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SPE/Flex 6xxx drive control

The LDMOS failed in my SPE1.5K. There were numerous unexplained overdrive errors in the SPE log. The Flex drive power is set to 10W on all bands. I notified Bob H of the errors, prior to the total failure, but he did not have an explanation. My question...could this be a fault with the Flex6600M, there is no ALC connection the drive is controlled by the SPE firmware.
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Comments

  • Pat N6PAT
    Pat N6PAT Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I recently posted an issue with the power levels on my 6700 jumping higher than the level I had set it to.

    This was not an issue with the SSDR power slider but rather the actual output power as indicated by the slider as well as 2 LDG watt meters. I had to immediately shut down my amp as it only requires 2 watts for full power.

    I will be interested in knowing how your issue turns out. Good luck
  • Jon_KF2E
    Jon_KF2E Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Given the way profiles currently work, I would recommend setting the max transmit power on the transmit tab to however much your amp can take. Then you should never exceed that power.

    Jon...kf2e
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    The SPE has no working drive protection?
  • Rich
    Rich Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I had the same thing happen with my KPA1500 back in Nov.
    Elecraft support had told me there were issues with Flex 6k series with power spikes (similar to Icoms problems) that they referenced. They repaired the KPA under warranty,

    This is running under 2.49. There were also various posts about the spikes too.
    So far, it has not happened since.
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited January 2020
    Just about all current amps have overdrive protection and then shutdown the amp.  I would find it hard to think an overdrive issue caused this.

    Since I am involved in another amp (non-FRS) project that has had its share of failures with no explanation and I am starting to believe that the BLF189's (in this case) just **** up on their own.  They are not impervious to failure even though we wish they are.  We have seen the LMDOS supplier actually replace the LMDSO's at no cost.

    In the case of SPE, they should reach out to their LMDOS supplier and talk to them about it.

    Mike 
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Thanks! The 6600M profiles have always been set to 10W on all bands. At this drive level the SPE output is about 1KW.  BUT the SPE overrides the programmed values. As I change the SPE drive control the 6600M Tx profile changes.

  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    It goes into standby mode but can still take out a LDMOS.
  • Jon_KF2E
    Jon_KF2E Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Rick, I wasn't referring to the setting in Profiles. There is a setting on the TX Tab of Radio setup that has Max Power. It will(supposedly) not allow the radio to transmit above that setting. It will also restrict third party apps from trying to transmit at a higher setting.I set mine to 35 watts to protect my Yaesu Quadra.

    73, Jon...kf2e
  • Mike N9NTC
    Mike N9NTC Member
    edited April 2020
    Are you using the Interfacing cable from Dam Tassell KC5PCB. If you are set the power for each band from the SPE Amp. the Flex will not exceed the input power usually 5 to 10 watts. I use the SPE 1.3 and works well and can't accidently overdrive the amp.
  • Clay N9IO
    Clay N9IO Clay N9IO Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Jon KF2E, Thats how I have my 6600 set is at 30 watts max to drive my 2KFA. No issues quite flawless. In the TX of the menu.
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Yes I am using KC5PCB's cables.
     The SPE's drive power has always been set to 10W on all bands. No need for maximum output with the present band conditions. I assumed it would be impossible to overdrive the amp with these settings yet there were 9 overdrive events in the log. 
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Occasionally run barefoot so the max power was 100W. Until I get to the root cause I will set the max power to 10W.
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    It seems that the over drive is not from the Flex then as you have everything set correctly. I have also read in other forums people having the same problems using other types of radios as well. It seems to be SPE 1.5K issue.
  • Jay Nation
    Jay Nation Member
    edited January 2020
    The numerical scale of the RF power slider isn't using watts for it's units, it reads in percentage of Max output power. and an SWR mismatch could falsely raise your Max Power output.

    100% of 100 watts produces 100 watts.
    100% of 180 watts produces 180 watts.
    If your driving your rig into the red on the mic level scale, it could be even more.

         SDRgadgets

    #FlexRadio IRC chat

       73, Jay - NO5J

  • Pat N6PAT
    Pat N6PAT Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    The max power out for Flex radios is 100 so 1% = 1 watt, 2% = 2 watts ,etc.


  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I believe Pat is right. 50% on the slider should be 50w.
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited April 2020
    Update...I was informed by the US SPE dealer, Bob Hardie W5UQ, that this is a known glitch with the Flex software. Unfortunately I was unaware of this when I made the SPE purchase. The workaround is resetting the 6600M Tx delay. Anyone know what that value should be?
  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager admin
    edited January 2020
    Rick, can you explain more on what the Glitch is that is a Flex issue?  Have we acknowledged that?  Any details you have will be appreciated so we can make sure the details are correct.  
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Michael, it was explained that the Flex drive power can spike unexpectedly, causing an overdrive condition, and was informed that the SPE will go into standby when this occurs. I realize the sequence of events that trigger the spike would be helpful, but I'm reluctant to risk taking out another LDMOS to reproduce this condition.
  • Doug
    Doug Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    You will find that a Flex radio in the 6xxx series will run more PEP power than you set. Set it for a 100w and press tune and it will run right at 100w. I guess it must be the modulation setup that Flex talks about I can't recall the formal name for it. But it does provide big time output in SSB. I have a new LP700 meter (cost $1200) with two sensors and both will read up to 135w barefoot output PEP and drive the pants off my 3-500z amp.  Hook up a meter such as this and I think you will be surprised how much you are actually getting PEP even when the radio is set to 10w. I also believe the Flex does have an over shoot issue.  BTW my radio is the 6400M
  • Clay N9IO
    Clay N9IO Clay N9IO Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Same here like the NAQPs I leave the amp off and set max TX power back to 100. That setting you can rely on the profiles I have found you cannot. No idea why I only know I cannot trust the profiles.
  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I am not an expert, or even a novice when it comes to RF engineering.  However, I have 40 years of experience in converting volts and amps to thermal power and dissipating the thermal power to the environment.

