Expert 1.3K-FA

DG3XARating: 5/5Sep 6, 2015 12:16Send this review to a friend
Great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Nr. 160. Absolut top. So many power!!! Vy interesting features. Yes, 20 db+ gain.
The tuner works well.
G0CGLRating: 5/5Aug 8, 2015 11:58Send this review to a friend
Just what I wanted Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The previous reviews are so comprehensive that there is little I can add. But anyway here is my 2 cents worth: bought the 1.3k-fa to replace an Acom 1000 that I'd owned for 13 years. The Expert has features I'd wanted but didn't have with the Acom: 2 radio input; 4 antenna outputs, instant on and no warm up, computer control and monitoring, plus 70mhz (I am in UK).The gain is phenomenal. For some reason it is not detailed in the user manual but power can be limited on a band by band basis for the 3 levels by entering a 'multipliers factors table' setup menu. This will adjust the output in a range +/- 50% of the measured output power. So if you want 250 watts max on the low setting for full input you can. The ALC level can also be adjusted to affect input power as well. I therefore fail to see why there is any need to send the unit to SPE for a modification. Maybe this is something that the new firmware upgrade provided. Although my unit came upgraded, there were no revision notes.Criticism: unlike another reviewer, I find the fan noise quite high - certainly much more than the Acom. I will have to try to mitigate this by repositioning the unit on the operating desk.Overall, very pleased.
PB5XRating: 5/5Aug 3, 2015 02:19Send this review to a friend
FCC modifiaction Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Hello,I am a big fan of the amplifiers what SPE has been making. I've owned the 1K model for over 5 years and it was a pleasure to work with such a sofisticated amplifier.
That also became the reason to pre-order a 1.3K.AT:
The 1.3 is a verry small and lightweighted amplifier. Mine got the AT built in an weighs only 9,5Kg(19lbs)without the AT it only weighs 7,5Kg (15lbs). Because in comparisson with there brothers(1K-2K) the 1.3 can be deliverd with or without the AT. This comes in handy if people has perfect SWR for there antenna(s) like Stepp IR, Ultrabeam, etc.... (In my case i have a Stepp IR and have a AT built in for portable, dx pedition, etc...)LDMOS:
This NEW amplifier doesn't use the standard MOSFET anymore like there brothers but only uses 1 small LDMOS device by Freescale (MRFE6VP61K25H)
This small device can handle extremly high power.
I've peaked mine 1.3k in a FM carrier on 20mtr with 2004 watt one time. But is this true ???
Yes it is, .. only you have to consider that the TX Exciter is a little optimistic about 10-15%. This means that the 2004 watt was really 1754 watt in a FM carrier (measured with ext. pwr mtr)
What a power this little amp can deliver.Drive power:
The drive power is also amazing. with only 10 watts of drive you will have 1500+ watt out and with only 5 watt of drive easily 600+ watt out. So for QRP rigs like the KX3 or radio's who can go lower than 5 watt of drive it is easy to get 200 - 300 watt out.FCC Modification:
In my country, The Netherlands the max. output power is 400 watt. So i had a small challenge.
Because the set up what i am running here are all Kenwood radio's who can't go lower than 5 watt of drive. This ment that in the LOW posistion i Always had 600+ watt out. TO Much for standard operation.
In the USA there is still a rule regarding that an amplifier can NOT make more than 15dB gain. This rule is invented in the old days that CB operators could not have an amplifier what only needed 10 watt of drive , of there CB radio to get 1kw+ out. So thats why this 15dB gain FCC rule is still in a fact today.This also ment that SPE had to do something. So i am happy that they found a solution. The solution is a FCC modification.
SPE have done this modification(4 weaks) for me and it means that with 5 watt of drive i can put out 250 watt, with 10 watt about 400-500 watt and for full range power i need approx. 40 watt of drive power to get 1680 in a FM carrier.So thank you SPE for giving us the oppurtunity to not only choose the 1.3k model with ot without the AT built in. BUT .. also the chance to choose with or without the FCC modification.Pro's:
Why I needed this little amplifier what can handle extremly high power ? The answer is simple ...
