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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Elecraft KPA-500 Help

Reviews Summary for Elecraft KPA-500
Elecraft KPA-500 Reviews: 109 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $1999.95 Kit Form
Description: KPA-500 Solid State Amplifier 160-10M Plus 6M, Auto Band
Switching via RF sense or cable connection.
Product is in production.
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WD5ACP Rating: 5/5 Oct 13, 2019 03:08 Send this review to a friend
Excellent little amp  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
So I've had my amp for about 4 months now - Coming from a classic SB-200 it's quite an upgrade. I knew I wanted a state-of-the-art solid state amp, and after looking at my options and focusing on 120vac powered amps, I decided the Elecraft Kit would be perfect. It can interface direct with my Kenwood TS-890 so it follows the rig as soon as I switch bands. That feature works -almost- perfect. It does NOT work with MR channels, but if I pick a Memory channel on the rig, then select the M>V feature to put the memory channel into the VFO the amp then sees it and immediately follows. No big deal.

The amp is small, quiet, and has been working flawlessly. I really like the fast peak-reading LEDs - with the solid-state switching it's quiet in operation. As it heats up the fan does kick in, but it's not very loud at all. The amp also 'creaks' a bit as it expands and contracts with the heat. Once again, very very minor. On top of it all you can buy it as a kit that's easy to build and maintains the factory warranty. Coupled with the KAT-500 tuner it's a great happy-meal combo pack!
K1BUK Rating: 3/5 Sep 22, 2019 18:47 Send this review to a friend
Good but problems  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have a love/hate relationship with the KPA-500. Iím happy to report that Iím currently in the love mode. I ordered this amplifier in early 2017, when I wanted a power bump on 160 meters, especially. I drive the amp with a Kenwood TS590SG.

I ordered the amp factory built because I didnít need another construction project. There was a minor manufacturing defect discovered about a month after I received the unit. One of the LEDs on the SWR indicator was flaky and would flicker and turn off when it should be on. I contacted customer service at Elecraft and was told that I could fix it myself or send the unit back to the factory. Since it was factory built, I sent it backóits first trip back across the continent. I was instructed to take out the power transformer to reduce shipping weight.

I got the unit back a few weeks later working perfectly, except that the creaking problem noted by many in their reviews had raised its ugly head. ďCreak, Creak, Creak,Ē said the amp after running it on CW about 300-400 watts or on FT8 at any power. At that time I was running about 250 watts on 160 meters FT8, primarily, but it would creak at any power level and any mode. Craig, W6WL, told me that the problem was the Z bracket. He sent me a replacement Z bracket at zero cost, and I installed it per instructions provided. The creaks went away. Maybe it helped to torque down the screws quite tight.

Then, in early April 2018 I experienced an amplifier failure. The amplifier turned itself off while transmitting FT8 mode at 250W on the 160-meter band. The SWR indicator showed 1.2 at the time. The symptoms were that in standby mode (Yellow LED indicator ON), the signal from antenna made it to receiver, but in operate mode (Green LED ON) the received signal was attenuated by more than 25 dB. And, driving the amplifier with normal levels (15 W typical) did not give any RF output power. Took out the power transformer again and shipped the unit across the continent. The problem was a failed 10 Ohm resistor in the T/R switch. Elecraft acknowledged receipt of the unit on April 13 and service was complete on April 25. This was a reasonable turnaround time. The only downside of this repair was that the creak came back with the repaired unit. At this writing the amplifier still creaks but itís not as loud as in the past.

I am disappointed that a factory built amplifier would have so many problems. I think that the weakest points with the KPA-500 were quality control and thermal design. Were I buy another amp I would check other brands before spending the money. I am very pleased with the performance of the KPA-500, however. It moves from band to band seamlessly, interfaces cleanly with the Kenwood transceiver and provides that extra punch on SSB or CW. It is a very attractive unit in many ways and Iím pleased that so many others have rated it highly. Customer service has been quick and helpful.

I'd like to give it a 5 but for me the KPA-500 is a 3.

