Why you need a PGXL?

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The PGXL seems to be a superb advanced Amp capable of 1500W Key Down for extended periods of time which is totally integrated into the Flex Echo System with accompanying industry leading remote and SO2R Capabilities..

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...
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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  • happy

Posted 2 months ago

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Ken, K2KXK

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I’m really confused. I thought FT8 was a low power mode.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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FT8 is a WEAK SIGNAL MODE... NOT a Low Power Mode
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Mark WS7M

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Howard you animal!   Inciting the wet noodlers... How dare you!  LOL

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!

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Mark

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...
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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At this point, I can only dream of having a PGXL, especially as I put my retirement plans in place.

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
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KF4HR

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Ah ha!  Howard just as we finally close the lid (pun?) on this topic on the other thread, you take the lid back off?  Good for you Howard...  hilarious! :D

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


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mikeatthebeach .

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Well This Summer on 6meter FT8 from the

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


73 Mike
(Edited)
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Terry K8EET

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Howard, when the going gets tough just put a /QRP after your call. I remember how dx stations ignored my CQs after dropping the N from my call after getting my general. The thing about FT8 is the DX stations can ignore the +25 signals and call us mortals with the wet noodles.
 
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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FT8 is a weak signal mode. But I have operated legal limit. The key is to know WHEN to use that power level.

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. 

Ria
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Jim KJ7S

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A Quick Congrats on your election win Ria!!  You Go Girl!  =>{)
(assuming I have my info correct)
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Ed, K6VMV

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Hi Howard, first of all I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise with the rest of us.  I got my Novice ticket in 1955 when I was 12.  My novice station was a Heath AR-3 receiver and a DX20 transmitter.  My antenna was a wet noodle. I had a lot of fun and DX was anything outside of CA.  I've been a ham now for over 60 years and many of you who read the posts here would laugh at my humble stations.  I'm not going to apologize for my little stations. I'm retired military, Viet Nam vet.  They are all I can afford.  I don't have unlimited funds.  But . . . I might have just as much fun as those who are fortunate enough to afford fantastic stations.  I get really excited when I hear a DX station return my call.  It took me weeks to work AC4AAA back in the 70's.  He would work a station in Texas every Wednesday on 20.  i tuned to the freq and listened until their QSO  ended and give a call.  Finally, after many weeks, he heard a 6 calling and we finally had a good QSO.  I ran all over the house I was so excited.  I won't tell you what my antenna was, lets just say it was a very wet noodle but it was the best I could put up at the time.  As a VE, I always encourage new hams to have fun with ham radio.  Put together the best station you can and put up the best antenna you can.  I currently have a 6300, couldn't afford a 6500.  I operate all modes and I am having a blast.  For those of you who can afford dream stations, I truly envy you but please realize not all of us are as fortunate.  From an old salt, I wish all of you fair winds and following seas . . . and DX too.  Have a joyous holiday season.  73,  Ed, K6VMV
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Bill-N6RV

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The only time 1500 watts may be needed on FT8 is 6 meter sporadic E. During the last two years of testing paths to Europe from the West Coast, stations running high power to large yagis managed to make QSOs while ones running 100 watts and the same antenna did not. Even running 500 watts, in many cases, was not sufficient.

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!


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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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The only time 1500 watts may be needed on FT8 is 6 meter sporadic E. 
I mostly operate that. I have pretty much worked all of the locals already so I'm looking for DX. And I do agree - without the QRO I wasn't able to get anyone to answer. Switched the amp on, and I was running them.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I have worked 239 countries, earned 8 bands DXCC, 9 bands WAS, and 1229 points for DX Challenge Award, all with 100 Watts, and verticals, wires, and for the last 3 years, a T-11 Log at 38 ft. It has been a lot of fun!

BUT, it is likely going to take a taller antenna and more power to get the next 101 countries, and the final contacts for DXCC on 160 & 6 Meters, and WAS on 6 Meters. Even using FT8.

So an amp is in my future SOMETIME! Sometimes there is no substitute for brute force...
(Edited)
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Bill-N6RV

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It is a little different from the West Coast. I have worked 82 countries on 6 meters. All but the last few with only 100 watts. It was two cycles ago on F2. Actually if the SFI cooperated last cycle I would have made DXCC with 100 watts... on CW. Two seasons ago I worked a handful of Europeans with 100 watts on 6m JT65 including the farthest contact, Czechoslovakia. Last season with QRO I was able to several Europeans including 5 Italians in one day. It was also the first time working China and Korea. Taiwan heard me and called me but we did not complete the contact.

I have to interject that the SteppIR antennas are not as good as a dedicated yagi on 6 meters. It is no big deal to put up a 7 or 8 element yagi and they work much better than the SteppIRs.

