What’s a Transverter?   

The K8IQY “4017 Transverter” raises a question in some hams’ minds: Just what is a transverter?”

In the good old days nobody had VHF receivers - if you wanted to receive VHF or UHF signals you used a converter with your HF receiver. It simply converted VHF signals down to HF.  To tune across 2 meters, for example you used a converter that allowed you to tune 144 to 146 MHz, for example, by tuning your HF receiver from 28 MHz to 30 MHz.  If you set your receiver at 28.1 MHz, the converter took a 144.1 MHz signal and shifted its frequency down to 28.1 MHz.  144.2 came in at 28.2 etc.

You can do the same thing with a transmitted signal.  And there were transmitting converters that did just that.  To match the receive converter, you transmitted at HF and the signal was shifted up in frequency to VHF.  As with the receiver, the conversion was one-to-one.  If your transmitter was tuned to 28.1 MHz, the transmitting converter shifted the signal up to 144.1 MHz.

Then when you combine both the receive and transmit converter together, you end up with, guess what, a transverter!  There are some other details such as handling transmit-receive antenna switching between your HF gear and the transverter, and between the transmit and receive parts of the transverter, but they can be dealt with.  

Another consideration is signal level.  The receive converter has an easy job since both the VHF and HF signals are in the microvolt region.  The HF transmitter, however, puts out multiple watts and most converters can't handle this much power so the HF signals needs to be attenuated before going to the mixer then amplified back up to watts at VHF.  But this is also a detail.

The real advantage of the whole thing was that a good HF rig with good QSK, a nice tuning rate, good selectivity and sensitivity could be used at VHF by adding some pretty simple stuff.  Transverters are much simpler than whole rigs!

These same ideas hold for the 4017 Transverter.  The 4017 lets you use your full-featured 40 Meter rig on 17m. The very best part of the 4017 is that it is simple enough to build yourself! 


Joe Everhart, N2CX   n2cx@voicenet.com 


Last Modified:  January 14, 2001