Amp upgrade - Undecided

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I am considering upgrading my amp.  While I love my little SPE 1K-FA it does struggle at bit (running fans fast) at times.  I'd like something that would loaf along a bit.

I know the Power Genius is imminent.   So it will be seriously considered.  Based on the price it will take me some time before I could purchase it.  So I'll haunt the forums here hoping for cool reports from new owners.

My other consideration is the SPE 2K-FA which is a tiny bit cheaper and available now.

As a computer and software guy I've had no issues getting my SPE 1K-FA to play remote.  I have full control over it.  Granted it is not built in to SSDR but from a simple web page I can complete control the amp.

I'm a 1 antenna guy so an amp with more than 2 antenna connections right now is not a big selling point.  But maybe in the future it would be but I could not personally see having more than 4 antennas.  KE5EE I shall never be!

I I realize that really one one has hands on yet with the Power Genius Genius but lots of you do have serious hands on with the 2K FA.  

Will some of you 2K FA owners be selling them to get the PG?  If so what made your decision for you?

Spec wise it seems like the 2K-FA would truly loaf along at 1 kw.  Probably the PG as well.  It feels like the 2K-FA would loaf more than the PG would at 1.5kw..   Am I getting that right?

So I guess for a one time big amp purchase, from the guys that have them and are getting them please sell me on one or the other.  Why should I do one or the other?

Thanks in advance...

PS I do realize this is FRS and they sell the PG.  I'd rather give my money to them but at that price tag I gotta know its the right thing to do.

Mark - WS7M 
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Mark WS7M

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Posted 11 months ago

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Photo of Ria - N2RJ

Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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So the thing to bear in mind is that the 2K-FA is older technology - RF mosfets versus newer technology, LDMOS which is in the PG XL and the 1.3K-FA.

The PG XL also has two LDMOS devices for more headroom and better IMD. Some of the 2K-FA I've seen on the band are terrible. That's not to say they aren't good amps but they have to be carefully driven and not overdriven. That said there is only so much you can do. They are legal but they are not as clean as many tube amps. 

There is also the Elecraft KPA1500 which has 2 LDMOS. 

Then there is the B26-PA kit, which is very reasonably priced and uses a Raspberry pi for control. Chris, DL5NAM is one of the people on the team. 

SPE makes the 1.5K-FA - being shipped in USA now but uses only one device. Basically an upgrade to the 1.3K-FA with the 1K50H LDMOS plus I believe a better power supply, adaptive predistortion sample port, LAN control.


Other LDMOS amps on the horizon:

Acom 1200S
Linear Amp UK Gemini HF-1K (so far just a concept, not yet produced)

LDMOS is definitely the future. Part of the reason I'm buying a PG XL is because it is LDMOS.

Ria
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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 It feels like the 2K-FA would loaf more than the PG would at 1.5kw..   Am I getting that right?
The PG XL can do 2.5kw theoretically, has vapor chamber heat sink and other stuff for better cooling. It has two 1K50H devices which are each rated at 1.5Kw. So I'd rate the PG XL as having a better duty cycle. That said, both of them will be just fine for ham use at legal limit.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Mark

I have a 2K-FA. Great Amp. Love the-headroom. Will keydown to 2,300W all day

For me the advantage over the PG is the fact that it has 4 antenna outputs vs 2 antennas on the PG’

That said, I am still on the edge of ordering a PG because of its closer integration with SSDR

Figure I have until 12/31/17 to make my decision to get the free tuner included.
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Mark - WS7M

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Good info.  Thanks both.  Like I said, I'm going to wait and see about the PG and how people fare with it.  Hopefully some start to get them soon and post their experiences.
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Rick - N4RZ

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I, like Howard, have a 2K-FA and am trying to decide whether to go to a PG XL.   The primary reasons for me are fewer connecting cables, improved integration between the amp and SmartSDR,  fewer remote control issues and I prefer the 1 to 1 input to antenna assignment of the PG XL.  The 2K-FA has 6 antenna outputs, not 4, which is an advantage, but if two radios are connected, it always directs one to the SO2R port which is not ideal for my setup.  My 2K-FA will put out between 1.8 KW and 2.5+ KW depending on the band.   
I also own an OM 4000A amp.   Running the same out power on both amps one of my friend I frequently talk with, who also has a Flex, can tell which amp I am using because he sees more artifacts on the output of the OM. This indicates that the the SPE is cleaner than the OM tube amp which surprised both of us.    
Anyway, I am also waiting to hear what the early adopters of the PG XL amp have to say and that will help me make the decision as to how I want to go in the future.   
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Larry - W8LLL

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Anyone know if the power genius xl is MARS capable?
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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That is a good question! I am hoping the answer is yes. 
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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As it stands today, the answer is no, it is not.  However, an add-on filter module is possibly being considered as a future option for the amp that would allow for MARS operation.  
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Mark

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This could be a deal breaker for me as I use my Flex almost exclusively for MARS and SHARES operations! In fact, I can't remember using it for amateur radio contacts at all since receiving it back in 2016. At the moment it is connected to an Ameritron 1306 solid state amp and the combination works great. The extra power would be nice but is not a critical factor for me. More it is the integration between the two Flex units and newer technology that attracts me to the PG.
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mikeatthebeach .

