RF Amplifiers - Is Flex considering building?

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Is FlexRadio System considering building RF Amplifiers?

Seeing that knobs and knob less companies are selling RF amps under their Company labels: Will this be something that may be coming down the pipe in the near future? 
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Ernest - W4EG

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Posted 4 years ago

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K2CM

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How about a 4 element, tri band beam too. We would have one stop shopping and get the high Flex quality too!
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Ernest - W4EG

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Just be a man, to pose and post the question and I will support it!
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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We announced at Dayton this year the intent to enter into a development arrangement with 4O3A to produce a 1500W solid state SO2R amplifier.  Details and specifications on the product will be made available once they are finalized.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Thanks Howard, 
I failed to noticed or I ran short on long time memory.  
Guess, I need to go to Fry's or Newegg to get some more!
Now active mobile from IOTA- NA-138
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Drax

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Big companies rent their brand names all the time.
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Ned K1NJ

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  How is that effort coming along?

Ned,  K1NJ
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elan

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Roy Laufer

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Perhaps, but it is 2/3rd the power output, twice the weight, only spec-ed for 240 volts, and may not be available yet.

Oh, and Hiberlings tend to be expensive (their radio lists for $18,000-20,000 (no, that's NOT a typo), so who knows how much they will be asking for it...

I'll stay with SPE.
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Patrick Greenlee

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I'm not a Flex insider but if I were CEO Flex would probably not build an amp.  Amps is not what sets them apart in the market place.  Amps are not their area of excellence.  They have more than sufficient work to fully engage all their technical talent.  If by some miracle they were to "get caught up" will all facets of their new line and needed something to gainfully employ some of their tech troops then maybe amps would be a topic to consider.  Do what you do best and let others do what they do, such as build amps.  Amps are more of a commodity than a cutting edge development  with significant programing required.  

Short answer:  Nope.

Patrick  NJ5G  (Still loving my F5K)
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elan

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http://www.dc9dz.de/en/aladin.html the best of the best been test with the flex 
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Ernest - W4EG

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Thanks Elan,
I looked at the spec's and they look good but it's lacking "FlexRadio System" endorsement or label!
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Bill -VA3WTB

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I think it is a good idea to build an amp for the 6000's. It complements the product line very well. Flex is working with 403A who have the know how. This amp I would think would have features that mate with the Flex 6000's and should work together seamlessly.

If we look at the market, I think some would buy and amp from Flex who other wise may not be inclined to buy a Flex radio. Some just don't care for SDR, but an amp? Maybe. If it shows to be a good amp and I was in the hunt for one, why not look at it?

It was suggested that Flex is not caught up, I don't know what that means but it looks Like Flex is doing very well in the progression of the 6000's radios.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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4O3A will be doing the development work.

The major advantage of the Flex Amp is that FINALLY someone will make an AMP that is 21st Century Ethernet controlled with all the wonderful connectivity possibilities of the Ethernet rather than being stuck with the severe limitations and incompatibility of old 20th Century CI-V or Serial CAT morass
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Walt - KZ1F

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I think that is a laudable goal, in and of itself. But would it be available from other sources like Force 12? Would it work with other rigs? If it is a 1500 watt linear that only works with a 6000 series, I see no value in it.

And, I agree with the others, companies that stray too far from their core competencies, run the risk of being over extended.
(Edited)
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Joe

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The option to use a serial to IP converter has been available for years. Ethernet is nothing new I've been using a digi serial port server since 2001 to do Ethernet control of my rotor and PA
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Ernest - W4EG

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Bill,

I was trying to say the same thing as you stated in paragraph one.
It, COMPLIMENTS THE PRODUCT LINE.
Would the naysayers said the same to Icom, Yause or Elecraft? 
I don't think so!
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Walt - KZ1F

