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[AMPS] Amp choices for new shack: AL-572, AL-80B, Centurion, QRO HF2000

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Subject: [AMPS] Amp choices for new shack: AL-572, AL-80B, Centurion, QRO HF2000
From: (Pat Rundall)
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 17:30:33 -0500

After nearly a decade of inactivity, I've decided to leap back into
ham radio with both feet. I'd like any and all input on choosing an
amp and am hoping this group will give me their rarely humble opinions
regarding some of my options. If your interested in the dirty details,
the background is at the end. Sorry if this is a little on the long side.
Any and all feedback is appreciated! Comments on vendors, new vs used,
internet vs hamfests, manufactures, etc are all welcome but I'm mainly
interested in "how much amp can I get for my $1000-$1400?"

A few of my choices:
 1) AL-572: To me, this looks like a lot bang for the buck. $1229 at TexasTowers
    QSK is optional - actually, I'm not exactly sure how badly I'd need QSK.
    Four 572Bs, a relatively recent design incorporating a number improvements
    over earlier amps. 1.3KW PEP
 2) AL-80B: $1159 at TexasTowers; 1KW PEP, 800W CW
 3) Used TenTec Centurion: 1.3KW PEP, 1KW CW, QSK, 2 3-500Zs
 4) Used QRO HF-2000: 1200W CW or 1.5KW SSB
 5) Used Alpha 99... might be kinda hard to find one in this price range.
 6) Other... Tell me what I'm missing

My requirements: 
 * Price - I once heard that a rule of thumb was to spend about the same
   on the amp as you spend on the rig. When I first heard this I laughed 
   thinking that it oversimplified the issue... but the more I think 
   about it, the more reasonable it sounds for some strange reason.
   Anyway, I suppose I'm looking in the $1000 to $1400 range. 
 * Good reliability/performance for the price point. I'm a little worried
   about what I've read for Amps like the AL-80 and AL-1500. Should I be?
   Anyway, I don't want to frequently retube, nor spend a small fortune
   when it is necessary to do so. Oh yeah, I'm not too keen on having a
   ton of TVI reports either.
 * Relatively easy to use - I don't want to go through 30+ steps every
   time I QSY 5kc. A no-tune, solid-state, computer controlled system
   like the ACOM would be ideal, it's just WAY out of my price range.
   I'd also like to invite guest op ham/relatives and friends over so,
   I'll either need smarter relatives and friends or fairly idiot-proof
   equipment. :)
 * Definately CW, some phone, eventually digital modes. 
 * I'm going to try a contest or two without an amp, see what I think.
   Eventually though, I'll try contesting with it. Kinda hard to tell at
   this point.
 * Years ago I was sort of a "casual DXer", so I suppose I will be again.
 * It would sure be nice if I didn't have to drive it with 100W for >1KW.

The XYL has been encouraging me to rekindle my interest in ham radio.
On the other hand, she's an accountant, so one of her first questions 
was "how much is all of this going to cost?" With this in mind, I've 
done a lot of research, drove to a ham store to look at rigs, and even 
put together a spreadsheet with pricing info for the three phases.

Phase I is the basics (rig, wire antenna, ...), Phase II is the amp, 
and Phase III is the tower/beam.

Phase I: 
 Icom IC-746 w/ FL100 500hz CW filter
 Carolina Windom 160 Special
 Computerized rig control. 

Phase II:
 A 1KW-1.5KW PA of some sort
 Tuner capable of handling the PA

Phase III:
 Trylon T500-56 56' free standing tower
 Yaesu G-800SA rotor
 Force 12 C4SXL 40-10m w/WARC (via tuner) Yagi or a Tennadyne/M2 LPDA
I'll probably work on setting up the shack itself (phase I) over the
next week or so. I'll probably get the amp in the next few months and
finally setup the tower next spring.

I applogize if this sort of thing is taboo on this maillist, but I
poked around the archives and found very little in the way of comparisons
between this this class of amplifiers.

Many thanks!
Pat, N0HR

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