Legal Limit Solid State Amp - SPE 2K-FA, KPA-1500 or ??

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Looking at solid state legal limit amps with integrated tuner for use with 6700. The SPE 2K-FA and recently introduced Elecraft KPA-1500 look pretty sweet and similar. I have a KPA-500 which is a great amp but looking for a bit more punch to break through pileups with my Spiderbeam.

Not sure what other amps should be on the shortlist.

Rick, W5FCX
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Rick - W5FCX

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Posted 8 months ago

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Varistor

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Why only solid state? There is a guy on swap.qth.com selling OM Power 4K auto for a reasonable price. There are also a few Alpha 9500s for sale. And of course plenty of Alpha 87s. Or if you want 6m, a brand new OM Power 2000+ auto from Array Solutions.
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Varistor

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Consider who will repair the amp if something happens. Expert is being repaired by “Bob in Texas” and the German kit is just a kit, no service.
(Edited)
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Bob Hardie has actually been very good with service with his amps (provided you buy your amp from him per the SPE agreement). Remotehamradio is using a ton of them and Ray has no issues with getting service from Bob. I know others who send their amps to Bob and get it returned really fast. If ever Bob gets out of the business and nobody replaces him, the factory in Italy will pick up the service. That said Bob’s sales have been going pretty strong so unless he suffers with his health like Frosty did I don’t see an issue in the near term.

My issue with the SPE amps is duty cycle. The 1.3K-FA is not really good after 1kw for extended duration SSB. The IMD also tends to suffer at higher power levels. The 1.5 May be better since it uses the 1.8kw device but still only uses one of them.

If I wanted an amp besides the PGXL i would get the KPA1500. But that’s moot because I have the PGXL and hopefully it ships soon.
(Edited)
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W2PP

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I have an ACOM 2000a, 2kw++, can operate remotely, key down all day long, rock solid reliable and in mint condition, 2 and a half yrs old if you want it, email me
pgprendergast@yahoo.com
Peter
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Varistor

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Indeed, the Acom is a great amp.
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roger palmer

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Having owned and used the SPE 2K-FA and the KPA1500 and the PGXL.
My observations. I am a normal operator, no contests, no RTTY, no AM.
*SPE 2K quiet, internal tuner outstanding with SWR less than 2.3 -1. complete computer and remote controlled. Excellent. Legal limit plus on SSB & CW
*KPA1500 a tad more fan noise than the SPE 2K, internal tuner excellent, more tolerable to SWR than the SPE. completely remotely and computer controlled.
*Power Genius. of all three amps compared here, the Fan Noise is more constant and  noticeable. NO internal tuner of course, but completely remotely and computer controlled. Legal limit plus a little.
All of these listed amplifiers are relatively competitive in price, but an internal automatic tuner with memories is a must for me.   
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I agree that Solid State is the only way to go in the 21st century. I lost far too many Q’s from rare DX in the old days (prior to 2005) waiting for tubes to warm up. It’s really nice to be able to instantly click and shoot. Tubes fail at the Contest station all the time so also another $$$ reason to avoid

I have a 2K-FA which I operate remotely much of the time. It’s a great Amp. It will easily exceed legal limits on SSB BUT it definitely is not 1500W (more like 1150W) on FT8. Does that matter. ... yup

Haven’t run the KPA1500 yet but looking at the specs it does not look to be able to support 100% duty cycle @1500W.

So I would recommend that you wait a few weeks to see if Flex will ever deliver the. PGXL. I worked RIa on hers and was impressed that she could run FT8 all day at 1500W.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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The PGXL will sustain 1500W on FT8
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Wayne

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Arnt low power modes great when people run 1.5kw .. you cant fix stupid.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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UNINFORMED is assuming that FT8 is a Low Power Mode

FT8 IS A WEAK SIGNAL MODE NOT A LOW POWER MODE
(Edited)
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Roger J. Buffington

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Thank you.  I used to say that about PSK31 and people thought I was nuts for running 100 watts (occasionally a lot more) when busting DX pileups.  I just racked up the countries and contacts and kept smiling.
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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One of the testers ran the PG XL in RTTY SO2R. It did not back down in power. That is one of the toughest duty cycles.

