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

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

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  1. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    You had me at "they laid.":p

    We have LADWP here and they seem to be pretty on top of stuff.

    They also get paid a lot. I think their average "linesman" makes over $100K/year. The supervisors who watch them work probably make more.:)
  2. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes. LA's independent city power system seems pretty good. In the days of Grey Davis (as governor) when CA was under "power extortion" by Enron, LA power customers were unaffected.
  3. NQ1B

    NQ1B Ham Member QRZ Page

    On phone, I completely agree. I bought my first amp after one too many failed attempts at what should have been an easy domestic QSO, but failed because the other guy was in an urban location with urban RF noise. He isn't going to be making many contacts with 100 watt stations.

    On CW, though, I don't agree. Even at the bottom of the cycle, I make most of my contacts with 50-100 watts. The amp only goes on for DX - Canaries, Cape Verde, New Zealand.

    It's phone that really needs that amp nowadays.
  4. AD4C

    AD4C Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have owned all these three amps and my honest opinion is that the Collins 30L1 is the very best choise, why?
    1- Long lasting with no problems amp, they were built like a war tank, mine was for more than 20 years working without any issue at all and was working when I sold it.
    2- The advantage that with just less than 200 bucks you can replace the original 811A tubes for four 572B and run the amp at 240VAC so when you use your 100W radio it will heva full KW output, no modifications at all, just swap tubes.
    So those 572B that were designed to work with 2500 to 2700 volts in plate, installed in the 30L1 that runs only 2000 Volts in plate, will last forever.
    3- They keep the value, today more than 40 years buil you will have to pay between 600 and 700 bucks and sometimes even more for a Collins 30L1.
    4- The tunning is very smoth and the PI circuit very wide so once you tune it at the center of the band, you will move up and down with same settings not losing power.
    This is not a brainer, go for a Collins 30L1.
  5. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think you mean the Collins 30L1 is a "No Brainer"

    Here is a different viewpoint....

    If you'd really like something elegant, compact, agile, dependable and able to run 500W(+) continuous, and life has treated you well, an Elecraft KPA-500/KAT-500 combo is a great choice. At about twice what an AL-80b costs new, and the AL80b is probably the most capable and versatile amp in its (tube) class (once it's debugged), the KPA-500 can really provide twice the fun. No tune, instant band switching, handles (with the integrated KAT-500) a broad range of SWRs easily and automtically....


    It's just a quality product that works, every time, is hard to break, compatible with just about any radio, including auto band switching and runs off of 120/240V. Which is why resale value is invariably very high.

    And if you get the kit, it can be fun to build, too.

    Life is too short. Why not go for the best. The REAL best, rather than a refurbished Model T?

    Brian - K6BRN
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    It's a good amp, and also covers six meters (!) which the other tube amps do not.

    But quite a lot more expensive.
  7. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good point. But expense is relative to means. If you have the means (now), even if the expense is more than you intended, it might be better to spend more (now) rather than less (now) to be where you'd like to be (now) rather than in stages. Its often worthwhile to ask: "What will I be missing?" as well as "What do I need as a bare minimum?", because very often, choosing the bare minimum leads to regret and upgrades later that make the trip to the desired capability much more expensive, not cheaper.

    You pointed out that the Collins 30L1 (for example) is missing six meters. But there are other serious limitations compared to the KPA-500 (for example). With its 4x811s, the 30L1 will not tolerate running high duty cycle digital modes very well (RTTY and otherwise) over perhaps 200 watts, nor will it have the agility to compete well in a modern multiband contesting environment. So its VERY restrictive compared to MANY modern needs.

    Just something to think about.

    Brian - K6BRN
  8. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    The 30L1 is not an easy amp to repair and neither are the AL-811's. In that case the technically lacking person will wind up paying more for repeat service instead of saving up for a good amp.

    I can not recommend any 811A amp based upon current tube reliability from any country.

    The AL-80A is a good one and quite reasonable. The transformer can be upgraded to the AL-80B version if it fails (usually due to bad electrolytics) and does not have that band noise generating EBS circuit which many defeat....dumb idea by the designer.

    The SB-220 is another fine amp when run in the CW position on a 120V line which is completely linear for SSB; expect about 800W and very long life. Find one that has already been gone thru and you will have many years of reliable use.

  9. K7JOE

    K7JOE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Rest of the story : He went with a Collins 30L1 amplifier. After considering all the options, the feeling was that an amp that's been around for 40+ years is going to continue being around for same. The AL-80, while running a good 3-500Z tube, has other short comings as noted on the web. The Ameritron amps including the 811H are inexpensive and plentiful but fall way short of the quality that a 30L1 collins amp offers. The Collins 30L1 and AL-811H are about same output wise. He decided 160M wasn't a bad he would be able to activate any time soon. If he upgrades to a 160M amp, he can likely get all his money back from the Collins set.

    He paid $575 cash-n-carry and it was in very nice cosmetic condition. The extra $25 was used to buy some adapters (RCA to SO239, and N-to-SO239) and a soft key relay as is needed for the rig.

    He is very pleased with the 30L1, using some NOS national 811A tubes he is seeing an easy 650W out with 70W drive and the amp loafs along at his intended 500W output. The electrolytic board was upgraded and we set up a soft-key relay for modern rig use. I told him to keep eye out for some Cetron 572B's as possible swap. The 500W on CW makes a big difference when DXing.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
    K9AXN likes this.
  10. K7JOE

    K7JOE Ham Member QRZ Page

    The choices were an AL-80 (not A or B) or a 30L1 or an 811H... Yes, the AL80A is a great amp but about 25% more than his budget. SB220 is great too, but again, hard to find a good one at this price point... but yes, agree, they are good old amps (except no 160M).

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