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Icom’s IC-905 VHF UHF Microwave Transceiver

IC-905 VHF UHF MICROWAVE TRANSCEIVER

Icom’s IC-905 is a VHF, UHF and Microwave transceiver that is available globally. As an owner of an IC-705, in some ways, this radio is very similar in operation, but in other ways, it’s so very different. ATV is now possible on the higherbands and is proving to be very popular amongst VK3 amateurs. The menu structure is almost identical which means if you’re familiar with Icom’s modern radios with waterfalls, the IC-905 will be no stranger to you.  Like most modern radios these days it’s solid and well-built but it does get hot. Most of the functions of the radio are accessed via the touch screen which can be easily seen in direct sunlight.

I had two reasons to purchase this radio, firstly it’s nice to have a GPS-locked reference for 2.4 and 5.7 GHz, and secondly, the ATV activity being generated locally has piqued my interest. Building and tinkering with microwave is where my interest in the hobby is right now and having transverters on all bands to 10 GHz, I didn’t really feel the need to spend just under $5K on a radio. So out with the old and in with the new.

IC-905

IC-905 Australian Warranty

Icom Australia offers a 3-year warranty on your radio whether it’s registered with Icom Australia or not. The optional CX-10G has a 2 year warranty as standard. Icom Australia does not offer extended warranties on SHF equipment.

Icom Australia SHF Warranty

Update to the latest firmware

Before you start customising your radio, apply the latest firmware. See the how-to video below. When you get your radio, the firmware will not be current. Firmware updates may add features and fix bugs so it’s important to keep your radio up-to date.

Firstly, you’ll need an SD card that has been formatted in the radio. This adds the all the folders you’ll need and in the right places. To update the firmware, download and unzip the firmware data (for example, 905E115.dat) and copy it into the “IC-905” folder that is on your SD card. Follow the instructions on the Firmware Download page on the Icom site.

If you use the CS-905 software to program the radio, be sure to update this as well to the latest version.

Transfering IC-9700 memories to the IC-905

If you own an IC-9700, then the hard work you’ve done in programming memories is not lost on the Icom IC-905. The memory operation is a little different from that of the IC-9700. Using the CS-9700, open up say the 2m memories in the software. Right-click and export these memories to a local file on your computer

CS-9700 software for the Icom IC-9700

Open the CS-905 and create a group called 2m or 144, then import the file you just exported into the group. Then do the same for 70cm and 23cm. Job done.

IC-905 memories CS-905 Software

Memories

The IC-905 has a capacity of 500 memory channels which can be grouped as required into 100 groups. It also has 12 call channels – 2 for each band. It’s far easier to program the memories using the CS-905 software, but if front-panel operation is your thing, go for it.

Wired LAN

The IC-905 has a wired LAN. This can be used for:

  • Time synchronization by an NTP server.
  • Outputting the demodulated AF signal or 12 kHz IF signal.
  • Remotely controlling using optional RS-BA1 software (compatible in the near future).
  • Gateway communication (D-STAR)
  • Data communication (DD mode)
  • Picture transferring from a PC or a mobile device

TX Delay

The IC-905 allows TX delay on all bands with a separate delay for each band. The manual states “If an external equipment rise time is slower than that of the IC-905, a reflected wave is produced, and it may damage the IC-905 or the external device. To prevent this, set the appropriate delay time so that no reflected wave or timing damage occurs” This is a terrific option for those wanting to use this transceiver with amplifiers.

IC-705 / IC-905 TX Delay
IC-705 / IC-905 TX Delay

Amateur Television

The IC-905 is compatible with the ATV (FM-TV, NTSC, PAL or SECAM) mode. With an analogue camera connected, the IC-905 can transmit video, and receive real-time video. Furthermore, received videos can be monitored on an external display connected through an AV-output connector.

IC-905 ATV Mode

The IC-905 does not support digital ATV. There is no DVB-S, DVB-2S, DVB-T, DVB-T2, ATSC, DTMB, ISDB-T in ATV Mode.

IC-905 VHF UHF Microwave transceiver
Last Updated on April 30, 2024

Resources

For the latest versions of software and firmware, as well as manuals head over to the Icom Japan Website.

What comes in the box for your IC-905?

The IC-905 comes with the basis, which is everything to get you going. You’ll get the mic, power cable, RF head and controller, along with a 5m run of CAT5E which goes between the RF Head and the controller.  You’ll also find mounting hardware for the RF head including a stainless steel bracket and some nuts and bolts. There’s the usual basic manual and several languages as well as a connection guide.

IC-905 supplied accessories

You will need a Micro SD Card. 16Gb should suffice as this is not supplied with the radio. You’ll need this to update the firmware on the radio, especially in these early days of the transceiver’s life. In the early days of this radio there will be many firmware updates.

You’ll also need a USB cable to go between your PC and the radio. The free companion CS-905 software allows you to program and save all settings and frequencies to a local file on your PC. Sure you can program the radio directly from the front panel, but it’s just so much easier from the CS-905. Software. You can also export memories from the IC-9700 or IC-705 and import them into the CS-905 to save all the reprogramming.

What’s to like about the IC-905

Microwave Activity Days - Nik VK3BA's IC-905
Microwave Activity Days - Nik VK3BA's IC-905

The IC-905 is another well-made radio from Icom. The form factor and operation is almost identical to that of the IC-705. If you’re familiar with Icom’s range of SDRs then you’ll feel at home with the 905 straight out of the box. With its 10 watts on 2, 70 and 23cm bands via a single N-type connector on the RF module, it can easily find its way into the shack as an all-rounder. It’s its functionality as a microwave transceiver that adds to its potential as well as the price tag. The IC-905 comes standard with 13 and 6 cm, with an optional 10 and soon 24 GHz add-on. These options use the existing 13 and 6cm bands as IFs.

