Alpha 9500 Mini-Review

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by N4UP, Jul 14, 2017.

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  1. N4UP

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    Over the years ( 1963- ) I have had a fair number of amplifiers, both tube and solid state. In fact I still have four in my vintage radio collection ( Heathkit HA-10, Heathkit SB-220, Drake L4B, Collins 30L1 ).

    When I came back to the hobby in 2012 I purchased two Tokyo Hy-Power ( THP ) 1 Kw solid state amps and they are still in ( backup ) service. I use an Ameritron ALS-500MR in my truck.

    But four years ago I added the Alpha 9500 to my home station and it has been used almost every day since. It is billed as an auto-tune legal limit amp. To call it legal limit is an understatement. You have to be careful not to run more than 1500 watts. It uses a single 3CX1500A7 tube and performs well on all* bands 160-10 meters ( * I bypass the amp on 30 meters because it cannot do 200 watts or less ). Typical drive for legal limit is 30-35 watts. It has no duty-cycle limitation. It can do key-down forever at 1500 watts, though I would not recommend doing that, it would be rude.

    It takes 180 seconds to "warm up" and sometimes I "forget" to take it out of bypass and simply operate using 30-35 watts. I do believe that good antennas are much more important than having an amplifier, but it is nice to have both.

    Aside from the 240V power connection and RF connections, you only need a keying line. No band-data or "rig" information needed. I have my station set up so that either of my FTdx5000MP radios can key the Alpha ( or either of the THP SS amps ). Although my station is SO2R capable, I rarely operate SO2R. I do sometimes use "remote" software to control the 9500. Of course it has protection circuits to protect it from human errors.

    When I change bands I send a few dits and the 9500 automatically and almost-instantaneously tunes. Hit the save button and it remembers the tuning for that frequency. My only real complaint is that ( given the nature of physics ) the drive level for legal limit varies a bit from band to band, so you do have to adjust the drive by hand or risk running illegal power levels.

    The 9500 is pricey, at $8,000 plus shipping, but for me well worth the investment.

    The Alpha "company" seems to have changed hands a time or two since I bought the 9500, but the core technical expertise is still there and providing great service ( which is what prompted this mini-review, I had an "issue" yesterday with the four-year-old 9500 and "they" ( Alpha's Glenn AE0Q ) responded very quickly to my email query and kept at it until we were happily resolved. The problem turned out to be a false alarm ( memo to self --- read that manual again )).
     

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