3B7A is turning out to be an important DXpedition as far as my planning is concerned, DX wise. I have tested the SteppIR UrbanBeam yesterday and today on 20M – and I heard 3B7A calling West Coast for more than an hour each day – and very readable. I’m hearing them quite well on 30M during our evening sunset. I fully expect to hear them on 40M during the evening or morning. I have 3B7 from the last 5 Star Mega DXped (3B7C in 2007) that went there – and have it on 40, 30 and 20M.
Hearing them is more than half the battle, and I am very pleased. Even at a lowly 35-ish feet, Glorioso will be workable on 30 and 20M, maybe 17M. With the DV-40-P I fully expect to work them on 40M. I could not work them with 100 watts on 20 this morning – so it is obvious that I will need an amplifier (if I choose to work Glorioso and Bouvet from this QTH). Therein lies the rub.
Because I only need 2 more for DXCC #1, it makes no sense to bother with an amplifier – at least not right now. In fact, my neighbor, Oliver, W6NV has offered his Orinda station and his Sunol contest station for my last two. 3G9A – while on their way to Bouvet were easy to work with 100 watts and my DV-40-P. They were also easy on my home brewed 2 element yagi that was up about 40′. SO – at the bottom of the cycle, it will be possible to work the last two from my own back yard. Bouvet will be easier, but I’m a little surprised as how well 3B7A is – and know that this is the same team that will activate Glorioso.
I really like the idea that I can have my very flexible and fun station here at home – and drive 5 miles down the road to work those last two. But lets say I did get a “wild hair” and got another amplifier right before Bouvet or Glorioso – what would I get?
A Used ACOM Tube amplifier, or maybe an Ameritron AL-811H or AL-80B
Now – ALL of my antennas have an SWR of 1.5:1 or less – that’s 80-6M! This means I will NOT need an antenna tuner again, and so I would need an amplifier that has some tune-ability and protection, (and more than the Ameritron amps) – the ACOM’s have the TRI tuning method that is so fast and prevents you from having amplifier faults. The ACOM amps also have enough of a tuned circuit that as long as your SWR is 3:1 or less, you can avoid a tuner – and I am well within that range.
I have to admit – my favorite amplifier was the ACOM 1500 – even more than the KPA-500 and SPE 1.3K. The thing I really don’t like about solid state amps is that they are only as good as how fast their software can respond to an “event” that the amp doesn’t like. The ACOM 1500 first prevented you from even going that way, and on top of that also seemed less “finicky” as a solid state amp.
I do believe that tube amps days are numbered, so if I find someone dumping an ACOM cheap, I might bite. The ACOM 1000 would be more than enough – I found 500 watts to 1500 watts wasn’t too big of a deal, but having maybe 800 watts or so would be a great compromise.
But the reason why I got rid of my amp is because its so much more “freeing” to run barefoot. 100 watts direct to my antenna switch, and I never have any issues with RFI and also have no issues where high power seems to always “find” in your system.