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Has anyone purcahsed the Expert SPE 2K-FA amplifier in 2019 (EU) ?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by M0EDX, Jun 19, 2019.

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  1. M0EDX

    M0EDX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello,

    I am wondering if any of the members purchased the new SPE 2K-FA amplifier in 2019 ?

    I need to know about:

    - the current design of the amp
    - driving leverls
    - max output power
    - contest suitability

    Thank you.
     
  2. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Lifetime Member 279 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I have one but I purchased it 3 or 4 years ago. I don't think the design has changed any. It takes only about 35 to 40 watts to drive it to full power. It will put out 2000 watts easily, even more if you "push" it, but I typically keep my driver around 35 watts so as not to drive it too hard. There are 3 output settings and I typically run it at the mid-range, around 1000 out. I've used it in the CQ and ARRL DX contests with no problem. It's pretty much fully automatic, will follow the main rig with band changes. Without a doubt the best amp I've ever had. I used to have a PW-1 but sold it. I would buy it again without question.
     
  3. M0EDX

    M0EDX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi, W4PG,

    Thank you for your reply.

    So the amp can run the full test at MAX output ?
     
  4. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Lifetime Member 279 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    You can drive this amp more than 2000 out. I would NOT recommend doing that for the duration of a weekend contest. It has on-board temperature monitoring so you can see if it's getting too hot. It has fans that will kick in when needed. When the conditions are good I cut the output back. It's NOT a key-down 100% duty cycle for 48 hours amplifier at 2000 watts output. Few amps are. I've run it Mid to Max output for an entire weekend contest with some 2500 contacts with no problem with periods of no operation (sleep, 'ya know? :) )
     
  5. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Lifetime Member 279 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    The manual says unlimited operation in maximum output mode for CW/SSB. If you try that with RTTY or other 100% duty cycle, the amp will automatically cut back the power when a certain temperature is reached in order to protect the amp. Just FYI.
     
  6. M0EDX

    M0EDX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I see. No, just 2kW and CW mostly.

    The reason I am asking is that I have been using (I am not in the UK now) the SPE 1.3K-FA running 1kW yesterday on CQ...In about 20 minutes it got to 67C hot...Probably could go even hotter = cut back to 500W.

    So to confirm. You have been running the amp on 1.5kW for a long time like CW or SSB in a contest, and it did not cut the power via the overhearing option ?

    I use the Sun SDR transceiver and i must have the amp which switches bands and re-tunes immediately. The SPE amps seem to be the ones that can do that for me....
     
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The Elecraft KPA1500 can do that for you also.

    It does not even need a cable connection to the transceiver to know what band and frequency you're on, it uses its internal frequency counter to sense the input signal and sets itself for that band, and also tunes the internal tuner to your selected antenna immediately. In my experience, it will do this by sending a "dit" on CW, and then it's good to go.

    Since the SPE and KPA are remarkably similar in "what they can do," I'd probably choose by stuff like landed cost and how much acoustic noise they generate while operating. I've used the KPA, and you can hear it, but it's not objectionable to me; don't know what the SPE sounds like as I've never used one.
     
  8. W4PG

    W4PG Super Moderator Lifetime Member 279 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I have not been as busy in the contests since I got the SPE. Previously when I was doing > 2500 contacts I was using an old PW1 from Icom. The last few CQ WW and ARRL DX contests I only operated part time, up to about 6 hours at a time. The vast majority of that time I was running the SPE at the mid-level output at about 1200 watts. I've never had any issue with it overheating/cutting back the power. It WILL get hot but I've never seen temps as high as you mentioned.

    You have the SPE 1.3 amp so you are fully aware of the technology and how well it works. As far as I know, the only difference is the power output; everything else is pretty much the same. The SPE also senses the RF and will change bands based on that alone, which works well. I have mine cabled to my Kenwood 990 but I've never gotten the cable to work correctly to my Flex 6700. The fact the amp changes bands so easily via RF sensing has kept me from further exploring what the problem with the cable/Flex setup is. That and being lazy I guess.

    .................Bob
     
  9. N2HJK

    N2HJK XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have the SPE 2K amp also. one word of caution is that the cat interface is highly recommended for the protection of the amp. without it, if you rely on just the rf sensing, you run the risk of keying up the amp with the wrong tuning settings in effect until the rf sense circuit can detect and switch the tuner. While this is only milliseconds, the solid state amps are much more sensitive to these short, momentary mismatches than a pair of tubes would be. The Cat hookup ensures that the tuner is set to the proper frequency BEFORE any RF arrives from the radio. The rf sensing should be considered as a fail safe feature, and not relied on for normal usage. a quick call to Bob Hardie at SPE America will verify this. Otherwise the amp is smarter than the operator, and short of a lightning strike, is fairly bullet proof. The 2K is a real workhorse, with enough cooling to run key down at full legal output (or beyond). it will take care of itself if it needs to. As for the power level control (ALC), it will automatically dial back the radio output to what is safe input for the amp, so I leave my IC-7300 at 100 watts, and with the inlne wattmeter, can see 40w goig to the amp. This is fine for low and mid power ONLY. (600w/1.2Kw). If you run it at MAX level, you need to dial back the radio output accordingly. Start at 20w and crank up the radio RF out until the amp reaches the desired output level (1500W for legality) or whatever. I run SO2R with the amp, by using a dedicated receive antenna, and it is all supported by the amp. Added an RF overload protector to the receive antenna connection for added protection of the radios.

    I bought my 2K used, for less $ than a new 1.5K, and am very happy with the amp, but I think the 1.5K is a more practical amp. (much lighter and less $$$), otherwise similar features. The 1.5K is newly designed and has a single LDMOS vs 6 MOSETs and associated circuitry, so it is much simpler and lighter.
     
  10. HB9PJT

    HB9PJT Ham Member QRZ Page

    67 °C is not a high temperature for such a PA. In the contest I never had a temperature problem with my 1.3 KFA.

    73, Peter - HB9PJT

     

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