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Yeah, picking on Elecraft was a bad tactic. Elecraft has a linear that works seamlessly with the K3 (presumably KX3), the KAT-500 works seamlessly with both, From the linear one can change the band of the K3, from the K3 as you move through a band the KAT-500 constantly adjusts the matching. I have a 6500 and both a KPA-500 and a KAT-500, both work fine via DDUtil but not nearly as fine as they were directly connected to a K3. Too much Kool-Aid my friend. I'll need your car keys now.
(Edited)
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Duane, AC5AA

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Yes, compare to Elecraft where they have not only designed and sold an amp, but panadaptors, transverters and tuners as well.  Not to mention test equipment (signal generator.)  I think the way Flex is doing it is a smart approach, as long as the partner has been selected carefully.  
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Ernest - W4EG

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Thanks Duane ...

You made my point!
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Ken - NM9P

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If it was affordable (relative term) it would be really nice to have an amp in a case that compliments the 6000 series.  Better yet, with control functions that equal the potential of 21st Century ethernet API, etc., as Howard and others have said.  

Would I be able to afford a contest quality SO2R amp such as proposed?  After the expense of the 6500 and tower project (almost completed), probably not.  But I think it would be nice, especially if it contained a legal limit ATU and antenna switching as well.   

I might even start saving to get one post-retirement when I settle into my "semi-final earthly home."

Ditto for transverters, especially if we could get two or three bands (2M/70cM +one) in the same box, all ready for API or SSDR switching!  (perhaps even controlled via the USB port on the back of the 6000, as long as it would link to the full WAN remote with no other computer necessary.)

Ken - NM9P
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spopiela

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Power Amps and SCRs are not the same technology and require a whole different level of expertise to sell.
Flex, please stick to your knitting!! That's the first rule of Corporate success!
Unless, of course, you can buy the expertise and integrate it into the Company.

Stan
N1THL
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Drax

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They are sticking to their knitting.  Companies rent out their brand names all the time.   Now if we want innovation in the amp market I'd like to see Moore's Law catch the RF transistor and have a sub $500 1,500-watt amp be invented.
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KM6CQ - Dan

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Seems to me that a Flex amp, Would allow Smart SDR to take advantage of it with pure signal. 
What a nice way to promote an upgrade and bring in a useful feature. 

Dan
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Martin Ewing AA6E

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Station integration counts for a lot, and a range of products built around SmartSDR makes sense to me.  (I really don't like ad hoc add-ons like ddutil.) This is the moral from Elecraft, where they've been very successful with their K line.  I'm not interested in SO2R particularly, and 1.5 kW is overkill.  A 500 W amp would be about right IMO.

This may be a problem with Maestro.  In its initial form at least, it does not play with any hardware or software other than what's in the 6000 box. No logging, web access, user apps, etc. (AFAIK)
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Norm - W7CK

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Well all I can say is I hope they provide control as well as a way to power on and off the amp via a USB or Ethernet connection like my IC-7100, KAT500, KPA500 etc., etc.... I'm hoping the 6000 can eventually provide that feature thru the USB port..... 
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Mark Griffin

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My feelings are once the Smart SDR issues are taken care of, which may be an on going thing, then look at hardware enhancements. The Smart SDR issues seems to be greater then 75% of the postings on this community board. Just my personal feelings! KB3Z
(Edited)
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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In my opinion, the best solid state amp out there is the new SPE Expert 1.3K (up to 1.5kw) with 4 antenna outputs, 2 TX inputs, 1 SO2R antenna port, ATU, USB and RS232 connectivity (no ethernet). It is a $4000 amp that weighs 18lbs. The amp also allows the automation of band pass filters for a smooth SO2R operation.

If Flex is to co-develop an Amp with 4O3A they should take a look at this amp and try to match or surpass what it provides. http://www.expertampsusa.com/1-3k-fa/

I own and operate the older SPE Expert 1K while I patiently wait for the new one to arrive (backordered a year!!!). I can only praise this amp which complements my Flex radio perfectly (as long as you use DDUtil).
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Correction on the price:
  • 1.3K-FA = $5495
  • 1.3K-FA w/o ATU = $4195
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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That makes more sense. I was comparing it to the price I am paying in Europe for mine and the US price is quite expensive. The "other" distributor seems to be closer to the actual SPE retail price. 

