Product Review- Elecraft KPA1500

Posted: May 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

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I have owned many different Linear Amplifiers. Some were great and some were terrible. I owned an early production Alpha 9500 (Serial #26) and it was a terrible amplifier. Later, I owned a much later Alpha 9500 and it was pretty solid. One aspect of the tube amp was the 3 minute warm up time required. I can’t tell you how many times I heard a DX station “go QRT” while I was waiting for the tube amp to warm up.

I replaced my Alpha 9500 with an Expert 1.3K-FA amplifier. The Expert is a rock solid amplifier (solid state) and travels well as it is very light. We used these amplifiers on the VP8STI/VP8SGI DXpeditions and they performed very well. I will keep my Expert 1.3K-FA as a travelling/DXpedition amplifier which is where it really shines.

I was one of the first owners of an Elecraft solid state KPA1500. Normally, after my early adopter experience with the Alpha 9500, I would shy away from being an early adopter of such a complex piece of gear, however I know first hand how Elecraft supports and builds their gear and I knew that they would take care of me and “make it right” if needed.

I’m glad to report that Elecraft KPA1500 Serial #12 is a fantastic linear amplifier. It will do 1,500 watts all day long and the tuner is quite robust and able to handle my mix of antennas just fine.

I have had a few minor issues and questions about the amplifier and Elecraft has supported me extremely well. This amplifier is quite automatic and operates much like a “magic box”. It does everything they said it would and does it quite well.

I am driving the KPA1500 with my Flex 6500 transceiver. The KPA1500 has a built in frequency counter and it easily follows the Flex 6500 whenever I change bands. There is no need for complex or special cables. The KPA1500 utility works extremely well and enables the user to upload firmware updates as well as make minor tweaks and configuration edits. I use the utility to tune my tuner across all bands/segments so that it is “dialed in” and ready whenever I need it.

The Elecraft KPA1500 is a spectacular solid state amplifier/tuner and I highly recommend it!

What do you think?

Paul N6PSE

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Comments
  1. Mike KJ4Z says:

    Three years ago, my KPA-500 took a direct hit from a lightning strike. When I tried to power it up, a little puff of smoke came out from behind the button, and that was all. A couple years later, I decided to take it down to Watsonville for a death certificate. To my delight, they called a week or two later and said it was ready to pick up for $200 or so. Great support.

  2. Ria - N2RJ says:

    I’m a bit wary of using frequency counters with solid state amplifiers when CAT is available. There is just too much potential for hot switching. That’s not to say it isn’t a good feature – it absolutely is. But it’s for older transceivers without CAT capability, in my opinion.

    I would recommend a CAT cable. With Flex you can use a FTDI USB to serial cable and connect it just like you would connect a Kenwood CAT cable. IF it’s anything like the SPE 1.3K-FA, as you tune, the ATU will be ready for action before you key. Nice to meet you at Dayton, btw!

    73
    Ria, N2RJ

  3. Stephen Hawkins NG0G says:

    Above you said: “The Expert is a rock solid amplifier (solid state) and travels well as it is very light. The tuner however is of minimal capability and was not ideal for my home station.” I am curious how well did the tuner work. What were it’s limits? Would it handle say 3 to 1.

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