I have around 80 countries on 160. I have not put much effort there and I only ran 100 watts as well. If I had ran a KW maybe I would have finished DXCC on that band. I am sure from the East Coast there are easily 100 entities that are within the distance from Hawaii to the West Coast. I have listened on remote receivers in Virginia and I am amazed at how crowded 160 is on any given night. Furthermore it is not unusual for stations in  Florida and the Southeast to work nearly 100 countries in a single 6 meter Es season.

My neighbor, N6CA, has worked over 130 countries over the last several cycles. You just have to be there.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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From the great “black hole” of America’s midsection (Indiana) I have managed WAS on 160, even working 49 states on CW during a single contest. But it took three years to snag Alaska. I also have 34 countries on that band - all with an inverted “L” 35 x 85 ft with only 2 radials, and 100 Watts. RX antennas is the weak point here, so far.

On 6 Meters, I only lack AK & HI for WAS. I haven’t even heard them on 6 yet, though I have managed to work JA.
I fear that I may not make it before I move and will need to start over for 6 Meter WAS from the new QTH.

I have only 14 DX countries on 6, more power certainly would help here. More time to chase it would help, too, as well as more sunspots!
(Edited)
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Paul

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Howard, I normally read your posts with interest and sometimes amusement. I think you might have surpassed yourself with this one :)

Slightly ironic that you claim ; "Hopefully this will be a civil discussion" .......

.....but accuse others of;
"a lot of pissing and moaning"

Maybe the standards of this forum have changed now Flex staff are less evident on here. If not, you could consider applying for the 'bad(assed)-elmer' award to hang on your wall next to the other certificates that no doubt are on display. Good luck :-D
(Edited)
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Luis del MOlino

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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

   
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Bill-N6RV

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I agree. There are lots of stations who are loud but cannot hear. A pretty good antenna system can be installed for $7000. This is why every article on station improvement suggests putting up a good antenna before buying an amplifier. If that is not possible then at least understand that being louder is only half the issue.

If possible do both! There are times when QRO is necessary.

I have been told by many local hams that they do not have time for low power. They operate at the limit all the time. That is, in fact, against the law, which stipulates that we are to use the minimum power necessary to affect communication. That said, who knows what that is? Certainly if you are 30 dB over S9 then you could reduce power. However, if you are only 30 over when everyone else is 50 dB over S9.... It is a vicious cycle.
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Mark - WS7M

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I have run into the same thing...

In a recent contest I really needed a particular station.  Granted in contest mode he may have been deafened by multiple transmitters but he was S9 to me but nothing would get through to him.  I do get this was a contest and perhaps not norm.

I have however worked stations that were S9 to me that could not hear me from their home QTH, setup, ant etc.  I emailed one and he told me his noise level was S9.  So unless I could belt him with a > S9 signal nothing was gonna get through.  My question to him was why op at all if you can't hear anyone else.

The high power thing.  Yes I have a local ham friend with an OM-4000.   Every time he is on he is pushing that amp to its max and we all know what that power level is.  He does this whether or not he needs to.  Just the way he wants to op.

Me: I start with my amp on "Low".  My drive is adjusted to give me about 200 w.  If I can get through I keep the power there.  If not I go to "Mid" which gives me 600w.  Only for punching a DX or really bad conditions do I flip to "High" which is all the amp can do.

The reason I don't run barefoot is not due to time but rather I'd like to use the finals in the amp instead of the rig.   There is more overhead in the amp to suck up potential issues.
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Mark K1LSB

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"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" -- Luis EA3OG

So you're saying that everyone who only has a dipole shouldn't use an amp?

Um, okay.......BWAHAHAHAHA!

Sorry, I tried really hard to keep that from bursting out of me but I just couldn't do it.
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Charles - K5UA

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We all know it's not the first 1000 watts that gets you thru the pileup, it's the last 1000 watts.
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KF4HR

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The lesson learned is that until a manufacturer has a reliable / producible product do not advertise it!

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.
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Richard

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Just a year????? 

Dick - N4RWG
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KF4HR

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Yep... and seriously debating whether I want to wait another year. 
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WW1SS - Steve

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Same here don't think I want to wait
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Richard

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I am approaching 2 years.  Gave "cash" in February '17.  Still going to wait.  To good of an amp to move to other suppliers.
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KF4HR

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To good of an amp to move to other suppliers.

I certainly hope you're right Richard.  All we really have to go on so far are Ads, periodic reports from FRS, and reports from Alpha Testers (all of who have probably signed NDA's).  These extremely long wait times have me concerned.
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Richard

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Obviously if one has doubts please move to the other Amps.  I am part of many of the forums and they too, such as SPE and Elecraft have their issues.  SPE just moved to SPE Version II to handle their issues with 6 meters amoung other issues.  FYI...They are not backwards compatible and can not be implemented into Version I's.  I think I and others have made the right decision.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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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.
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mikeatthebeach .