I really like my current SPE 1k and I find the ATU a must even if you have properly setup antennas, it just makes everything very smooth. You are talking about a full legal power 4 antenna ATU. Are you sure you want the non ATU version?

And here is the Expert together with a flex 6300 in my shack. Sorry for the blurred image on the amp, I was trying to get a wide angle and didn't focus it correctly and the contact with YB was too cool to upload a different video.

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Roy Laufer

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I agree that an ATU is important, in my shack especially. The Expert ATU price seems a bit high, even though it has control over four antenna ports (unfortunately with a 70 x 20 foot property I doubt that I can find any room for even a second transmitting antenna - I have a secondary mag loop receive antenna). My problem is the SWR range of the SPE ATU.

I realize that ATU SWR specs are not engraved in marble, but according to anyone at SPE that I'd asked, all I should expect is a correction of 1:3 SWR or better. That's not enough for me - I opted for an LDG AT-1000ProII. They quote 1:10 SWR maximum correction and their maximum power handling capacity is just at the edge of the 1.3K-FA's output (I still think using 120 volts power will not get me quite as far as if I had a 240 volt power line in my shack).

Worse case scenario if the LDG goes "phhttt" is that I swap it for another $500 box instead of finding a SPE ATU replacement board, etc.

If I was an SPE design engineer, I would have gone with a beefier ATU...
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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The ATU in the 1k matches beyond 1:3swr... but not much more, true... it doesn't handle the mismatch that the LDG can. I built a loop around the property for 80 and 160 and I use a balun and MFJ-989D. I still would go for the ATU version if you can. I am.
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Roy Laufer

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Perhaps, if price were no object, I would take a "belts and suspenders" approach and get the 1.3K-FA with the ATU AND the LDG for those bands that my antenna requires it for.

I'm using the rationalization of the $1500 saved on a 1.3K-FA w/o ATU as a form of savings rather than the profligate expenditure of large sums of money on an enjoyable little hobby <grin>!
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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I used that rational when I got the 6300 w/out the ATU. I had the SPE with ATU so I didn't need the ATU on the Flex. Now that I am looking at upgrading to a 6700 most of the prospective buyers for the 6300 want the ATU.... In the case of the Flex adding it after market is not a big deal but that is not the case with the SPE.
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k0eoo

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Sal,

Thanks for the great video/audio playback of your QSO with Ferry, YB0AR.   Ferry is the ham that bought my SDR-1000, w/accessories, when I sold it 6 years ago to buy the Flex5000A....   I hear him on every now and then and worked him last on 40m SSB....

Regards, Dennis, k0eoo
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KC2QMA_John

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Hopefully it will be 19" Rack mount and use the state of the art output transistors.

These transistors can handle a Dead Short! Check this Video Out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSp54qHiS5E
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KC2QMA_John

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KC2QMA_John

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KC2QMA_John

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1000W from ONE TRANSISTOR!
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Thanks for these videos!! This is super exciting. I feel that using tubes to amplify instead of taking advantage of these new transistors is like using superheterodine radios instead of SDR 
(Edited)
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Duane, AC5AA

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I have an order in for an SPE Experts 1.3K-fa and I originally ordered it without the ATU because I already have a Palstar HF-Auto. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I'm not always going to have untuned or compromise antennas like I have now with high SWR's, so I modified my order and added the ATU. When I've got antennas that no longer need the HF-Auto, I'll sell it and just use the Flex's or the ATU's tuners (depending on whether I'm running power or not.) Today my little-used Alpha 99 needs the help, as does the Flex on several bands. Hopefully this is just a short-term situation, but, to date, it's been a 20 year problem!
(Edited)
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Richard - MW0XDT

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Very interesting thread guys.

