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Best amp for beginners

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by WW4LS, Apr 12, 2021.

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  1. KM3F

    KM3F Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm one who often replies with a straight answer that is not appreciated for the effort intended.
    Think about this:
    If you can read the user manual and under stand what needs to be done to use it, it is the one for you unless there is some other circumstance to disqualify it from consideration.
    1. You need a Tuner between it and the feed line for the wide band uses you stated unless you intend to have a resonant antenna set for each band.
    2. A. Tube type needs to be adjusted per band, (Plate and Load adjusted) and Tuner adjusted to match.
    B. Solid State may be auto tune or wide band select but still need the Tuner to be set unless you also have an Auto tune Tuner.
    3. The Tuner needs to be rated for the amplifier power level +.
    So you need two pieces of equipment right off.
    Refer back to the opening statement.
    Most of the equipment PDF are able to be looked at off the Mfger website.
    Not much different than shopping for Car or Refrigerator to meet your objective.
    Good luck.
    WW4LS likes this.
  2. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would recommend the Ameritron AL-80b, but it doesn't do 6M. This is an amp you can start out with and keep for the rest of your life. It uses one sturdy 3-500z tube that will last a loooong time. This amp is quite forgiving of operational mistakes.

    Some of the lesser amps have shortcomings. The 811 amps and the 572B tubes are not good for high duty cycle modes (digital).

    I don't recommend solid state amps because if you make one mistake, you can blow the final components resulting in an expensive repair. Tube amps are more forgiving.

    The Acom 1000 is an excellent amp that also does 6M, but it is expensive.

    The ALS 500 that you mentioned does not do 6m, is solid state, and requires an expensive high current power supply, unless you are using it as a mobile.
    KW6LA and N7VGO like this.
  3. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Using the ALS600 with the 5BTV will only allow usage on the bands that the antenna covers with under 2:1 SWR. Otherwise, other resonant antennas, or a tuner at the output of the amp DO NOT use the radio's tuner with the amp at all.

    WW4LS likes this.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree the ALS-500M is a mobile amp. Some have used it as a "home station" amp, but that's not recommended -- when driven to full power its generated IMD can be pretty of course it needs a rather huge 13.8Vdc power supply.

    For Ameritron, the ALS-600S (160-10m) or ALS-606S (160-6m) is a much better choice and it comes with the power supply, so there's nothing extra to buy.

    For just a bit more $$ the Elecraft KPA-500 is even better and does cover 160-6m with a built-in AC power supply, so it's "all one box" which is pretty lightweight and very well designed.

    Any of those will require an external kW-rated antenna tuning unit if you use less than very well-matched antennas. One advantage of "old technology" tube amps is they will generally work okay with even pretty badly matched antenna systems without need for an external tuner: But the affordable ones do require manual "tune up" done by the operator when changing bands or changing frequencies much within a band.
    K0UO likes this.
  5. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can find an A1000 used for under $2K. Solid 1KW output amp unlike the AL80B which is really a 6-700W amp. It does 6M. Will tune into a 3:1 load, no tuner as does the 80B. You can find an AL80B used for under $1K. Both are good amps, but make sure you see it work before buying. SS is nice and instant on, but you need good SWR. Tuning the 80B or A1000 is a 3-5 second operation once set up. The 80B comes on in 10s, the A1000, minute and a half or more. I wouldn't mess with a SS unless your antenna is great on all the bands you want.

    But yes, first get the antenna working first.
  6. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would start with a AL600 or EPA500
    Easy to set up and use
    K1LKP likes this.
  7. N5XJT

    N5XJT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Tube amps are much more forgiving - to wit, Ameritron AL-80A (built like a battleship) and AL-80B if you can locate a good one. Solid state amps are great but require much more TLC and one goof that a tube amp will shake off can be quite costly.
  8. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don't get me wrong, I love tube amps and I have built over 30.

    And I have abused and seen many amps abused over the years and surprisingly keep right on working including 8877s.
    But the poster was looking for a simple easy to use amp/ the solid state amps I recommend have great protective circuits in them that almost eliminates operator errors.
    The poster is a YL and I think she's looking for Simplicity and convenience. My XYL could tune a 8877 amps to different bands in about 30 seconds with no problems/ but now only uses solid state amps.
    K1LKP likes this.
  9. N5XJT

    N5XJT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    No argument. But consider a first time user paying much lower cost for a good used tube amp, making mistakes that are learning experiences, becoming well grounded in amp operation, selling the used amp for approximately the price paid and then moving on to a solid state if desired. Seems logical.
    KD2ACO and K0UO like this.
  10. KD2ACO

    KD2ACO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    There’s also a good chance that the antenna that the OP is using isn’t very broad on 80m. If she runs a SS amp with the 5btv, she may need a tuner anyway, with its knobs to twist.

    My recommendation for a no tears amp would be an AL-80B.
    AB0R and W4NNF like this.

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