I did not buy this amplifier for its power, i buoght it for the
1)NEW technology
2) the lightweight
3) NEW sotware
4) Bandpassfilter option
5) easy to handle in the field
6) Switching powersupply
7) USB cotrol tru PC or Serial you can choose)
8) SWR measurement. You can see 2 SWR readings at the same time before and after
9) 30000 memory
10) 1 single LDMOS device instead of traditional MOSFET
11) ETC... ETC....Cons:
There are only 2 small thins bother me about this new amp.
1) With the new PC control software ther is no fintion anymore to see the reflected power. On the 1K it was nice to have that feature.
2) The AT is a little slower and more defensive than the AT of the 1KI can only say that Mr Gianfranco and his SPE team did a marvelous job of building this NEW piece of machinery.I also will say that this NEW small amplifier will be the way of the future and for great DX peditions this little amp will become the standard.Thank you for reading my review. For any questions people can send me an @mail.
All info is availble on QRZ.73,
Roberto - PB5X
ZS5JRating: 5/5Jul 8, 2015 01:14Send this review to a friend
Astounding Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My new SPE Expert 1.3K amp arrived yesterday, and out of curiosity, I quickly went about testing the amp into a dummy load. I was astounded at the gain of this amp at low drive levels. I set my Flex SDR to one watt drive, which was confirmed on my very accurate LP-100A digital vector watt meter as driving at 0.94 watts. At this power level of 0.94 watts with a CW carrier the amp produced 247 watts output !!!!!! At 2 watts drive the amp produced 565 watts, at 3 watts drive the amp produced 792 watts, 4 watts drive produced 933 watts, 5 watts drive produced 1014 watts. Beyond 1000 watts output the gain curve of the amp falls off fairly rapidly - 10 watts drive gave 1305 watts output for example.It is still too early to give a comprehensive review of this amp, but my first impressions have left me totally in awe. The other thing I was pleasantly surprised about, was the very low noise levels emitted from the cooling fans. I have had noisy amplifiers before that are totally distracting and irritating. With this amp I could barely hear the fans with the radio turned off. With the radio turned on I cannot hear the amp - it truly is whisper quiet.The other remarkable thing about this amp is its size and weight. How they could achieve building an amp with these specs, and weighing in at 7.5 Kg (16.5 lbs) with built in power supply, and the size not much bigger than a shoe box, is ground breaking. It uses a single (one) newly developed final transistor, and a wide range power supply - it will take 100 - 255 volts without having to change tapping positions, as in the case of older amps. The amp and its power supply is RFI clean - I looked up and down the Flex radios PanaFall and don't see any signs of noise from the amp whatsoever.I guess this is the future of amplifiers. I can see great interest for DX-peditions, or anyone really that wants to reduce the equipment footprint in their shack to a powerful but small and quiet operating position. This amp is small and light enough to carry on board a flight as carry on luggage, so it would be ideal for DX-peditions or remote operating. Two radio's can be connected and up to four antennas, and one SO2R antenna port - great for contesting.73
John, ZS5J C91J A25J
W9TVXRating: 5/5Mar 23, 2015 19:42Send this review to a friend
Powerful and flexible amplifier in a small lightweight package Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is an preliminary review of the SPE Expert 1.3K-FA linear amplifier. I have owned this amplifier for about two weeks. Thanks to its built-in tuner, this amplifier replaces both a Tokyo Hy-Power HL-1.5KFX 1kW solid state amplifier, as well as a Palstar HF-AUTO high power antenna tuner.Before diving into the 1.3K-FA, here is a brief overview of my operating conditions:- Radio: Kenwood TS990S with a QSR1 SDR acting as a panadapter- Antennas: Traffie HXi 5 Band Hex-Beam rotated with a Yaesu G450A used on 10m - 20m and a Steppir BigIR vertical used primarily on 6m and 40m.- Primarily operate SSB Phone and digital modes including RTTY, PSK31, JT65, and OLIVIA. I am not a CW operator.You can find out more about my station at http://w9tvx.comWhy The Expert 1.3K-FA?