    So if there is an overshoot from the Flex that is harming the amplifier's transistors, is it thermal overload or something else, like high voltage that breaks down the transistor junctions?

    If it is thermal, it takes amps, volts AND time to produce and dissipate thermal energy, resulting in an increased transfer of heat to the environment, thus, a higher delta T to drive the watts to the heat sink. (temperature).  A "spike" doesn't seem like a large unit of time to drive such a thermal outcome?  Do any transistor experts out there care to comment?

    However, there could be a harmful amount of voltage (not time-dependent), but other factors seem to be at play for that to occur, such as feedline and antenna characteristics.  (outside my wheelhouse of knowledge, but know it is out there).


    Just asking.

    Alan
    WA9WUD
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Alan, I think in theory your correct. In the case of a Flex, they have been well known for rock solid TX power control. But there have been rare cases when people have had over power problems, but for most, it has not been a problem.

    In the case of over shooting people claim to see on their SPE 1.5 amps it does not make any sense at all that it is software related. If it is then all Flex radios would be overshooting but they are not. Mine does not.

    If it were my amp, I would go after the company and ask why the amp allowed damage from over power if their is any.
  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Agree.  I have followed the issue of the Flex power setting exceeding the recommended excitation level for the amp. (due to operator error or not paying attention to changes the Flex makes to your TX profile).

    Under the power setting scenario, it seems reasonable that the thermal limits of the transistors of the amplifier could be exceeded with typical transmission lengths (especially FT8), but then again, with these modern, microcomputer-controlled amps, it seems like the amp would protect the power transistors before failure.

    Not buying the "spike" scenario when it comes to a thermal overload of the amps power transistor unless it is a high voltage induced breakdown of the transistor junctions.  I would not blame the Flex for high voltages on the feedline.

    Alan
  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I put some math behind my thoughts to bracket in the idea:

    The manual for my Palstar amp says it can detect the incoming RF, determine the frequency, then close the output relay, then the input relay: all in 20.5 milliseconds.  Let's assume this is typical of the modern amp's time to detect an overexcitation and shut itself down.  I will use 25 milliseconds (25E-3) in my math.   Even if the amp does not shut down automatically, 25 milliseconds seems a reasonable period for a "spike" given that the middle of the audio spectrum is 2KHZ (presumably the source of the SSB overexcitation), the period of the over-excitation (2KHZ) is 0.5 milliseconds, much less then the conservative value used in my math.

    Next, I will select a high overpower condition that we can all agree on as being the highest possible.  I will use 5,000 watts (5E+3).

    Now, convert the thermal energy equivalent of  5E+3 watts for 25E-3 seconds to continuous watts for one minute; gives 2-watts thermal equivalent.

    Alan
    WA9WUD

    PS. I have too much time on my hands today.
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    The SPE just flagged an overdrive alarm on 40M. The 6600M max Tx power was set to 20W, the SPE drive power set to 15W. With the SPE ATU active the SWR was reading 1:1,the Flex SWR is hardly noticeable. BUT on this freq. the antenna SWR is about 3:1. I have changed the 6600M to 12W max and the SPE to 10W. More tests ahead.
  • Alan
    Alan Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    I did not purchase the SPE, but read the manual as part of my decision prior to making a decision.

    As I recall, in the manual, it stated that operation with feedline SWR greater than 3.0, before tuning, required a de-rate.....not for thermal reasons, but on reasons for the potential of damaging high voltages within the internal tuner.

    Or....am I mixing this up with the Elecraft Amp....my memory is not so good.  It's in one or the other, but the concept is the same.

    I do not have a resonate antenna, so this was a non-starter for me.

    Alan
  • Bill -VA3WTB
    Bill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited January 2020
    Glad I didn't buy an SPE amp. looking back at all the comments over several weeks most problems people are having are with the 1.5 amp. Very few if any are having this problem with other amps.

    Because of this discussion I'm sure Flex is running test as we write here.
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    From the SPE manual...
    With the internal ATU, the amplifier is able to overcome mismatches up to 5:1
  • Rick Ciotti W3DIY
    Rick Ciotti W3DIY Member ✭✭
    edited January 2020
    According to the SPE dealer there are many Flex owners with this amp who have no issues. The reason I posted here was to locate a few of those happy owners.

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