My PG XL puts out legal limit on all bands/all modes. No backing down on this amp. And the integration with the Flex is top notch.

Dave wo2x
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Rick,

I also have SPE 2K-FA.  I've heard Ria comment about the LDMOS (newer tech) being more rugged and that is probably true, but the SPE amps are extremely well protected.  There are two CPUs monitoring that beast and it shuts it down if things go wrong very quickly.

I agree with Howard.   It is a 2 kw + amp on voice and I can push it to 1900 on CW if I really try but it will reduce power automatically in any sort of key down mode.  Part of the protection.

I have my eye on the PGXL but will wait for it to get some road testing before I jump on it.

In case you are interested I do have an SPE 1K FA that I will sell.  It's not a legal limit amp but it will give you 11-1200 on SSB and a good solid 900 on CW.

Mark - WS7M
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I also have SPE 2K-FA.  I've heard Ria comment about the LDMOS (newer tech) being more rugged and that is probably true, but the SPE amps are extremely well protected.  There are two CPUs monitoring that beast and it shuts it down if things go wrong very quickly.
The biggest advantage that PG XL has for cooling is MEffA. MEffA adjusts the bias and thus operating class differently  for each mode. For CW and single tone digital modes it operates class AB and for SSB it will operate "AAB" which is still AB but closer to class A in linearity. The tradeoff is more heat for SSB mode but as a result CW and FSK modes run cooler. This is why I can run all day with digital modes without issue. In addition there is the vapor phase heatsink which enables quick recovery time for uses such as SSB contesting, as I got to experience last weekend.

LDMOS' biggest advantage is its ruggedness and gain but these really don't apply here because the filter network is still the weak point in any amp and you still need protection. Gain is hampered by stupid outdated FCC rules.
(Edited)
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Agreed regarding FCC, but it *is* a double  edge sword;    Higher gain amps can make for more efficient low power exciter drive levels, but higher gain stages can also have more stability problems in less than near perfect engineering.   The rule needs to go away though.
No argument.
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John - K3MA

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I can add some clarifying information.  Bob Hardie will fix SPE amps that were not purchased from him with the same excellent service as those that were purchased from him.  I know because I purchased from the other dealer in TX that went out of business and then had a issue that needed repair.  Bob turn it around door to door and back in under a week.

Secondly, even if Bob was not able to repair amps the repair tech that was used by the other dealer is still around.  I do not know if he jump back in but it would be a option for SPE to investigate should it be needed versus having to ship the amp back to Italy.

I also agree that there are many protections built into the SPE amps (as well as other SS amps) but some have failed even with the protections.  I personally know of two 1.3K that had to have the LDMos replaced.  

I have had a SPE 1.3K from the first batch that arrived in the USA over two years ago.  I run the amp 24/7.  I can concur and validate Ria's comments from personal experience.  Mine is the low drive version 6-9 watts will get full output.  However, I run it with 800 to 1KW output to keep the IMD clean.  Except for the Meanwell power supply needing to be replaced two times.  Once after a couple days of use and the second time after about 16 months it has performed perfectly.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I can add some clarifying information.  Bob Hardie will fix SPE amps that were not purchased from him with the same excellent service as those that were purchased from him.  I know because I purchased from the other dealer in TX that went out of business and then had a issue that needed repair.  Bob turn it around door to door and back in under a week.
While he will service those that were bought from Frosty, he will not service any that were bought outside of the US. Some of us bought amps from the factory in Italy, Australian or UK dealers and he has refused to service them, either under warranty or for time and materials. I believe he cited the SPE agreement but I am not 100% sure.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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I have an Expert, two Alpha-9500s and aPGXL.

