However, on an earlier thread about PGXL delivery dates, there was a lot of pissing and moaning from a select few that people really do not need 1500W because those select few magically seemed to have the propagation gods on their side working one or two rare dx using 100W with a wet noodle for an antenna
Personally I have a superb Antenna System (SteppIR MonstIR @85' near the top of a mountain with an unobstructed view to the Pacific) and yet I find that there are times when I need every watt I can put out to make that ultra rare contact.
This is particularly true with FT8 where I have at least a 6db gain advantage and many times I have as much as a 25dB gain advantage over the DX station... This asymmetry of signal strengths is due to the fact that they have poor antenna systems, crappy receivers and huge losses due to using external sound card interfaces.
My current SPE 2K-FA will only sustain about 1000W on FT8 which is obviously not enough to work that -24dB signal when I have a 24dB gain advantage,,,basically every extra watt I can put out really can make the difference when trying to work that rare weak one... NO.. I can't wait until they get stronger because many of those weak ones are DXPeditions which may never happen again..
The point of this posts.. is to give a forum for the POWER POLICE to rant and rave about those of us with big towers, antennas and amps - and hopefully once they are done ranting here they wont interfere with other threads about the PGXL and other Amps.
Hopefully this will be a civil discussion...
Well I agree with you 100%. I live with my SPE 2K for now because I simply cannot get a PGXL. Not only are they not shipping, even yet, I simply cannot afford another $7k for my hobby right now.
I bought my SPE 2K on the special discount deal and saved a lot. I won't say what I paid but I'm pretty sure it is way less than everyone else paid.
It has taken much of my programming skill to make it integrate with my shack and it still is not perfect. But it works well.
Tonight for example, on the mode you love, CW, I picked up Antarctica, Tonga, Senagal. all of them pushing my SPE 2K to the max and you know what the means. CW thankfully is tolerant of that.
All of this with a 280 foot loop suspended just 50 feet AGL. In each case I got the immediate reply from each station which is a good feeling. But not always. There are some days I work hard to get that DX and never do.
I dream of the day I can have a StepperIR and a tower. I think it is a long ways off at best. For now I am happy that my station can be run from a laptop anywhere in the world and from that laptop I can completely control everything I have and nab most DX, at least the ones I can hear.
Being in the middle of the USA has its disadvantages. Some times I simply do not hear the rare DX at all. Yet if I connect to a Remote Ham Radio site I hear them just fine. Its maddening at times.
Anyway my future dream is a tower, 100 feet will do, a monster StepperIR on it with 80 and 160m four squares. All of this fed by a PGXL, an OM4000A as an alternative and a couple flex radios and they live somewhere are far distance from where I am. IE remote. My beam has elevation, it has low noise because nothing is around it and I sit warmly in my condo or whatever awaits me and play radio.
Will it happen? We'll see.
Mark - WS7M. For now, more power to you!
Being on the West Coast, my issue is the East Coast Wall of Big Stations that totally cover up most interesting DX... In fact, I usually get better results on Long Path to the EU and Africa.....plus I have a mountain in my backyard behind me in that direction.. I would need another 300-500' on my tower to get over that mountain...
When I move to the new place, I will first seek to get a 65 ft tower up with an even better antenna than my T-11 Log at 38 ft. Here. Then add inverted “L” antennas on 80 & 160, and radials under them.
Then an Antenna Genius,
Then an upgrade to a 6600.
Then start saving for a PGXL.
It wouldn’t make best sense for me invest in the perfect amp before upgrading my rig to an SO2R capable rig.
But from what I have read, it looks like the perfect amp for me.
But this project is going to take some time.
Ken - NM9P
Some of these people that brag about working the world with QRP or a few hundred watts and wet noddle antennas, and plastering their walls with awards, then criticize those with big power and big antennas, fail to realize that the stations running the big power and big antennas are sometimes (many times?) compensating for their weak signal.
But why do I need a PG-XL? I like having legal limit power when it's necessary, although truth be known, a good portion of the time I do just fine with 100-500 watts and a moderately sized SteppIR yagi and wire antennas.
