Acom 1200s

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by N0AIT, Jan 4, 2021.

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  1. N0AIT

    N0AIT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have been window shopping for the future. I have read a few bad reports on the SS 1200s. What about good reports? Would you consider the failures just new amp growing pains?? Is everyone afraid of the SS amps?? Or are some people happy with them.

    The Acom 1000 is my second choice but the no tune 1200s is appealing.
  2. KD2ACO

    KD2ACO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    There's enough recent negative press right here in this forum about the 1200S and the reason to avoid that model, unless you are a glutton for punishment.

    People are happy with them until they aren't. Maybe ACOM will figure out why they stop working and wind up in the shop for months on end.
    AK5B likes this.
  3. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I see you're a new ham, Chris. Congrats on getting your license.

    Acom is a quality manufacturer, with excellent support from their location in Bulgaria and several authorized repair service centers here in the U.S. I've owned two Acom amps...the 1000, and now the 1500. No problems other than a shorted tube recently in the 1500. I just sold my 1500 (with a new tube), and plan on replacing it with the 1200s, so I've done a bunch of research on it with Acom, U.S. vendors, and repair centers. It's up to you to determine if the following is just "sales talk"o_O:

    From my email exchanges with Acom, the 1200s has had some "growing pains" in the 3+ years of its existence, and has been undergoing circuit revisions to correct them. I've been told the last two production runs have been revised with new PA and filter boards and firmware, and have been operating reliably. As with anything mass produced, there will be failures on some. Personally, I believe that *generally* most people write reviews when a product has problems, and those that have no problems don't take the time to write favorable reviews. Understand I'm not doubting the merits of the bad reviews and feel bad for those hams, but you have to think about the possibly hundreds or more of 1200s' sold world-wide that have been operating fine.

    The repair centers said the great majority of problems have been caused by factors external to the amps...poor functioning tuners, switches, baluns, chokes, transmission lines, connectors, traps, other antenna failures, lightning and mains power surges. The amp's protection circuits *should* prevent such occurrences from happening, but nothing is fail safe. And then there are just bad happens. Acom admitted to delays in providing repair parts in a timely fashion, and are taking steps to prevent that from happening again.

    You have to understand that SS amps are dependent upon SWR's lower than 2:1. If your antennas present a higher SWR, a tuner is a requirement. Also, you have to prevent overdriving the amp. SS PA devices are more fragile than tubes in those two regards. The A1000 will operate with SWR's up to 3:1 without a tuner, and tubes are just more robust. They say that transistors sometimes act as fuses for the fuses;).

    Bottom line, I'm sure Acom isn't intentionally selling a product that will tarnish its quality reputation. Should anything fail, there's a two year warranty to mitigate the cost of repair. With all that being said, the decision is yours. Good luck, and welcome to the hobby!

    73, Bob K7JQ
    N1VAU, W1PEP, AK5B and 2 others like this.
  4. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I forgot to mention, I also owned two SS amps in the past...Ameritron ALS-600, and a Tokyo Hy-Power HL-1.5 kFX (now out of business)...for a total of nine years. I never had any problems with either one. And that was before the more (supposedly) robust LDMOS devices in today's SS amps. Again, I was very careful with drive power and my antennas exhibited SWR's of 1.5:1 or less across all bands, without the need for a tuner.

    The two main advantages of SS amps are no warm-up, and no tune-up *if* SWR is less than 2:1 ( preferably less than 1.5:1) across your operating frequencies. Otherwise, you'll have to "tune" a manual tuner, or activate an automatic one. The Acom 1000 tube amp you mentioned needs a 3 minute warm-up, and has to be tuned up for each band (or band segments). However, their "TRI" tune procedure is the easiest and fastest in the industry.

    Bob K7JQ
    AK5B and KU3X like this.
  5. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    To each his own but I personally will never buy a SS amp.

    The least little thing wrong with your antenna circuit, or a line voltage anomaly, and you blow the finals. I don't care who manufactures the amp, it is just the way it is.

    Tube amps are much more forgiving, and the dreaded "tune up" is really a minor procedure. I own an AL-80B and tune up takes about 5 seconds. I have a chart that I made of the various settings for band changes. All I have to do is tweak the settings from the chart. And actually for a quick pounce on some DX, the amp can be operated from just the settings on the chart, without tweaking.
    KD0NPT, W5AOS and KD2ACO like this.
  6. KD2ACO

    KD2ACO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    ^^^ Ditto and concur ^^^
  7. KU3X

    KU3X Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's a very good question. When the Acom 2000 first came out, numerous hams in our club bought them. They had some serious issues with their's. My friend bought one and had it repaired two time in less then a few months. He finally got rid of it. Now.....those are great amps. Another friend of mine has two of them and does multi multi contesting in a lot of contests throughout the year, including RTTY contest. Those two amps just keep on plugging along without any issues whatsoever.
    I have an Elecraft KPA500 solid state amp for my quick to go to daily station. I love that little amp. But when it comes to contest conditions, I always go back to my my tube amp.

    I'm on the fence with Acom 1200 solid state amp. But that's just me.

    Barry, KU3X
  8. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    There's no question that many fine tube amps are still being manufactured, but for how long?? Trying to find new replacement PA tubes is getting harder, as many are not being manufactured anymore, and finding them NOS in the classifieds is becoming more rare. The prices on new ones (other than seeep tubes) still available have gone through the roof. For example, a new Chinese manufactured 4CX1000A from a well known US retailer is $1,000. Finding a NOS is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    I think it's becoming evident that SS amps are the now and future. When is the last time you could buy a new transceiver with tube finals? Many in this thread have pointed to questions about their reliability, and rightly so. If you read the reviews and other internet forum posts, you'll find that other SS amps besides the Acom have experienced failures of one sort or another. But the same holds true for tube amps. Stuff happens. Many of the failures stem from operator error, misuse, and external factors. Yes, SS PA devices are generally more fragile than tubes, but if the proper care and feeding of them is observed, they can last a long time without incident. To be fair, SS devices are also in a constant stage of change, upgrade, and revision. So finding older ones no longer manufactured can also be difficult.

    So, what to do? Given all the choices and options, only you can make that decision based on your operating preferences. You'll get many "opinions" that will just lead to more confusion. Make a choice, buy it, and enjoy it. If something goes wrong, that's why there are warranties. Good luck.

    73, Bob K7JQ
    AK5B, KU3X and KD2ACO like this.
  9. M0HJO

    M0HJO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well after 10 months of owning the Acom 1200S, it has failed and gone back for repair! (I bought it brand new)

    Watch this space.
  10. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I too would never buy a Trasistor Linear Amplifier . . .

    If you have new 3-500Zs in your Linear, even if they stop making them, they should last at least 20 years . . . could be more than 40 years.

    I'd be surprised to see anyone with a Transistor Amp in daily use that lasts that long !

    Roger G3YRO
    K4YNZ likes this.

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