Alpha-9500s appear to come in two flavors, with the earlier version dependent on a particular fan running right. When it doesn’t it get pricy. The latest version of the Alpha company, with Dishtronics in a lead role, is servicing the Alpha-9500. A friend just sent his Alpha-9500 and two Alpha 87a’s in after a lightening strike.

Alpha 9500 does have an accelerated warm up option available.

The Expert is a nice amp, and I have the 1KW version. It’s interface software isn’t much (nor is the Alpha 9500’s) but they work great with DDUtil.

The PGXL is really nice. I was just working QSOs using SmartSDR for iOS from a family home in Arizona, and received excellent signal reports.

73

Steve
K9ZW
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Steven Linley

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Neither buy the RF-Kits B26 RF2K+
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Steven Linley

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Neither buy the RF-Kits B26 RF2K+
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W2NER

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Chris - I know of a few Ham's that purchased the RF-Kit amp and had nothing but problems getting it to work.  Its not a plug and play amp, you not only need to assemble it but also do the alignment and if you don't get that just right, your power will suffer.  Not for me but to each his own.  Also, if you ever need to get repair work done, good luck.  I have a friend that purchased two of them and after assembly he never was able to get them working.  Took two months after he sent them in to get his money back.  Nightmare... 
(Edited)
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Chris DL5NAM

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N3NER .... but you forgot to say your "good friend" buy also PA's from Elecraft and after 4 weeks he send back, then he buy from Acom and after 4 weeks he send back and from Expert  .....

All that with many, many trouble and cost for the dealer. To his friends he says ... i got for free to testing ! This guy is a shame for all Ham's ! ( we know his callsign - he is also on our list )

Now he is on "black list" of many dealers! Dealer dont want make business with him anymore! You have a real good friend !

So forgot you stories about this guy ! Tell your own experience and not bla bla from other you have heard !
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W2NER

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I say what I know is true and I'm sure at some point he will chime in with this post.   There are three great amps as I see it, Acom, Elecraft and Flex..
(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I have a close friend Roger KW2Q who had a PGXL on order from very early on. He canceled his order and bought a KPA1500. He decided that the PGXL had capabilities he would never use and need.
Roger is very satisfied with his KPA1500 although he never pushes it very hard, only on SSB at low duty cycle at around 800w. And it communicates well with the Flex 6500 through the USB connection.


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Edward Armstrong-WB2K

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Hi all I have been sitting here thinking about writing this letter I do not usually post a lot of things here but I do from time to time.
I have been reading the comments that one fellow made about the RF kit and how hard it is to build and not be plug-and-play well let me tell you this I've built the RF kit and if you can solder and use a vom meter you can build this amp.
Any problems that I have had or questions Reinhard replies immediately no matter what the time of day. The strong points of this amp which you are not mentioning because you do not have the amp. Okay let me mention the strong points the amp sits on the desk and you cannot hear the fans in this amp no matter how close you get to it another strong thing about this amp is the software which is a dream to use.
The next thing is that this amp is exceptionally clean as far as imd goes anyway sorry about this long drawn out letter but when somebody talks about his friend having problems that something I would not write unless I had built the amp.
Okay as going out I would buy this amp 1 billion times over because of how quiet and the quality of the material take care WB2K
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Rob N4GA

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Consider rolling your own if you like building things.

Rob
www.n4ga.com
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Rich McCabe

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If you want an amp right away, then you don't want a SPE.  I talked to Bob, and current wait time on about everything was 2 months.  I dont know if that is a legit two months or "flex two months". LOL
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N3NER

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Its legit, I have purchased two from Bob.
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Rick Ciotti

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I have been operating the new SPE 1.5K since December. It will output the legal limit but only for relatively short QSOs. Power will degrade to 1.3K during rag chews. W3DIY
(Edited)
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Rick - W5FCX

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Thank you all for your comments and advice.  After careful consideration, I decided to go with the SPE 2K-FA. Expert Linear have one available coming in near the end of this month, so timing is excellent as I need to get 220 VAC wiring prepared in the meantime.  Bob and team are about a 30 minute drive from Cypress where I live, so that's easy from a support perspective.