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SPE 2K-FA 2.2Kw output on 6meters
(Edited)
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HCampbell WB4IVF

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Ria and Howard/KY6LA summed up PG advantages nicely I think.  My own reasons for deciding on PG:

Flex Integration via Ethernet

2x1.5 KW LDMOS headroom/SWR tolerance & vapor chamber heat sink

SO2R + compatibility with my other radios

Provision for Pre-distortion

 

Howard

(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Bear in mind that SO2R and predistortion can be accomplished with external equipment as well. 
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Steve Gw0gei

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Interesting thread - I am ampless at present and the pg is still top of my list for my planned upgrade. Mainly due to
So2r capability with an interfaced flex 6700 or 6600
Promised integration with ssdr

I had an expert 2kw pa for around six months. It was clean up to 1.8kw in tests carried out in a local lab. However I had some reliability issues with it under generator power. I liked it but want to move on to fully integrated so2r with a new 6600. However I have some concerns, which have delayed me committing to an order:
- the promised ssdr integration with my antenna genius 2x8port antenna switch is yet to be seen.
- the new amp is yet to be tested in the wild
- the matching atu design is not yet finalised and how it will work with pa and ssdr
- likewise the 6600 will not be out until later in the year
- there are still some bug issues in ssdr causing crashes for some

I need a pa by November for a 160m contest, and don't want to buy another valve pa as I sold the acom 1000 I bought as a temp solution whilst waiting for power genius. There is still a wait for the spe 1.3 and 1.5 newer expert pas.

The Lin amp uk hf solid state 1kw pa is in final pre production testing on 80m dx window most mornings , and the first production ones will be out very soon. As the factory is 1.5hrs drive away from my home in Wales, and I have had no issues with their 4/6m Gemini in three years, or the two months I have had their new 1.2kw 2m pa, I think it's likely that I will be buying one of the new hf amps to tied me over until the power genius early models have been out in the field a bit and the promised ssdr integration has been introduced. I plan to do more multi single and multi two entries in future contests so the smaller amp will probably end up with my 6300 or ic7300 as the second radio station once the 6600 and power genius have been bought for my main single op so2r position.

Some news / thoughts / user consultation from frs regarding the ssdr integration, diversity options, and atu integration with the new radios and 2.0 would be good in the meantime.

Steve gw0gei / gw9j
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi All,

I thought I would post an update here.  

I made a decision mainly based on price and availability to go with an SPE 2K-FA.  I was given a great deal on the amp and when I add in the fact that I have everything currently functional for full remote operation with my 1K FA and the 2K FA is plug and play with that I felt it was the right thing to do.

I take delivery of the 2K FA today.

I will be closely watching the Power Genius and I figure I can always upgrade later.  Price was the main decision point here.  I got the 2K FA for roughly $1500.00 less than I would pay to get a PG.  I simply could not turn it down.

Thanks for all the input!

Mark
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Congrats. At that price that's not too bad at all. 
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Michael Aust

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Well, have both 2K and PG XL(coming soon) here
You will enjoy it.
73
Mike
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Mark - WS7M

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Amp arrived today in great condition.  It has the latest mods and firmware for the 2K-FA series.

I tested into a 50 ohm dummy load and borrowed a friends Bird Watt meter.   

160: 2103 watts
80: 2050 watts
40: 2106 watts
20: 1998 watts

This was at full drive with the ALC just starting to kick in.

Backed it back to find settings that give me 1500 out on all bands and set them into the amp.  At max it is right around 1500 on all bands.  At mid it is 1000.  Low is 600.

I setup a second set of parameters that gives me:  max: 1200  mid: 800  low: 400

This thing is a beast!  I am 6' 1" and big build.  I could barely carry the box down stairs!

It was plug and play with my remote system and the Flex cat is working perfectly.  I also was able to get the SPE console to work over USB which is an added plus.  This makes it possible to have slightly more control of the amp as long as I log into this shack computer.

I'm going to investigate running that SPE console over an ethernet to RS-232 link.   

I realize it is not fully integrated into SSDR but with my programming background I was able to get almost 100% control of the amp using a web page I can get to from my phone or iPad.

So I can turn on, off, enable/disable, and a few other functions on the amp from my web page and it works from the iPad or phone.  Then with SSDR on the iPad or Phone I can op fully remote.

The main thing I like is the head room.  I don't always run power but for working some dx on FT8 I like to get to about 300 watts.  My little 1K FA would do that but start to heat up real fast and go fan crazy.

I tried this tonight on the 2K and it doesn't even breath hard.  So for a test I ran 600 watts on FT8 and still the fans hardly ran more than their normal speed and the temp stayed right around 100F.

So I like that head room.

I'm going to probably plan to keep my Flex finals at about 20 watts and use the amp as my finals.  Depending upon the low, mid, max setting that will get me around 400, 600 and 900 watts.  If I go lower on the Flex power I can basically use this amp as t 150 watt set of finals.

Anyway pretty darned happy with it.  It will be mounted this weekend in my maintenance room just on the other side of the wall from my shack.  So all that will be inside near me is the flex.  It will be in a cabinet about 8 feet way.

Coax and control cables will go through the wall into the maintenance room which happens to have 220 right there.  The antenna cable comes into that room as well so its a perfect place for the amp and tuner to live.  I'll never hear the fan noise!

Mark - WS7M
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Mark]

Any chance you might post ur web page control code fro the 2K?
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi all,

Howard asked if I'd share details on my control web page.  I will be glad to do so.  Give me a short while to write it up and I will post a link here for anyone interested.

Just to be clear:

My solution is not like running the SPE console software where you can do everything. Currently I can: turn on/off, enable and disable.  However adding new functionality is not that hard.

The web page is hosted on a raspberry pi which contains two boards allowing for 6 relays.  The relays have various purposes in my setup.  

Anyway I will document what I have and see if I can help others that might want to go a similar route.

Mark