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IC-756PRO LCD Durability

Miller Liu (BV2SWL) on February 3, 2003
View comments about this article!

I find that 756PRO TFT LCD is really attraction for most ham. But I doubt if it's right with such design for LCD being the only output media. How do you and other ham with same rig thinking about this point ?
How long can I expect it work normally?

P.S.: can find such similar worry from Dave Z.

It has gadgets that other manufactures miss totally and is unavailable in any other box. The biggest draw is the real nifty "Spectrum Display" that allows for viewing of a chunk of the HF spectrum up to 200 KHz max. This works well and really helps from missing signals as you zip across the bands. You will fall in love at first sight with this one.

With ICOM's IC-R9000 beast now no longer sold, this is the only way to get a HF receiver with a "Good" spectrum display of this type. Most used R-9000's that around these days have excessive burn on the CRT displays, so be careful. This is one where the PRO II's will not have a problem with CRT burn as it uses a TFT LCD, and it's full color to boot. The "Band Scope" width above 30 MHz the R9000 was pretty much useless anyway, too narrow for VHF-UHF uses. And being I'm not into VHF-UHF monitoring. I never used the spectrum scope above 30 MHz on my R9000's when I had them.

The last IC-R9000's that were made (the "L" version) used a "backlit" LCD display. It's monochrome only, and I hear the resolution is really poor as it is NOT a TFT type.

The only down side is that we have a florescent tube in the back if the display to light the LCD with the PRO and PRO II's . This will be a royal pain when it burns out ?? You will see a nice black screen, like driving on country road with no headlights in total darkness. You would think by now they could use some of the new white LED's that are now around ? But these are still pretty pricey at time of writing, and would take a few to do it right.

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IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by K5DVW on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I notice many gasoline pumps have the same exact LCD screen in them burning 24 hours a day for years. I've yet to pull up to a gas pump with a dark screen. Since my IC756PII sees only a few hours a week of operation, I'm hoping the LCD screen isn't going to give me any issues.

I'm hoping the engineers at ICOM did an extensive MTBF analysis on the LCD screen before implementing it and decided it was on par with the rest of the circuitry.

To extend the life of the flourescent tube it may help to turn down the brightness.

IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KG6AMW on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The local gas station has a pump display with a LCD with a big black hole in the center (the glass cover looks in place, so the LCD itself failed). That said, they build these things not to break down too soon. I'm sure ICOM looked into this issue. They will operate at least 50,000 hours, but won't take temperature extremes (heat or cold). Poking a screw driver into it or cleaning it with gasoline will probably shorten its life.

IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
Anonymous post on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The same concerns were brought up when camera manufacturers put displays on high end cameras in the late eighty's. As of 2003, there are no issues with this problem in cameras. Displays have had no higher failure rates than any other components. In fact I know many owners of T90 and EOS cameras that are over 15 years old and the displays still work fine. My own camera displays work fine. In fact other displays like nixie tubes and plasma displays have a very bad history of failure and were very expensive compared with solid state displays.
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WB6MYL on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting fodder for thought but conjecture at best. The author states: "most R-9000s have a burn around the edges"; where does he get this stuff; I have had several (and still do) R-9000s and have no experience or signs or indications of any CRT burn (same with the 781s I have seen and had); the same CRT is used in several types of medical monitoring equipment and is available from many (non-ham) sources. Such a comment is an undue and (assumingly) unjustified rap on a pinnacle receiver. Thanx for the bandwidth. Phillip W. Harris, PhD.P.C.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WA9SVD on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Why mention only the IC-756? The 746, and many of the VHF/UHF mobile rigs all use LCD Displays. Why do you believe the 756 display is less reliable?

I would think the LCD is at least as reliable as the fluorescent display on many of the other rigs.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KE1MB on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Get ready. LCD screens do burn in. We have several RF test instruments here at work that run 24-7 and for the ones we do not load screen savers on show signs of burn in. At least with a IC781 you can replace the CRT. I am sure you can get a replacement LCD screen from Icom.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by AB8PR on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
LCD technology is pretty much the same across the board. Take a look at laptops. In a business environment, these units take an incredible amount of 'up' time, and I haven't seen one fail from outright overuse unless it was defective from the factory. Abuse is another story. What ham is going to abuse that $$$ radio though? ;)
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KB5AG on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I've had several radios with LCD displays, and outside of all out failure, I've never seen one go dim. Yes, the fluorescent backlight will eventually dim and fail, but it should be a whole lot cheaper to replace than a whole display. My JRC-JST245 transceiver has a color LCD display, and it got dimmer over time and eventually failed to light (sometimes). The replacement cold cathode fluorescent tube wasn't expensive, and replacing it made the display shine like new again.
LED's should be good too, but there have been reports of them dimming over time. I guess everything has a finite life span.