The RF Kits RF2K+ is tempting, as I love building things, but alas, my build/maker time is already spoken for.  Too much uncertainty around the PGXL at this point, and I'm all SDR and solid state with hands-free remote operation, so avoiding tube-based amps.  The KPA-1500 is certainly tempting, as I already have a KPA-500; however, the 6 RF ports on the SPE-2K and ability to operate the full GUI remotely and proven integration with the Flex 6000-series were the deciding factors for me.

Great to have so many excellent choices these days.  Thanks again for the quick feedback on my question.

Rick, W5FCX
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Igor Dlf

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I look forward to the release of the PGXL!
I have not considered other PA-devices for a year...
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Rick - W5FCX

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Received the 2K-FA last Thursday and got it up and running on Friday after 240 VAC circuit was installed.  Thanks for the all the help and guidance.  This was certainly the right decision for me at this time. The Flex interface cable was the biggest surprise for me.  Who would've known that darned cable would make such a difference in the user experience with an amp, but it does - especially for remote station operation.

Here's my review below, in case it's helpful for others.:
https://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/9874
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W2PP

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I've got the same impressions you had.  That instant on, instant antenna tuner when you switch bands, that is the cats meow!   I look forward to the PGXL when it has the antenna tuner I think it will beat the 2kFA by a nose, but just.  I'll probably keep both amps, I just love this combination with the Flex 6700
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Mark Smith - KB5KYX

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I have the Expert 1.5K. The wait time was 2 weeks at mid May 2018. Running FT8 it will start out at 1.5k, but rolls back to 1.25K when the temperature reaches 130F. It's not going to be 100% duty cycle, but I'm not running TEST anyway. Bob's shop is close to me, so that was a big plus. Maybe one day I'll play around with water cooling ;-)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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You only splatter if you overdrive the audio. Keep it well out of the red and u can run higher power
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Rich McCabe

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I agree. Low power mode is one of the biggest misconceptions in ham radio.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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On low bands and 6m I run high power. Other bands I keep it to about 30-300w.
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mikeatthebeach .

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If you set your power out to 100mW maximum, you will always be WEAK SIGNAL
to everyone !! They may never hear you as well !! 
Hi ! Hi ! Just having fun here !
73 Mike
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mikeatthebeach .

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When running FT8 at 1.2Kw If you do not overdrive the Audio and 
do not overdrive your ALC, you can get a really clean FT8 signal
as Howard mentions above

Newbies into FT8 misunderstand this confusing this with the Weak Signal to Power Out debate - etc !

You can run High Power as long as you don't splatter !
73 Mike
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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My 2K-FA will not sustain 1.5KW on FT8. It cuts back on heat overload to about 1150W

The PGXL will sustain 1.5KW on FT8
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Chris DL5NAM

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My B26 PA  also hold the 1k5 at FT8 without reducing any time the power.

It's also made in Europe like the PGXL :-)
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Bill W2PKY

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PGXL will sustain 1.5KW on JT65 45 sec on, and with a very low SWR, not much fan noise.
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Mark Smith - KB5KYX

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Andy, for local contacts I run 25w to 50w. For most DX contacts I typically run 200w but if I need to use more power to make a DX contact I'll up the power to 500w or even 1000w if needed. I've only had to use 1KW on one FT8 contact. Like Howard said, keep it out of the red and you can run higher power with a clean signal.

