Pondering a QRO Amplifier?

With a few months of QRO operation now under my belt, I’m convinced of the assets of higher power under certain specific conditions.

I’m also aware that there are various methods of defining value when considering an amplifier – dollars, power level, quality of construction and the specific device used to achieve amplification all come into play, and the prospective buyer needs to decide how much weight to assign each of those characteristics.

Below is a matrix of several popular amplifiers currently on the market. They are all QSK-capable; one of my requirements that doesn’t apply to many (most?). They are listed in order of cost per watt.


Not surprisingly, the solid state amps are the most expensive. Deciding on a solid state amp is largely a matter of evaluating the safety circuits employed in protecting the device and in researching the trend in rapidity of obselescence regarding high power solid state devices; ie, will the nature of such devices render those mentioned above as hard-to-find has-beens in a few years as better, more efficient alternatives are developed?

Tube-type amplifiers use tubes that have been around for decades and (can) provide years of service. But a readily available 3-500Z from Quangshen or Svetlana is not the Eimac 3-500Z from years ago. Regardless, the typical eHam reviewer’s satisfaction with his tube-based amplifier appears to be largely a matter of which tube the amp uses, and a 3-500Z amp owner is likely to be happier than the owner of an amp that uses an assortment of 811′s or 572′s to achieve the same power.