I specifically like the idea of owning a PG-XL because when I do require full legal power, [from what I've heard] 1500 watts isn't pushing the components of this amp to their ultimate limits, and it's 6xxx Flex compatible.
Now... if FRS/4o3A would just fill my PG-XL order! :)
Butch - KF4HR
Southern California Area Many of the Big Guns
With PSK reporter for the 1st time worked
About 20 to 30 stations in Europe and Africa
Many found that only by using 1500Watts
Out with those with big antenna 7 elements
Or more on 80 foot to 90 foot towers did a
Major Accomplishment this year to establish
New Records and learn about 6meter Propagation
Many found that with only Max Power that
With sporadic E openings and Multi-hop
That the paths (bearings) were asymmetric
And a lot of new information was learn on
These paths and propagation
For someone to say 100watts is all you need
On FT8 sporadic E openinings and Multipaths
On 6 meters from say Los Angeles to Lagos
Nigeria or Europe are kidding themselves
Totally agree with Howard that certain applications
It takes all you can deliver to make that DX contact
On 6meters most openings are open for a few minutes
And Every Secoond Counts to make that sporadic E
Multi hop Contact on 6meters
On 80, 160 and 6 meters I use legal limit on FT8 a lot. On 40 through 10, not much, maybe once or twice I did. But most times I didn't need to.
1500w can mean the difference between completing contacts and suffering through endless repeats. During PGXL first testing I would run JA every morning for a solid month on 80m. I'm on the East Coast.
Possibly 500 to 700 watts may be needed on HF FT8 when working disadvantaged stations but 100 watts usually does the trick. In my experience I have worked all over the world with 100 watts and a 3 element SteppIR at 85 feet.
I have contested and DXed with 100 watts. It is like fishing with light test line. It takes some skill but it can be accomplished. I have cracked SSB and CW pile ups with the monstrous East Coast wall calling.
That said as much power as can be produced driving the highest gain antenna possible always improves the probability of a contact and, in a contest, the faster the QSO the more QSOs made hence the highest score possible. I just became accustom to working them with low power, discovering their pattern and not being too upset if I missed an occasional rare one.
One parameter that was not discussed in the initial posting is the ambient noise. The detection issue is not power but signal to noise. Most DXpeditions, particularly the rare ones, operate from a locale that is much quieter than the urban areas that most hams operate from (San Diego and LA are relatively noisy.). Having operated from the Pacific and Caribbean I have found that I heard much better than the stations in rural America, even the super stations. When I operate I take that into account. The DX probably hears every dit in a pile up.
Now, I ordered a PGXL several months ago with the expectation of getting it before the 2018 Spring 6 meter E season. At the 2018 Visalia DX Convention I was told that amplifiers that were initially scheduled to ship in 2017 would start shipping in September 2018. I was told that mine would be much later... like early 2019. Now it seems like even the earliest orders will ship in 2019. Because of this issue, a 6600M that failed due to the heat sinks falling off in the first two weeks of operation, and a gift certificate won at the convention that was proffered as $500 only to be worth that much if applied to a 6700, I cancelled my order and returned the radio for a full refund.
The week after the convention I ordered an SPE 1.5K-FA that was promised in late June. I received word a month later that it would be delayed until September, still sooner than the PGXL but too late for sporadic E season. I cancelled that order as well and purchased an Elecraft KPA1500. It arrived in weeks and in time for the end of the 6 meter E season. Had I waited for the SPE I would have missed the 6 new ones worked on 6 meters. Had I waited for the PGXL well... I would still be waiting.
I have a friend who paid for the PGXL right when the reservation period came out. He called them last week and they cannot give him a delivery date. They have held his money for a long time!
When is enough enough? Is it acceptable to hold out for unfulfilled promises and then be co-opted into defending the product failures and delays?
The lesson learned is that until a manufacturer has a reliable / producible product do not advertise it! Do sufficient beta testing before the product is even announced. Never in my experience have I seen the issues that have arisen from the PGXL and 6000 series. Sure, there has been a few issues here and there with other manufacturers but they are addressed and resolved quickly.
