Conversion of DB4060 and DB4062 Duplexers for 2 Meter Amateur Radio Use

The db Products / dbSpectra DB4060 and DB4062 duplexers are awesome in terms of performance for 2 Meter repeaters. That is… if they are built as or converted to true “-B” models (and they are in good overall condition.)

There have been numerous different “cheats” and workarounds published on the web on how to use a set of DB Products (now DBSpectra) DB4060 and DB4062 duplexers which were manufactured for frequencies other than the Amateur Radio /  Ham band on 2 Meter ham repeaters. We’ve probably seen all the same “tricks” you have seen, and by and large they are all compromise solutions which don’t result in very good performance and — in some cases — can result in costly damage to the duplexers and radio equipment, not to mention frustrating down-time.

Let’s get real…

The bottom line is this: if the loop assemblies (more specifically the copper loops inside the enclosures) are not correct, they won’t perform to factory specifications of a DB4060 (4-cavity) or DB4062 (6-cavity model) with the “-B” model suffix. The “-B” model is a 143-156 MHz duplexer; however, most of what hams find for sale or salvage  is the “-C” model, which was/is manufactured for 154-174 MHz operation. Trying to use a non-converted “-C” set for 2 Meter, 144-148 MHz purposes is a very good way to end up pulling your hair out. They won’t provide the factory-specification Return Loss (SWR), Insertion Loss, or the notching/isolation performance which Amateur Radio repeater owners are truly looking for. But have no fear — they can be converted to a -B set and meet or exceed factory performance specifications.

DuplexerRepair.com offers multiple solutions for converting DB4060 and DB4062 duplexers to true “-B” models.

Depending on your budget, location, skills, and available resources, the following options are available for converting a set to a -B model:

  • Bring (or ship) the whole set to DuplexerRepair.com and we’ll do the conversion, inspect the cavities, completely overhaul the internal workings of the cavities if needed, do any other needed repairs, and convert the loop assemblies. When we’re done with them, you will have a set of great working “-B” duplexers, tuned and ready for use on your repeater.
  • If you have someone local who can do the tuning for your, you can just send us your loop assemblies and we’ll convert them (including testing the trimmer capacitors and replacing any which have failed or show signs of impending failure.) When you get the loop enclosures back, just install them on the proper cavities with the proper cables and have someone tune them for you (or do it yourself, if you have the proper equipment and skills.)
  • If you are VERY comfortable with your soldering skills (or have someone close by who is), we can sell you a set of custom-made copper loops, which — when installed in place of the original loops in your duplexer — will
    Loop assemblies converted to “-005” loops by DuplexerRepair.com

    convert the set to a “-B” model. Note that we highly emphasize the soldering skills issue, here, because the precision trimmer capacitors used in these duplexers are extremely sensitive to heat — including too much heat during soldering. Those capacitors are expensive, and it’s very easy to destroy one or more during loop replacement if you’re not well-versed in soldering or using the wrong equipment and tools. Our DB4060 and DB4062

    Another view of loop enclosures which have been converted to -005 enclosures in the DuplexerRepair.com labs.

    replacement/conversion loops are made by hand right here in the lab. Depending on whether or not we have some already made up and ready in our inventory, it might take us a few days to custom fabricate the loops and ship them to you.

  • If you are interested in purchasing a set of replacement/conversion loops, sending us your loop enclosures for conversion, or bringing/sending your DB4060 or DB4062 duplexer set to us for conversion, just contact DuplexerRepair.com to make arrangements or to get more information.

“How do I know if my set actually needs conversion to a ‘-B’ model?”

First, if your duplexer set has anything other than a “-B” in the model designator, it definitely is not a set which was originally built for 2-Meter ham use. If you are still not sure, there are two dead giveaways that your set needs conversion:

  1. The cables BETWEEN the low pass cavities should be 10-1/2″ long (measured tip-to-tip of the N-connector center pins.) All other cables in the set (between the high pass cavities, and on both sides of the antenna TEE-connector to both branches) should measure exactly 10″ in length.
  2. The loop assemblies on the LOW PASS side should be “-004” assemblies, and the HIGH PASS cavities should all have “-005” loop assemblies. The
    Factory “004” loop enclosure, identifiable by the penned “004” on the bottom of the housing’s mounting flange.

    three digit number denotes which length copper loops were installed at the factory, thereby determining the pass and reject frequency range for the cavity/loop assembly combination.

  3. Herein lies the catch: dbSpectra (formerly db Products) starting stamping the assembly numbers on the outside of the mounting flanges of the enclosures at some point, but almost every set we’ve seen here in the lab pre-date that practice. On non-stamped enclosures, you have to remove the cabling from the loop enclosure, remove the eight screws used to attach the enclosure to the top of the cavity, then look at the underside of the enclosure. They marked them at the factory (sometimes with a permanent “Sharpie” type marker, sometimes with a pencil, and sometimes by just scratching the number into the metal. You will find either the number “-003,” “-004,” or “-005” marked on it. In order for it to be a “-B” set of duplexers, it has to have -004 assemblies on the low pass cavities, and -005 assemblies on the high pass side. Anything other than that means the set definitely needs to be converted.

A little more information regarding our custom-made replacement/conversion loops

The custom-made replacement/conversion loops we make here at DuplexerRepair.com are painstakingly hand-made from high quality, 30-mil copper. They are measured and cut by hand, drilled, de-burred, shaped,

Custom-made replacement/conversion loops being ultrasonically cleaned prior to polishing and installation in the loop enclosures.

ultrasonically cleaned, and polished before installation in the loop enclosure. When we do the full loop assembly conversion job, we clearly mark the new designator on the underside of the flange, and typically label the outside of the enclosure as well with the conversion date and the new designation number. If we replaced the capacitors in the loop, we like to mark that on the outside as well, including the date the capacitor was replaced. Repeated failure of capacitors — especially in the same cavity position in a set — is a sign that something else in the repeater/transmitter system may be occurring which needs to be corrected.