The displays we SHOULD be glad to be rid of are the fluorescent type, like those in older ICOM rigs. I can verify that they go dim over time, and begin to look dirty in just a few years of hard use. They're usually custom affairs, which means that they'll probably be impossible to replace many years down the road. What will happen to R71's, TS830's, and FT757's in 20 years?

John KB5AG

RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by VE7VJ on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"What will happen to R71's, TS830's, and FT757's in 20 years? "

Hmmm, sounds like a cottage industry waiting to be born ;)
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KF9VH on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have had a Pro for over a year and use it most evening for hours at a time with no display problem.

Every thing is prone for failure why pick on the Pro? What about the Jupitor and the new Orion? Seems to be the wave of the future.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KE1MB on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
From what I have seen is not a total failure of the display. Just 700+ days of 24hrs a day without a screen saver of any type or change in the display will cause a slight burn in. If you are still concerned just order a backup LCD display from whoever made your radio.
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by N6KP on February 3, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to have a dollar for all the dial lamps that have burned out in my radios over the years.
I also have a 756 Pro and the selling feature was the display. I do a lot of 10 meter DX and I can spot a pile up quickly with the display. Hopefully, someone will come up with an after market replacement if I ever need one.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KB8ASO on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This may be the answer to part of the problem. No connection with the company. From ECN:

Randy AB9GO

JKL Components Corp. announces that it is addressing the problem of prohibitive costs faced by individuals and corporations needing to repair or replace backlit LCD displays on a variety of devices. JKL Components is now offering mini-fluorescent lamp and harness assemblies, which offer fast, and economical repair solution for screens up to 18.1". The company produces an extensive line cool white CCFL lamps in diameters from 2 to 6 mm, in lengths from 25 to 360 mm, complete with high voltage wire harness and mating connector for as little as $12. Individuals or service/repair centers can now order from 1 to 1,000 lamps or lamp/harness assemblies with compatibility to most manufacturer's LCD displays.
JKL Components Corp., 13343 Paxton St., Pacoima, CA 91331; (818) 896-0019; Fax: (818) 897-3056; .
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WY3X on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The fluorescent bulbs behind the screen will eventually fail- needing to be replaced.
They may not fail in the owner's lifetime, and other components of the radio may
fail long before the fluorescent tubes, but eventually, they will fail. I have a laptop
with this type of display; there are only TWO tubes, one on each side of the display.
So I don't think you'll find that many in there- it probably uses two also. And I'm
betting that the same tube is probably in use in many things in Japan besides just
the IC-756 Pro series of radios- it's too expensive for manufacturers to have
proprietary light bulbs made, so look for other manufacturers to use the same bulb
in other electronic devices. Five years down the road, when they start failing on
everything, some third-party manufacturer will see a big $ sign and begin making
knock-offs in hopes of getting a piece of the pie. Such is life. Will it be a pain to
replace them? Probably, just like replacing parts in any rice-box. Teeny-tiny parts
not made for American hands to work on. But we always adapt and overcome!
Use the rig, be happy, and when/if it ever fails, I'm sure you'll do just fine in getting
a repair accomplished.

Talk up ham radio! -Web Williams in Myrtle Beach, SC
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by AD6ZU on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
If you are hooked on a real time spectrum display, see if you can visit someone who has a Kenwood SM-220 or 230 with the pan adapter hooked up to a TS-520, 530, 820, 830, 850, 870, 940, or 950. You'll be really hooked. It doesn't have the colorful display or the peak hold of the 756Pro/Pro2 spectrum scope. It just lookes like an oscilloscope trace, but it is an excellent spectrum display and a perfect tool for "search and pounce" contesting (SSB and CW), or even SWL-ing if your rig is capable of general coverage. Best of all, it works on any Kenwood rig with an 8.83MHz IF output (I think you can tap it off even if it doesn't have a built in connector such as the 930). Best of all, it doesn't "burn" into the screen unless you leave it on without a signal. You could also just turn the intentesity down when not in use to keep the scope "warmed up" because the display does drift from right to left during the first few minutes of warm up.

