Hamcrafters VLF Converter to be produced in Fall 2018

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who notes that Hamcrafters appears to be planning a replacement for the Palomar VLF converter.

Here’s the product description:

The Hamcrafters VLF Converter is based on the original Palomar design and converts 10 KHz – 500 KHz to 4.010 to 4.5 MHz. This allows use of your HF Receiver or Transceiver and all its filters, noise blankers, DSP, and memories while tuning the VLF band. Modern HF radios have poor sensitivity in the VLF range (by design). Using this converter with a simple wire antenna will allow receiving of navigational beacons, time signals, and other VLF signals.

The Palomar is well-known among longwave DXers but hasn’t been in production for some time. Indeed, Ron adds, “The last two original Palomars went for $343 and $260 on eBay. Is there a demand? You bet!”

Thanks for the tip, Ron.

Click here to check out the Hamcrafters VLF Converter product page.

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6 thoughts on “Hamcrafters VLF Converter to be produced in Fall 2018

  1. Edward

    Is there a typo? 4.010 to 4.5 mhz? this is above the 80 meter band so you will have to use a general coverage reciever. too bad it is not 3.510 to 4.0 mhz

    1. rtc

      Nope,not a typo…the first ones were intended for output in the 80 meter ham
      band,3500-4000 khz so they would work with ham band only or general
      coverage sets.
      Problem was you had to do the mental arithmetic as you tuned,200 khz was 3700
      on the dial,etc.
      I used a little cheat sheet chart,finally.
      The 4.00 mhz output is preferred now because most receivers are wideband,and no
      arithmetic is needed.
      Reason for the “4.010 and up” is the output crystal is running at 4.00 mhz and that’s
      all you can hear anywhere near it.

  2. Mario

    I had one of the original Palomar units and one from Hamcrafters, both worked great on LF for beacon reception. There were two versions, one for 3.5 -4 MHz and one for 4.0 – 4.5 MHz. The 3.5 – 4 MHz units were convenient for hams having the 80m band on their radios. The 4 – 4.5 MHz units were more for SWLs who wanted to downconvert to LF using their shortwave receiver.

    Sorry to hear of Jack’s passing, may he Rest in Peace.

    1. rtc

      BTW the 4.00 mhz Fox crystal used in the 14 buck Jackson Harbor Press
      converter kit works like a champ in both the Palomar and Heathkit converters.

      Jack Althouse K6NY was apparently a good engineer and ham…he kept making
      these converters from about 1975 (the red one) to around 2005 when there was
      no ham band in sight on LW and probably minimal interest other than chasing
      The Heathkit used the same IC and lowpass filter but had an RF amplifier
      Other than a new cabinet and some minor tweaks the basic Palomar circuit
      never changed,a “classic” design.

  3. rtc

    More info:

    Steve Elliott of Hamcrafters says the new version was necessary because the IC
    it uses was only available in SMT,hence the re-design.

    It will still feature the 12 volt voltage regulator (for no-drift use with SDR’s) but
    like the First Model there will be a mod if you wish to take it back to 9 volt
    operation (there will be room for the 9 volt battery inside the enclosure).

    To save costs,RCA jacks will be used for Antenna and Output.

    Hamcrafters bought the full rights to the Palomar converter from the late
    Jack Althouse in 2010 but his son has since sold Palomar;therefore new
    units (like late production First Models) will be “Hamcrafters” VLF Converters.


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