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Howard

Number 3 is your Answer from W6WO

Non-reciprocal paths via the ionosphere at HF

During a discussion on Pedersen rays at a recent CAKE meeting it was claimed these were “asymmetrical” paths and an explanation was needed.

We all know that much of our hobby depends on the ionosphere to return our transmitted signals back to earth and we may tend to think in terms of mirror-like reflections. Nothing could be further from the truth as the ionosphere is an unstable mix of charged particles and gases.It has both regular and irregular behavior.

Although the ionosphere was key to commercial world-wide radio communication from around the 1930s the great deal of knowledge accumulated was practical rather than scientific. The science of the Ionospheric began sometime around the 1950s with the invention of atmospheric sounders. Scientific studies were intensified in the 1960s for security reasons when understanding propagation in high northern lattitudes became especially important. Hang on I will answer the question soon HI

In 1967, NATO held a conference on Ionospheric communications with a focus of the Arctic and the conference proceedings has a section on HF entitled The difference in levels of signals travelling in opposite directions. The following three statements were selected from that section:

1. Paths between two antennas can be non-reciprocal but this is NOT due to differences in ray path attenuation or phase. On the basis of ray theory these are the same for signals travelling in either direction.

2. The reciprocity or non reciprocity arrises only because of interaction of the upward or downward waves with the antennas at the ends and the earths magnetic field.

3. A reciprocal path is formed between linearly polarized antennas (most amateur antennas) if they are both polarized in, or perpendicular to, the earths magnetic field otherwise the path can be non-reciprocal.
The section reached the conclusion that “most ionospheric paths are non-reciprocal with the result that there can be large instantaneous differences in the levels of signals travelling in opposite directions.”
To go beyond that statement and understand the mode and practical implications one needs to look into the phemomena of the ionosphere converting an incoming plane polarized wave into two outgoing circularly polarized waves known as O ordinary and X extraordinary.

Ron W6WO

See Reference Also

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GOVPUB-...
(Edited)
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mikeatthebeach .

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Howard and others

Download the NIST Book from the link above

The HF Radio Ionosphere Sounders Studies

Prove the paths for Gray line DX are asymmetrical

On HF and not equal from both Directions especially

On Multihop and Sporadic E propagation !

Free Book while it lasts (budget constraints) from
the NIST Library Reference Link above !!

Hams love free stuff !!!

73 Mike
(Edited)
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Bill-N6RV

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Hence the reason for one way propagation. In many cases no amount of power can overcome this.

Work what you can work when you can work them. Become skilled in breaking through a pile up without excess power. DX hear the unusual station not necessarily the loudest. Timing and frequency is everything.
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John Kludt

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Howard,

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?

John K4SQC


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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Being on the pacific coast, the VP6D was almost a local station for me.. so I worked them FT8 with only about 25-100W.. usually got back to me on my first call...With the gain of my antenna I was likely around 1KW ERP,,,


OTOH.. worked a few African Stations that could not hear me at all on FT8 until I boosted the power to the maximum.my linear could handle.


Generally I look at the strength of the received signal before I decide how much power to use.. if they are -14 or stronger.. likely I can work them with 25W.  -20 or stronger.. usually 100W... If they are below -20.. then I tend to use every watt I can put up in the air.. albeit even then they cannot copy me..
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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You can switch off an amp if you have it. You can't switch it on if you don't. 
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Bill-N6RV

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Invest in a good antenna system. You can realize an increase in EIRP greater than or equal the power increase gained by an amplifier with the added benefit of improved G/T (receive SNR), and possibly for less money than the amplifier. In fact, you can homebrew the antennas and, with a used tower, it could be much less than $7,000.

Then if that doesn't work get a used amplifier. Power is power. There are a lot of hams who, after buying these high-end solid state amplifiers, are selling their perfectly good tube amps at a fraction of the cost.

Finally, if that doesn't work consider the $500,000 upgrade and move to a better location. A watt on a hilltop is like a KW in a hole!

BTW, how much money are you willing to pay to work one more DX entity or get to the top of the Honor Roll?  Honestly, we are addicted to new techie stuff and it is a disappointment when it does not work as advertised or is never delivered!!!

There is no indication on a QSL card that you were first in the pile up.
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Paul

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Poetic justice? ;)
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Terry K8EET

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Another reason to love FT8.
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Mark WS7M

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Knew this thread would be good.

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.

Mark
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Lee, N2LC

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Threads like this always pull out a plethora of cool tidbits, surrounded by verbosity.  For example,

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.

