Lunar-Link Systems was founded in 1994 by Steve Powlishen, K1FO. The vision for Lunar-Link Systems was to design, manufacture and sell the highest performance and quality 70 cm RF power amplifiers available to amateur radio operators at an affordable price. The objective for this endeavor was to make 1500 watt output power amplifiers readily available to help more operators become QRV on 432 MHz EME (Earth - Moon - Earth or "Moonbounce").
Although Lunar-Link Systems was officially registered as a business in February 1994, its history dates back much earlier. Steve (then WA1FFO) built his first 2m KW amplifier (the classic push pull 4CX250's) in 1971. After making his first 144 MHz EME QSO in 1972, the need for a bigger stick led to the construction of an 8877 2 m amplifier. Steve's modified W6PO 8877 design (changed for a more compact size and ease of manufacture) led to several requests by friends to build one for them. The design was later copied by another ham who sold 8877 2 m amplifier kits for several years. Many other amplifiers were built in the 1970's. A couple of 2 m amplifiers that used 4CX1000A's were made, followed by 2 more with 4CX1500B's. A single tube 8874 for 432 MHz (written up in QST and the ARRL Handbook) led to Steve's first production manufacturing of amateur power amplifiers. G.R. Stephen Company was started to make single tube 8874 amplifiers for 144 and 432 MHz. The Model 1A, affectionately called the "Blue Box" by many customers (due to its paint scheme) was manufactured in limited quantities from 1976 to 1979. The high inflation environment in the late 1970's ended G.R. Stephen Company due to upwardly spiraling component prices. In 1980 the Model 1A design was sold to another company. Unfortunately, this company went out of business before production of the Model 1A could resume when the company's owner, a Naval reservist, was called up to active duty. Although not manufactured for over 20 years it is believed that all but one of the G.R. Stephen Model 1A-144 and 1A-432 amplifiers survive and are still in use today. The sole Model 1A fatality was attributed to a car crash while being transported to a mountain top for the June contest.
In the early 1980's Steve took a sabbatical from amplifier building when he became consumed with Yagi design. His interest was sparked by the seemingly unexplained reasons why some Yagi designs seemed to work well on EME while others with just as much if not more gain performed poorly, especially on receive. Work first started empirically with numerous test designs built and measured. Work next progressed to the computer as programs and computer horsepower became available. Much time was spent correlating antenna range data to the computer models. In the end numerous articles written by Steve on Yagi design and stacking were published that answered the questions. The Yagi tangent culminated with the publication of the K1FO designs in QST that still appear today in the ARRL Handbook. The K1FO antenna designs live on with several antenna manufacturers selling the published K1FO designs or using the design data as the basis for their own Yagis.
Now looking for a new challenge, Steve was drawn back to RF power amplifiers when in 1986 he was asked if he could come up with some amplifier projects for the upcoming ARRL Microwave Manual. These new amplifier projects were the gestation for Lunar-Link Systems. An article was first written on an 8938 70 cm amplifier design. Realizing that an 8938 would be beyond most operators' means, a single 3CX800A7 70 cm amplifier was then designed and built. The desire to design a more affordable 1500 watt EME amplifier led to still another 70 cm model, one that used 2 x 3CX800A7 tubes. All three of these amplifier designs were published in the ARRL Microwave Projects Manual and have been duplicated by many builders.
Although Steve received many requests to build customer versions of these amplifiers, time and work schedules did not permit it. For a while the demand for affordable 1500W 70 cm amplifiers was satisfied by Russ Miller (N7ART) who sold his own design two tube 3CX800A7 432 MHz amplifiers. When N7ART ceased building his amplifiers, Steve stepped forward to fill the need. In 1993 an updated production prototype of the 2 x 3CX800A7 70 cm amplifier was built. A number of improvements were incorporated and tested before the first production unit shipped on May 3, 1994. It was named the model LA-70B ( Linear Amplifier - 70 cm & 'B' for 2nd version). In just over a year the initial production batch of 46 LA-70B's were sold out making the project an overwhelming success.
With pent-up demand for 1500 watt 70 cm amplifiers now fulfilled, a means to keep the LA-70B in production, at a reasonable price, but in lower quantities was needed. The solution became to leverage the production sheet metal parts by using them in models for other bands. Thus in 1996 the LA-200, 1500 watt 2 meter amplifier was born. The LA-200 was soon followed by the LA-135, 222 MHz amplifier.
Today the three LA-Series amplifier models and the matching PS-70 power supply continue to be produced. In addition, there are plans for models on other amateur bands. Although the purpose and objectives for Lunar-Link Systems have expanded, the vision of providing the highest quality products with lasting value stays the same.
September 2012 - Steve K1FO became SK (silent key) and the company was taken over by Steve W1SMS. After relocating the business to Danbury, CT and a bit of re-organization, the same high quality amplifier products and services are being offered for sale.
Contact us for more information at tel.203.733.2110