More output power for PE4KH: I bought an HF linear amplifier / 2018-08-12

2018-08-12 More output power for PE4KH: I bought an HF linear amplifier 2 months ago
The reason for making the HP DPS-700 GB powersupply deliver a somewhat higher voltage and lots of amperes is that I made the decision to buy a HF linear amplifier. With such a device I get more output power on HF bands which should increase my chances in radio contests.

I have been looking at new and secondhand linear amplifiers for a while. Since this market is dominated by US customers most amplifiers will give 1000-1500 Watts output power at a serious price. The legal limit here in the Netherlands is 400 Watt unless I request a special license which will never happen since the radio station is surrounded by other houses. But there isn't much on offer below 400 Watt output power. I found RM Italy which sells linear amplifiers for CB and radio amateur use at more reasonable amounts of power and at a better price-point. I selected the RM Italy HLA300V plus which should give 300 Watts on HF bands.

I bought it online and it arrived fast. After soldering some cables to the power supply I was able to use it and it works as intended.

On the 20 meter band and 10 meter band it works with the endfed antenna (which can take 400 watts). On the 40 meter band it goes into protection mode instantly. It turns out the amplifier is quite sensitive to SWR problems, the endfed gives a 1:1.5 SWR. Maybe I can improve this a bit, the resonant point is below the 40 meter band.

Giving it 5 watt input power in digimodes will make 5 of the 7 output power LEDs light up. To get it to light up 5 LEDs in SSB mode I need to give it 10 watts power in that mode.

Propagation wasn't great this weekend so I spent most time in FT8 mode. With the help of the new amplifier I was able to get two new countries in the log: V51MA in Namibia and 9G5AR in Ghana.

The receive side is currently a different story. Interference levels are at an all-time high. The way I currently get reception for FT8 is by using the UTwente WebSDR for the receive side and feeding the audio to WSJT-X. With the delays and audio-processing introduced by the WebSDR I still get better and more decodes than from the local receiver.

For contesting that setup is not going to work. Most contests have a rule that all equipment for a contest station has to be on a limited area. For example the upcoming SCC RTTY contest has the rule:
All operation must take place from one operating site. Transmitter and receiver must be located within a 500-meter diameter circle.
I'm looking into using a receive loop to have less interference on reception.

Update: And both Namibia and Ghana are already confirmed on LoTW.

And I found a technical review of the RM HLA300 amplifier by PA0FRI which goes into technical detail about the influence of input voltage, output power and possible improvements.

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