With that said, in the past week I have FT8 contacts with Indonesia (9,728 miles on 40m) running 450w into a 80m Windom at 50ft. and to Rodriquez Island (10,917 miles on 40m) running 170w into the same antenna, so you typically don't need all that much power on FT8. But....there is always that one contact that you don't want to lose, and so I suppose it never hurts to have an amplifier that will do a 1.5KW 100% duty cycle key down all day long until the cows come home......just in case. I have 3 amplifiers already (SPE 1.5K-FA, Yaesu VL1000, ACOM 600S), but will likely purchase the PGXL later this year to have a matching Flex station and get that 1.5KW key down.

I have tested the SPE 1.5K amplifier on FT8 at High (1.5KW) power to see what it would do. With the room temp at 70F it will make it through one FT8 contact running 1.5KW, but if I keep going without a rest it will cut the power back when the internal temperature reaches 130F. I'll bet if I parked an AC unit in front of the amplifier, it would do 1.5K all day long.....LOL. And Howard, I said the 1.5K-FA cuts back to 1250w when it reaches 130F, I was wrong, it actually cuts back to 1180w on mine which is about what you're seeing with your 2K-FA. I'm surprised the 2K-FA doesn't do 1.5KW 100% duty cycle.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I too am very disappointed that they my2K-FA Will not run 1.5 KW at 100% duty cycle for FTH. It’s enough they want me to order a PGXL which will do it
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I ran mine at legal limit for a week on 80 and 6 meters alternating. I don’t like to run power on the high bands but the low bands and 6? You bet. I was running JA and Australia from here every morning on 80. You can say low power is good enough until you get endless repeats. Putting some fire in the wire puts an end to that.
(Edited)
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sky

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Ria: What antenna were you using on low bands? Anything special?
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N3NER

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I just put my 1.5k-FA up for sale as I'm getting a 2K-FA
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Rick - W5FCX

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Good choice. The 2K-FA is rock solid. I don't use it for AM/FM, RTTY or long-running FT8 sessions, but if I did and it reverted from 1.5KW to 1KW to avoid overheating, I don't think that would be a huge issue for me.  What's the difference - one S-unit?
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N3NER

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I agree, I'm SSB only and maybe a little CW.  I got the SPE 2K from a friend, not new but I don't think the improvements that SPE made in the past 4 years was anything big.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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]@Steve The difference of 1 dB was making the Q for country 201 on FT8 when he was -24
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Varistor

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IMHO, it will be a while before ham SS amps can match the robustness and $ per watt performance of tube amps. Right now I cannot think of a single SS amp that can match the OM Power 2000+ Auto. It also has the best out of the box remote capabilities I have seen.
(Edited)
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N3NER

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Yup I had that same OM amp, lots of headroom but the fans and warm up time drove me nuts.  If RT8 power is so important to anyone, they should just go get themselves a amp like the OM 2000 or even the OM4000 and be done with it.  In general the SPE amps do the job for 90% of the HAM's operation. 
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David Livingston

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I have the Expert 2K. It will run well over 2K into a dummy load all day long...!!!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Tube amps take forever to warm up when ur trying to get that elusive ATNO. Had a few bad experiences with warm up times where I lost rare Q. Also tubes are HOT...heat up the Shack and are terrible for remote where instant on is necessary.

I long ago dumped,my Alpha’s for a PW1 and then a 2KFA. I can’t imagine ever going back to the 20th century. Seriously considering a PGXL which will easily outperform Any tube Amp on Remote n
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Varistor

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Heat and fans have nothing to do with tube vs. solid state. It takes the exact same approach to disipiate certain amount of heat regardless of how you generate it. It all boils down to efficiency as the wasted power is what generates the heat.

In fact, solid state amps require additional cooling for the power supply. Unlike tube amps, solid state amps draw huge amounts of current that must be actively cooled.

The Elecraft 1500 is arguably a well built solid state amp that can handle 1500W with no time limits. It’s fans are extremely loud, louder than the fans in an Alpha 87.

The one true advantage of solid state is instant on. Becomes a personal choice how to weight this advantage against price, headroom, etc.
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mikeatthebeach .

