Icom has announced that they are thinking about creating a new transceiver system for the 2.4 and 5.6 GHz ham bands.
What? You didn’t know we have bands in frequencies so high? Well, we do, but they’re obviously not very popular, with no current commercial radios that cover those microwave bands.
So far, they’ve published 4 very short pdf files that show what their concept is, and have just recently shown a mock-up at the 2022 Dayton HamFest in May. They are also planning to attend other major hamfests to try and gauge the level of interest.
According to their latest paper, they were very pleased with the response from hams at Dayton.
Icom has tackled one of the major problems when using these microwave frequencies. You and your transceiver want to be in your nice, warm shack, but you want your antenna to be high and outside. Running coax out to the antenna is a big problem. At these extremely high frequencies, coax loss is a real killer, even using very large and expensive hardline.
The basic concept is to use an IC-705 QRP transceiver as the controller (note the 5780 MHz frequency on the display above) for a remotely-connected, weatherproof up/down converter box that would sit outside on a pole or tower, using a very short connection to its antennas. The IC-705 has an Ethernet connection that runs up to the converter box on the tower. Power for the converter is supplied by PoE (Power over Ethernet) coming from the IC-705.
Now, I don’t know if the present IC-705 can produce that PoE voltage, or if you’ll need to buy a new one. Icom just says the concept is “based on” the IC-705 design. I guess we’ll see how it goes as they release more info. Keep in mind that this is still just an idea that they are shopping around, much like how auto companies show off their concept cars at the auto shows. If the public (us) show enough interest to justify the cost of designing it, maybe we’ll see one in a year or three.
Here is a simple block diagram showing what they’re thinking. The IC-705 is on your desk in your shack. An Ethernet cable plugs into it, and goes outside and up the tower to the transverter unit. This minimizes coax loss, which is super-important at such high frequencies:
Below is the outdoor unit that would mount on the tower. The GPS antenna connects to an internal high-precision frequency reference that will keep the microwave radio locked closely onto the frequency. This addresses another issue where normal transverters would not have tight enough frequency control to allow for an SSB or other signal to stay within the IF bandwidth of the radio in your shack.