[CQ-Contest] 500 Watt Amp or 1500 Watt Amp

Robert Chudek - K0RC k0rc at citlink.net
Sun Jul 15 20:01:49 PDT 2012

This is a really good question. Hopefully you will get a stream of 
opinions for consideration.

Here's my thoughts.

"Does the extra 1000 watts made a difference?" Yes. With everything else 
equal, an extra 1-kW will give you 4.8 dB more signal strength. Your 
signal will stand out from the others, with some exceptions. You're 
still at a disadvantage against a station in a better propagation zone 
or that has bigger, better, or more antennas to choose from.

"As compared to making quick band changes?" Depends on your operating 
style. If you are prefer to RUN stations and let the multipliers come to 
you, quick band changes is not a strong need. If you prefer to chase and 
work multipliers from band to band, an auto-tuned amplifier will give 
you a decisive advantage. If you're a S&Per, then you'll also want 
auto-antenna selection integrated into your station as well.

I have run contests as low, medium, and high power using a variety of 
amplifiers (and barefoot, of course). I enjoy the challenge of S&P, 
jumping to new multipliers and seeing how quickly I can get them in the 
log. If I am running 1.5 kW, it's pretty quick. When I run 300 Watts, I 
move out of the top tier of callers and have to wait a little longer. 
When I'm running low power and I am not "johnny on the spot", I might 
have to call 3 or 4 times... and if it takes any longer, I'll mark the 
frequency and come back later when the first two tiers of stations have 
made their contact and moved on.

73 de Bob - KØRC in MN

On 7/15/2012 5:24 PM, Richard Thorne wrote:
> Hello Group,
> I'm finally building my first serious contest station after hamming for
> over 30 years.  My wife and I moved out to the country last August to a
> lot with no restrictions.  My first tower is up and I'm planning a 2nd soon.
> I'm looking at amp possibilities.  My rig is an Elecraft K3 so the
> KPA500 looks intriguing in that it will follow the rig and I won't have
> to tune it, i.e., quick band changes.
> Is 1500 watts really worth looking at?  I could go the Acom 2000a or
> Alpha route, but that's not quite in the budget now.  So I'm looking at
> the Ameritron AL-1200, 1500 or other comparable amp. The disadvantage is
> tune up time, but I'm not sure that's really a big deal.  I've operated
> at K5NA for years and it doesn't take much to tune to a different band
> using pre-marked settings.
> So the question, does the extra 1000 watts make a difference? as
> compared to the ability to make quick band changes using a solid state amp?
> Thanks
> Rich - N5ZC
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