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The SPE 1.5K & SPE 2K both cut back to < 1200 watts out on FT8 .
The timer after 15 seconds of constant carrier sets the SPE 2K and 1.5K 
from High Power to Mid Power 

Have a 2K here I use on FT8

Plus one thing to mention - not well know - only by SPE factory

The 2K after about 1 to 2hours hours of non-stop FT8 has built in the software
if the Fans stay On Full Blast , the SPE 2K will actually remove RF drive from the amp as 
a protection measure from heat ( not well known but it's there ) if baseplate temp 
can not be cooled efficiently.

Built into the software of the SPE 2K is code to protect the MeanWell 48Volt supply Internal Supply from overheating that has no real fan to get the heat out of SPE 2K-FA !!!!

Only way to run continuous FT8 24hours a day is Low Power, say 200watts to 300Watts to max to prevent firmware acknowledging that the Fans are on Full blast !

Got a PGXL Amp on order because of this !!!!

Occasional FT8 1150Watts contacts are fine on 2K-Fa but if was ever an FT8
contest, things start to fall apart, that why so many want the PGXL

73 Mike
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Varistor

Do you own a KPA1500?
If so, have you run FT8 on it for extended periods of time?

If not, I would suggest looking at the specs of the KPA1500 chip set it would not be able to sustain extended use at 1500W..but I would defer to you if you have actual real world empirical evidence.
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Varistor

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Howard, I understand it’s difficult for you to stay on topic. I am debating solid state vs. tube amps, not discussing the merits of KP1500. Whether or not I own an Elecraft is irrelevant.

The BLF188 is rated at 1270W @ 50V. A pair of them, at a conservative efficiency of 65%, produces 1650W. So it is reasonable to expect that the KPA1500 produces 1500W out below 30 MHz.

But since you asked, no, I do not own one. Having said that, I have had extensive discussions with two extremely well known and accomplished RTTY contesters who have used the amp in the gruling environment of 48-hour RTTY contests. They were able to maintain full 1500W out power for the duration of the contest. And yes, they complained about the loud amps.

If interested, you can read the acoustics readings here:

http://mailman.qth.net/pipermail/elec...
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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By contrast the PGXL uses 2 x MRF1K50H: 1500 W CW over 1.8-500 MHz, 50 V Wideband RF Power LDMOS Transistors.

So clearly lots more headroom with 2 x 1500 vs 2 x 1270W for the more limited KPA1500
I Saw the B26 Amp at Friedrichshafen where it was running 2 x 1700W LDMOS

BUT please continue to amuse us with your trolling for Elecraft.
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Rick - W5FCX

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When will PGXLs be shipping and generally available?
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N3NER

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Knowing the normal, no time soon I bet.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Limited quantities are shipping NOW to preorders
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Yes they are, a few on the community have had their notice.
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W2NER

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I would put myself on the list if it was not so costly.  $7k is a big ticket. 
(Edited)
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David Livingston

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I have had the Expert 2K-FA for over a year.  I love it. Works perfectly. Tuner is Fantastic...!!!
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Varistor

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The EME crowd is still limited to 1500W, no?
(Edited)
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Varistor

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I don’t do FT8 and can’t speak about it. However, when it comes to CW, SSB, and RTTY I can firmly argue that it is bit the warm up time that makes people miss a DX. It’s s combination of skills and the rest of the station, particularly the antennas.

I have observed quite a few ops at mega stations with lots of antennas and plenty of power; they couldn’t bust a pileup entirely because of how they operate. That is, no assertiveness and not taking the time to pause and understand how the DX works/thinks.