W4HWD Rating: 5/5 Jul 17, 2019 13:20 Send this review to a friend
Nice!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This amplifier is just what I need to get that little extra to make myself heard during these rough band conditions. I bought it as the PowerCombo, along with the matching KAT500 tuner. Super compact, this amplifier will go where a tube amp (or the big clunky ALS-600 for that matter) wonít fit. Setup was simple and I was on the air 10 minutes after I put it on the desk. Output is an easy 500w PEP on SSB and CW - on FT8 I back it down to 300w (200w on 30m) to save it some heat and fan time. The fan never comes on using SSB, only intermittently on CW, and only just a little more often using FT8 with reduced power (but doesnít come on at all running 200w on 30m). When the fan does turn on itís not at all loud. Using the red tap my standby HV sits at 76v and stays at or above 60v at full power. All parameters can be monitored easily and the computer interface (only connected when needed to change parameters or update firmware) sets up quick and smooth. This amp plays so smoothly and quietly with my Icom 718 that itís like itís not there - until stations on the 75 and 40m nets give me flattering signal reports! Very worth it.
K4MJA Rating: 5/5 May 16, 2019 16:20 Send this review to a friend
No regrets  Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased it as a kit, assembly was very easy -- no problems at all. With Icom 7300 30W in the amp gives me 500W out on SSB; I limit it to 400W max on digital. I use many wire antennas from 10 to 80m and a tuner (older Palstar AT-Auto) and it work as a charm. Sometimes, when the tuner decides to re-tune in the middle of the QSO, it even stays on while the SWR jumps up and down. When the overload happens due to high SWR or wrond antenna, its switching to standby with overload indication.
I also use it in remote with relevant application. Very convenient.
The fan is loud but it doesn't bother me.
All in all I recommend it.
Great work Elecraft!
M0HDX Rating: 5/5 Apr 22, 2019 17:48 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Managed to pick a KPA-500 up second hand at a reasonable price and i am highly delighted with this high quality reliable little amp,It really is a amazing bit of kit and a great investment. I have a Acom 1000 which is superb but i tend to find myself using the KPA-500 more often now days, Instant on and lots of info on the LCD display to let me know things are running smoothly.I forget the amp is on sometimes it is so quiet and the fan rarely turns on at 400 watts.

Great bit of kit.

KC8HXO Rating: 5/5 Mar 28, 2019 23:16 Send this review to a friend
About universal  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Very good amplifier. Run it with almost any rig. No fuss, no muss. Utilitarian, like about all Elecraft gear. It just works. Hard to find fault.
WA4RTE Rating: 5/5 Mar 28, 2019 17:28 Send this review to a friend
Just what I needed on FT8  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the KPA500 kit - assembly was no problem. It gives me the little extra on FT8 that I need when stations are off the end of my dipole. Worked two All Time New Ones in the last two days.

I had originally trapped some wire between the power transformer and the case, resulting in a buzz when transmitting. After rerouting the wires, all is quiet.

Delivers 500 watts out with 30 watts drive. I'm very pleased with this amp.
AA4PB Rating: 5/5 Mar 1, 2019 21:34 Send this review to a friend
Great on 6M FT8/MSK144  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I Purchased the KPA-500 primarily for use on 6M FT8 and MSK144. The kit went together with no problems at all. The supplied KUSB USB/Serial converter was defective but I had another that worked okay. Elecraft sent out a replacement right away. I run the amp at 300 to 350W output on these digital modes. After a few transmissions, the heat sink temperature stabilizes well below maximum so you could run it all day at the required 50% Tx/Rx duty cycle without overheating. The fan never gets to maximum speed.

I made a new power cable with a double-pole, 12VDC relay (in a box) attached so that the 240VAC power was removed from the KPA500 when the station 12VDC power supply is turned off. This is not really necessary but I didn't like the thought of the KPA500 control circuits being powered 24/7 (and being exposed to potential power line spikes) when I only use it a few hours a day.
K7FD Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2018 17:59 Send this review to a friend
Nice addition to the line up  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Encountered a slight roadblock with my new amp and I had to enlist the help of Elecraft support; the first KPA500-F arrived but exhibited excessive keydown toroidal transformer hum. Excessive is somewhat subjective but Elecraft immediately offered to swap the amp with a replacement. The second amp arrived and it, too, had keydown hum but to a lesser extent. Determined to keep the amp I followed some steps from Elecraft to mitigate the remaining hum to an acceptable level (on CW; no hum on SSB). I also ended up moving the amp from ear/eye level to a lower dampen the fan noise when it kicks into high gear on lengthy CW it is designed to do.

So after the initial set back I am very pleased with the performance of this small package amp. It takes little drive...20 see 480 to 500 watts. I drive it with the IC-7300 and IC-7610 and it effortlessly delivers a solid signal. The amp itself is the quality we've come to expect from Elecraft. Looks great and solid as a brick.

Again, special thanks to Elecraft support...Cody in particular...for addressing my concerns and quickly offering a replacement amp and suggestions to mitigate the toroidal transformer hum.

John K7FD

W8MSP Rating: 5/5 Aug 21, 2018 13:38 Send this review to a friend
Simply the best  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I ordered the kit plus the KAT 500 tuner kit. The amp arrived first since UPS only showed up with box 1 of 2. I assembled the amp in a night after work. Plugged it in powered it up pressed all the buttons worked fine. The next day the tuner showed up put that together rather quickly hooked it all up to my K3S made my first contact and it all worked perfect. Like having a 500 watt K3S. I ordered the amp just before the 4th of July so it took and extra day to get here but was well worth the wait. Amazing product from a company I have grown to expect the best from, they did not disappoint. I want to upgrade to the KPA-1500 after using my friends 1500.
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