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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Drake R8 VHF Converter Help

Reviews Summary for Drake R8 VHF Converter
Drake R8 VHF Converter Reviews: 5 Average rating: 3.8/5 MSRP: $269.00
Description: Add on board for Drake R-8 series of receivers. Allows all mode reception of 35-55 and 108-174 Mhz.
Product is not in production.
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N4UE Rating: 3/5 Dec 27, 2015 14:34 Send this review to a friend
Not that great  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have a large Drake collection and after adding a nice R8A, I looked for the VHF converter. I finally found one at a (semi) reasonable price.
1. Installation. I'm a retired IBM Engineer and have installed more PC options than I care to remember. This converter must have been made during the World Series. It didn't come close to fitting. It was so oversized, it pressed on the display shield and caused part of it to stop functioning! OK, I have a machine shop and do a lot of sheet metal work. After a BUNCH of trial fits, grinding, etc, it fit like it should have. WAY too much work and just the opposite of the other reviewers here state. Even the PC board wouldn't fit the radio's brackets.
2. Performance. This converter is a birdie machine. There are several in the weak signal portion of 6 Meters. I have a quiet location, a big antenna and use hardline for feeding it. I CAN 'hear' the antenna on 6 Meters, but just barely, so I guess the sensitivity is adequate.
On 2 Meters, it seems to be too hot.

I guess I just expected more for the $. I have a bunch of other radios and converters that do a much better job.

I actually don't regret the purchase, since it will enhance the value of the R8A when I decide to sell it. ha ha

KD7RDZI2 Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2009 06:27 Send this review to a friend
excellent preselection  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I bought my used R8 from Universal Radio more than ten years ago, shortly after Drake introduced the rig, I also decided that I'd have the VHF converter too. Again, I found it used from Universal Radio one year later at a reasonable price. It looked new as my used R8. It safely arrived with all the cables and the clear instructions sheet. I installed it without any problems in few minutes. It not much more difficult than installing a PC card. No soldering was required.

There are two versions. One is built using SMT components, as it is mine.

Overall performance is great.

As a previous reviever pointed out, there are some internally generated birdies. However they are not fixed and slowly move on frequency. If I found one of them at 144.230Mhz for instance, after a few minutes I'd find it on a different frequency. It is a bit annoying, but does not represent a problem in hearing any frequency covered by the converter.

The front end noise figure seems good to my ears; seems very sensitive, albeit I don't have a good receiver such as the Icom R-7000 to compare.

Comparing it to scanners that only receive AM/FM, in my opinion, makes little sense. This converter allows to receive all modes, and, because of the many IF filters, it excels in SSB and CW.

When I received the "Service manual" of the R8, again from Universal Radio, I discovered hidden quality of this converter. I understood it better and I believe it was designed very well.
This converter reveives two bands: 35-55Mhz and 108-174Mhz. If I understood correctly, the 35-55Mhz band has a fixed band pass filter with excellent filter response, while the band 108-174Mhz has a voltage tuned band pass filter with adequate filter response. In practice, this means that it is difficult to find that the receiver generates ghosts and images and it is robust to overloading. If, the receiver is placed near a FM powerhouse, to listen the 2 meters band I believe that no filter that eliminates the commercial FM band at all should be required in most cases.

The last, but not the least, using the converter, I appreciated other features of the radio, namely the squelch and the several scanning options.

Concluding, because of the good preselection, the filter capabilities for SSB/CW modes, and scanning options, I cannot rate it less than a 5.
W9LBB Rating: 3/5 Jan 1, 2005 22:14 Send this review to a friend
Another opinion...  Time owned: more than 12 months
When I bought my new R8, shortly after Drake introduced the rig, I decided that then and there I'd have the VHF converter too. I never regretted getting it, but there ARE things that are MUCH better for the serious VHF nut.

Overall performance is good, but IMHO not all that great. There are WAY too many internally generated "birdies" for my tastes, and the front end noise figure doesn't seem that good; in weak signal work, not only does my Icom R-7000 blow the R8 out of the water, but my trusty, tho now quite ancient Rat Shack PRO-2004 scanner does too!!!

Just the same tho... if you've got an R8 and a VHF converter comes your way at a reasonable price, I'd say GO FOR IT! It's far from the best VHF reciever out there, but it gets the job done for the casual listener.


Tom, W9LBB
DAROBIN Rating: 4/5 Dec 3, 2004 23:39 Send this review to a friend
Good addition  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I second the opinions of the first reviewer -- I too have stuck with the R8 over the years, and added the converter, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is very sensitive -- not perhaps as much as my PRO2006, but it puts a whole new twist on using the R8...
KE4MOB Rating: 4/5 Nov 24, 2004 08:41 Send this review to a friend
Nice add on  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I originally bought my R8 back in 1992 and didn't get the converter then. I've wanted one on and off for the last 8 or so years, so when one came up on eBay, I was tickled when I actually won it.

Installation wasn't all that difficult. If you can put a board in a PC, you can probably do this. It takes a Phillips head screwdriver and maybe a small pair of pliers to pull cable and plug in wires. There's a total of 2 coax cable and 1 multistrand cable that needs to be routed and plugged in. The biggest difficulties came in trying to get the bracket and board aligned correctly so the assembly could be attached to the frame and in routing the stranded 6 conductor wire around the chassis. The instructions say to route it under the shield on the converter, but the only way I found to do this was to untwist the natural corkscrew lay of the cable so it would lay flat, and slide it back underneath the shield on the converter unit. Pay careful attention to clearances, as the cover fits very closely against some of the potential cable paths. At any rate, it took me about 30 minutes to completely install the unit--and I was being very careful. No soldering is required.

It seemed like that when I turned the radio on the first time after converter installation, it took a while for the CPU to correctly comprehend that the converter was there. After some truly bizarre display anomalies, everything settled down and the radio returned to its good-natured self.

Receiver performance seems much better than your average run-of-the-mill scanner (fewer birdies, more selective, more sensitive), but less than that of my Kenwood TR-7950 2M monobander (less sensitive) but then again, the 7950 won't receive out of band, either.

Squelch operation takes some getting used to. I found myself several times wondering why the RX was dead on an HF memory channel when I set the squelch while listening to a VHF channel!!

Other than that, the integration is pretty much seamless and the converter definitely has added value to my shack...I can now receive 2M SSB, RTTY, and CW.

Overall, a very worthwhile add-on to an already great radio.

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