Hehe.   Huhhuh. 



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Ed, K6VMV

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Thanks Lee, It was an honor to serve. I went through the enlisted ranks and retired as a Lieutenant Commander, Unrestricted Line (Mustang).  I have VP6D confirmed on 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 and 80 with my humble station.  500 watts max, homebrew quad, ground plane for 40/30 and inverted V for 80. My info is good on qrz.  73 
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Michael Coslo

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Running 1500 watts or more - lets face it, people who like full legal power often like them their California Kilowatts - you get to meet your neighbors more often. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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No you don’t. All TV is either cable or Satellite so ur neighbors don’t get interference.

However in California we meet our neighbors because their Solar Systems radiate so much RF that they wipe out the bands
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Mark K1LSB

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Howard,
Michael didn't mention anything about TV...there are a number of other appliances and/or devices that can be affected by amateur power level RF.
My lowly AL-80B will activate my garage door opener whenever I tune up on 80 meters, and it'll knock out my sons' USB gaming headsets and wired keyboards on 20 meters.
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Bill W2PKY

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Mark: try bypassing all leads into door opener; a digital version may help as well.
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Michael Coslo

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Hi Howard,  I've been visited by people who have had problems with stereo systems, I've had CO monitors be tripped. Garage door openers, and other things tripped or triggered. I suspect I've hammered some routers as well, since I had to do a lot of mitigation on my own router and it happened at about 20 watts - and some NetGears are pretty sensitive to 40 meter RF. Seriously, I have no reason to dissemble. 
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Mark K1LSB

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Bill,
Thanks for the tips.  The problem was the power cord to the garage door opener was absorbing enough RF to somehow trip the opener into operation.  I decided to fashion a big honking choke by winding a number of loops of the power cord through an FT240-31 toroid, but there wasn't any extra length of the power cord to work with, so I ended up purchasing a 10-foot extension cord ($8) and just winding that whole length through the big toroid, then plugging that in between the door opener power cord and the wall socket.  The massive choke on the extension cord effectively killed any RF running along the full length of the opener power cord.  So for 15 bucks, problem solved.
I'm a huge fan of the FT240-31 toroid, it's big enough to wrap a bunch of loops of any cord (wire, coax, etc.) through it, and it makes a heckuva RF choke for whatever is ailing ya.  Less than $7 a pop at Mouser.  :)
Here's a pic of my garage door opener choke:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Lyd5t_igFxMSQjtyAQ6YIWyMCbV-wHS9
And here's the choke on my mic cable:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1b46Kn2WB3RhirIHeIDZWvEP20Z2gxBQ6
Needless to say, I don't have any problems with RF getting into my mic cable, hi hi.
For $100 I bought a bag full of those toroids, and I've got 'em strewn hither and yon all over the homestead, very effectively choking out any RF that may be causing a problem anywhere in the house.  Dunno what I'd do without 'em.

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Bill W2PKY

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Very cool!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I probably spent $500 on Ferites over the years and religiously followed the single point ground rule. I have not had a RF ingress issue for years.

I am lucky to be
Living near the top of a mountain with TV and Radio Towers on top my neighbors realized long ago that they needed to shield everything. To prevent Channel 8 and 10 from wiping out things.

In fact the only RFI complaint was when I first put up a tower and did not have anything connected to it or en antenna mounted. I got a great laugh out of it.

Our local tin foil pyramid hat crowd is bitching about 5G radiation that does not exist yet.
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KF4HR

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Howard - I don't want to rob the topic subject but do you happen to know how (or if) there's a way to RFI proof these solar panel systems?  Reason I ask is, I'm considering putting in a 10kw solar system next year and the last thing I want to do is create a RF noise generator. 

Butch, KF4HR
kf4hr3@yahoo.com
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Actually yes. I have been helping Randy KQ6RS with his study and soon to be published in QST article about RF pollution from solar.

Most solar systems on the roof are quiet EXCEPT for those that have Micro Inverters on each panel. IIRC Solar Edge micro inverters are the worst offenders in that they wipe out 40-20M. Since Micro inverters are much more efficient than string inverters most new systems use them.

I have a 20.KW system that uses 3 large string inverters which are shielded and grounded. No issues from my system.

We try to intercept new local solar edge systems to get them to install ferries and proper grounding. When that fails we file formal complaints with the FCC.

Solar Edge and a few other micro inverter companies are quite aware of their RF issue but choose not to fix them unless forced to.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I held off on getting a power wall for that reason. I had seen videos of where they aren't that good with RFI suppression.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Ria. Do u get much noise when charging ur tesla

My old one was awful. The new one does not seem that bad.
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KF4HR

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Thanks Howard.  I look forward to reading the article in QST.