QRO and I are aquainted, but on a irregular basis. I usually run barefoot during most of my operations. This is especially true of mobile and field operations. I can not see running more power than is necessary, not just because FCC Part 97 so states, but also because of the reduced life of the amplifier device and the electric bill.
However I do increase my electric bill now and then for a rare one or during the occassional DX contest. I am not one of those believers in 100% full legal limit all the time. I like the challenge of trying to work DX stations with barefoot power or even QRP. However, QRO it is in contest weekend and DX expedition type operations when needed. I have my amplifier ready, willing and able as most everyone else is pumped up during such situations and the pileups driven by the DX Cluster can get pretty big.
I even have a Yaesu FL-110 100w amplifier attached to my Yaesu FT-817 when just a little more QRO is needed to make that contact happen.
With the exception of my Collins 204-F, my really big HF amplifer, I have the usual mix of amateur radio amplifiers. I have and love an SB-220 which is my daily in-line amplifier for casual DXing. I also have an Ameritron AL-811 that I picked up to get QRO on 160 meters that I press into quick contact use as needed.
In my ever developing classic Yaesu 101 station I have two Yaesu FL-2100B amplifiers.
I have found that more and more my favorite 6 meter band is becoming kilowat alley during band openings. As such I have an SB-200 that I am converting for use on 6 meters with my Yaesu FT-650. I am also converting a Pride DX-300 which uses an Eimac 4CX250B tube at 10 watts drive as my kilowatt input for use with my main FT-736R station. I have also just recently acquired an older National NCL2000 which runs a pair of Eimac 8122 tetrodes that will provide a full 2kw with 10 watts drive from the FT-736R.
The AL-811 gets the most use as it is not critical in any aspect of its operations or use and the 811 tubes are cheap. I fire it up for one contact and tune it off again, this is something that I would not do with any other non-solid state amplifier that I own. This low end amp has no real attraction to me other than it was cheap to buy and maintain and it delivers 600 watts on all HF bands (can only run it 200 on 30m of course).
The AL-811 is a nice light weight (physically and output) amplifier that is a decent deal at a good price for a new amplifier. I bought mine used, an even better deal. However it is not a unit that will withstand heavy use, at on 3 years old and light use the power on switch has already failed. But it does deliver the goods it is capable of most of the time.
Next comes the venerable SB-220, I love this amp. Hell you can not even over drive the pair 3-500Z tubes with 100 watts so you do not even need to wire the ALC to your radio. Which with an SB-220 is a good thing unless you want to modify the ALC circuit to work with today's low voltage positive ALC circuits.
The SB-220 came my way from a fellow Navy MARS member almost twenty years ago. He only turned it on when needed and the previous owner did the same thing. So I became the third owner and since I do the same, it still has the oringal Eimac 3-500 tubes as built in 1971 and continues to provide full output. I use it with my Kenwood TS-930S only. I have a shielded box with a toggle switch in the keying line so that I can have the amp on and in standby for when it is needed..
I use it many for the rare DX contact and occassional DX contest. I also use it for ragchewing on AM now and then on 10, 40, 80 or 160 meters. I do this as the TS-930S can only be operated up to about 10 watts of carrier to produce a good 100% modulated AM signal, so with the amp on I down key at about 100 watts or so and achieve a peak output of about 400-600 watts. This provides a really nice AM signal.
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