[AMRadio] power ratings

Gary Schafer garyschafer at comcast.net
Wed Jul 13 20:33:42 EDT 2005

Donald Chester wrote:
> Gary K4FMX said:
>> The best quality audio of all can be gotten from low level modulation 
>> and a linear amplifier.
> A linear amplifier has the same kind of distortion as a class-B modulator.

That's true except with a linear amp most of the distortion products 
fall outside the audio bandwidth. 2nd and third harmonics etc. are 
outside the audio bandwidth.

> With tubes, the best quality audio can be had from low distortion plate 
> modulators such as class-A series or Heising modulation, or pushpull 
> plate modulators running class A or AB1.

Except for the distortion introduced by the modulation transformer.

> Pulse-width series modulators produce perhaps the best audio.
> I suspect the best quality of all comes from the new class-E rigs.


> According to the tube manuals, class-B audio service has inherent 
> distortion levels on the order of 3-5%.  It can be reduced with negative 
> feedback.  My Gates BC1-T manual claims less than 2% distortion at 100% 
> modulation.
> The signal driving a linear amplifier has its own distortion, since the 
> original signal has to be produced somehow.  Pushpull class-A audio or 
> series modulation, with feedback, might be a good candidate for the 
> driver stage of a linear.  If the linear is run properly in class AB1, 
> that would be near the best possible audio out of a tube transmitter, 
> even though the efficiency is not all that good.

With low level modulation and a linear amp it is much easier to produce 
excellent audio than it is from high level plate modulation. Building a 
low power (driver) low distortion AM transmitter has fewer problems than 
  high power low distortion transmitters. Class A direct coupled 
modulation schemes can be accomplished much easier at low levels than at 
high levels. Use of a balanced modulator can also eliminate the problems 
associated with occasional over modulation that plagues high level 
conventional modulation.

> Speaking of efficiency, an AM linear or grid modulated amplifier has 
> close to the same overall efficiency as plate modulation, when 
> calculated from the ratio of power drawn from the a.c. mains, to rf 
> carrier output.  A linear amplifier running AM has exactly the same 
> efficiency as when it runs SSB.  It's just that the duty cycle is 
> different.

That's true. An SSB amplifier at a power output level of 1/4 its full 
power  has an efficiency level of exactly 50% of its full power out 
If it is 66% efficient at full output it will be 33% efficient at 1/4 
power output level. Just like it is with an AM signal as you say.

> Actually, since with the human voice, the average power is 7-8 dB lower 
> than peak power (equivalent to around 30% modulation), the average 
> efficiency of a SSB linear is similar to that of an AM linear because 
> the efficiency of a linear is a function of the amplitude of the signal 
> (0% at idling current, and a maximum of about 67% at maximum peak output 
> just below the point of saturation or flat-topping).  AM linears got 
> their reputation as "low efficiency" on AM because of the 100% duty 
> cycle carrier runs about 30% efficiency to allow enough headroom for the 
> positive peaks.  With an AM linear, you can see the glow on the plates 
> DECREASE when you whistle into the mic to produce 100% tone modulation.  
> The DC input is the same regardless of modulation, but the rf output is 
> higher, since sideband energy is now included.  That power has to come 
> from somewhere, so the efficiency of the amplifier goes up to generate 
> the sidebands.
> The advantage of plate modulation with AM is the ease of tuning up and 
> QSY'ing.  You simply dip the final and load to the desired carrier 
> output, while maintaining enough grid drive to assure class-C service.  
> With low-level modulation (linear or grid modulated), the rf drive level 
> and degree of antenna coupling are critical to the modulation linearity 
> of the final.

With a rice box type exciter and amp for low level modulation all one 
has to do is turn the knob to insert full drive, tune both final and 
load controls for maximum output and then reduce drive to 25% of full 
output and you are good to go.

Gary  K4FMX

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