Keying Amplifiers with an Icom Exciter

by Adam Farson, VA7OJ/AB4OJ

First published November 2, 2002 on the Icom Reflectors

Here is some general information on this much-batted-about topic: 

To determine whether or not an interface (buffer) is required in the keying line between an Icom HF transceiver and an amplifier, one should measure the keying voltage and current of the amplifier's keying line with a digital multimeter, as follows: 

  1. Measure the open-circuit voltage between the amplifier keying line and chassis.

  2. Measure the closed-circuit current between the amplifier keying line and chassis.

  3. If the open-circuit voltage exceeds 16V DC, and/or if the current exceeds 0.2A non-inductive (the current Icom spec is 0.5A, but a safety factor is recommended), an interface is required.

A solid-state interface will minimise the latency associated with the switching time of an open-frame relay. In some cases, a reed-relay interface will be sufficiently fast to keep the latency to a minimum. 

Here is an excellent article on this topic, including links to several keying interfaces. [mirrorClick here for a list of amplifier keying-line specs.

Many current tube amplifiers, and all solid-state amplifiers, have a low-level (typically TTL-level) keying line which requires no interface. Some of the Alpha amplifiers have a 28V/7mA keying voltage/current rating; this is well within the 50 VA rating of the OMR-109F relay.

Caution: Heathkit amplifiers (except the SB-1000 which has a +12V/0.1A keying line), and the Kenwood TL-922 series, have open-circuit keying-line voltages in excess of 100V.

The IC-7850/51, IC-7800, IC-7700, IC-7600 and IC-7610:

All 3 of these transceivers have a SEND RELAY type menu item (in the ACC set mode menu) which allows selection of the OMR-109F relay (LEAD) or a MOSFET interface (MOS-FET). The MOSFET option is rated at 250V/0.2A AC/DC, non-inductive. If the amplifier's open-circuit keying-line voltage is above 16V but below 250V (I < 0.2A), this option can be selected. (IC-7850/51 User Manual p. 20-4, IC-7800 User Manual p. 12-9, IC-7700 User Manual p. 12-8, IC-7600 User Manual p. 125, IC-7610 Basic User Manual p. 8-7).

Copyright 2002-2017 A. Farson VA7OJ/AB4OJ. All rights reserved.

Last updated: 11/24/2017

Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2007.