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Reviews For: Alpha 76PA

Category: Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M

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Review Summary For : Alpha 76PA
Reviews: 29MSRP: 1,350
Description:
Description: ALPHA Legacy Amp.
3 - 8874's
Product is not in production
More Info: http://www.rkrdesignsllc.com
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
00294.9
AC6VW Rating: 2016-08-03
The best out there Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've had quite a few amps over the years, Henry 2kd, SB220, Clipperton L, Amp Supply, etc...
I found this Alpha on a swap that was fresh from a Dick Byrd overhaul. It got 2 CXP800A7s, QSK, and from what I can tell every mod available.
It easily tunes to legal limit and I've had 1700 in a dummy load but never tried for higher but it will go more.
I've had it for 3 years now and never an issue. It's quiet enough, easy to tune, doesn't care what I drive it with from 25 to 85 watts, and the signal reports are just great. Always great. Only reason I'd ever get rid of it is to buy a new one like the 9500. Even then I'll probably keep this one around as a backup / loaner. There is a reason they have a reputation.
KG5W Rating: 2015-05-28
FIRST RATE!!! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
This is my second Alpha amplifier that I have bought and I enjoy both of them. I have a PA-76 and my current 76PA with three 3CX400A7 tubes. This amplifier came with the lighter weight Peter Dahl transformer and will crank out a full 2000 watts if pushed, but I run it at 1200, which is more than sufficient for any contact desired. It is a very quiet amplifier, which is a hallmark of an Alpha. Operation is simple and direct, no frills, no fuss. It is a very rare occasion when I do not achieve the contact I am working and it is usually because of poor conditions, not for lack of power. If anyone decides to spend on an amp, go with an Alpha. The reputation is earned by their quality and stellar performance. Great amp!
N8WGM Rating: 2014-11-28
Awesome! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
After owning several brands of tube amplifiers in the last 25 years, I wanted to try one last brand before I go MOSFET. I've owned Ameritron (AL1200, AL1500), Dentron (Clipperton L, MLA2500) Amp Supply (LK500ZC) and Heathkit (SB220). Modified all of them one way or another. Fixed some used ones and modified new ones.

I was thinking of building my own MOSFET amp as they seem to be fairly easy to build. MOSFET's seem to be the coming thing in ham radio amplifiers with the cost of tubes skyrocketing in price. Something about tubes weather ceramic or glass. The quality of the sound out of a tube amp still cannot be beaten.

I did want to try one last brand of tube amplifier I never had and that brand is Alpha.
Never owned one before. I hear a lot of good things about Alpha but thought it was Alpha snobbery more than anything.

So I did some looking around and found an Alpha 76PA that was for sale on E-bay. It was located in Illinois so I bought it and drove from Ohio to pick it up. I had an amplifier which was destroyed when Fedex ran a fork lift through my previous amplifier that I sold and shipped so I wanted to make sure it got home alive.

The amp I bought was owned by a silent key who was a TV and radio repair man so I knew that this amp was taken care of. The 8874 tubes are in great condition and they have full output.

The first thing I noticed with the Alpha is that the build quality of this amp is far better than the others I have owned. You cannot complain about Ameritron as they have great amps for the price. Ameritron is a Chevy while the Alpha is the Cadillac or Rolls Royce of amps. The weight of the Alpha 76PA amp is quite substantial for the size of it.

Hooked it up and noticed right away the amp is very quiet as compared to a Dentron, Ameritron or Heathkit amp. Not totally silent but so quiet that I can barely hear it while on the air.

The vernier tuning is another nice touch to a very refined amplifier. The fine tuning is so precise as compared to say a Heathkit SB220.

The amp's warm up time is metered with a change in the color of the amp's meter lights. First starts off as amber and then goes green after 30 seconds. If you are into contesting, this amp does require warm up. Instant on and use is not possible with this amp. Not a big issue but for some it can be.

The Alpha 76PA that I have does have QSK added and is 160 to 10 meter capable. The only fly in the ointment is that 12 meters is problematic for the plate choke. This can be fixed with a plate choke that is non resonant and is available from Ameritron or other sellers. I have had good luck with ones which are sold on E-bay. I always opt for the heavier 22 gauge wire when I either buy or custom make my plate chokes.

The RCA connector for the transmitter input is different. I bought a SO-239 to RCA adapter off E-bay and all is well. I actually like that set up as compared to the SO-239 that most other amps have. 100 or so watts really does not require the SO-239 capabilities so RCA it is and RCA will it stay. If it isn't broke, don't fix it!

Transmit is sweet with tons of power. Did a test and found that 2KW is possible. I usually keep it down to 1300 watts as to not cook the tubes though the 3 8874's in the 76PA can handle it but because the 8874's are kind of expensive now, I want them to last as long as possible.

Lots of great signal reports. No distortion if properly tuned. This Alpha 76PA is actually very easy to tune. Following the owners manual, it will give you a pretty close idea as to where to set the dials. If you change the plate choke, the numbers will change so if 12 meters is important and you want to change the plate choke, do your due diligence to get the correct settings.

My set up right now is a Kenwood TS930 with antenna tuner, this Alpha 76PA, a fan dipole for 80 and 40 meters and a home brewed hex beam for 10 through 20 meters. A 160 meter vertical is in the works. I hear that the government may bring back Loran C to back up the GPS system in case of EMP problems with the satellites. So 160 might get government involvement again. Time will tell.

