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Reviews For: Ameritron QSK5

Category: Specialized Amateur Communication Products

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Review Summary For : Ameritron QSK5
Reviews: 17MSRP: 359.00
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
K5NT Rating: 2014-12-26
Plug & Play with my Yaesu 3000 Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This product is made to work with many different rigs, and the manual attempts to give enough info to allow owners to figure out the proper connections for their particular equipment.

Mike at Ameritron (a knowledgeable and very patient man) gave me the proper connections for my Yaesu FTDX-3000. Only one cable is needed from the 3000 to the QSK-5, and this goes from the TX GND jack on the 3000's rear panel to the Key 2 jack on the QSK-5. Then, a jumper is needed from the AUX jack to the Key 1 jack on the QSK-5 rear panel. A cable from the AMP Relay jack to the Relay jack on my AL-811 amp completed the control cable installation. The instructions for the RF inputs and outputs are clear, I think. Make sure the box is plugged in and turned on - there is no light to remind us.

I would guess that these connections would work with other Yaesu models as long as their TX relay output setup is the same.

Operation is quick and quiet, and I am very pleased with my purchase.

WC3O Rating: 2010-12-12
works great Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I have been running an Ameritron AL-572 for some time now. Love it. Instant on, close to a full jug out, great complete metering. I also have used other AL-572 amps at my club. Great amp! Anywho, I do mainly CW and while I don’t even do QSK it does get old listening to the T/R relay clacking back and forth. I figured I would buy and install the QSK-5PC in my trusty 572. The kit came quickly and I was surprised how many components it takes to pull off this PIN diode switching thing. I was also impressed at how the kit fits over the power supply board like it was made for it. Well, ok, it was, but heck. I have both very good things to say about this and some bad too. Here goes the bad:

I have plenty of experience building all types of electronics. The manual is not bad, but there is a lot they leave out. The manual has the directions for two of the three styles of amp that Ameritron makes, the little brother amps like the AL-80B/AL-572 and the big daddy amps like the 1200 and 1500. Not knowing off hand what the differences are it would be nice if pics were supplied describing the two basic chassis styles. I also didn’t realize there is a major difference between a AL-80A and A AL-80B and my AL-572 isn’t even listed as an amp the QSK-5PC was even made for! But it is. There are other things in the instructions that left me wondering. They talk about a red Teflon wire for hooking up the power for the board. Well, what you get is a regular wire and a Teflon sleeve that slides over that wire AND it is not the same color wire as what is described in the book! Granted, the color of the wire is not important, but if you are building this for the first time, you are wondering if you are doing the right thing. So bottom line is you need to adapt what you are reading.

Pins: Where you need to hook up wiring to the board they give you nice pins to make it easy to solder the wires on. Well, yes and no. Some of the pins on my board were not properly tined and the solder would not flow to them for love or money! I adapted.

The lamp/fuses: I would think there might be a better way of protecting the receiver than these lamp/fuses. The lamp/fuses are simple and it works, but it leaves you with no receive if they blow. How do I know this? Well... But I would pay extra if the board included a better arrangement that didn’t require a call to Ameritron if you make a small mistake. So be warned, when they say to always have the relay connection from your rig connected when the amp is on, they mean it. I ordered extra lamp/fuses because I know myself too well. hihi

Tech support: I have very good things to say here. The folks I talked to at Ameritron knew this amp very well and ordering parts was easy. While adding this kit I found that there was a problem with my amp that I didn’t even know about. When the kit is installed and you switch the standby/operate switch to operate, your plate current should remain at zero. Mine was running at around 300 mils and no grid current. This is without any drive power. Ya know, those tube plates glow pretty red after a while! A call to Ameritron and I was told there is a regulator chip that goes if the amp was ever arced. (Never try tuning your amp into a dummy load when the dummy load isn’t connected to the other end of the coax. It makes your amp arc... A little tip from your old uncle Bob) Along wid my bag-o-fuses I also ordered said regulator chip and LED meter back lights. MANY places will not tell you a thing about their product, they want you to send it back. I VERY much appreciate my guy down there telling me what the scoop likely was with the plate current. Thank you.

Parts: Here is another thing I like about Ameritron. They don’t poke you in the eye for parts. All components ordered were very well priced. Again, thank you.

