Need Amp Repair Tech in Southern California

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by AD6KA, Jul 20, 2013.

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  1. AD6KA

    AD6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Gents:

    I very much need a good HF AMP Repair guy in the Greater
    Los Area. I live in the Western San Fernando Valley and
    have a very sick Ameritron AL-80A. I do not have the skill
    set to work on HV circuits. I want to get going
    before Contest Season really starts. I am willing to drive
    60-75 miles each way in any direction to meet someone, but if I have
    to ship it, I have a Model 1620 Pelican Case with custom
    closed cell foam inerts for it.

    I know some of you want to ask "What's wrong with it?"
    "Fix it yourself!"
    and "Have you tried.....ZXYZ?". But I tried that
    on another thread on another forum and didn't get very far.
    I am tired of speculating and just want to give the amp (and the box
    of new parts) over to someone qualified. I want my amplifier back.
    She's old, she ain't purty, but this is the first time in 25 years she's quit.

    Thanks so much ES 73, Ken AD6KA
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Ken, I'm about three miles from you and work on amps. Rather than carrying or shipping it anywhere, I can probably just come to you.

    However to prepare for this:

    What is the "box of new parts" you have? (That is, why did you buy new parts, and what are they?)

    Also, what are the symptoms of the failure, as specific as you can be?

    I noted on your page you discuss working RTTY a lot. Have you used the AL-80A on RTTY?
  3. AD6KA

    AD6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Steve:
    You are really a gentleman.
    I answered all of your questions in an email sent
    to your email address.

    Thnks for caring...and the offer.
    73, Ken AD6KA
  4. W1QJ

    W1QJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ken, I was going to suggest you contact Steve WIK. Looks like he jumped in already, He is 3 miles from you, can you beat that luck? Steve will have that amp fixed in no time. Most likely he can fix it right at your place if you have a soldering gun and an ohm meter. I'll bet Steve has a troubleshooting jump kit. Anyhow, I am sure we will all want to know what was wrong with your amp after Steve fixes it Would have loved to have a shot at the symptoms ans made suggestions on the fix. But your in good hands now. When ar you going to look at the amp Steve?
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Ken,

    I didn't see that mail yet, but the e-mail address listed is my business address and although I can log in remotely, that uses Office365 which takes a long time to "synch up" due to the volume of mails, and I hardly ever check it over weekends.

    Why not answer here on the forum? That way others who may be interested will get some info, also. Otherwise, I'll see it tomorrow!


    Steve WB2WIK
  6. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Great that you are going to help out.

    That is Amateur Radio at its best, and what it is all about.

    Keep up the Great work.
  7. AD6KA

    AD6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks to Steve and all that have replied.
    I guess I will just post that letter which I wrote last night to Steve.
    This all happened only February yet there is much I do not recall.
    My wife had jus fallen and beoken her hip.....and she had fallen
    and broken her OTHER hip only 14 months previously. So I was running
    around like a chicken with it's head cut off tsking care of her and everything
    else in the household.

    Included in the letter to Steve is a link to a thread I started about this amp. There is much useful info in this thread about the amp I do not need to repeat, and it is not long.

    Anyways, here is the letter I wrote last night to Steve:

    [FONT= ]Hello Steve:

    [FONT= ]Thanks so much for your reply to my post on,[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]and for your VERY kind offer to come have a look.[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]You know, it’s been since February that this happened[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]and things got real crazy here real fast about that time.[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]My wife fell and broke her hip (the second one in 14 months!)[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]and had surgery so of course I had to become a 24/7 Health Provider[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]once again.

    I exchanged some emails with Bill Grassa, lead me through[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]some steps and parts replacements (which frankly I can’t all remember).[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]They didn’t work. He finally generously offered to fix the amp for me, but [/FONT]
    [FONT= ]we are both disabled and on a fixed income and I couldn’t afford to ship [/FONT]
    [FONT= ]the amp to Florida and back with insurance.

    [FONT= ]The amp started our going bad by blowing both fuses while[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]I was operating. I started a thread here[/FONT]

    [FONT= ][/FONT]

    [FONT= ]Reading that thread, I remember now that I replaced the filter caps with new ones (Still have the old ones) but I never did get to the rectifier diodes. IF my memory serves me c[/FONT][FONT= ]orrectly, the last time I lit it up it didn’t blow fuses, but did take out the Soft Start Resistor in a few seconds. (I may be wrong mind you) and that resistor may not have been rated high enough, a 5w “high temp wire wound” from Fys. Anyway, I don’t remember what the Ip was or anything, sorry.[/FONT]
    [FONT= ](Not much help, am I here Steve?).[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]My “Box Of Parts?”. Well, I have a new Soft Start Relay , new bleeder resistors, [/FONT][FONT= ]a new “proper” Soft Start Resistor, and the rectifier diodes, all from Ameritron.[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]One big contributor to the original problem “may” have been the tube I[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]Was using. (Or thought I was using. I thought I had an Amperex 3-500zg in the [/FONT][FONT= ]Amp at the time, but when I took the cover off to my great surprise it was the original Eimac tube that the amp came with back 25 years ago. That was a shock. And I think I told you that that Eimac failed in testing at Pentax (filament burned up, crack in glass/metal seal)[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]Well, I am sure there is more to the tale than I can remember. I was working 18-20 hour [/FONT][FONT= ]days taking care of my wife for many months. I probably sound like an idiot [/FONT][FONT= ]to you but am really not. It’s just this HV stuff scares the crap out of me.[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]You mentioned “What are the latest symptoms?”.[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]Would you like me to put in the new Soft Start resistor (haven’t done [/FONT]
    [FONT= ]the rectifier diodes yet) and fire her up and see what happens?[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]You asked about RTTY. YES! It is my favorite mode. I have operated the[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]AL80A on RTTY in contests for years. It’s one of the reasons I love the amp. [/FONT][FONT= ]So much….up until now it has been bulletproof.
    (I used it in 5R8 in 2000 to win SOAB Africa in the CQ WW DX RTTY Contest).[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]Sowhat do you think we ought to do Steve?
    What do you want me to check first on the amp?

