Friday, August 2, 2013

Logger32 Window for Control Of Alpha 87a

After doing the repair work on the Alpha 87a and hooking up the computer to talk to the amplifier, I remembered that my logging program, Logger32, has the ability to communicate to the Alpha 87a.  So, I enabled that window and was immediately in control of the amp.  As you can see in the photo, the amp is ON, in OPERATE, and HI POWER.  The AlphaMax feature is OFF.  The Fwd bar graph is indicating 1478 watts (according to the LP-100 wattmeter) and no reflected power is shown.

Logger32 Alpha 87a Control Window
One great feature of this window is that you can enable the "Auto Track Frequency" function.  According to Logger32's Help File, this feature:
. . . when turned on causes Logger32 to automatically supply the active radio's active VFO frequency to the amplifier, which uses that information to change bands and select settings for its TUNE and LOAD capacitors from user- or factory-preset values stored in internal 87A memory for each of five band segments on each band covered by the amplifier. Although the 87A is capable of changing bands automatically on its own by sensing the frequency of RF drive power from the transceiver connected to it, quicker band- and segment-changes that put less stress on the internal PIN-diode QSK system of the 87A and eliminate the loss of the first dash or dots on cw (while the amplifier takes itself off-line and retunes in response to sensing the newly selected operating frequency from input RF) are made possible by having Logger32 supply the transceiver's new frequency across the serial interface.
And, it works like a champ. Even with the 87a in STANDBY, when I change the frequency on the K-3, the Alpha tracks that change (courtesy of the "Auto Track Frequency" feature of Logger32) and the amp is immediately ready to transmit at full power. Awesome! It looks like I can click on a spot and hit transmit at full power without even the 1-1/2 second delay for the Alpha to tune to the new operating frequency or without the need to put any RF on the band to initiate tuning. But, the best thing is that it helps reduce the stress on the PIN diode QSK system in the amp.

One other big advantage of this window is that I can now see the status of the amplifier without turning around.  At my station the amp is pretty much behind me and it can "Fault" and go offline so quietly that I do not know when I'm no longer transmitting at full power.  Now I can see the power output and control the Standby/Operate switch right from the computer.  Plus, I can shut the amp OFF and even turn it ON from the Logger32 Control Window.  That's Just Sooo Cool!

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