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Tokyo HL-550fx comments please

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by VE4BLB, Oct 10, 2011.

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  1. VE4BLB

    VE4BLB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have seen the HL-550fx on Tokyo's website and it appears to be just what I want (160-6M). It must be fairly new as I haven't been able to find any reviews on it.
    I don't even know if they ship to Canada but I would like to know more about it before I go any further.
    Are there any users of this out there?
  2. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Bruce -

    Good question about Canadian sales, support and service.

    Tokyo HyPower Labs (THP) has only been in existance since 1975 -- and their presence in North America has been inconsistent
    over the past 25 years (at times they had no NA distributors, HRO recently picked up the product line)

    Ham Radio Outlet is the current US retailer / dealer for these units.

    The current US distributor is based in Spring, TX

    Elecraft has a solid-state HF amplifier - KPA 500 in this power class (500-700 watt)
    The assembled Elecraft KPA-500 is $ 500 USD cheaper; the KPA-500 Kit verison is $1,000 USD cheaper !

    The KPA-500 is designed, manufactured and supported in California (USA).

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
  3. KC9TNH

    KC9TNH Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is new & I've not found any reviews on it. I talked with Tom at THP about this as well, as I also wanted to review a manual before I delved into shopping for an amp. He said to read the 1.2Kfx pub, as it was basically the same thing, but without 6m capability. That drove me to look at the 1.2Kfx by itself, since it's noticeably cheaper & I don't need that for 6m.

    Now, literally within the last few days, I see the 1.2Kfx has disappeared from the listing at HRO & my contact there indicates he thinks it's being discontinued. (Separate query to THP hasn't yet been answered.)

    While not totally germane to your Q about the 550fx, the whole thing with SS amps (including the nice offering from Elecraft) has led me to look at a 1KW tube amp. I've discovered that ability to read, patience in following those instructions and willingness to ask a question makes them not the fearsome bear some think. The math also looks alot better. Factoring in the same other purchases (more robust balun, more robust tuner, robust heat sink to be polite & safe, and the rig-amp pigtail cable) I can get a KW for literally 1/2 the cost of going solid state. That was a number I couldn't ignore.

    The 550-fx is really a good looking amp, but it's for other's deep pockets, not mine. And I love my little THP amp that goes with my QRP rig on the road sometimes, great little amp. But those SS amps are not even close in cost/$-unit ratio yet, in my view.

    Be interested if you find a really thorough review of the 550-fx.
    Good luck sir.
  4. N6VI

    N6VI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just returned from Rarotonga, where I used a borrowed HL-550 on 20m during our E51Z contest expedition. It's amazingly light, and it ran flawlessly during the contest and the two weeks surrounding the event. Whenever I felt the cabinet, it was cool to the touch, even with a high transmit duty cycle and at maximum rated power. I was very favorably impressed.

    73, Marty N6VI
  5. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I too was in much the same place a few weeks ago, and I went with the low cost option: AL-80B. Because I too needed to upgrade to a legal limit tuner and needed a dummy load and a couple other doodads.

    I guess that when I look at the production numbers for most of these SS amps, I worry about overall build quality and future service - maybe not with the MFJ products - they seem to support stuff well, and their two SS amps are actually using the same RF deck from the looks of it. The 1200 watt unit uses two of them. But it seems like the speed at which the RF devices turnover makes long term production of any one device questionable - I suppose if we use the same units as used in commercial broadcast we stand a chance, but I bet those plug-in modules do not have matching components since they go into combiners that don't CARE.

    OTOH, how long has the 3-500Z been in production? And it's sold enough that it is likely to be available for at least another 10 years or more.

    And when I say that, I make NO judgement on the operational qualities and relative simpler operation that these high-end amps offer the owner. And I acknowldge that for the bucks one spends on say the Icom or Yaesu amps you get a lot of electronic protection standard.

    All of this said, I'd love to see ARRL take something like the Alpha 9500 [or whatever their top line amp is now] and compare it head to head against the best of the high power SS amps. Particularly in the robustness issue - I think in amateur use, the ability of the amplifier to tolerate accidential abuse is pretty important. Perhaps throw in the AL-80 and maybe the AL-1500 [8877] amp in there as well - it would be interesting.

    I'm pretty sure at some point, the SS amps will take over the market, but it's going to be a while yet - I think tubes in the lower price category will stay with us until the bitter end.

    Lastly, in this windy nothing: I too would like to hear about actual operating experience with modern SS amps. What problems have you had? How well has the MFG responded to any problems you have had. Would you buy that product again if buying over?
  6. N4FBW

    N4FBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    From what I have heard, the Elecraft KPA500 is designed to deal with many of the issues that the THP amps have had. I have no interest in dealing with tube amplifiers so the Elecraft amp is very appealing to me. Note that the KPA500 is quite a bit cheaper than the HL-550FX and has automatic band switching.
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