======================There were several factors that motivated me to considering parting with my Tokyo Hy-Power/Palstar combination and opting for the SPE amplifier:Due to its (optionally) integrated antenna tuner, the Expert amp would replace two pieces of equipment with one resulting in a reduced footprint.
The SPE amplifier is much smaller and lighter than the THP amp alone, and provides 500W more output.
It is less sensitive to SWR than the THP amplifier
It includes USB connectivity and a software package that allows for computer control of the amplifier
Firmware upgradeable via the USB port
Provides a port that allows for control of a tunable antenna such as a Steppir
Can operate on 6m
Quiet operation when compared to the THPWhile I was reasonably happy with the THP Palstar combination, there were a couple of issues:The THP amplifier is very sensitive to SWR. If it even thinks it’s going to sniff an SWR higher than 1.5 it will trip it’s safety circuits. Not a bad thing for protecting one’s investment, but it certainly would have been nice if it were a little more forgiving of higher SWR
THP is unfortunately no longer in business.
Despite being a fine piece of hardware, the Palstar HF-AUTO tuner can have a tendency to have to hunt for a match. I was never convinced that it stored an effective lookup table - Perhaps it was just operator error, but that was my experience .The net effect of the above is that when changing frequency (not band as the THP followed the transceiver’s band via a CAT connection), I would have to switch the amp out of operating mode, tune to the frequency to an SWR of under 1.5. If I failed to do this and the SWR even thought about going above 1.5, the THP safety circuits would trip. I would invariably forget one of the aforementioned steps in the heat of battle.Ordering and Shipping
==================I pre-ordered my 1.3K-FA from Expert Amps USA, and from day one I was provided with fantastic customer service. The good folks at Expert USA kept me in the loop every step of the way from letting me know when the amplifier was approved by the FCC, to when it arrived from Italy, and finally to when they completed in-house testing and shipping out to my residence. Well done and kudos indeed!The amplifier arrived at my front door step in a non-descript brown box. Opening the box I discovered a brown soft sided transport carry bag with SPE logo and the amplifier name stamped on the side firmly ensconced in padding material. Inside the carry case was the amplifier along with:- Two cables with RCA (phono) connectors for ALC, RELAY links.
- One USB standard cable.
- Three connectors DB-15, 1 connector DB-9 for build one’s own cables
- CD-ROM containing the user manual and the software for remoting.
- One 20 A spare fuse.
- Spare air filter.
- Certificate of compliance and warranty form.Connecting The Amplifier
=====================Connecting the amplifier to my setup was a trivial task. The first thing I had to do was cut off the supplied “euro power connector” and wire up a 220/240v plug. I should note that the amplifier will run off of 110v, but I recall reading that it can operate at a reduced output; however don’t quote me on that.Next I hooked up the ALC and Relay links. Fortunately I already had a cable for pain in the rear kenwood accessory port DIN connector. I should note that SPE strongly recommends connecting the ALC lead from the transceiver to the amplifier. Next step was hooking up a cable that I had purchased from Array y Solution between the TS990S’ DB9 port and one of the CAT ports on the amplifier. Finally I connected my two antennas to two of the antenna ports.A quick word about the Array Solutions Cable: It didn’t work. I had been shipped a Kenwood CAT 1 cable that had been modified to be a CAT 2 cable; however further inspection showed that the folks at Array Solutions hadn’t bothered connecting the CTS and RTS pins as required. Shoddy and disappointing.Now would be a good time to talk the connectivity options supported by the 1.3K-FA. The amplifier can handle up to four antennas. It can automatically switch antennas based on operating frequency. Furthermore, it can directly control a “tunable antenna” such as SteppIR antenna via a port on the back of the amplifierThe 1.3K-FX will support SO2R operations by supplying a second CAT port, ALC/RELAY connectors, and an input for a second radio. There is also an antenna port available for connecting to a multiband antenna for receive operations. I have not had a need for operating in this mode, so I will leave further description to other who have had experienceNext I tried to connect my Steppir SDA100 antennal controller to the amplifier’s PORT connector. I checked and double checked the cabling, but I could never could get it work. I’m almost certain that this was “operator error”, and I simply connected the the SDA100 to the tranceiver’s DB9 port by using a Y splitter cable. In hindsight, this was actually a better solution since it seems that when you designate an antenna as a “tunable antenna” in the 1.3K-FA configuration, it won’t engage the antenna tuner - at least I couldn’t get it to do so. I think this is because, the amplifier software assumes that a tunable antenna can be tuned to an SWR of less than 1.5. I don’t think this is a good assumption, and due to its location is certainly not the case with my Steppir BigIR across all bands.Initial Setup
