Morphing the K9ZW Shack – Expert 1K-FA Amp and Palstar AT-Auto

Tinkering a bit with the shack and at least for a while will be swapping out the Alpha-78 Amp and the Palstar AT4K(mil) Tuner for an Expert 1K-FA Amp and a Palstar AT-Auto Tuner.

Bought the Amp as a backup and field portable amp. I’d used this one before with a TenTec Omni-VII and Orion, and when my friend George W9EVT said he was going to sell it I quickly made him an offer which he accepted.

The original Expert 1K-FA Amp has a mixed history, with the USA dealership bouncing between firms, support being on/off, and importantly the original series I & II 1K-FA amps requiring upgrades to be reliable. This particular amp was fully updated by Bill Leahey, K0ZL (SK) a few weeks before he was injured & passed, and is ready to go.

While the Expert 1K-FA will be down on power from what the Alpha-78 can put out, I usually loaf the Alpha at about 60% which may bring the changes in ERP to a small percentage difference.

That the Expert is possible to remote and integrate in my computer driven station suggest it may be a great companion to the Flex-5000a.

The AT-Auto tuner is on “trial” as I am again interested in exploring how it will integrate into my station. Built by Palstar the AT-Auto is a bit of an orphan, as a legal battle ended with Palstar losing and Kessler Engineering wining. K.E. does support the tuner for repairs & accessories, but hasn’t any new units available. Last year at Dayton they said they were weeks away from launching an updated version – perhaps Dayton 2012 will see the new AT-Auto II launch?

With the Flex-5000a the AT-Auto should track band switching and be reasonably fast. Given that I only actually need a tuner for 160m and 80m with my main antennas, as 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and 6m are all 1.3:1 or better untuned, I will likely avoid the one downside to the AT-Auto of a 45+ second mechanical inductor retune with a 160m-to-20m direct bandswitch. The AT-Auto is bit more a gamble, as if K.E. fails it could be an unsupported & unrepairable orphan. On the plus side the used prices reflect the risk and make it much more affordable.

If both the Expert 1K-FA and Palstar AT-Auto integrate well I will be narrowing down to the antenna switch and power-supply control to complete my station’s automation goals. In theory the result should be a Remote-Ready station 100% mouse controllable.

Oh, to answer the obvious question right away, neither the Alpha-78 nor Palstar AT4K(mil) are presently for sale. For the time being they will get put into heated storage.

I’m considering this more an experiment than a major station change, and I won’t even shoot new pictures until I decide exactly which of the possible permutations of Amps & Tuners I will run with.

Will be interesting!



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