August 2009
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AM transmitter preferences

Engineers are funny.  We all have our likes and dislikes and our reasons for both.  I don’t really like Harris products.  Even when I was in the military, their stuff seemed a little “light.”  I suppose having to deal with an MW-50B transmitter at my first full time chief engineer gig didn’t help that impression.  The MW-50 would “blow up” every six months or so.  I say blow up because that is the only way I can describe it, no overload lights or any other indication of trouble until the blue lightning flashes and thunder from the PA section.  What a POS.

Other Harris transmitters, such as the SUX-1, FM20H, Gates-1 etc have also left me less than impressed.

In order of preference, my choice of AM transmitters would be:

  1. Any Nautel solid state unit.  Nautel makes good equipment that is well supported.
  2. Any BE solid state transmitters.  I favor the A model over the E model, but both are good.  One condition, they must absolutely be well grounded and all of the toroid filters provided by the manufacture must be used when installing.
  3. Any tube type Continental transmitter.  There are older units, I believe 816R but they work well and sound good on the air.

Really, that is about it.

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2 comments to AM transmitter preferences

  • J. Aegerter

    The old Gates equipment was a good value before the Harris-Intertype purchase. The engineering was sound and you could always get industry standard parts to fix them. Typical of midwestern conservative design during the period 1922-1961. The Vanguard I to me, signaled the downturn of the company. New kids out of engineering school with little knowledge on serviceability, packaging, reliability, started designing a lot of junk. The BC5P2 was probably the last of the reliable, easy to keep going series. On the FM side, they should have followed CCA with grounded-grid PA design with triodes instead of screen-grid tubes with the high-power sensitivity and inherent instability problems. Gates used to be the low price leader and today, Harris is just the opposite. Nautel is a small closely held company, and that is the reason they are pulling ahead of the big boys.

  • admin

    I agree the older gates equipment was simple and easy to fix. A friend of mine, who has some knowledge of the situation, told me that Nautel is sell 4-5 transmitters for every Harris unit. I suppose in the end, it catches up, just like it did with GM and Ford.

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