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ACOM 2000 - Thinking of Giving up on PowerGenius



  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    The PGXL is ramping to full production:

    4O3A Signature is with Marko Pavlicevic and Milica Boca.June 11 at 11:44 PM · 

    PGXL is ramping up to full production

    Dear PG XL customers,

    I recently received the communication below that Ranko drafted to you, our shared customers:
    “Our goal of producing the best amplifier on the market would not have been possible without our dedicated team of alpha testers. Serious testing of the amplifier by pushing it to it’s limits through RTTY, dual CQ mode and FT8 was critical to our success and we are very grateful for all of the time and expertise that was shared. Besides pointing out issues, alpha testers added excellent suggestions in regard to functionality and the UI. It was a long, difficult and expensive path but ultimately the only right one. The delays were certainly longer than we would have wanted but we made a decision to release the amplifier to the market only when it was completely ready, with no compromises.

    We want to express deep gratitude to all our Alpha testers for their invaluable contributions!

    Even though we have been very silent during the past few months, the development of the 4O3A Genius family of devices has been intensive. The main goal being full integration into SmartSDR. Our partners from FlexRadio were a true pillar of support for the entire time. Their dedication and support were on the highest level during the entire process. Our partners have great respect and gratitude from us, and they have earned it.

    We are currently reaching out to key users to assist us with Tuner Genius alpha testing, which is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2019. The production is planned as soon as the alpha testing phase is complete.

    I would like to personally thank our patient clients who recognized that PG XL represents a separate league and have supported us.

    Ranko Boca, 4O3A
    President of Sky Sat”

    Gerald Youngblood, K5SDR
    President of FlexRadio

    P.S. We at FlexRadio share our partner Ranko’s gratitude to the many alpha testers who have played pivotal roles in getting this unique product to the level it has achieved.
  • Russ Ravella
    Russ Ravella Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Still, like always, not a shred of substance.  When are your CUSTOMERS - you know, the folks actually footing the bill - going to see their orders filled?  This could be answered in any number of ways: we plan to fill X% of the current orders per month; we will be half way through the list as it exists today by the end of X-month of X-year; if you ordered yours by June of 2018, we expect to deliver your order by X-month of X-year; we expect to be in “no back order” status by ...; we’re emailing each customer on the list what their current position is and we expect to fill X orders a month from here on; and many other possibilities.

     Also,“TunerGenius”?  What “TunerGenius”?  Has any regular customer ever even seen a draft spec?  A description or even a photo?  How much is it going to cost? How big is it and what does it weigh?  Is it going to be usable out doors?  Remotely?  What are it’s capabilities?  When are the first deliveries expected?

    It is reasonable for customers to expect this normal stuff from the executive management of a company like Flex - after years of speculation.  Yet again, very very disappointing.
  • Pat N6PAT
    Pat N6PAT Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    @Mike W9OJ,

    I guess you're saying the level of skill needed is inversely proportional to the power used which could be boiled down to:

    S = D/P where S, D and P represent the skill required, the difficultly in obtaining the QSO and the power applied respectively

    I do agree and have mentioned as much in previous posts only to be swiftly reprimanded for daring to challenge the necessity of high power

  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    It would be very difficult to get the contesting community to use low power or QRP
  • HCampbell  WB4IVF
    HCampbell WB4IVF Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    This may answer several of your questions:


    Matching SWR range minimum 1:3

    LAN/CAT controlled

    Auto, semi auto and manual tune modes

    Can be used and controlled directly with Power Genius

    Can be controlled from the Windows Application as a standalone device

    3 antenna outputs

    Has 4 relay outputs controllable from App (optional)


    It has also been stated that there will be an optional remote kit.

    I'm using my manual tuner with my PG XL until the Flex tuner is available, which I don't expect until early next year (just my guess based on Gerald's statements above).

  • Neal_K3NC
    Neal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    From multi-op viewpoint I completely agree but I know some (super-op Lar K7SV) who will never personally own an amp and continues to whip the proverbial hindside in low power cw contests!

    The absolute greatest thing about this hobby is that we all have different ideas of what is fun about it (some slightly different from me, others drastically different).
  • Russ Ravella
    Russ Ravella Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Thanks Howard!
  • Neal Pollack, N6YFM
    Neal Pollack, N6YFM Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Thanks for forwarding the letter from 4o3A and Flex, but after reading, it appears to be a carefully worded political piece that does not answer any specific question.  It is rather content-free.  Completely.

