Which amp: 30L1, AL80, AL-811H

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Amplifiers' started by K7JOE, Sep 3, 2018.

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  1. K7JOE

    K7JOE Ham Member QRZ Page

    A recently licensed ham asked me advice about HF amps. I spent the first 30+ years not using amplifiers, and have now gone all solid state, so thought I would ask here on recommendations. His use-case is occasional use at approx 500W output. He is a dx-er and budding contester. His options are:

    1) A nice condition Collins 30L1 Tried and true, 4x811 tubes. No 160M but a time-tested classic that holds its value.

    2) An Ameritron AL-80 (oringinal, not an 80A or 80B) single 3-500Z. Discontinued for 20 years or more. This one was made after rework from Dentron. Seems to be a nice amp, although the metering isn't the best.

    3) An Ameritron AL-811H (purchase new or like new). Inexpensive tubes, available parts, etc Lots out there in use and seem to be quite popular and 811's are still inexpensive.

    Price point for these are all around $600

    Which would you select and why ?

    I'm inclined to suggest the AL-80 simply because the 3-500z is so durable but want your thoughts and opinions to share with him.
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The AL-80 is a whole lot older than 20 years. The AL-80"B" (current model) has been on the market longer than that, and is very upgraded from the original model, including a beefier transformer/power supply, much improved metering, electronic bias control, improved ALC circuit, etc.

    The 30S-1 is a better amp than the AL-811H, using the same tubes; but it has to be quite old and no matter what condition it's in, I'd want to try it out (demo) first before exchanging cash for hardware.
  3. N4MTB

    N4MTB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would have to agree with the AL-80, even tough I am biased to the 30L1. The 811a's are getting pricey and are not that forgiving. I would encourage him to hold off for a solid state amp. A used Icom IC2KL puts out 500 watts and they are around $800, not much more.
  4. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like my AL811H but have no experience with the other amps.
  5. K0OKS

    K0OKS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hold out or save a little more for an AL-80B. The 3-500Z is a great tube and hard to damage. Excellent bang for the buck.
    KW6LA, WE6C and K9ASE like this.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The current 3-500ZGs are indeed very rugged tubes. But the old, original AL-80 was not a rugged amplifier.

    The current AL-80B is.
    K0OKS likes this.
  7. N7WR

    N7WR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree--perhaps his best option if he cannot afford a new AL 80B is to look for a used one. For the reasons stated by others it is a better choice than any amp which uses 811 tubes
    K9ASE likes this.
  8. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Out of this group, for gosh sakes, get an Al811H. The original 80 is older, and I recall it had problems. As WIK says, it is not the 80b. If you think it's the amp for you in general terms, get a new or used b model. The 30L1? It looks beautiful in a Collins station...but...well...otherwise there is really no reason to go that way--unless it is really cheap. ;)
    KA0HCP and WD4IGX like this.
  9. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The AL-811H is "OK". However, don't believe the 800-watts output rating if you want long life from the 811A tubes. With 4-each 811A tubes, 600-watts peak output up through 20-meters and a little less on the higher frequency bands is a more realistic goal.

    Collins rated the 30L-1 at 500-watts output!

    Glen, K9STH
    AG5CK likes this.
  10. NQ1B

    NQ1B Ham Member QRZ Page

    For $600, it's going to be hard to beat the AL-811H. Cheap amp, cheap tubes, lots of people know how to repair one.

    I agree with others here that if he can buy an AL-80B, that would be a great choice, but if his budget is really limited to $600 he is not likely to find one that he can afford. It would probably be closer to $1K.
    W4NNF and WD4IGX like this.

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