I for one, would be very keen to explore a Flexradio endorsed amplifier, that had good comms with SmartSDR.

Just a slight word of caution on the SPE Expert amplifiers...I have a friend with very deep pockets who was going to sell me his new 1K-FA...he called me to discuss the fantastic functionality and really was obviously very impressed. So much so he decided to buy the 2K version...However he then started getting problems and refused to sell it to me. The amplifier started overheating when running higher power levels and then automatically folded back to low power. He even tried adding additional cooling, but still found that it overheated in his cool shack.

Obviously I'm not casting a shadow across these magnificent amplifiers with just one report of trouble...but just a cautionary tale...the 1.3K-FA has recieved fantastic reviews and I've not seen a bad word printed. However, I haven't got the funds that my friend has. He can shrug off this inconvenience as a minor hitch in his $50K shack....but I would be very disappointed to suffer this issue with a relatively major investment.

Anyhow I look forward to the mouth watering prospect of a Flex friendly Amplifier!

Best Regards, Rich
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Richard McClelland, AA5S

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Rich, that's a nice shack shown in your QRZ profile.  Well done.
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Richard - MW0XDT

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Thanks Richard!...it's taken a while, but I'm getting there...like most of us, it's a work in progress!!! (Just don't tell my XYL...she thinks it's finished!!! ;-) )
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Mark - WS7M

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I am curious myself.   I have looked at the experts and they sure look nice but quite a pretty penny.  My antenna is currently rated at 750 max so I'm careful with what I put out to it.

In the mean time I ordered and modified upon arrival the ALS-600.  It's solid state and the only real flaw in my opinion was the manual band switch.  Turns out that was easy to handle.  I created a relay board from some stuff I had laying around and now via software only I can:

Turn on the amp
Change operate to standby
Switch bands

My software connects to the radio and monitors the active TX frequency and changes the amp band settings nicely.

This amp is a good simple solution for me more now.  I typically lower the 6500 to about 40w and this drives the amp to about 500w.  So both are breathing a little easier.  Still if I want to work PSK or RTTY I really do have to lower the power even more so it is not a continuous duty solution.

I will wait and see what Flex comes up with as well.
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Joe WD5Y

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Just wanted to post my amplifier project here as it is LDMOS as well as spoke about here. It is a two module Blf 188xr combined amp with input protection through an attenuator and ALC, output load protection through directional couplers before and after the LPF unit. I ordered all from W6PQL. I built the 188 modules along with the FET switch and directional coupler modifications. The units that needed alignment were ordered complete, W6PQL allows many options as well as selling completed units. The cabinet was machined with a Dremel tool and drill. I ordered the machined heatsinks from W6PQL also. I added auto bandswitching also which is selectable from front control with ddutil and BCD board. It can be remotely powered up, bypassed, etc. through connections on back with "wavenode" software / hardware. Spent a lot of time on this.


73's

Joe

WD5Y




Not sure why images displayed upside down, sorry!!
(Edited)
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Richard - MW0XDT

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Wow, what a beautiful job Joe, congratulations on some great work!
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Joe WD5Y

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Thank you very much. Sorry for the upside down photos. The bottom photo is a server rack with wavenode, auto tuner, antenna switch and power supply. I do control all of this from computer. I learned quite a lot on the build. Jim (W6PQL) answered many questions on the amp.

73's
Joe
WD5Y
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Mark - WS7M

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Joe that is gorgeous.  I wish I had the time to build something these days.  I'm so overloaded with work and personal life that finding time to use my store bought gear is tough.

I'd love to hear that thing on the air!

Mark
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Joe WD5Y

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Believe me I totally understand. I have a very understanding wife, I built this over approximately five months on our nice dining room table, of course the table was covered to prevent scratching hi hi. I still have leftover parts in the room! Gotta get that up!

Thanks and 73's
Joe
WD5Y