I installed the new voltage regulator and new lamp/fuses and yahoooo! I have silent T/R switching! Time will tell if I will ever use my extra fuses, but I recommend you buy some extras so that if you make a little boo-boo you can get your amp back on the air quickly. They’re cheap.

So here are my suggestions:

- Add pictures of factory installed units to the Ameritron web site so people can see how they expect the thing to look when it is done. I didn’t know the expected lay of the wiring and I think mine differs from how it would have come from the factory. Some good pictures would be great.

- Go back over your instruction manual and fix the details that are wrong.

- Next product out get rid of those lamp/fuses in favor of something more forgiving. I’ll pay the extra.

- When you say in the manual that you should always have the relay line properly hooked up, please explain why. I likely wouldn’t have needed to order more lamp/fuses if I had known.

So now I have nice silent T/R switching and I love my AL-572 all the more. Thank you again Ameritron for the great support. I hope my QSK-5PC works for a very long time.

(That plate current issue I talked about is also true if you don’t have the QSK installed. When you key the amp with no drive you should have zero ma plate current. If you do it is likely that regulator chip. It is about $2.00 plus shipping) It doesn't both much without the QSK kit because the issue is only with the amp keyed. Wid the QSK kit installed the amp is keyed full time and the T/R switching is done by the QSK board so that is why the tubes get REALLY hot. If you have the problem though it should be repaired either way.

Hey, CU on the radio
W9AC Rating: 2010-03-28
Excellent Design Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
For the past six months, I've been using a modified QSK-5 together with an SPE 1K-FA solid-state amp. W8JI's design of the QSK-5 unit is superb. However, a few areas could stand mechanical improvement.

As shipped, the QSK-5's output SO-239 connectors only utilize the chassis for the RF return. What's strange is that the input SO-239 jacks are properly brought back to circuit ground. I ended up adding solder lugs to the output SO-239 mounting hardware and used #18 buss bar back to circuit ground.

Likewise, the rear panel RCA connectors depend on the metal panel to complete the circuit. I brought each RCA connector's ground lead back to circuit ground. A review of the schematic confirms that if one of RCA connectors becomes loose and fails to make continuity through he panel, hot-switching will occur.

Finally, I replaced the 2-conductior line cord with a CORCOM IEC power entry module with integrated EMI/RFI filter.

This PowerPoint presentation from N6MW is essential to ensure a proper interconnection between the QSK-5, transceiver, and amplifier:

Paul, W9AC

KB8E Rating: 2009-05-06
Works Well Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Installed the QSK5-PC in my 9 year old AL-572. Even though the AL-572 is not listed as one that is supported by the QSK kit, it will work, use the AL-80B instructions. The kit is straightforward and takes about an hour or so to install. It's not difficult, but one should be familiar with kit building, cable stripping and dressing, etc. The kit appears to work perfectly. No noted insertion loss on receive or transmit. Completely quiet keying. Easy interface to my K3/100.
W7VP Rating: 2009-01-16
Excellent unit Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have two of them and they are great. It is true that the manual is confusing but after figuring it out I have one attached to an AL-800 and the second one attached to a 4-1000A. Each of them has its own MFJ tuner attached to it so I have the capability of switching between 4 antennas. By running the 4-1000A on output port 1 of my 756 Pro III and the AL-800 on output port 2, I can switch bands, amps and antennas simply by switching bands on the exciter. The unit is very sensitive to antenna mismatches and will burn out the fuse lamps easily. I have replaced them several times due to my own mistakes. If you intend to use them with high duty cycle transmissions, be sure to get the fans. I have installed them myself. I added a switch, though so they can be turned on and off otherwise there is a lot of fan noise when combined with the 4-1000A and the AL-800. Fan is not needed for CW or SSB.
KI0Z Rating: 2008-08-28
Beyond Excellent Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I wanted you to know the AL-1200-XQ is working flawlessly and the new 2.5KW Pin Diode QSK-5 PC internal PC is AWESOME ! It is seamless and silent, you can not detect any attenuation on or off and it is as smooth as if you were using the K C keyer, Perfect With the Icom. The new QSK-5 switch is far better than the old pin-5 switch as far as attenuation,swr change,loading and logic. the 12v jack on the back of the AL-1200 now has a lable called Handshake used for yaesu and Ten tec. Need Help?? talk to MIKE ENNIS @Ameritron he is great to work with....!
N4OI Rating: 2008-04-25
QSK-5 Internal PC Version -- So Far So Great! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I just installed the QSK-5PC (this is the internal PC board version) in my Ameritron AL-80B amp -- and the results are better than hoped. Totally silent and I cannot tell the difference in my FT-920's FB QSK with or without the amp turned on. And losing the relay clack is a bonus! I rarely work SSB but when testing at zero power, I keyed the mike and thought something was wrong because there was no sound and I saw no change on the amp's meters. I then increased the mic gain and said something and whoa! -- I MADE POWER! The installation would be a little tough if no prior experience building kits, but took me about two hours working slowly. Bottom-line -- If you have an Ameritron amp, the internal QSK-5 PC is a worthwhile option. 73 de Ken - N4OI
WB9DLC Rating: 2008-02-02
After hook-up - Great QSK Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I started using a Ten Tec Omni VI+ in August ’07 and fell in love with QSK. I had QSK as an option before but it just seemed annoying to operate. The Omni made me love QSK. I now wanted to see if I could operate QSK with my Collins 30L1.

