor control, nor does it have a computer connection. Some would consider the ruggedness and proven RF & Power Supply - but with NO micro-processor inside - to be a big benefit. There is not much to go wrong in this amplifier, therefore it should be relatively easy and inexpensive to repair if anything ever goes go bad.

3CX800A7 replacement tubes ( if ever needed ) are available from at least three manufacturers ( Eimac, Svetlana, Taylor )

I have had no issues with the PIN Diode T/R switching, but if you are worried about it, or if you actually have a problem with the PIN Diodes, Alpha has a updated replacement board available that uses high speed vacuum relays. That update takes care of about the only issue anyone has ever reported with this amplifier.

Of course, full factory service is available directly from Alpha if you don't want to work on it yourself.

If you are lucky enough to find one of these for sale in good condition, don't hesitate to buy it because it will sell very quickly, and it will last you a lifetime.
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