PW1 Solid State Kilowatt+
Tubeless, Knobless High-Tech Power House.
Bob Hutchinson, N5CNN
160M through 6M,
any picture larger
No tune, No knobs,
No band change, No tuner knobs
Is this a
boring amplifier or what? What is the operator to do? Icom's latest solid
state jewel provides all. We received this amplifier for a short stay and
I had enough time to
photograph the outside and make a short run at our test bench to see if it
lives up to it's reputation as a do all amplifier. Of course, if it is
truly a do all amplifier, then I won't have much to do.
Cubic describes this black box. It is a cube, a square box weighing about
55 lbs. Damned
box too. Lotsa air openings, four cooling fans. Three small, one
Info from Icom
- Dimensions: 13.8 (W), 10.6 (H),
15.0 (D); 55 lb, 2 oz (approx.)
- Auto band changing
- Four antenna connectors
- Built in auto antenna tuner
- Capable of matching 3:1 SWR on
HF, and 2.5:1 SWR on 6 meters
- Matches a wide array of antennas
- 4 cooling fans
- 100% duty cycle (even during
RTTY or SSTV)
- Full break-in operation
- Automatic AC input voltage
- Dual CPUs for system operation,
monitoring and control
- CPU memories for automatic
antenna selection and switching for fast band/antenna changes.
Works with almost any make of HF, 6 Meter, or HF / 6M
transceiver... not just ICOM rigs. Check with your dealer.
All female back side
on the back. Four fans and 19 female connector things make it busy indeed.
Two exciters can be connected and selected to four different antenna
outputs. If the transceivers are capable (Icom), the 7 pin accessory
socket cable, included, can provide transceiver control of most functions.
If the transceiver is older, a remote control cable can be used to switch
side busy too.
remotable control head can be used for complete manual control of
functions. The metering system is extensive, including power out, voltage,
current, SWR, ALC and temperature. Although this nice amplifier is
broadband, with no tuning system, there are other manual functions such as
manual push button control of the automatic antenna tuner, antenna
selection and input selections.
amplifier protection feature is complex, providing protection of the
amplifier for excesses of temperature of FETs, power supply voltage, FET
current or ALC control level. The protection circuit will also invoke when
amplifier and exciter have a band mismatch, power supply has a
malfunction, the FET gain drops or the power level among the four PA units
becomes unbalanced or is not properly shared.
Automatic antenna tuner
tuner will operate unaided or it can be manually provoked or turned off.
The skimpy manual indicated that for 6 meters the tuner is manually
operated or activated. I have not read about the limits or capacity of the
tuner, other than the 3:1 SWR capability mentioned at the Icom web, but it is not a miracle tool, meaning it can't tune a coat hanger
for 160 meter operation.
W5HBO, who loaned us this fine amplifier for a quickie review, had
conversed with a PW-1 owner that complain about the tuner not working on
160 meters. Further investigation revealed that the complainant was
attempting to tune a 75 meter antenna to 160 meters. Well, this is
possible with some expensive manual tuners that can handle a 50%, 5:1 SWR
reflected power situation, but the PW-1 auto tuner can't handle that much
reflected power so it just
shuts down, tuner and amplifier. Although we couldn't test such, I suspect
the tuner can handle a 3:1 SWR situation of about 25% reflected power just
But, does it light up? Does it run?
We'll hook it up on the test bench and see if
it will wreck itself trying to wreck our dummy load.
. . . . . . . .
TO BE CONTINUED
Just kidding -
Our test bench is equipped with a 2000+ watt fan cooled dummy load,
wrecked by QRO Mark III
and repaired, 3,500
watt low pass filter, Bird 43 and Coaxial Dynamics watt meters cabled in
series, each with 2,500 watt slug for this test.
The bench has a superb 7,500 w. antenna switch utilizing Jennings vacuum
relays, designed and built by this writer for access to 75M & 40M dipoles,
20M, 17M and 15M verticals and the dummy load. Various putt-putt
wattmeters are used between exciter and amplifier to measure drive power
Accuracy of measurement
We use the average of
the two wattmeters mentioned above. Both manufacturer's spec. an available
inaccuracy of + or - 5% of slug rating at a mid-scale reading. This works
out to be an error factor of + or - 125 watts at mid-scale. The maker's
don't even mention accuracy at close to full meter right deflection.
Remember, these wattmeters are the bottom of their line, most inexpensive
of the manufacturer's offerings. See recent
CW Average Power Out, Watts
50W to 60W Drive
testing was done on 12 or 10 meter as the two bands were not yet enabled on this unit.
did not have an exciter that was compatible with the PW-1 so we switched
bands manually, Exciter drive
was adjusted upward from a start of about 20 watts to the point where an
increase provided no additional gain. Usually about 50 to 60 watts. A
couple of attempts were made to over drive the amplifier, but the
amplifier would not respond and, sometimes output power would actually be
reduced. We were not using ALC.
We ran this amplifier hard, switching bands,
switching from dummy load to antenna and back. Changing drive levels,
tuner on, tuner off. Mismatching bands form exciter to amplifier. Suddenly
increasing drive to 100 watts. Well, it is a do all amplifier and
the designers knew we were coming. This knobless babe is bullet proof. Oh,
boy, I do love Ham radio. If you work lotsa bands or love contesting, this
quite point and shoot Icom broadband scattergun may be for you. Oh, by the
way, price varies from about $4,695.00 to $4,699.00, depending on where
you buy it.
Our thanks to W5HBO, Frank
Noble for the loan of this amplifier.
Bob Hutchinson, N5CNN
President and Founder
Wireless Industry Association
If you would like to
publish an article here contact Bob
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