Discussion in 'Survey Center' started by W5PX, Jul 17, 2019.


Problems with MFJ/Ameritron repairs?

  1. Yes same problems

    6 vote(s)
  2. Great Company..

    30 vote(s)
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  1. KI4ZUQ

    KI4ZUQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, PJ, ya gotta remember or get to realize you are dealing with folks from rural Mississippi and they work at a different pace than other folks and achieve results by an entirely different process. For instance, MFJ throws a big picnic every five years for its customers. BBQ (barbeque), deserts, prizes, flea market, plant tours and personal conversations with the ladies that solder the circuits, run the insertion machines and ship the stuff out. More conversations with Martin Ju, the creator of the whole zoo! They are not a factory, they are a family including the family member they don't let out too much! Your amp is still there and you will get it back. But a lot of their organization is like a nuclear bomb: one point safe. Meaning if one detonator doesn't, the big bang don't happen! When Walt is out sick then your rig will have to wait until he gets better. This is Mississippi. Starkville is about 250 miles southeast of Memphis and about 200 years back in time. You do business on Mississippi time or you don't do it at all.

    NK8I likes this.
  2. KQ0J

    KQ0J XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Get a back up amp....
  3. W5PX

    W5PX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank All of you for your advice.. MFJ finally called me and asked me for a credit card for return shipping.. Amp is now home and working fine.. Was the Power supply. Repair was reasonable.. But, it took along time for them to get to it.. I guess they only have one person to work on the solid state amps. So, I'm a happy Ham
    KI4ZUQ and W1BR like this.
  4. W5UAA

    W5UAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had an ALS600 do the "shotgun sound" on me when I first applied power to it. It was two of the MRF150's exploding. Sent it back, got another one, it worked well for about 14 years and then I sold it. I'm glad to hear you're a happy ham again. MFJ has always made things right with me. Sent a balanced tuner back to them because it wasn't working right. I couldn't figure out any wiring problems with it. I sent it back to them and they sent me another one also. I'm surprised at how many hams I hear that apparently have problems with getting MFJ to make things right. I've come to a conclusion that it's not MFJ, it's some hams who maybe expecting a bit too much. C U on the Air!
    ND6M likes this.
  5. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just looked around the shack and see ten MFJ brand items, 3 tuners (one portable mini, one balanced input, and a Versa-tuner), a keyer, a #207,swr meter with a built in tunable signal source, 4 QRP monobander rigs, and a tunable preselector. all working , some after Many Long Years .
  6. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    ALS-1300 owner here. Bought it from a contester. He dealt with the initial failures and I got a broken in amp along with spare finals and a spare switcher PS module.... but I keep a SB-220 backup.
  7. K3RW

    K3RW Ham Member QRZ Page

    At the prices of Ameritron amps, there is no excuse for these kind of failures. It is symptomatic of MFJ as a brand--across the board. Stupid little stuff breaks and it shouldn't. Cold solder joints. Unacceptable. The Mirage brand of amps has lots of stupid failures mainly due to cheap design.

    It is good that they 'make things right'. Thats only true for the first 12 months, am I right? And it appears they also disproportionately have to.

    The pre-MFJ Cushcrafts had predictable quality. Post-MFJ here we go with rusting parts, thinner metals, cheaper builds, and surprise--lots of preventable and premature failures.

    Lots of people run to defend MFJ. Maybe they have different experiences. But I've spent 30-45 minutes on hold to order a part, had emails not replied, and that slow Southern way of doing things is not the problem: it is rather cutting corners to make 'cheap' products rather than good ones. Lots of Southern companies do just fine. But in the dying amateur market, it is all about cost-control. Quality doesn't need to take a shortcut.

    I realize the tech guy is just a tech. This guy didn't say 'lets use regular hardware instead of stainless steel ones' just to save $3 per antenna. That comes from corporate, and it isn't a good thing. We should demand (and pay for) and get better. We should not have to pop the lid on a tuner to see solder blobs on the aor variables. Do some decent QA as well. I am not your beta tester.

    I can't say everything I've ever used was junk. The analyzers are what they are. But I flashed over a tuner well below its rating on a resonant antenna, had numerous problems with other devices, and so on. I don't push the limits. To save maybe 20-30% over a quality brand is a risk I am not taking frequently, anymore.