I purchased a used QSK-5 and Googled for info on the hookup to the QSK-5. Ten Tec had it covered in their FAQ section. Problem is, like some others have found, that interface doesn’t seem to work all of the time – I had dangerous timing errors. Ten Tec service insists that that is the correct hook-up. Good Luck and be careful if you hook it up that way. If you get flashing timing lights – STOP!

My first solution was to use the amp relay to switch the QSK-5 but I found the relay a little too noisy and maybe a little too slow – but at least it was safe.

I figured out a simple way to interface with a tiny mod to the Omni VI+ and use a small reed relay to key the QSK-5. I think other Ten Tecs can use a similar mod but I don’t know for sure. I also found a blog and a web page from PA0RCT that offers a similar and completely external connect – I haven’t tried his circuit but it makes very good sense that it will work.

So, now that it is up-and-working…. I find it works AWESOME. Full QSK at 500w out. Nearly Silent and the QSK-5 timing lights indicate a happy timing circuit.

I rate it 4 out of 5 because the manual is very confusing, at best. I read the circuit description over and over again. The schematic for the QSK-5 (not PC version) doesn’t seem to all be there (example : where’s the Power Supply?) After all this time Ameritron, should have been able to provide a proven interface diagram to the Ten Tec gear (or any other common transceiver, for that matter). They might be concerned about liability issues? They were responsive to emails.

My QSK-5 came with a fan. I’m not sure if the 120vac fan was the one that is optional or something that some found that fit and used it. Ameritron offers the fan in case you want to run legal limit or continuous duty modes. I do no not. The fan was the loudest fan in the ham shack – including rigs, amps, and computers. So I removed it.

So now – awesome QSK with the Omni VI+ and a Collins 30L1.

More interface info at : - PA0RCT site
N4OGW Rating: 2007-08-22
works well Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have the internal QSK5-PC on two amps (one AL-1500, one Heath SB-1000). The AL1500 was factory installed, I installed the one in the SB1000 myself.

For me they work as advertised. I do not use any kind of "handshaking", I just connect the relay connection to the transceiver. I have used both a Ten-Tec Omni 6 and a Elecraft K2/100 with them. I run up to 1500W, antenna SWR's are not perfect but below 2:1.

I have blown the fuse lamps once on the AL1500 when the relay cable accidentally was unplugged. You have to be very careful never to transmit into the amp (with the amp out of "standyby" mode) with the relay cable disconnected. With the internal board it is a pain to replace the lamps.

Installing the board in the SB1000 was not difficult. The SB1000 is nearly identical to the AL80A. The instructions are not the clearest, but there was enough information there to figure it out.
K4ZNC Rating: 2007-02-18
What he said . . . Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
My experience is similar to W6FG, and I returned the QSK unit to Ameritron. The unit appeared well constructed, but will leave the adequacy of the circuit to technofiles. Documentation is confusing and not well written.

After several calls to Ameritron and speaking with two of their techs (nice people, good customer support), I just could not get the thing to play, and I really wanted it to work!

I have an Omni VI+ and an AL80B. When I was able to determine that the relay was switching, my receive audio was negligible. Switching the QSK unit off restored my receive audio. Can't have one without the other.

John K4ZNC