The Alpha company was absorbed by Ten Tech. The legacy amps such as the Alpha 76's and a few others are no longer being supported as of 2014. The front face plate from the factory had the dreaded soft paint disease which is common with the 76 series amps. (The paint was soft and will often wear away). A front panel was available from RF Concepts to replace the ones with soft paint but as of 10/29/2014 they are no longer available.
There is a solution. I am going to strip the original front panel, paint it black and then silk screen the lettering on. I will be including the 10 meter position on the band selector.

My final thoughts on the Alpha 76PA. I wish I would have bought one many years ago as it would have been the last amp I would have had to buy. I have stated that I have owned a few other brands and versions and none compare to an Alpha. The quality and the ability of this amp is superior.

MOSFET amps are getting better and more powerful as time goes on and with the ever increasing cost of tubes, amps like the Alpha 76PA will become less an issue. But for as long as my 8874's are still kicking, I will be keeping this amp. Even if they do die, a couple of 3CX800A7's and this amp will live another 30 or 40 years and by that time, I won't care at all. After getting this amp, I've decided to change my mind about going MOSFET. At least for now anyways.

Five thumbs up for the Alpha 76PA. (I've often been told I'm all thumbs). If you can find one, buy it. I highly recommend this amp.
KD6AF Rating: 2014-07-08
Upgraded super amp by Dick Byrd Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I purchased my Alpha 76pa 4 years ago and have been in love with the amp ever since! About three months ago, a friend said my normally great sounding signal had some distortion in it! OMG! Since the 8874 tubes are in short supply and very costly I decided to ship it to Dick Byrd (N4UQ) in Georgia for conversion to the less expensive 3cx800a7s! I spoke with Dick on the phone and he told me how to package it up to ensure safe travel to his qth. After fully evaluating the unit he recommended replacing the HV caps in the power supply in addition to the conversion. I also asked him to replace the phono plug RF input connector to an SO239 and to make the 12 meter conversion as well! I found a great source for new Eimac 3cx800a7s ( never used) and sent 4 of them to him for evaluation! He was so impressed with the tubes that he purchased two for himself! I just got it back a week ago and it is UNBELIEVABLE!, 1500 watts out on each band with only 55-60 watts drive! I love this amp even more now thanks to N4UQ- the Alpha wizard!,
KL7VU Rating: 2013-12-21
The Brick! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Here's one for y'all--
Back in the early 70s, I had a friend who had an Alpha 76PA (I think it was a "PA" series)... anyway, at that time I was realtively new to amateur radio and I have to say, I was impressed with the thing. As life in radio went on, I became more and more familiar with radio equipment in general and decided that I should acquire an amplifier of "some sort", so I began to investigate the various makes & models of these things. After 40+ years of investigating, it's become quite obvious that Alpha is the best of the best. Not only in value (resale and the rest of that rot) but the best bang for your buck- too. Believe me, I've played with alot of amps in 40 years. So, for all you new folks (and the not-so-new folks too), if you're contemplating purchasing an amplifier, new or just another one, delay that urge for gratification just a bit longer and save up enough to buy the best! 73 de KL7VU
KC6CNN Rating: 2013-05-29
Built like a tank, Great Performer Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I purchased this Alpha 76PA used. This thing is a tank. Built to last and the quality of the build is outstanding. Besides the high build standards this thing is a work horse. Idling along at almost full legal limit. Easy to tune and operate. I am now spoiled, This is my first amp and WOW bought the best.
NY4O Rating: 2013-04-25
An amazing work-horse. Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
Bought this old amp about 2 months ago, solely on the basis of its "Alpha" pedigree. The learning that the tubes were (8874) no longer widely available was a shocker as was the new tube price$$$. BUT it has turned out to be a dream for me. The tuning is easy and straightforward. While grid current has to be monitored, the necessary adjustments, to keep the grid current below max value are easy. Metering is complete and accurate and the tubes do not appear to be straining at legal limit. I did have an incident where I was practicing tuning into a dummy load and blew a external power meter that was only rated for 1500 watts. Live and learn. It is quiet, powerful and looks just fine sitting on my operating desk.
EB5HRX Rating: 2013-03-30
FANTASTIC AMPLIFIER Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
WORK HAVE LEFT ME WITH THIS AMP AND IS FANTASTIC, THE SIGNS ARE REALLY VERY GOOD, I hope to try or buy more products of the ALPHA SIGNS because I think they are excellent.
K1ZR Rating: 2012-12-11
Great for contesting! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Fantastic amplifier for contesting. I make mistakes throughout 48 hour DX contests such as forgetting to change bands, antennas, keep the grid current below safe limits etc and the 76PA keeps plugging away...it's a true work horse despite being almost 30 years old! A lot of big gun contesters still use the 76 series amplifiers today. Technically it will do 1.5kw out with healthy tubes however I usually let it loaf at 1.2kw. It's a keeper.
K5MBX Rating: 2012-09-21
Alpha 76PA best amp for the money. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Alpha amps are the best. The Alpha 76PA is my favorite because of the price and the great Alpha quality. It is aging like me, but shows less signs of it than I do. It will probably be the last amp that I own. If you can find a good used one, buy it. Mine has the original 8874 tubes and they show no signs of weakness.