    Now, to be fair, Amateur Radio is a far far smaller market than say TV sets, for example.   So, instead of Sony or LG or Sharp releasing a design to manufacturing, and asking for an initial run of 50,000 units per month so they can stuff "Best Buy" and "Costo" stores (and equivalents) all across multiple nations,
    Ham Radio amplifier makers have a fraction of that size market.  Most ham radio amp makers tend to build approx 20 to 45 amps per month.

    I guess the real question here that several people have asked is this;
    If Flex is a small maker, and Elecraft is a small maker, and SPE is a small maker;  Then why are the Flex amp customers having to wait so very long, while the Elecraft and SPE customers "seem" to be getting amps more quickly?    Honest question.    Do you think that Flex simply pre-announced their amplifier far far too early in the design phase compared to Elecraft and SPE?  Flex does have a great design though.
    And naturally, Flex's design is better integrated to a full Flex station than 3rd party amps, by design.

    But back to the letter Bill :-)

    Let's take this title line, either added by you or Gerald, not clear at all;
    "PGXL is ramping up to full production"
    Um, OK.  How do we define that?  What does that 7 word statement really mean?  The amplifier has been on a slow ramp toward full production for the last two years.
    If you used those same 7 words a year ago, do they mean something different?  How does one tell from those words?   Does that sentence convey new information, or clarify if something has changed recently?  Or say how much it has changed?    Suggestion:  If you are going to communicate with customers, then COMMUNICATE :-)  :-)
    Like the little kids used to say on that old AT&T commercial;  It's not complicated :-)

    Now let's take the body of the message.
    It talks about praise for the alpha testers, and a journey for creating a great product, but it does not say one thing about the ramp of production.  It lacks even one sentence indicating that something has changed, or that they have increased the rate of manufacturing, or how many units a month they are building compared to 3 months ago.   Even Tesla shares some of that type of info.
    The letter says nothing at all about production, only about thanking alpha testers.
    So once again, a letter about a production ramp that isn't, (and no relevant content).
    Forgive me, but's it's sort of like listening to the current white house;

    Reporter:  "Sir, can you tell me about your plan for health care?"

    Answer:  " Yes, the economy is doing great.  Kim is my friend.  I thank him.
    The wall is doing wonderful things, bigly.  Doesn't Ivanka look great?"

    I will go crawl back under my rock now before people start throwing filament transformers my way....

  • Pat N6PAT
    Pat N6PAT Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    I suggest leaving political references out of the conversation. Touching upon that topic regardless of your point of view is guaranteed to start a ruckus
  • Rick N4RZ
    Rick N4RZ Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Actually, the comparison of the Flex, SPE, and Elecraft on coming out with a full power amp to the market after first announcing it is interesting.  I believe it took over two years from the first demo of a 2K-FA at Dayton before one was ever delivered and they first announced a Splitter/Combiner for their amps over 5 years ago and still have not released one for sale.  As for Elecraft, they first showed a legal limit amp at Dayton around 2006 and finally brought a legal limit amp to market last year with fewer features and over a 50% increase in price.   Their excuse for not moving forward with the amp at that time was that they were a small company and wanted to prioritize their newly released K3 transceiver.    
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Neil, I really do not see the point your making, sorry.
    Are you questioning the valitity of the letter? what is it?

    The letter is very timely in that it says they are ramping up to full production. They have not been able to meet full production yet because of some setbacks.

    I thought I would pass it along, take or leave it as you wish...
    Makes no difference to me...lol
  • Chris DL5NAM
    Chris DL5NAM Member ✭✭✭
    edited April 2020
    Can any PGXL user show us >> the ability to use 2 radios on 2 antennas simultaneously << please?

    Simultaneously = at the same time, concurrently, at once? 

  • Lasse Moell
    Lasse Moell Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    After a premature death of my SSPA for unknown reason, I ended up getting a Acom2000A as my main amp. Of course the 150 sec warm-up time vs instant on is a bit irritating but switching it on at the same time as my 6500, it only takes another 50-60 seconds. 
  • FRED  W9TB
    FRED W9TB Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019

    I also got the KPA1500 for the same reason as you. I like to spend my money on American products. My station is 90+ percent American. The first KPA1500 only lasted about one hour and stopped working. They had me a replacement on the way two days later. Got it 3 days later and never cost me a penny.

