ICOM IC-2820H Dual Band FM Transceiver
Reviewed by Steve Ford, WB8IMY QST Editor
The ICOM IC-2820H has to be the most complex FM transceiver I have ever operated — and that isn't a bad thing.
No doubt you are familiar with what I like to call negative complexity. This concept is embodied by a radio that is packed to the gills with a mind-numbing array of features, most of which you'll never use. Positive complexity, on the other hand, is best described as a transceiver that offers numerous features that are genuinely useful, an embarrassment of riches, if you will. The IC-2820H is a positively complex rig.
The primary features of the IC-2820H are those that you will use and will want to use. Yes, there is a considerable learning curve that begins when you first power up the radio, but I think that is part of the enjoyment of purchasing a new transceiver. The learning is made easier by the fact that the IC-2820H manual is detailed and well written. There is only one slight gap concerning the optional GPS functionality, which I'll discuss later.
FM transceivers with detachable front panels or control heads are not new. What is new in the IC-2820H is the way the control head secures to the radio, and to other objects, for that matter. The IC-2820H's control head features two powerful magnets about the size of large shirt buttons. These magnets hold the control head tightly to the body of the radio, but not so tightly that you can't remove it quickly. There are two rows of recessed pads on the body to receive the magnets. By attaching the magnets to the upper or lower row you have your choice of positioning the control head "high" or "low" on the front of the body.
Of course, the main attraction (pardon the pun) of magnetic mounting is that you can, at least in theory, slap the control head onto any metal surface inside your car. The problem I encountered is that my car doesn't have metal surfaces. The IC-2820H comes with a metal plate that you can affix to your dashboard or other location. I was reluctant to put screws into my otherwise pristine interior, so I used an adhesive hook-and-loop fastener strip instead.
The IC-2820H control head is sizeable with a big, bright liquid crystal display (LCD). I had no difficulty reading the display in any light. Of course, brightness, color and contrast are adjustable. There are separate VOLUME and SQUELCH controls for each band positioned on opposite sides of the display. The SQUELCH control is unique in the IC-2820H. As you rotate the knob from about 7 to 10 o'clock, it functions as a normal squelch, completely cutting off the audio until a sufficiently strong signal appears on the frequency. When you rotate beyond the 10 o'clock position the squelch begins functioning as an RF attenuator (up to 10 dB).
Magnets and Microphones
One issue with magnetic mounting is that you have to strike a compromise between magnets that are powerful enough to hold the...........