How to hook up an RF linear amp

Written by cassandra tribe
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How to hook up an RF linear amp
40-watt variable power RF linear amp (Texas Star)

Adding an RF linear amp to your HAM radio set-up is a inexpensive way to increase your reception and broadcast ability. Unlike adding an antenna, which requires that you own or purchase the land on which your antenna is erected, an RF linear amp can fit inside the room that you have dedicated to your HAM station. All it takes to hook up an RF linear amp is five basic connections and, of course, an amp that can handle the wattage of your radio.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 3 jumper coaxial cables
  • Locking pliers

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  1. 1

    Look up the wattage of both your RF linear amp and your HAM radio in their respective manuals. Dial down the output of your radio to match the required wattage needed to drive the amp, as described in the manual for your specific radio model. For instance, if you have a 200-watt radio and a 50-watt amp, adjust the radio wattage to match the amp. The lowest wattage ratio an amp can have to a radio is 1:4. A 50-watt amp will work with a 200-watt radio, but a 5-watt amp will not work with a 100-watt radio, as you will be unable to dial down the radio wattage enough to avoid blowing the amplifier.

  2. 2

    Position your RF linear amp so that you will be able to plug the antenna cables into the amp and reach the T/R jack of your radio with your jumper cables. Use the jumper cables to measure the placement of the amp, but do not plug anything in yet. Make sure that the power supply included can also be plugged in and will reach the power source without the use of an extension cord.

  3. 3

    Make sure that the vents on the amp box have at least 5 inches of clear space around them to allow for adequate air circulation and cooling. Adjust the position of your amp if necessary.

  4. 4

    Unplug the antenna cable from the connector in the back of your radio. Attach one end of the antenna cable to the jumper cable, plug the jumper into the antenna input on the RF linear amp, and then connect the remaining end of the jumper to the antenna connection on the back of the radio. Use a pair of locking pliers to twist the lock connectors an additional 1/8 inch to insure a good connection.

  5. 5

    Connect a second jumper cable from the T/R jack of your radio to the T/R jack of your amplifier.

  6. 6

    Use either a third jumper cable or the cable supplied with your RF amp to hook up your amp to the ground. Plug one end into the amp in the ground connection jack and the other into the receiver box of the ground.

  7. 7

    Plug the power cord for the amp into the power connection. Then plug it into your main power source, and your amp is ready to be used.

Tips and warnings

  • RF linear amps are noisy. The sound of the cooling fans will be easily picked up by your microphone, so make sure you position the amp far enough away so that you will not pick up the operating noise of the amp.
  • Running an RF linear amp requires an adequate ground to prevent the amp from blowing or causing the "RF in the shack" effect of houselights dimming as you transmit. Make sure your ground is at least several rods in length and connected with a copper strap (at least 5 cm wide) to avoid damage to your house and equipment.

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