    I love the KPA1500 and the fan noise in the power supply is no louder than my PC.

    73, Fred W9TB
  • WW1SS - Steve
    WW1SS - Steve Member ✭✭
    edited April 2020
    I like the KPA-1500. Had mine about 6 months now and works flawlessly. Have the Elecraft Flex cable hooked up to it and band switching works great. No noticeable fan noise here. It just hums along.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    If you mean transmit together? the answer is no. How ever as one is transmitting the other radio can move around on the band or change bands and have the amp follow as the other radio is transmitting, in that way, yes both radios are using the amp at the same time.
  • KF4HR
    KF4HR Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Burch - I'm planning on doing exactly the same thing when my PG-XL arrives; connecting a Flex-6700 and a 2nd rig to inputs A and B.  As I mentioned above, as far as I know the only the PG-XL provides two thru-put paths at the same time.  This was an issue of contention for me with my ICOM PW-1 and other amps I've owned.  I could use either the A connection, or the B input connection, not both at the same time (with one being amplified).  A 2nd rig connected to most amps is rendered useless, even for receive, when not selected.  I'm glad the PG-XL design went a step beyond in this regard. 
  • Russ Ravella
    Russ Ravella Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
                                                       **UPDATE ON ORIGINAL POST**

    I wanted to follow up on my post since so many of you were kind enough to respond.  Again, thanks for that!

    Given that I'm not willing to chance an ALPHA at this point, the decision actually seemed to boil down to three choices almost immediately.  The same three are reflected in most of the responses here to my post: the SPE, Elecraft and ACOM amps.  It seems like that should make things easy but actually the opposite was true, at least for me.  Based on the information available and especially the responses here in this thread, it's obvious that any of the three would be a good choice.  It could almost be a coin toss.  But I had to decide based on something.

    I thought alot about the SPE.  There are LOTS of folks very happy with their SPE's.  My primary concern was actually well described by Richard Zalewski's post that essentially a customer's safety line to SPE is a single one man shop in the US.  He only needs to become unavailable due to retirement or whatever and you'd be dealing directly with an Italian factory with whom you had no relationship whatsoever.  What iced it for me was I sent him an email asking some questions and after two or so weeks he still hasn't responded.  I have no doubt I could get a hold of him with further effort but the lack of response felt like an omen of exactly this concern.  If there were no alternatives I'd go for it anyway but there are.  Also, they require the customer to pay shipping both ways even for warranty service.  Not too impressed with that frankly.  And there's the fan noise issue.  There are reports both ways but having an issue with fan noise feels like a real possibility.  Many people who have reported having no problem with it also seem to operate low duty cycle modes or at reduced power.  Reduced power to at least some extent defeats the whole purpose to me.  If you're going to spend a lot of money for a full power solution to the problem, you should solve it completely.  And, of the three, this is the only one that gives you no choice - if you run a high duty cycle mode, it folds back automatically.  That fact also contributes to a feeling that it's a little fragile, at least compared to the others.  But to my first point, that comment is relative.  This amp has seen a lot of use.  And its been on a ton of dxpeditions and performed flawlessly by all accounts so "fragileness" is apparently not a problem per se.  It would obviously be a very good choice.

    I had a real hard time with the KPA-1500.  It seems to be a nearly perfect amp.  Excellent reputation company you'd deal directly with here in the US, obviously an excellent design and very full featured.  And I got OUTSTANDING super fast support with some detailed questions from them.  The ONLY thing that bothers me about it is the fan noise thing.  I think it's just possible I'd wish I'd made another decision after using it for awhile based on lots of reports.  Some people have reported returning it the very first day because of fan noise while several others have reported it's not an issue at all.  Since I can't try it out in my own environment first, how do I know?  They've done a firmware update recently addressing it and my guess is it wouldn't actually be a problem but I can't be sure.  And of course it's not like you can send it back for a refund because of something like that.  Obviously it's a potential issue with SS amps in general.  I've heard the same kind of reports about the PowerGenius as well.  Although they can obviously be made to work very well, SS amps are less robust than tube designs.  For everything on the other side of the great power divide I'm just inclined in favor of brute force and overkill.  Also, surprisingly, the Elecraft only has a one year warranty while the others have two (I can't find the warranty period for the PowerGenius - 2 years like the radios?).