The SM-220/BS-8 can be adapted for other IF's if you do a little circuit modification. I've even seen a webpage where someone modified his SM-220/BS-8 to work with the 10.7MHz IF on an Icom R-7000. You could also do this with the Yaesu YO901, but the SM-220's seem to be much more common. Just food for thought.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WA9SVD on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think the original post was about failure of the fluorescent backlight(s) used in the rig. That would probably be an easy (relatively, that is...) fix; just replace the fluorescent tubes, which are probably pretty common. (Probably similar to those used in laptop computers.)

No, I believe the original concern was about catastrophic failure of the LCD display itself. If the display (or any part of it's associated circuitry) dies, you are left high and dry. Unless you can get a replacement display from the manufacturer, you are left with a VERY expensive paper weight! The only possible way to use the radio without a visible display is if you can use computer control, and that might not allow full use of all the features unless the controol program was specifically tailored to that radio.

That said, I don't know what the life expectancy is for that type of display, but I'd expect it to be at least that of the various fluorescent displays used in many other radios.

Laptop computers have similar displays, but the difference is that nobody expects to be using the same laptop computer 10, 20 or 30 years from now (well, OK, MAYBE 10 years; I still use my NEC "portable" XT compatible for packet after 16 years...) They become obsolete so fast, I doubt if there are more than a handful of people that have "worn out" their screen. And if the failure is simply the backlight, those tubes can be replaced. But a replacement LCD screen is very expensive; probably not worth the repair price unless it's a new model that has suffered physical damage, or other "abuse," whether accidental or not.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WA9SVD on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

You ask "what about these rigs in 20 years?" Unfortunately, that 20 years is NOW.

I don't mean to single out any manufacturer, but just an example: (I'm sure all the manufacturers are alike in this matter.)

A friend has an FT-757 and he needed the "display driver" IC replaced. He got it back with the comment "parts no longer available." His only option is to look for a "junked" 757 and hope the display from the junker will work in his radio.

I especially worry, because I have a great mobile radio, a Standard C-5608. It had controls in the microphone before the "Fab 3" manufacturers caught on to the idea. But Standard has left the U.S. market, and there's no way to get replacement parts. When it dies, I'll be out of luck. I sure hope it's LCD display "lives long and prospers..."
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by W4MGY on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I own a TenTec Jupiter, Omni V, SGC-2020, Yaesu and Kenwood UHF/VHF radios plus 2 rather recent SWL receivers as part of my station line up. Durability is a real issue here, my gear is in use 6-8 hours a day, 7 days a week. No doubt the newer rigs with all the pretty LCD displays, scopes, etc are nice, I can't knock 'em. I deeply understand the concerns writen in this thread. However, because many of the display systems in these sets are custom made; after the product has made it's run, can we get parts 5 years from now? I really doubt it. Sometimes, older gear is a better alternative. I hate to say it folks, but The Big-3 don't expect your kilo $ radio to be use 10 years from now. In fact, they honestly hope it will develop problems so you will buy another rig from them! Not me, if the aforementioned equipment ever starts to give me any won't be replaced with any of the new gear on the market. I have on hand several older Analog Collins and Drake HF rigs and receivers. The only thing that burns out in an analog display is a #47 plenty of them.
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by AA4PB on February 4, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I think the LCD is the least of the problems related to long term use. I think the days of 20-year old radios are probably long gone. Most of today's radios are chuck full of custom components that are only available from the radio manufacturer and will likely be unavailable in a few years. When any one of those parts fail you have an expensive piece of scrap metal.
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by K0ZN on February 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have a P-2, which I find to be an excellent today's standards. However, I'd bet that the current IC-756Pro2 will be a "real boat anchor" in 20 years. That doesn't make it a bad radio... but at the rate technology is going, a "cheap" year 2023 radio will likely blow this thing away.... I had what I thought were some supurb tube type receivers in their day, and they are still fun to play with, but they can't even be compared to a new 756 Pro. Time waits for no man (or radio!).... About all I would say to owner's of LCD/TFT, etc. type is probably a good idea to turn it off if you really are not using it. Common sense says letting it run 24-7 and only using it for a couple of hours on Saturday mornings is probably inviting some problems over the long term... Most people don't leave Stereo/HiFi's or TV's on why leave a $2K radio to just sit there and cook? 73's...
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KE1MB on February 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Don't think just because a radio is no longer supported means you cannot get parts. You can do one of two things. One, find a supplier on line , such as i have, and order the part, or two, dig up the spec sheet of the failing device and find a "work around" part. As far as rigs like the Ten Tec radios with their LED readouts, I think those radios will have their displays going for many a year to come. And even if they do burn out that LED display is a easy fix. I do think about this as I run a '84' vintage TS930 everynight all night on a night stand. I do run the display on dim and have considered on adding a resistor to make it even dimmer. This will help it last longer. But one day I know it will give out and in that case I will have to design a LED replacement very simular to the Ten Tec radios. This is a tough thing for hams who spend top dollor on a radio and want to have it running 24-7. All I can say is if you plan on this kind of service and really think you will keep the radio for years to come then order those special parts now. You will either end up using them or selling them for more than what you paid years from now. This is really no different than owning a car. If you drive a newer car you really don't have an issue, if you choose to drive an older car either pay the shop or work on it your self.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WA9SVD on February 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
A possible LED display may be an option for some radios with a simple display, such as frequency, but for those radios that use a complex display to display mode, VFO A/B, menu, filter selection, etc., it is not that simple. The display is going to be proprietary, and 15-20 years from now, I doubt anyone will design an "aftermarket" or "second source" display for an Icom 746, 756, or any other radio from any other manufacturer with LCD display. Once the manufacturer can no longer supply parts, you are S.O.L. "Strictly Out of Luck." And it happens sooner than you think.
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KE1MB on February 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Ah ha! Then they have won! The marketing people who end up deciding on what the design team will be allowed to come up with have finally produced a disposable product. No more buying used radios that are 10 years old. We all knew it would be a matter of time before they figured out a way to force us to buy new radios every couple of years. Ok, so this is a bit over the top. But I had to write it.

