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Problems With ALPHA 8410

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by W3XAF, Mar 29, 2012.

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  1. W3XAF

    W3XAF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I bought an ALPHA 8410 on 2/1/2012. The serial number is: 841012050301. The amplifier worked fine for about three weeks. After three weeks, the 250V/2 Amp fuse blew every time I turned the amplifier off. I finally ran out of spare 250V/2 Amp fuses and bought about 15 fuses from Radio Shack. The Radio Shack fuses did not blow every time I turned the amplifier off. Yesterday, I was tuning up on 20-Meters. When I reached 1200 watts, I heard a "sizzling" noise, smelled burnt electronic parts and noticed that the RF Output LEDs had extinguished. The Grid MIN and MAX LEDs work fine but I no longer have any illuminated LEDs when I tune up my ALPHA 8410. The LEDs themselves are not burned out because I can see them illuminate on tune-up. Also, the HV KV, GAIN and IPA LEDs still work fine.

    On March 27, my ALPHA 8410 died on me while I was tuning up on 20 Meters. I heard a crackling noise and then smelled electronic parts burning, ie., resistors, inductor coils or transformer wire, and then I couldn't use the ALPHA any more to tune up. It’s completely dead!! No output whatsoever .
  2. W1QJ

    W1QJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. Your amp is litle more than a month old. It should still be under warranty!! I think it is time to call Alpha and tell them this story. For what you paid for that amp I would be barking up their tree instead of this one. Honestly, call them without delay!
  3. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thats tough.

    In the future, it is a good practice to never replace a fuse or reset a circuit breaker more than once without stopping operating and troubleshooting the problem.

    In this case you turned a simple symptom of a blowing (but really a Warning of a problem) into a catastrophe.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Should be under warranty. But I'd put the original 2A blown fuse back.:p

    Never replace a fuse with one of higher value.
  5. WG7X

    WG7X Ham Member QRZ Page

    Seriously... For what one of those things cost, it should never break down in normal Amateur service, especially when less than six months old.

    Although you will surely get sympathy here, your only real option is to investigate a warranty repair.

    I'm sure that the assembled group will be interested to hear how Alpha handles this.

    Good Luck OM.

  6. W1QJ

    W1QJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    He didn't say he bought it new from Alpha did he? Maybe it was used? I assumed it was new by the way he spoke. If it is used and out of warranty then a repair from Alpha is going to be mucho dinero. Why would a fuse blow when you turn an amp off?
  7. AC0H

    AC0H Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Doesn't sound right does it. How easy is it to FUBAR the transformer install in an Alpha, or any other amp for that matter?
    He did say it ran OK for three weeks.
    I'd like to know why the OP didn't call Alpha when the second fuse blew instead of trying RS fuses of questionable nature and cross posting this in the product review section.
    Has Alpha EVER been called?
  8. WG7X

    WG7X Ham Member QRZ Page

    No He didn't say he bought it new. I guess that I assumed, that since the 8410 is a recent addition to the Alpha stable...

    Well you know what is said about assumptions; but I would still say that it must be relatively new, and it would appear, just on the surface that the best option is a repair from the vendor, in this case Alpha.

    It will be a real PITA to ship, and only the owner can say if it is worth it or not.

    73 Gary
  9. WB5JHY

    WB5JHY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes the amp is new. The serial number posted indicates manufactured in the fifth week of 2012. At this point it needs to go back to the vendor for sure. Nothing more sickening that the smell of burnt electronics.:p
  10. W1QJ

    W1QJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    that settles it, he bought it new. Get it back to Alpha ASAP!!!
  11. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think he and the amp are long gone.....
  12. AG6K

    AG6K Ham Member QRZ Page

  13. NU1O

    NU1O XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Something doesn't smell right about this whole story. This OM also gave the 8410 a ZERO rating in the amplifier section of 63 previous owners had given the amp a perfect 5.0 rating. His zero rating knocked the overall rating down to 4.9. I just happened to be following the 8410 rating so I am familiar with this story. As a matter of fact, I had my control board go after about two months (I bought the 8410 new via HRO). I called Alpha the next day and they diagnosed the problem over the telephone. They sent me a new control board the very same day and I installed it in half an hour (just 1 solder connection). I really did not want to box the amplifier up and send it back to CO, so when the technician said I could swap the control board rather easily, I jumped at the offer. Actually, my LED wattmeter was dead, just like his, so he probably had his control board blow on him. God only knows what further damage he caused by replacing fuse after fuse. That is just dumb!