==========Initial setup of the amplifier is quite straightforward.Pressing the “set” button on the front panel puts the amplifier in “configuration mode”. From here you can setup the Antenna, CAT, Tunable Antenna and various other configurations, as well as view the alarm log, and enter a manual tuning mode.The Antenna configuration allows for two “banks” (or configurations). Each configuration allows the user to pick up to two antenna’s for each band: 160m - 4m. For each antenna, you pick antenna 1-4 or NO if there is antenna for the band. Pressing the tune button with bypass the tuner for that antenna on that band. Note that if you have specified an antenna to be a tunable antenna, the letter “t” appears after the antenna number and the tuner is bypassed by default and cannot be engaged (again, I couldn’t find a way around it).The CAT configuration option allows you to pick the vendor protocol for each of the two CAT inputs. Included are: Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, Ten-Tec, FLEX, and Elecraft. You can also select None.The tunable antenna option allows you to set any of the four antennas as tunable antennas as well as configure the PORT for controlling the antenna(s)Finally, and quite importantly, if you have the antenna tuner installed, it is necessary to match the antennas to the amplifier. This is done consulting a table that contains sub-band frequencies for each of the bands. For each antenna for a particular band, you look up each of the sub-band frequencies for each band and tune the radio to that frequencies. You then press the tune button on the front of the amplifier and transmit a continuous tone (e.g. CW). This will cause the tuner to match on the frequency and store it in a lookup table. In this way you amplifier can lookup the correct match based on the frequency to the which the radio is tuned (via the CAT connector) and “guarantee” a low SWR for that frequency. I found this to work quite well, though I still check the SWR before going from standby to operate mode.In my experience, all the programming steps above took about 20-30 minutes to achieve.Operation
========Operating this amplifier is a breeze. Assuming, you have successfully completed the programming steps, all you have to do is select the output level (low, medium, or high), press the operate button to go from standby to operating mode, and begin transmitting. It really is that easy!SPE does provide instructions on setting drive levels for various operating modes in their manual, and for the most part it is straightforward. Basically for SSB you want to adjust mic gain so that signal peaks are below rated maximum power. With CW, keydown gives maximum power for the setting (low, medium, high) automatically. RTTY and other Digital modes are recommended to be used with the low or medium power output settings. For AM SPE also recommends using the low or medium output settingsSo far, I have had a very good experience with this amplifier. I have had no trouble contacting DX stations in trying conditions, and my signal and audio reports have all been very satisfactory.Protection
=========The amplifier has a number of protection systems, should things go awry, and you can access all alarms in the alarm log option of the settings screen. The protections systems are implemented both in hardware and software. There are three levels of alarm:- Simple which basically just provides an audible alert and self corrects without operator intervention- Serious which causes the amplifier to switch back to standby mode. For example due to exceeding safe operating temperature parameters- Fatal which can be caused by a CPU failing or a fault in the power supply module. This causes the amplifier to shut down.Computer Software
================SPE provides a software package called KTerm, that provides remoting capability from a PC. There are two versions provided: One that works with a USB port, and the other that works with an RS232 port. I installed the USB version as I had connected 1.3K-FA to my PC via a USB cable.The software basically provides a mirror image of the front panel keys and display on the PC. The software is very functional, but in my opinion falls far short of what could be possible. At the very least, it would be nice if there were an option to keep the software’s window(s) on top of other windows on the desktopConclusion
=========While at over $5,000 US, this is not a cheap amplifier, the feature set, weight, and size make it a fantastic addition to either a home station or a DX expedition. In my short time with this product, I have exceedingly happy with it’s functionality and performance
VK4OARating: 5/5Mar 4, 2015 14:40Send this review to a friend
BRILLIANT AND UNIQUE Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'm a proud owner of a brand new SPE 1.3k fa amplifier that I have owned now for about 1 month.