I still have several radios and amplifiers dating as far back as the 60s and none of them have failed. All of them were tried and true before leaving the plant.
End of rant!
We have always been told that the antenna gain is exactly the same in transmission that in reception and the same figure must be applied to both senses. That is certainly true, but the complete history is more long to be told.
In HF, the limit for our receiver sensibility is not the internal noise of the rig, but the external noise on the band, coming from external sources, and those are local electrical noise plus atmospheric noise plus solar and planet noise plus cosmic rays. That means that we cannot do really anything on the receiver side for improving the signal to noise ratio of the signals the antenna delivers to your rig. But the gain of the antenna could improve our reception.
The antenna gain applies the same gain to noise and signal on the direction you are beaming the antenna and that gain improves them both: noise and signal at the same time. But if the external noise is coming from all directions, the directivity of the antenna (almost the same as gain) reduces incoming noise from all other directions sometimes with the gain figure, sometimes with the side lobe/front ratio figure of the antenna.
This side lobe/front reduction is the of great importance because if noise comes uniformly from all directions, the directivity (gain) of our antenna could reduce the noise captured by the antenna from all other directions and can improve double or more times the signal to noise ratio that reaches the receiver. In HF reception, this fact is in some way equivalent to say the gain of your antenna almost doubles its gain related to a dipole.
This is not always true, because if the noise comes only from the same direction of the signal, the only advantage we have is our antenna gain.
So, if you have a Yagi (3 el.) with near a 6 dBd gain over a dipole at the same height, at the same time your antenna improves your sensibility and allows you to hear stations that are -12 dB weaker (or even less) than those heard by the usual average station with a dipole, because we are receiving +6 dB signal and -6 db or less of noise.
Here comes the great utility of a linear amplifier. The optimum gain of the amplifier would be to add the same improvement (6 to 8 dB) to the transceiver power, in a way that will enable you to be heard by weaker stations that work with only a dipole or poor antennas. That would be just enough.
If you apply more amplifier gain or power with a linear amplifier that delivers more than 500-600 W, you’ll be listened by everybody but you won’t be able to here weaker stations that tries to answer you.
So, 500-600 W is the right power gain for an amplifier for stations with normal Yagi antennas, but no more power is really needed, because you will be heard by stations that you are not able to hear.
If you have only a dipole or a poor antenna, please do not use a linear amplifier because you won’t be able to hear the weak stations that answer you.
73 Luis EA3OG
Good point Bill, unfortunately the reality is many companies need start up capital in order to get a product off the ground and into production. Consider the Tesla Model 3, advertised as the best car for $35,000. Hundreds of thousands of people put down a kilobuck for the honor of sitting back and waiting for a vehicle they knew little about and 2+ years later, thousands are still waiting on their $35,000 car.
By the way, I'm one waiting on a PG-XL. Nearly a year so far. When is enough enough? We'll see.
I am surprised that no one brought up the concept of asymmetry of propagation paths due to local conditions being so different on each side of the QSO....
Basically the E or F Layers of the ionosphere are normally at very different heights at each side
so while the propagation gods may favor the side of the QSO running 1 W into the proverbial wet noodle with an ideal skip height for the QSo, the other side may be propagation challenged with multi hops so that they really need 1500W and a beam to be heard.
But there is a catch. The standard approach to working Dx is built around the "who can shout the loudest" proposition. For the first time, far as I know the DXPedition with FT8 has the ability to disregard signals above a preset strength. So you now have a new situation on your hands. If you are not being decoded, is because you are too weak or is it because you are too loud? If the former then maybe some more power would help. But if the later maybe you - horrors! - need to decrease power. I saw something that smacks of this on the Baker Island event. As I was watching one night all of the signals were getting +6, +8, etc. from the boys on Baker. Suddenly all of the reports dropped to -8, -10, etc. No way of knowing but I wonder if they said "let's give the weaker stations chance" invoked the MaxDB capability and, there you have, the shouting crowd was gone!