    Alpha is a top notch company with super service, and they give a 4 year warranty on their amps which is the longest warranty offered by any amplifier manufacturer. The 4 year Alpha warranty is one of the reasons I bought my Alpha 8410 (I also get a fifth year of warranty coverage because I used my American Express card. They offer that as an inducement to use their card). Ameritron offers a 1 year warranty, for example, and Acom offers a 2 year warranty.

    I installed my 8410's transformer and it uses three different Molex connectors. It's impossible to screw up.

    Any piece of Amateur gear can have a failure. That's why the warranty and the reputation of the company are so important. This was an opportunity to let Alpha show what kind of customer service they provide when something does go wrong, and in my case it is a major reason I gave them a prefect 5.0 rating on Eham for their product.

    W3XAF should have been on the phone with Alpha as soon as the first fuse blew instead of crying in multiple forums. How come he never answers when people ask what happened when he called Alpha? This story doesn't hold together. Facts really are stubborn things!


    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  14. KF6ABU

    KF6ABU Ham Member QRZ Page


    That may all be correct. It doesnt change the fact that his 3 week old amplifier developed a problem. I would downrate a product for that reason as well. Especially with the price tag of that amp.
  15. AG6K

    AG6K Ham Member QRZ Page

     RE: Alpha (Dick Erhorn's) amplifiers:
    1. used an oil-filled HV filter capacitor that was not designed to handle ripple current. so it heated. expanded, broke the seam and leaked.
    2. used ceramic doorknob caps that were intended for coupling and bypass apps as low band padders in tank circuits. This resulted in excessive drift from capacitor dielectric heating.
    3. failed to realize, along with Tom Rauch. that C-feedback can not be safely ignored in UHF-rated triodes.

    Erhorn once complained to me that the had c. 150 bad 3CX800A7s in his shop that had a "Eimac manufacturing defect" - which turned out to be leakage from gold-sputtering from the grid -- which is a problem caused by inadequate amplifier engineering - not the tube mfg.
  16. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Isn't that the same letter that Eimac retracted?

    Besides, dragging out a 26 year old third party letter about a technical issue is hardly convincing that Alpha is not a top notch company in 2012.

    Your anecdote of a confidence from Dick Erhorn clearly shows that he was standing behind his product and supporting his customers by replacing bad tubes.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  17. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Anybody note that the letter states they were 8875 tubes and not 8877's?

  18. AC0H

    AC0H Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Noticed that and had a particularly snarky reply all typed up along the lines of "when can we expect the AG6K "perfect" amplifier to hit the market"?, and thought better of it.
    Pretty easy to sit back and criticize a manufacturer when you don't have any blood or treasure in the game.
  19. AG6K

    AG6K Ham Member QRZ Page

     8875s are a smaller version of the 8877. Both have high-Mu, oxide cathodes and gold-plated grids. Both can suffer from gold-sputtering in HF amplifiers. For photos see "Parasitics Revisited", September-October, 1990 QST Magazine.
    Those who have no blood or treasure invested in an issue are somewhat less likely to deny reality.
  20. AG6K

    AG6K Ham Member QRZ Page

     The info in the Foote letter originated with Eimac's 8877 development team, not a third party. Due to its high boiling point, I did not believe that gold evaporation was possible until I autopsied a kaput 8873 and looked at the cathode with a microscope. After "The Nearly Perfect Amplifier was published in QST, Eimac's Reid Brandon told QST's Paul Pagel that Bill Foote was not authorized to tell me about the gold sputtering phenomenon that Eimac's 8877 development team encountered. .
    Bad tubes are replaced by Eimac if they are less than 12 months old.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
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