    [FONT= ]I have decent external Meter (Yaesu YS-60) but unfortunately no dummy [/FONT][FONT= ]Load at present. (I can run down to HRO Burbank and get one tomorrow.) [/FONT][FONT= ]I know, I know, a shack “must” my other one is only good for 300w.

    [FONT= ]I am using a TS-940S right now because my IC-756PROII is tits up too.[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]When it rains it pours. But I’m happy, and have many things to grateful[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]For: Family, Faith (relative) Good Health, roof over my head, etc.[/FONT]

    [FONT= ]OK thanks Steve, you are, and have always been, a gentleman.[/FONT]
    [FONT= ]73, Ken AD6KA[/FONT]

    OK gents, where do you think I should start from here, what order and how to test? TNX! :)

    I know I have a good tube (Pentax told me so).
    I have good fuses in the amp, but am burning up Soft Start Resistors.
    I have good filters caps in the amp (but am scared I will wreck them)
    I have new rectifier diodes and bleeder resistors but have not installed them yet.
    I have brand new Soft Start Relay from Amertitron but have not installed it yet.

    TNX ALL ES 73, Ken AD6KA
    SRI this post so long and wordy......
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Ken,

    Assuming the power transformer is good (let's hope so) anything else can be fixed pretty easily and inexpensively.

    Since you found out the old Eimac tube was bad, have you since replaced that with a new tube??

    If the soft start resistor blows, I'd think that's usually because the relay isn't closing to short it out within about half a second, as it should. Or maybe it's closing but not making good contact. Pretty simple stuff. Replacing the rectifiers is also pretty easy.

    I never had an AL-80A but I do have an AL-80B and I wouldn't use it on RTTY at more than about 400W. It's got a very good transformer, but probably not adequate cooling to run more than that on RTTY; although it runs it fine at 1kW PEP output on SSB, which is much easier on all the components.

    I have a 1200W Bird dummy load and stuff I can bring over; you can buy a dummy load if you wish, but I wouldn't need you to. Save your money.

    When you wrote "Pentax" above, I think you mean Penta Labs (in Chatsworth).

    Pentax made some nice cameras, I still have an old one.:eek:

    I can check out your amp probably right there so you won't have to move it anywhere.

    Before I visit I'll download the 80A manual (since I never owned one, and there are some differences with the 80B). If you send me a PM here on with your telephone number, I'll give you a call probably tomorrow or whenever I'm free. This is a busy week as Siggraph is all week down at the Anaheim Convention Center and I have to be there sometimes.

    Sorry to hear about your XYL! Man, when it rains it pours! I never "broke" anything in my life (yet) and hips have to be really painful. I know folks who have "pins" in their hips and all sorts of stuff, so it's not uncommon but still a lousy thing to go through.

    Cool on your Madagascar RTTY operation, that must have been amazing. And that's one place I've never been: It's on my "bucket list.":eek: I think you must be off Owensmouth...I'm off Mason, probably about 3 miles or so southeast of you. I grocery shop at the Ralphs at Canoga and Devonshire pretty often, I suspect that's less than a mile from you.


  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Ken, I just downloaded the AL-80A manual and it doesn't show a "soft start" (inrush current limiting) relay or circuit, at all.

    The manual I have is this one:

    Evidently, some things must have changed over time and I guess they added one, or "somebody" added one.

    Was that circuit part of the amp when you first got it?
  10. AD6KA

    AD6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    HI Steve:

    I bought the amp *brand new* from AES in the late 80's and
    it came with the Eimac tube in it.
    I started to say "of course",even though it is NOT in my users manual
    and schematic either. At the time I bought the thing the only thing
    I knew about amps was to have the power off (and let the caps bleed off)
    before you put the tube in! So seriously I cannot say whether it was OEM
    or not. Sri abt that, om!

    Then I remembered something totally out of the blue.
    In 1995 I had an accident in which I TOTALED my Honda Civic
    with the AL80A in the trunk at the time. The shaft for the variable capacitor was sheared clean off at the case front. Unbeliebably, the tube was OK, go figure!

    I had the amp repaired at a guy who then worked for Jun's Electronics, in Culver City on Sepulveda. Remember that place?
    Anyway, it was there a loooong time, and cost about $275 1995 bucks to get it back. The case was still bent but the amp worked GREAT. I have no recollection of them adding, or even mentioning adding, a Soft Start circuit.

    Maybe they did....who knows? I am sure by now in 2013 an invoice
    dated 1995 is no longer on file.......And does it matter?
    We gotta deal with it anyway....or maybe even take it out and return
    the amp to stock?

    Thanks again for your offer of help Steve.
    I have received your PM's FB. I think next week
    works better for both of us, too.
    TNX AGN ES 73, Ken AD6KA
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