    For what its worth, I love my AL-80B and have had zero problems with it. And I bought an Ameritron cross-needle meter with no hesitation.

    Not a rant, just pointing out these problems are deeper than a tech or customer slowdown. If they have hundreds (or thousands) of dollars of YOUR stuff in THEIR possession, they can drop a line and at least do decent tracking on it.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
  8. W5UAA

    W5UAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's not MFJ/Ameritron's fault that they try to produce the best product for the cheapest price, it's what the market absolutely demands. They are producing what the majority of their customers demand. The majority of their customers demand they make cheap products. So that's what they're doing.

    There are several other choices out there that have higher quality products. But, then again, you don't pay MFJ prices for them, you pay more... much more in some cases. And those companies are catering to their customers also.

    If MFJ hires more folks for QA, then they have to raise the price of their product. If they raise the price of their product, less people buy it. If less people buy it, they lose revenue. If they don't make a profit, everybody in their company loses their job and they go out of business. Basic micro economics.

    As a side note, I noticed as high as a 33% price increase of some of their smaller items from the 2019 catalog to their 2020 catalog.

    In today's "throw away" society, if an electronic product lasts 5 years, that's 2 years longer than most companies can stand.

    I think they're doing pretty well given what I know about the labor market in Starksville, MS.

    Given what I see in the amateur community, and having worked in the "service industry" myself, and knowing how bad some customers treat those in the "service industry", I don't blame them for how they respond to some customers. I've bought two relatively high cost items from MFJ over the past several decades, and when I asked them for assistance, and mailed their product back to them, they responded back to my full satisfaction. Some in the amateur radio community need to learn some "basic people skills."

    I like MFJ.

    I'm looking forward to that new mobile HF antenna with a built in automatic antenna tuner built into it (MFJ-1669). As soon as they become available for purchase, I'll be one of the first to buy one.
  9. KR4BD

    KR4BD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have one of the early ALS-600 amps purchased from AES (remember them?) in 1995. When I first turned it on, I heard popping sounds and smoke was released! Not a good start! Sent it to Starkville after talking to John, who is the manager at Ameritron, I think. He’s been there a long time. He has always been pleasant with me via phone, email, snail mail, whatever. The amp came back a couple weeks later where he admitted that some electrolytic capacitors were not installed/soldered correctly which caused them to explode. Anyway, for the next 23 YEARS, that amp performed flawlessly. About two or three years ago, it had blown the finals. Since I am retired, I decided to take it to Starkville for repair. I also had an old AL-811 I got from a silent key that needed some work. I called first to see if they accepted walk-ins. They said, sure thing. Tell us when you will be here and we will repair both amps while you wait! So my wife and I took a day to drive to Starkville from Lexington, KY. We dropped both amps off at 4 pm shortly before they closed for the day. They said they would be ready around noon the following day. We spent the night at a nearby hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner at a nice restaurant. Starkville is home to Mississippi State University and is really a nice place. The next morning, we dropped by Ameritron’s facility and were told that both amps were currently on the bench and would I like to come back and watch. John was working on the ALS-600 and another gentleman was doing the AL-811. When the work was done, I was shown BOTH amps operating AND putting out their full rated power. A year later, I blew the finals of my ALS-600 again but sent it in this time. The turnaround time was less than two-weeks. I was told that the digital modes are really hard on the solid state rigs, like the ALS-600 and that I should be sure input power does not exceed 40-50 watts and output should not exceed 200-250 watts when using in digital operation.

    Anyway, I have certainly been satisfied with their service and turnaround times. I am glad we have a company here in the USA that offers a wide selection of reasonably priced gear and also provides fairly decent service, too.
    AD5HR likes this.
  10. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have never had to use MFJ/Ameritron support but MFJ has a company does make a lot of good solid ham equipment, especially tuners. My MFJ-971 has been through a lot and still keeps on kicking. The only product I have used of theirs that I have had any complaints about is the MFJ-564 but it is a heck of a lot cheaper than some of the other paddle options out there so it is kind of a you get what you pay for thing with that.

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