KPA 1500 ATU Issue

Jeff Clarke

A friend of mine has a KPA1500 that's having strange issues with the ATU. The SWR on his Hygain TH6 tri-bander is kind of high in the CW band because it's tuned for SSB. When he goes down to CW on 20 meters it's maybe a 2.4 :1 SWR. When you switch in the ATU with the amp in the standby position it gets the SWR down to an acceptable level. When you put the amp into the OPER position the SWR jumps up and causes the amp to fault. It also does this also for his 80 meter and 40 meter dipoles when you get away from the resonate frequency on those bands. Same issue with the TH6 on both 15 and 10 meters where it's not near the resonant frequency. This makes the amp pretty much unusable on frequencies where the SWR is around the 2:0 range or a little above that without putting an external antenna tuner is line after the output. He doesn't want to use it this way and risk blowing the final transistors again.

According to the KPA1500 manual  "At lower amplifier outputs up to about 800 W, or when using your driving transceiver “barefoot” at 100 W, the ATU will match loads up to an SWR of 10:1 on 80 through 10 meters and 5:1 on 160 and 6 meters. At 1500 W the tuner will match an SWR of about 3:1" The SWR on his antennas are well below these SWR readings but the ATU doesn't seem to be working as designed?. My friend is pretty frustrated right now because he just got his amp back from Elecraft (after having no amp for 4 months) to repair two final transistors that blew. He's only owned it for about 10 months. He was really looking forward to being HP again since he's not a LP guy. Lucky for him it was still under warranty and was fixed for free. I wasn't so lucky with my KPA500 and it cost me $600 to ship and have it repaired by Elecraft for blown final transistors.  Now he's not sure he wants to own a solid state amplifier that's so picky about SWR (and having to use an external antenna tuner) that he's just thinking about just selling it and going back to a tube amplifier.

Has anyone else had a similar issue with the ATU? I remember when he first bought the amp a little less than a year ago and we hooked it up it didn't act this way.

Jeff KU8E

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