I no longer have a new amplifier but I do have a new radio.

I posted only a short while ago that I’d bought myself a new amplifier but unfortunately it didn’t last long. I’d had it for less than a month when without warning, it failed.

I’d made a couple of QSOs on 15m, switched to 17m and worked someone there and then QSYd to 40m where I made one quick contact, called someone else who replied but then that was it, no output. No errors shown on the display, no warnings. Just nothing.

Since I had it, I’d made a few hundred contacts, mainly data but with some SSB and CW QSOs as well. It had never been off low power, it had only been used with resonant aerials, never overdriven and because I’d added extra cooling in the form of three Noctua fans blowing into the air intake, it had never gone above 50°C.

I did some diagnostic work and was very confident that the LDMOS had failed. I contacted my supplier and the amplifier was returned to them for confirmation. Because the amp was less than thirty days old, I took a refund in the form of a Kenwood TS-890S which was something I’d been eying up for quite a while and was going to be buying later in the year anyway. The balance has been put down as a deposit on a valve amplifier.

Kenwood TS-890S

I’ve had this for a couple of weeks now and have been spending a lot of time familiarising myself with it. In many ways it’s similar to the Kenwood TS-590SG but it’s a lot more involved. I thought the receiver on the 590 was good but this takes it to another level.

Last weekend I operated for six hours in the DL-DX-RTTY contest and at times, I really benefitted from the optional extra 270Hz roofing filter – I didn’t need to wind the bandwidth in very often but when I did and when I selected the narrow roofing filter, I was able to work stations when there were others very close. I think I’d have struggled to make the same QSO with the TS-590.

Here’s a screen capture of the radio while I was operating during the contest. I don’t have the 270Hz roofing filter enabled here but you can see the segment of the band I was working was very busy.

Operating in the DL-DX-RTTY contest

This weekend I’ve connected up my new headset for the first time and have been giving away a few points in the IARU HF World Championship. Neither of these two contests over the last two weeks have been serious entries, it’s just me getting my head around the new radio, learning where the buttons are, how to get to certain options and just retraining my fingers to go to the right places automatically. I’ve been using a TS-590S(G) for nearly ten years so the muscle memory is still very strong.

My old Acom 1000 used to fit on the desk next to the TS-590 but due to the size of the 890, I’m going to have to make some changes in the shack in order to accommodate whatever new amplifier I get. I do have a shelf which I can use – It’s full of stuff already so I will need to move things around and I’m also going to strengthen the way it’s fixed to the wall. The last thing I want is 25-30kg of amplifier causing the shelf to collapse.

To say it’s been a hectic couple of weeks radio wise would be an understatement.


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  1. Very interesting, thank you. I hope you enjoy for as long as the 590. One thing struck me as I have been looking for a 1k FA is the fact that some dealers will not trade them. One I deal with in particular will happily sell me a new 1.5 but will not even entertain a second hand 1k in any circumstances, so the failure surprises me.

  2. Good to hear from you Garry.
    Before I bought the 1.5K, I spent quite a lot of time researching it and I even borrowed an Expert 1K for a few weeks. I hated it! The fans were loud and the cooling was terribly inefficient. It only took a few seconds of RTTY or PSK to ramp the temperature and this the fans up to quite ridiculous levels.
    I was told the 1.5K was a lot better and in some respects it was. It didn’t get anywhere near as hot and the fans were much more subtle.
    However, the rapid and unexpected failure has really put me off solid state. My next amp will be big, heavy and will glow in the dark.

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