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Reviewed by Rick Palm, K1CE
QST Contributing Editor
Using BridgeCom Systems’ new 222 MHz (1.25 meter band) mobile radio was a walk down memory lane for me. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, I was part of a small, quirky but devoted group who ragchewed on two 220 MHz repeaters in northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts. One machine was on Talcott Mountain overlooking Hartford, and was run by the son of a major city developer. The other was owned/ controlled by my longtime friend, Paul Koplow, WA1VEI, on Mt Lincoln in the Berkshires. Our radios back then were quirky, too: mine was a Midland (crystalcontrolled, no PLL) that looked like a battered, old CB radio from a trucker’s cab — the kind you might find today in a pawn shop. Later I had a Yaesu Memorizer for the band, which was a great radio. We rolled our eyes and suffered one user who used the autopatch to talk with his wife on his commute home every evening with over-the-top kissing and cooing sounds. Off-air and even on-the-air counseling sailed over his head.
Nowadays, the 222 – 225 MHz band is still a great spot for repeaters and their disciples. I had a lot of fun getting back on this band thanks to the BridgeCom BCM-220. Continuing with the nostalgic theme here, the company, which is based in Smithville, Missouri, evokes the feel and quality of those old radios in their new products, especially this one. The BCM-220 is built like a tank, with commercial-grade construction, and a high-quality, heavy-duty mic that eschews the numerous functions/ buttons that populate some mics. The BCM-220’s mic has a simple DTMF keypad and only three function buttons below it: the first to switch between memory and VFO modes, and the second and third buttons for frequency or channel up and down. That’s it — and I love it! It’s heavy and feels good in my mic hand. Indeed, all of the radio’s functionality seems to be focused on the essentials, and that’s a plus in my book.