Here is the relevant section from the Fox manual:
You can limit displayed callsigns to those no stronger than Max dB. As Fox you can use this feature to work weaker stations, thereby discouraging Hounds from engaging in a high-power “arms race”. Remember that FT8 is designed as a weak signal mode. It provides reliable decoding at signal-to-noise ratios down to about – 20 dB
So, Howard, what will be your strategy? Start at lower power and increase until decoded or start high and then decrease power until decoded. Interesting new twist don't you think?
I think we can all agree the right thing to do is to use as little power as you can to make the contact.
As I stated above I have an SPE 2K-FA. As Howard said it will not do FT8 keydown at 1500w. It will fold back to about 1100w although with extra cooling I can keep mine at 1500 for 3 FT8 transmissions by using a really good heat extraction system.
My SPE is in a shed so I don't really care about the noise of the heat exchanger but it does work.
That being said, I have my SPE amp integrated with some software I wrote for logging. From that software I can change the power levels: Low, Mid, High and I can adjust the Flex drive.
90% of my work is CW so I usually run a drive of about 5 to 8 watts from the Flex into Low mode on the SPE which gives me 250 or so watts out.
This weekend I got: Tonga, Senegal, Finland, Ukraine, Antarctica on 250w no problem at all. In fact it seemed I busted the pile ups pretty well having to only call once or twice.
I don't credit this to a great antenna or a lot of power but rather to having the pan and knowing exactly where to transmit for these "up" stations.
I figure that most of the DX I want is running 1000w or less most likely. Some are running only 500 or less. So I have little need to run much more than that. But with two clicks of the button I can drive my SPE on CW to 2250w out. It can do that but I don't think I've ever done it except to learn the limits.
If I need high power I adjust the drive to 1500 watts and if that doesn't get through then I figure the DX is deaf or propagation is bad and I'll try again another time.
FT8 is great but actually I have not been running it much as I have been trying to get CW speed back. Yesterday I tested myself at a solid 35 wpm for 10 minutes of copy so I feel like another goal is knocked down. Now I want to do WAS on CW only so I'm working on that.
So I use only as much power as I need. I've had one or two CW contacts ask me if I could run more and I step it up a little for them. Mostly I am happy that both sets of finals, the ones in the flex and the ones in the SPE amp are pretty much loafing along at the power levels I choose.
Mainly I need a PGXL because I don't have one already!
@Ed, K6VMV, Thank you for your Service, sir.
Since 1977 I've used crap for antennae and haphazardness was my trademark. Much better now, but I won't say how long it was before I realized that throwing up a dipole at 10 feet and direct feeding with coax and trying to work all bands isn't the greatest. We use what we've got. It's who we are. When we can afford it or feel like it, we improve.
Some people drive around with their foot the brake. Others have their amp on all the time.
VP6D took some doing from here. Once or twice barefoot, once 20 calls with 1300w. All are in the log.
Good amateur radio practice. Minimum power to maintain communications.
Like Ria sort of said: Ya can't turn it on if ya don't got it.
Hey, I like Bill's idea of the QSL cards: When *I* am the pile-up, I will put on each card what order you were when you got through. SSDR or one of the 3rd parties should have a feature that automates this. Click.
Gang-- If you have a 2 amp shack.. you can replace both amplifiers with 1 PGXL. That is the key differentiator from the plethora of other LDMOS offerings. With its closest competitor in the new amp market only able to accept a feed from 1 radio at ~80% of the cost of a PGXL.. the value really begins to show. both can key down a solid 1500w in FT8/RTTY. only PGXL can do it while listening to another band at the same time you are transmitting. any other solution would take 2 amplifiers.
Considering that a PGXL can connect to a 6600/6700 Dual SCU radio creating a turnkey high power solution with 1 transceiver and 1 amplifier, allowing for all its features including full duplex, including integration of meters and such with SSDR-W/M is the value prop here.
This turnkey ecosystem works very well... and like all things flex puts out, there is no equivalent for it on the open market yet. If anyone in the community has any questions about PGXL, feel free to reach out to me, and I will be happy to answer your query.
Agree with Chris that you can replace 2 amps with it.
But what sets it apart for me is that it is a completely modern amp. Things like the vapor phase heatsink, color lcd, MEffA and ethernet and of course dual LDMOS are what do it for me.
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