    As far as I can see, there are no equivalent risks with the ACOM 2000a.  Obviously, any of the three could have some kind of problem out of the box and there are reports of that with all three.  But given their reputation from many customer reports I think it's about equal and unlikely with all three.  I know going in I have to find another 6M solution but it's going to be quiet, reliable and just idle along at full power even with high duty cycle modes.  Feels like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight.  Again, I've been attracted from the beginning to the ruggedness of tube designs and the ACOM is sort of a well seasoned, modern/old-fashion implementation of that.  And (apparently) stable service is available right here in the US.  I've been interacting with DXEngineering about it and their responsiveness has been nothing short of phenomenal.  If their after purchase customer service is anything like that, all is well.  So I decided on the ACOM 2000a and just placed the order.

    I've already got the feeling I'm going to wish I'd ordered both of the other two from time to time.  But I also have the feeling I may have REALLY wished I'd ordered the ACOM instead if I had.  I know it sounds **** but I'd buy all three if I could justify it.  It's a hobby right?  It's supposed to be about having fun.  It doesn't have to make sense.  But it is expensive...

    Again, thanks to all for the help.  It really DID help!
  • Justin Smith
    Justin Smith Member
    edited July 2019
    I am torn between buying the Elecraft KPA1500 now or waiting for the PG-XL. If both amplifiers were available now, are there any compelling reasons to favor the PG-XL over the KPA1500? (price is not a deciding factor). Thank you.
  • DL4RCE
    DL4RCE Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Hi Justin, full integration of PGXL into SmartSDR, no extra PTT cable, full SO2R support (no other amp can do this), higher peak output power, it is one unit, not two (additional cabling), MEffA algorithm which cares for good output signal, high pass filter dummy for additional supression of unwanted harmonics. KPA1500 does have a tuner, which for some hams is a reason. 73 Volker, DL4RCE
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Justin, the PG-XL is more amp than most people ever need. If you need an amp that will TX at hight duty for extended times without any effect on the amp, or you want an amp that operate with two radios at the same time, then maybe?

    Or if you want an amp with the very best in it's class protection? then maybe.
    If you want an amp with a built in power supply so you can take it anywere and set up then maybe.

    If you want an amp that works with a Flex radio seamlessly with few connections or from another room away from your radio with only a Lan cable. then maybe.

    The PG-XL TX is cleaner then the KPA 1500 due to the 4 amp biaseing as oppose to the 1500 2 amp. And the built in harmonic filter not found in most other amps.

    Other than that I would go with the KPA 1500 in a heart beat. Well made, great support, and very quiet. Many people have them only using the center fan on the back running at low speed, on SSB none of the other fans should kick in. And they update the firmware often.
  • W2PP
    W2PP Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    I've had the ACOM 2000a, and have both the KPA1500 and the Expert 2K-FA now.  I love both the SS amps.  The reason I sold the ACOM was the tubes are getting harder to find.  They are around right now, but, as time goes by that will change.  The warm up period was a bother too, maybe it's just me but every time I listen for a rare DX I don't have my amp on!!   The issue with fan noise on the two SS amps is old news.  The KPA1500 even with FT8 is pretty quiet and the 2KFA is quiet as well, just isn't an issue.  You'll love the ACOM 2000a, I mean its a tank and behaved flawlessly here.  I loved it.  Just the potential tube issue and the lack of instant on.  I, again, need instant on as I frequently drop into the shack for just a few minutes and often times catch something I'm interested in.  

  • ctate243
    ctate243 Amateur radio contester Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Although I am a proud and happy PGXL owner, I have to comment that a good pair of GU-74 tubes should outlive most of us unless abused.
  • Justin Smith
    Justin Smith Member
    edited July 2019
    Thank you, Bill and Volker, for your spot-on answers to my question. I am fortunate to belong to a group of hobbyists whose experts are so willing to share their knowledge.
  • Eric Gruff
    Eric Gruff Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Just to add my $0.02:

    Disclaimer: I wanted to buy the PGXL, but was sent to the waiting list purgatory, so am treating it like vaporware at the moment. Also, I am very **** amps as I run FT8 frequently on 160 through 6 Meters. I expect my amps to be able to handle at least half-rated power in this style of operating.

