My ALS-1300 solid state amp came in a couple days before Christmas. I was unable to get to it for all my duties. I unpacked it on Christmas Eve and heard something rattling around in the power supply so I had to crack that open an take a look. A screw and washer had come loose from a standoff, and with 50V at many amps in this box I decided to give a tighten to every screw and nut I could see.
Next on the agenda was to install the 12-10M band pass filter so I could run the thing on those bands. The band pass kit is a purchased item, and you have to send the seller a copy of your license to get the thing. No problem I just burned a copy in a .jpeg and sent it in its electronic way. You can see where the filter goes in the above pic. It goes next to the wire coil board (no toriods) and is secured to the main circuit board by 5 screws. It is trivial install and it took longer to get the lid off the amp than it did to install the filter.
I also installed the ARI-500. This is part of the key to Nirvana. The ARI-500 is a little device that reads band data in from a radio either a Yaesu, an Icom, a Kenwood or a K-3, and turns the ALS-1300 into a frequency agile band following amp. All you have to do to install this device is to plug it into the amp, and plug the "radio" (in this case some BCD data from the LPT port) and you're good to go.
I recently modified my RCS-4 to be band following using the UMS band decoder board and the USB2LPT port that I have described previously. Since the present iteration of DDUTIL basically drives just one LPT port, and both the UMS board and the Amertion amp follow the Yaesu BCD band data, I just paralleled the two data streams from each component to the single LPT port. The result is I now have a 1200 W transceiver, with auto switching antennas. I click 160 and I get 1200 W out on 160. I click 80 or 40 or 20 and all I have to do is hit the key and I get 1200W out of this little bugger on any band. Way cool. The F5K is set up so it remembers the drive level on a per band basis as well as antenna port and amp relay port so, everything just automatically follows.
I use SpotCollector from the DX lab suite as my DX cluster client. All I have to do is click a station and everything is on freq to make the QSO.
Thus far the ALS-1300 seems to be a very credible amp. It will do more than 1200W, but I am running it within spec. Its a little noiser than I like compared to my AL-80B but it is about as noisy as my Alpha 78 so not bad at all. It is basically instant on, it takes about 4 seconds for all the relays and power to boot up when you hit the ON switch but after that the thing is ready to rock and roll. Drive for 1200W is about 75 watts or so on each band with a little variation. THe amp sits on the top shelf of my station out of the way. I just turn it on and let the automation do the rest.
The key to this whole thing is Steve Nance's DDUTIL. It's from his software that the band following data is generated and it is through his program the LPT data is delivered into BCD format capable of running amplifiers and switch drivers that speak Yaesu. It took a little futzing around getting a cable made to match my LPT pin out but the modification was easy and an enjoyable little project. This is literally a 1200W radio station you could hide in the closet. THe F5K can be remoted, the RCS-4 can be stuck out of the way and now the amp can be stuck out of the way. All you need on the desk is a monitor, a keyboard, mouse, mic, head phones and a paddle and you're good to go.
More to follow as I wring this thing out, but so far it works great!!!. I expect to be using this as one half of a SO2R setup. If I had a beam or more antennas it would be easy to turn this into a 10 band extravaganza (including 60M)
If you're interested in writing something interesting for this blog regarding your SDR experience let me know. I would like to include things like how your SDR contest station is set up, or your VHF station that uses SDR as the system center, feats of weak signal work or how well the SDR works in various challenging situations. If you are a foreign ham and would like to comment on the growth of SDR in your particular part of the world. Bring it on!
I reserve the right to publish or not, but I'm pretty open to documenting a wide variety of honest experiences from users, for readers to explore. The understanding of SDR in our hobby is so nascent, that I want the reader to be able to see the value of SDR through the eyes of YOUR experience and enthusiasm.