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[Amps] Amplifier Lifetime

To: Amps Amps <>
Subject: [Amps] Amplifier Lifetime
From: Mike Dishop via Amps <>
Reply-to: Mike Dishop <>
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2017 15:54:31 +0000 (UTC)
List-post: <>
 Manfred has proven what a rotten businessman I am. I have to admit I'm 
beaten.  He stated that companies design the product to fail soon after you buy 
it and to be obsolete.

I, on the other hand, design every piece of communications equipment to last as 
long as possible, and to be as robust as possible, and use it as if my life 
depended on it.  When you are offshore, taking on water, and listing to one 
side is NO TIME to have to reboot your radio or fix it!

Secondly, I design every circuit with the questions of how can it fail, and 
what happens when it does?  I then extend that question to be How can I make 
this failure fail safe so that things are not destroyed or anyone injured?  An 
example of the solution might be two sets of resistors in series paralleled 
with another set in series, so that if one resistor fails open or closed there 
is still a path to complete the circuit, and because of latitudes with designs 
and wattage ratings, maybe even to function properly.  Of course this takes up 
more real estate, costs more money and is more complicated to assemble.

Given the comments here about the 87A and the number of people still using them 
I have to say that Alpha must have done a pretty good job.  Carrying on the 
brand's tradition for quality and longevity is something I intend to uphold.  
Which brings me to something else I'd like to address. There was concern 
expressed about the early 9500 reliability, and how reliable today's current 
production is.  I believe it is fair to say that Alpha had addressed these 
issues before I had arrived.  The biggest source of problems as I understand it 
was the band pots, and these have all been replaced with hall effect sensors.  
I'll also state that a resistor is not always a resistor, or more clearly all 
resistors are not created equal.  We've had to change to brands and special 
resistors that don't fail in the application.  One of them is rather pricey at 
25 dollars each in hundred piece minimums.  It isn't a flange resistor either, 
just a very innocent looking leaded part that you would never know.  There is a 
WEALTH of insider information that nobody knows about until you buy the company 
that is the result of 30 years of building a product and learning what works 
and what doesn't, and this isn't electrical engineering but material science.  
All of this gets forwarded into the next go around of products.  Sometimes in a 
transition of ownership some of this information gets buried, and I believe 
this is some of what caused the early 9500 problems.  However, that was over 
ten years ago.  Those issues were solved years ago.  If an amp comes in for 
service, we check it for every update and if it isn't done we contact the 
owners and advise them of that so when it does leave Alpha it doesn't come back 
with a problem.  Since I've taken over, the parts bins are overflowing with all 
the costly and special parts needed to build the best vacuum tube amp possible, 
and that is what you get when you purchase a new one.  Clearly I'm doing 
something right because we have 100% satisfaction on the new sales and none of 
the repairs have been coming back.  The only down side to all of this is it 
costs serious money to do something the right way, and we HAVE to charge for 
it, no matter how much we all hate it.  I believe that in any market there is 
always a small percentage of people who just want to buy something that works 
and have the security that it will work when you need it.  That's what I'm 
providing you with Alpha and that is what you are paying for. We've been here 
nearly 50 years. I'm 54 years old. I intend to be around running Alpha another 
twenty years if I live that long. That makes me one of the young players in 
this field which means you don't have to worry about support in the future.  
There has been a lot of speculation about solid state replacing vacuum tubes.  
I think both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages as well as 
their time and place.  I think it speaks volumes that a solid state 
manufacturer and pioneer of that technology makes that statement.  LDMOS isn't 
everything it is hyped up to be. It can be successfully uses in a BROADCAST 
environment where all parameters like exciter level and impedances are 
controlled.   Amateur radio is an environment where nothing is controlled, 
especially some of the operators. 
Mike N8WFF

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