 

Overhaul and Conversion of DB Products 4-Cavity Duplexers to 6-Cavity “B” Models

We’ve recently converted a couple of sets of Decibel Products (a/k/a/ dbProducts and dbSpectra) 4-Cavity 4060-WOC-C duplexers to 4062-WOC-B models. Translation:

4062-WOC-B Duplexer built by converting a new set of 4060-WOC-C cavities to “B” models, and overhauling and converting two additional “C” cavities from a failed set, resulting in a great working 6-cavity “B” model with over 100 dB of isolation in each branch.

we’ve converted 4-cavity sets which were built for operation at higher, public safety and commercial frequencies to 6-cavity sets which are optimized for operation in the 2-Meter Amateur Radio / ham frequency bands.

Doing so involves a fair amount of time and work, including total overhaul of each cavity, custom manufacturing of the correct length loops, capacitor replacements, and the building of a new frame for the expanded 6-cavity set, not to mention final tuning and performance testing.

Tuning Plunger Removal, Inspection, and Polishing

After disassembly of the old cavities, one of the many steps in the overhaul and conversion process involves getting the tuning plungers back in good

Aged, oxidized tuning plungers BEFORE cleaning and polishing.
The same two tuning plungers after careful cleaning and polishing.

shape. As can be seen in these photos showing the plungers before and after the application of some TLC, the difference is more than visible. So is the resulting performance and ability to be accurately tuned (and for that tuning to remain stable.)

Custom Copper Loop Fabrication and Loop Enclosure/Cavity Conversion

In order to obtain the best cavity SWR (lowest insertion loss) along with the maximum branch notching/isolation performance, the copper loops in one

Original capacitor with signs of excessive heating, old flux residue which had not been cleaned off after soldering, etc. This capacitor had failed, causing the set set to be taken out of service.
New capacitor and custom made loop installed. The enclosure has been relabeled from the original “003” part number to its new, proper “005” designation.

branch of the duplexer assembly have to be replaced with loops of the correct length. At DuplexerRepair.com, we handcraft the replacement copper loops. We start with high quality, 30-mil copper and carefully cut, shape, drill, and polish the replacement loops.

During the installation of the new, replacement loops of proper dimensions for 2-Meter operation, we also replace the trimmer capacitors. This is actually a delicate process, as these capacitors do not tolerate excessive heat. It is quite common for us to discover signs of overheating from the combination of the original capacitor installation, soldering, and RF heating over time (mistuning, high SWR, and lightning will destroy these capacitors pretty easily.)

Frame and Mounting Rail Fabrication / Conversion

The original 4-cavity frame and mounting rails for assembling the cavities into a set have to be replaced in order to accommodate six cavities. We

Custom machined mounting and frame bars for conversion to 6-cavity set.
New custom made rails with cavity braces and clamps installed.

 

custom machine these from square aluminum tubing.

Reassembly, Cable Harness Inspection and Service, and Final Testing

With all the components overhauled and reassembled using the new frame and mounting rails, each cable, Tee-connector, etc. is inspected and cleaned

Another 6-cavity 4062-WOC-B set we recently converted, overhauled, and built, reassembled and ready for final tuning and testing.
Duplexer assembly being put through final tuning and performance testing and verification. The client gets a complete report of the testing, including the network analyzer graphs showing proof of performance.

or replaced as necessary.

Each cavity is then individually performance tested, followed by connecting each branch as a set and testing it, and finally the entire harness is secured and the entire set undergoes its final tuning and performance testing.

The End Results

A complete conversion, expansion, and overhaul job such as the ones described here, commonly involves between 15 to 20 hours of labor, plus

With 113.37 dB of isolation (factory spec is 100 dB or higher) with only 1.45 dB of IL (Insertion Loss (factory spec is 2.2 dB or less), this set is working considerably better than factory specifications. Well worth the investment of time, money, and energy.

materials. It’s not exactly cheap, but the results are worth it. What usually starts out as a 4-cavity 4060 “C” model (not built for factory spec operation in the 2-meter Amateur radio band, and often a set which has failed and been pulled from service) becomes a great working 4062 “B” model — as though it left the factory as a set intended to work to specs in the 2-Meter band. The 4-cavity 4060 models are rated at 80 dB or more of branch isolation; whereas the 4062 6-cavity sets are rated for 100 dB or higher isolation. At the typical 600 KHz “split” used in 2-Meter band, this extra isolation makes a world of difference, especially at transmitter power levels above 40 watts or so, and can be a game-changer when trying to get better performance out of certain repeaters, such as the Yaesu Fusion DR-1/DR-1X series, which tend to have lower receiver selectivity compared to most of the commercial grade repeaters with highly selective physical filtering on the front-end. Very often we deal with duplexers sent to the DuplexerRepair.com labs with complaints of “They worked great for years with our old Mastr II repeater running 40 Watts, but when we bought and installed a new Fusion repeater (or D-Star repeater, DMR  machine, etc.) everything went to crap.”

We deal with such all the time. And we’re here to help. Call or contact us if you’re experiencing similar problems. We’ll be delighted to help you get things working the way they should. As they say, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Duplexers which aren’t up to the task will result in a poor or totally useless repeater setup. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’re here to remedy that.