It has been set-up with a nice new icom ic7200, and have 80, 40, 30 and 20mtr antennas connected into the rear of the amp.
I've never had much to do with SOLID STATE equipment in other words a valve man for the past 30 odd years, and also a good line-up of older valved amps.
With both the 1.3k and the small Icom has been a huge turnaround for me especially the MENU sytems.
Initially, it was somewhat nerve racking on both pieces of equipment, and having to follow things through on ones own. But none the less perseverance paid off.
Its an amazing amplifier, though I do not use the CAT features of it nor the AUTO TUNE feature, instead MANUAL TUNING with the inboard tuner. I've relinquished all of my outboard units as everything is accommodated either within the amp or the transceiver.
The 1.3k fa is a BRILLIANT piece of equipment technically and its physical size.
Output power levels are really unique.. Had some very interesting on air comments from a VK ham a while ago of output levels and found them to be quite correct, further more being able to SWITCH from one level to another is really good too. The regulated drive power via ALC is a brilliant innovation too as well as the four antenna ports at the rear.
All the stated features in SPE'S brochure are unique.
One thing SPE could have improved on though for this amplifier is the EARTH connection, which would have been better with a LARGER stainless steel nut and bolt for a more solid connection.
Also.. I found that I can drive my amp with as little or less than 1 watt, though I run the amp with around 12 watts normally.
Lastly... the amplifier certainly does its job.
I am genuinely very happy with this amplifier as it actually CUTS through the fairly poor radio conditions that we've experienced lately
Roly/zl4au(This review was posted by Carsten VK4OA at the request of Roly ZL4AU)
VK4SXRating: 5/5Jan 28, 2015 20:38Send this review to a friend
First Impressions  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
well guys, you sure are not going to believe the gain of the output stage of this wonderful piece of equipment, all I can say is WOW, havn't been so excited for years,
I am not going to post RF figures etc, as every shack is different, just let me say this, owners of TRUE QRP rigs, will be blown away with the reults,
quite a commanding stylish appearance that looks extremely good on the shack table, very quite, compact, light but not tacky light, you can feel the quality,
I am a new SPE SS amp user, so I will return with a further review after I have made all connections etc, a learning curve for me with the menus system, but is straight forward, previous owners of SPE will not have any issues,
have a IC2KL here, and a ACOM 1500, all excellent amps, but for sheer ease or use, and precise band tracking, controllable drive etc, and or course NO TUNING, this 1.3K FA looks the goods,
in a week I will have test gear setup.
definitely worth a look.
I used an ELAD FDM DUO for a RF out into a WaveNODE WM-2D for testing, and had to review it all three times to make sure I wasn't mis-reading the results,
0.5w thru 4.0w from ELAD, looks great.Cheers
Dennis vk4sx
EA5RMRating: 5/5Jan 20, 2015 14:07Send this review to a friend
Great product!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
In our recent Dxpeditiom in 1A0C we used the new Expert 1.3K-FA.
An experience that really surprised all of us.In RTTY the amplifier worked 24 h every day for one week on HF bands always at full legal power never exceeding the temperature of 65 °C.No one problem, incredible !!!Small, lightweight, powerful, full of amazing features, fully automatic.It is perfect for use in the shack and superb for DXpeditions, I'm sure that it will be a reference for many years.Thanks to Gianfranco I0ZY and to SPE for putting on the market a top-class product.

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