If you’re new to microwave it would pay to do a little research before you part with your hard-earned cash.

Here’s some of the features I like about the IC-905

  • A BIG operational touchscreen display
  • Operation is similar to other Icom SRDs
  • The display is visible in direct sunlight.
  • Auto-adjusting LCD backlight
  • Ability to lock VFO from bumps and knocks
  • Firmware upgradeable
  • Computer control for remote operation and programming
  • Plenty of memory space (groupable)
  • Built-in Micro SD Card

IC-905 initial observations…

The IC-905 is an easy-to-use transceiver that makes accessing the microwave bands easy. The added ATV functionality is a great addition and has proved popular amongst VK3 amateurs. You’re on air with a cheap video camera. 10 watts on 2m, 70cm, and 23 cm is adequate for local use.

One of the best features of this radio is its GPS locked. It makes the radio very stable and an invaluable piece of test equipment in the shack should you like to build and tune your own gear. The manual states frequency stability of 65ppb with frequency resolution of 1 Hz at a minimum.

RX preamps are accessible for 2, 70 and 23cm but no such feature exists on 5.7 or 2,4 GHz.

Some operators use this radio as a portable device, and while it works well in this role, it’s more suited to a home station because of the remote RF head. Some have noted the wear and tear on jacks by constantly connecting and disconnecting ethernet cables in the field may be problematic.

The radio runs HOT. In RX standby, it draws just on 2 amps. This is about the same as running the 9700, 7300 and 8900 in my shack combined. The RF output for 2.4 and 5.7 is slightly lower than specified. Both the RF and controller heads run warm to touch in RX standby mode.

The insertion loss of the 10 GHz module is also considerable. This claim was reported by a respected local who is well-experienced in microwave communication.

Mounting the controller head is a breeze as it has an AMPS hole pattern and 1/4-20 tripod mount which is standard in photographic equipment. Any tripod of camera mount will work.

Icom IC-905 VHF UHF Microwave Transceiver Specifications

The IC-905 is the industry’s first microwave rig in the 144, 430/440, 1200, 2400, 5600 MHz and 10 GHz* bands. Multi-mode operation including SSB, AM, FM, D-STAR DV/DD and FM-TV (Amateur TV). Output power is 10 W on 144, 430/440, 1200 MHz, 2 W on 2400, 5600 MHz and 0.5 W on 10 GHz.

Separate Controller and RF Unit Configuration

The IC-905 is the industry’s first super efficient microwave base station with the RF unit designed to be at the base of the antenna, rather than in the shack. This design eliminates signal loss due to costly, long coax feed line runs found in legacy SHF designs. Optional 50 m (164 ft) or 20 m (65.6 ft) controller cable is available with the IC-905.

Less Signal Loss

With the RF unit mounted at the antenna, transmit and receive signals are at their maximum efficiency as the coax feed line is measured in inches rather than feet, keep signal loss to a minimum. This is possible due to the controller cable providing digital communications between the controller and RF units.

GPS-Controlled Oscillator for Ultimate Frequency Stability

Frequency accuracy and stability are required for SHF band operation. Even with a high-performance OCXO, the frequency gradually changes due to temperature and aging. To solve this problem, the IC-905 uses a high-precision 1 pulse-per-second (1 PPS) clock signal from an internal GPS (GNSS) receiver to enable advanced frequency control.

IC-905 GPS

50 MHz Span Real-time Spectrum Scope

A high-performance real-time spectrum scope and waterfall display are built in. The real-time spectrum scope can be adjusted for Center, Fixed, and Scroll mode, and it covers a wide bandwidth of up to 50 MHz span.

ATV (Amateur TV) Mode

The IC-905 is compatible with the ATV (FM-TV, NTSC, PAL or SECAM) mode. With an analog camera connected, the IC-905 can transmit video, and receive a real-time video. Furthermore, received videos can be monitored on an external display connected through AV-output connector.

Full D-STAR Functions

DV, DD mode, DR function, Terminal mode, and Access Point mode enable easy use of D-STAR. It is also possible to send, receive, and view received pictures with the IC-905.

Optional 10 GHz Transverter, CX-10G

The CX-10G transverter provides 10 GHz operation by converting to a 2400 MHz IF signal. 10 GHz operation becomes more approachable and easier to work. The CX-10G is in bypass mode when the use of the 2400 MHz band.

microSD Card Slot

The microSD card slot enables the storage of user-profiles, QSO recording, TX voice memory keyer, RTTY logging, GPS data, screen capture, firmware upgrades, and programming.

Icom IC-905 All Mode Transceiver Connectors

IC-905 left side connectors
IC-905 Right Side connectors
IC-905 RF Head connections

Check out the IC-9700 review. If you’re thinking of buying the three radios in the set, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. No other manufacturer comes close to the specifications. I guess that’s why you don’t see many if any of these radios on the 2nd hand market.

Power Supplied through the Controller Cable

The DC power is supplied from the controller to the RF unit through the controller cable, making it possible to supply power with low loss. The optional CX-10G’s power is also supplied from the IC-905 RF unit.

Updating the IC-905 firmware

An update walk through

Updating the firmware in any radio keeps it running at it’s best. New features as well as engineering tweaks are added regularly, especially in radios that are new to the market. You can check the current firmware version by looking at the number in the lower right-hand corner of the display when you turn the radio on.

You’ll need a micro SD card to copy the new firmware to and you’ll have to head over to the Icom Japan site and navigate to the Firmware slash Software tab to download the latest update.

Download and unzip the firmware data (for example, 905E115.dat) and copy it into the “IC-905” folder that is on your SD card.

IC-905 night