    I have an Alpha 9500 that I've owned for about 7 years. When it's working, which is usually, it can put out full legal limit on 160-10 M pretty much continuously and forever. I have had to have it repaired three times, each due to failure of HV components. Two of these failures are known to the manufacturer as occurring in older amps. After the last repair, which included replacing the RS-232/USB chip, the same chip failed in about a month, so I have no remote control capabilities and do not want to ship the beast back to  Alpha.

    I have an Acom 2100, which covers 160-6 M at full legal limit albeit as a fully-manual tuner. This amp is very solid and well-designed, and can run full legal limit on FT8 without issue as it has a power tube final. If you don't need automatic band switching and tuning, I would highly recommend the Acom 2100. 

    My SPE 1.3K-FA, the little brother of the 2K-FA and 1.5K-FA, is now a paperweight. Long story short, it has burned up three times. Twice, Bob Hardie repaired it under warranty while telling me it had to be my fault since he'd never seen this happen before. The latest immolation occurred running 750 W on 80 M FT-8 into a 1.06:1 SWR. No warning, just lots of putrid smoke and $4k down the drain. I know the 2K-FA is much more rugged, but I will not spend another penny on an SPE amp given the poor design of the 1.3K-FA. The RF deck cooling is very poorly designed. On a less critical note, the beeping of the amp when it doesn't like the antenna or some other condition will drive you crazy.

    FInally, I bought the RF-Kit RF2K. It is NOT a turnkey amp. You have to do quite a bit of tuning, and I've managed to destroy one BLF188 during use and another during the amp tuning setup after upgrading the firmware. As noted above, the amp is nowhere near legal limit on 6 M and possibly some of the HF bands. It's a promising experimental PA, but if you're looking for something to plug in and use, I'd steer clear.

    Again, I'm close to a worst-case user of amps given my FT-8 propensity (I also contest and DX), but I do expect $4-7k PAs to at least work properly and not immolate themselves in protest. I don't intend this as a gripefest, but I'd like to save at least one of you from the very expensive mistakes that I made in the past. SSPAs are not for everyone is the take-home lesson.

    73 and good luck with whatever you wind up with,

    Eric NC6K
  • Michael N3LI
    Michael N3LI Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    just a note: Two friends have KPA-1500's. Well, actually Elecraft has them at the moment. Blown finals I believe. The two I have at our club station have been  doing okay, but I've been policing them like a hawk.

    I hope this doesn't become a common problem, because the KPA1500's are a joy to use. But if I was in the market for an amp, I'd wait for the PG amp.
  • Michael N3LI
    Michael N3LI Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Our station KPA1500 power supplies are mounted under the desks to help with noise.  They do make a bit. 
  • Pat N6PAT
    Pat N6PAT Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    What about the KPA500? Is it as durable as I've been told?
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Pat, it is like anything, depends how you use it. I know of a few people that cooked the PA in the KPA 1500 because they drove it to hard. If you keep things under a little bit they should last a long time. I have a good friend that owned a KPA 500 for many many years without any problems, but he never drives it very hard.
  • Russ Ravella
    Russ Ravella Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Thanks Eric.  Your experience aligns with the impressions I developed trying to decide which amp to buy.  There are clearly happy customers using all the candidates.  But folks are expecting different things and using them in different ways and it's not always easy to line those things up with what they're reporting. 

    Hopefully ALPHA is on it's way back but I'm not willing to risk it.  Your experience is consistent with what make me nervous about them.  And as I mentioned in my last post, I sort of get the feeling that in at least some sense, the SPEs are somewhat fragile.  Obviously not always but versions of experiences like yours are reported a little more often than with the other manufacturers.  And the support situation seems sub optimal.  I've had one experience just trying to communicate with Expert Linears myself and it wasn't good.  And, just in general, SS amps are less robust than tube amps and all that entails.  Like the SPE, there are lots of positive reports on the Elecraft but a few too many scary ones with blown finals and so forth.  You keep hearing things like, "...they're just fine as long as you don't run them too hard".  But why accept having to worry about that at all.  And reports of a lot of fan noise keep surfacing.  So for me anyway, a tube based battleship with a good reputation and support, and lots of positive customer experience seems like the right choice - in my case, the ACOM 2000a.  We'll see if it was a good choice.  Again, thanks for your advice!

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