THE JIST

If you have an HT and you're just too far from your favorite repeater for consistent and quality communications cross-banding is one option to consider. I have found it easy to set up, very reliable, and I receive excellent signal reports too. If you don't mind tying up a transceiver to support this functionality cross-banding may be for you too.
ICOM IC-2820H

If you're here to learn how to enable cross-band on the ICOM IC-2820H click this.

Updated: 201407201400

I have been operating since Nov 2007. Not long, but long enough to realize that I enjoy Amateur Radio, its capabilities, the service it provides to my local community, and what I learn through these experiences.

When I first received my license I bought an ICOM IC-7000. It's a nice rig, but being attached to a heavy battery and power supply made its use beyond the length of the microphone limited. Soon after I purchased an ICOM IC-92AD. The 92 is a nice HT and its dual band capability is very handy. In fact, I didn't realize then how handy it would be.

While the IC-92AD is a nice radio it, of course, is a 5W transceiver. Since I live over five miles from the nearest repeater I could only hit it on overcast days with reasonable quieting. I began searching for a solution and that's when I found "cross-band" transceivers. And with that I bought an ICOM IC-2820H w/o the digital components.

The 2820 has two transceivers in the same rig. It is able to receive on one (70cm) and transmit on the other (2M) or vice versa.

I quickly found setting up cross-band relatively easy - thanks to the Internet - even though the IC-2820H User's Manual doesn't reference this capability. Immediately I discovered that in full-duplex cross-band operation there was about a two second delay between when the repeater stopped transmitting and I could start. This was not very convenient and seemed to be related to the 2820's time to switch directions of traffic flow. I needed another methodology to perform my local repeater capability. Once again to the internet.

With a few well-worded Google searches I found a web site that discussed a simplex version of cross-banding. After a couple e-mail I had what I needed to make this work with my set of equipment. Here's what I did.

W H A TW H Y
On the ICOM IC-92AD
I set up my HT to transmit on 441.1 at 100mW with TSQL enabled. This frequency is on Bank B. This allows me to communicate out to the repeater but first to my 2820. This is outbound comms. Setting TSQL ON helps prevent other local Amateur Operators (though I know of none) from using my 2820 to hit the repeater from here.
I then set Bank A to receive on 145.49. This allows me to hear what people are saying. They talk to the repeater on 144.89 and the repeater retransmits this information on 145.49.
Then I put the HT in Dual-Band mode. I enabled the radio to make 441.1 the MAIN frequency because this is the one I will talk out on. This allows me to listen/use two different bands/frequencies at the same time with one (441.1) being the primary frequency.
On the ICOM IC-2820H
I set one transceiver to transmit at 15W on 144.890 with Tone and TSQL enabled. The TSQL frequency doesn't matter as long as you turn it ON. This helps reduce noise if the 2820 happens to detect a HAM's transmissions on 144.89. With TSQL ON the radio goes "BUSY" but you don't hear anything.
I then set the second transceiver to 441.1 with TSQL enabled. This is the input frequency for the 2820. I will talk to the 2820 from my HT on 441.1 at 100mW. Since I am using TSQL on both ends of this communication channel the 2820 will not go "BUSY" unless it detects someone (hopefully me) calling on 441.1 with TSQL ON. When it does, it connects this audio to the other receiver and transmits out on 144.89 to the local community repeater.
Comments for * and ** from the drawing. Set the squelch on the transceiver operating on 144.89 to maxiumum. Set the squelch on the transceiver operating on 441.1 to close squelch when no signal is being received - a normal setting. Since this is a cross-band transceiver the squelch on the transceiver that transmits on the repeater input frequency needs to be closed. If it opens (breaks squelch) the cross-band signal will cause the HT's receiver on 441.1 to go busy because radio will try to transmit the noise or audio from anything it picks up on 144.89 to the other transmitter in the 2820H. If the squelch is all the way down (open) it will busy out the cross-band capability because it needs dead air to switch between the direction of traffic flow.
When the community repeater talks on 145.49 I will hear it on my HT since I have its band A tuned to this frequency.
NOTE:I am not using DUP- for any of this communications scheme. All of this is done with simplex - just like you were talking to a fellow HAM without using an intermediary repeater.
By using all the radios in simplex mode there are no delays and all works quickly. There is a little .5 second squelch tail being reported be fellow operators.