Anyway, at the end of the day people vote with their wallets. It’s a personal choice.
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W2NER

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Howard

As its been stated already, it's all on your needs and viewpoint.  I'm 100% correct for my operation type, I don't do digital in any way nor do I do any amount of CW worth talking about.  So, with that said, I'm 100% correct.   The amount of OP's that require that type of duty cycle or needing that much headroom si small.  Any other reason is just bragging rights which is not worth much to me.  Also, all the hype with pure signal is a bunch of hoo haa.  If you have a reasonably clean signal (and you can take that comment way to much to the right), your good.  
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Since the inception of FT8 I have been virtually 100% digital albeit I have donedigtial modes since 1958. I got to 198 counties very quickly. 199 and 200 took months

Headroom - especially so I can run maximum power with no distortion or splatter are critical to the other guy being able to pick me out of the noise. M. With SSB and CW they do not matter so much. But they are critical for weak signal work

I run my station in the USA remote from Around the world 80% of the time so instant on is critical ..

To eachhis own.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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 I can firmly argue that it is bit the warm up time that makes people miss a DX.
I have had it happen a few times. Gray line openings are short and I work long hours and sleep.  Operating skills you say? I have 325 countries including Bouvet, 9 band DXCC and 1700+ challenge. I guess I'm not skilled enough. :)
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W2NER

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I know of a few OP's that have the KPA1500 and all state the same thing, noisy fans..  One thing I can not deal with otherwise I would have went with a Acom 2000a or stuck with my Acom 1500.
(Edited)
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Howard:   Thanks.  That explains why I have very little of the middle East and Africa.

[To run more than my 300 watts, I am going to need larger, taller antennas, hence
a new QTH (yes, please?), and trade my KPA-500 in for a PGXL.]

I had not asked about splatter, but since you mention, I have a question;
I run the transmit audio level on SmartSDR with the peak marker just below 0 dB,
as instructed by a "How To" article from Flex.   At this level, the Audio Meter histogram bar, and the little peak marker line, are Yellow.

You mention "Keep it in the Green".   I assume you really meant just below 0 dB,
which would be yellow, correct?   In order to keep the transmit audio meter fully green,  I found the level needs to be much lower than 0 dB, hence the power output
drops very far. 
[I have been running at just below 0 dB since I got the rig in June 2018, and have made many approx 700 QSOs with no complaints so far.  Am I doing it right?]

ref:  https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/202037343-Configuring-WSJT-X-and-SmartSDR-for-Windows

Can you please clarify for my education?

Cheers,

Neal
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Two answers

When running barefoot, you’re OK keeping it below 0 DB or in the yellow

When running power, you need to reduce the gain so that you’re below -10 DB or in the green
Or you will create IMD which you will be amplifying And actually make your signal harder to copy
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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The flex article was written for Running barefoot
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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Howard:    Thanks.  Crystal clear now.
Last night I tried driving the amp at -10 on the audio level meter, and running about 50% amp power, I called CQ to a friend on the other coast  (USA West to East), and he said the signal was super clean.    I can work with this just fine.
Thanks for taking the time to explain.

Cheers,

Neal
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Neal

Now go work some of those -24 DXstations that could not hear you
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W2NER

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also for anyone needing a real clean signal with just about any amp, go get a apache labs with a coupler for the amp and your done.......
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Neal Pollack, N6YFM

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1.  But this is a Flex forum :-)

2.  My Flex 6600, driving my KPA-500 amp  (according to PSKreporter), apparently puts out a "clean enough" signal to decode at many many far away places.

No argument that you could be a little cleaner with A.P.D.  (Pure Signal), but it seems to work just fine right now, for hundreds and hundreds of FT8 users, even without being perfect.   Also no argument, if A.P.D. was put into Flex and Icom and Kenwood and Yaesu, it would be even that much better.   And maybe someday it will.

But for now, good enough seems to be working just fine, and the lack of A.P.D. on all these other brand rigs does not seem to be preventing people from using and enjoying the bands.    (Yes, I want to see the improvement some day, but I am not loosing sleep while waiting....)

Cheers,

Neal
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Good thought Neal. with the way SSDR is right now being able to transmit clean at least 40db down is plenty clean,,

One question I have is what amount of -db is acceptable? Anan users will say 70db,,,really?