To cross, or not to cross?

I’ve seen several times in various forums, when people ask about setting up cross-band repeaters, some Hams mention that they cannot think of a use for that feature.  Here is your example.

With a second car coming sometime in the next few weeks, the YL and I have been keeping our eyes open for a second dual-band mobile.  We had 2 vehicles up until about a month ago, when my old minivan got to the point where my investment in repairs exceeded my nostalgic affection for it.  I had a chance to get rid of it quickly when my mechanic said he had someone interested in taking it, as-is, for more than scrap value (steel is high out here, so don’t laugh).

I have a Radio Shack HTX-242.  My first mobile rig.  A great eBay find last year, but it was not holding up to everyday use.  It’s also a little numb in the receiving department, so it’s currently sitting on my elmer’s workbench.  The goal there is to get it receiving well enough to use a my doppler receiver.  The main radio is an Icom IC-207H dual-band with the option for remote mounting.  Jill gets to use that one during the week, as I’m in the car for less than 10 minutes while she drives me to the train.  The 207H will probably go into the new car when it comes, because of the remote mounting.  I want to keep the install as clean as possible.  That leaves the Buick as my daily driver, and without a decent rig.  I decided to look for something that can do cross-band repeat for my next rig, and finally picked up a used IC-2350H the other day.  It needs a little TLC, but nothing too complicated.  As-is, it transmits OK on the 440 side, but it will not let you hear anything received, even though it IS receiving.  The 2 Meter side is functioning great.  Some quick troubleshooting shows that the volume/squelch pot for the 440 side is damaged, but fixable.

I tried the cross-band repeat function last night, which works great, even with the problem.  I now have solved an issue that I was having in my home.  We live in a bit of an RF hole, about halfway between my club’s Eastern, and Western Long Island repeaters.  I can hit the Western repeater fine from the living room, with a rig attached to my homebrew wire antenna.  Anywhere else in the house, though, I cannot.  Sometimes during a few of the nets that I like to participate in, I need to be in the kitchen, or at my desk, or outside at the grill.  With the cross-band repeater, I can use my little Baofeng UV-3R to transmit through to the Western repeater’s input, and still be able to hear the output directly on the Baofeng.

To work correctly this requires the use of the programming software on the Baofeng to set up a split channel (receive on 2M, and transmit on 440).  I’m running the 2350H at 10 Watts, which is enough.  It is passing the PL tone from the Baofeng so no need to encode again.  The only feature I’m missing is tone-squelch on the Icom, so that un-authorized people don’t get in.  Even if they do though, the chances of them using the correct tone to pass through to the repeater I’m targeting are slim.  This weekend I’m going to test the receiving range of this setup with the mobile.  I think this will even cure some of the dead spots that I have issues with in the neighborhood.

I intend to use this elsewhere too.  We go on excursions up to the Adirondacks to my friend’s farm.  Cell phones are marginal there, at best, and my Sprint phone just laughs at me when I try to use it.  This would be a great way to communicate on his property.  I can turn it on in the car, before we go hiking.  I expect my son to also have his license soon, as well as Jill’s oldest, so we’ll have 4 licensed Hams when we go up there.  Definitely a good investment.

–Neil W2NDG

 

Neil Goldstein, W2NDG, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New York, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “To cross, or not to cross?”

  • Lawrence LaBranche KI6ZQY:

    Locally there was a Triathlon. Most of the stuff we do is 2m. The part in the pool, doesn’t work well with 2m, worked great with 70cm. So a cross-band repeater was setup in the mobile rig outside. It worked great.

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