In a nutshell I talk to our local repeater (145.49 KE4UP) via my HT. The HT talks to the 2820 on 441.1 which is cross-banded to 144.890 (KE4UP input frequency). I listen for KE4UP on my HT on 145.49. I have set the HT to Dual Band mode with the primary on 441.1. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. - Click to see a larger view.
Figure 1.

SUMMARY:

This works very well. Signal reports are excellent and comments are "It sounds like you're sitting next to me." The best part is that I can be in my house, walking around my neighborhood, working in the garage, et cetera and I am able to rag chew on the local repeater from my HT even though I am too far from the repeater to do this directly from my HT. Intial tests of this system revealed that I can travel out to about a mile around my shack through use of this system. A limiting factor to mobil use in the scenario I tested was the HT's antenna... sadly it was a rubber duck.

If you are interested in similar activities there are several cross-band transceivers on the market and any late model HT will likely support similar capabilities as long as it is a dual band transceiver too.

Enabling Cross-band.

In closing, cross-band is enabled on the 2820 by pressing the right and left "MAIN-BAND" knobs and simultaneously pressing the "F" (function) key lock button. You know it's in cross-band mode when the key indicator on the display head begins to blink. To get the transceiver into or out of cross-band mode on the first try every time ensure you press the left and right "MAIN-BAND" knobs together and prior to pressing the "F" button.

- - -

Another Amateur Radio operator sent me e-mail yesterday and had this to say. It is good stuff and worth the read. What follows was excerpted from his e-mail with his permission.

K2CPR said, "The delay when using the 2820 in full duplex on the repeater is not related to the 2820's time to switch the direction of traffic flow, but rather to the repeater's "hang time." It is an issue when trying to use full duplex crossband repeat with any repeater that has any hang time whatsoever and any dual band crossband radio. The issue is that the 2820 will re-transmit everything it hears including the repeaters squelch tail and while the 2820 is re-transmitting the repeaters squelch tail on your link frequency it cannot simultaneously hear you keying back up.

The exceptions to this are on a repeater that has no squelch tail (the repeater's carrier drops when the received signal drops) and repeaters that require a pl but do not retransmit the pl tone however allow the pl of the transmitting signal to be passed through. In the first scenario when the repeater stops transmitting as soon as the received signal drops your 2820 will also stop transmitting. In the second scenario, using tsql on the repeater side of the 2820 will cause the 2820 to transmit back on your link frequency only when someone is transmitting through the repeater and the your 2820 will also stop transmitting, however for most repeaters in the US you do need to set up crossband repeat the way you have done.

The only thing I do differently, since there is the possibility that your 2820 will hear someone transmitting on the input frequency of the repeater with the same pl tone (on a repeater that requires pl or if someone leaves their pl enabled switching from another repeater), I set it up differently. Using 144.890 as the input frequency of the repeater, I would set my radio up to receive 144.290 with a +600 shift and tsql. The possibility that someone will be transmitting on 144.290 with a matching tone causing the 2820 to transmit back needlessly on the link frequency is slim. However when you transmit on the link frequency the 2820 will transmit with it's +600 shift and will be transmitting on the repeater's input frequency of 144.890. Turning the squelch on the 2820 repeater side completely clockwise is still a good idea. Not only does this max the squelch setting, on most icom radios, including the 2820, when you get past 12 o'clock on the squelch dial it also acts as a receive attenuator. This way your squelch will be set at max and your receive attenuator will also be set at max making it almost impossible that your 2820 will transmit back on the link frequency needlessly and will remain only a uni-directional crossband repeat."

Thank you K2CPR for your great input!
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