ke1mb :)
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by W4PA on February 6, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
>I think the LCD is the least of the problems related >to long term use. I think the days of 20-year old >radios are probably long gone. Most of today's radios >are chuck full of custom components that are only >available from the radio manufacturer and will likely >be unavailable in a few years. When any one of those >parts fail you have an expensive piece of scrap metal.

Just wanted to take this opportunity to point out
that a) Ten-Tec uses no custom components in our
HF transceivers - everything is 'off the shelf' b)
we fix everything we've ever built going back to
the 1960's and will continue to do so and c) we
scour the surplus markets for stuff like 20 year old
IC's for that purpose - other companies could too,
but they don't bother.

Send in a 20 year old Ten-Tec; we'll fix it.

Scott W4PA
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KE1MB on February 6, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Have to give Ten Tec a thumbs up and agree. Being an electronics tech myself and taking a look under the hood of even modern Ten Tec radios, i must say that they use parts that are easy to get and easy to fix. If you are good with repair a Ten Tec is a frendly radio to have.
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WA0ZZG on February 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The ORIGINAL IC-756 used a very similar display that
is also used on a piece of broadcast equipment. Orban
Corp used it on the Optimod 8200 FM processor. This
is designed to run 24 hours a day, but I was advised
to enable the screen blanker(is turns off the bulb).
I was told that if I left the display running, it
would burn out in 30 to 60 days and would require the
replacement of the entire display. Orban has the
display at full brightness.
Dave Maley WA0ZZG
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KG4OKV on February 8, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I doubt that the color LCD display will crap out on you anytime soon. When LCDs fail it's usually the selastic connection not the module it self.
A good source for obsolite or propriatary I.C.'s or chips is a company in Florida named New Advantage. We use the a lot at work and they have done a great job for us.
IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by K9WMM on February 10, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I had a slight problem with my 756 Pro II. When cold, about 60 F., the display would not come on immediately at power up. It would have a 30 or 40 second delay. Icom requested I send it back, which I did. I am waiting for the repaired unit. Otherwise, it worked just great. It is a fantastic radio, the best I have owned in 43 years on the air.

RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by WA9SVD on February 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Display burnout in 30 - 60 days? I'm sure we would have had a LOT of complaints from 746 and 756 owners if that were truly the case. We amateurs ofter leave our equipment on for long periods of time. No offense, but I think the commercial manufacturer might have been pulling your leg. And in commercial equipment, if they really used the same display, the company might not want to go through the trouble of replacing just the backlight. It's always easier and faster to just replace a whole unit than the part that fails. They may figure that commercial stations can afford it, and want the fastest turn around time. (But I'd be willing to bet they refurb the displays with new backlights and use those for replacements...)
RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by AC5ML on February 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I heard some hams have problem (horizontal strips )
on the original 756 ...

RE: IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by W5USB on July 7, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I own a K2 so I really don't care either way.

One thing I noticed on the eagerly awaited IC-7800 was the blatant simulation of analog s-meters with that big ole' LCD. What have we come to where a manufacturer cannot put a few "real" gauges on their "work of art". For pete's sake, they want 10 grand for that black box with a 7in. LCD.

Next year, knobs and buttons will be "out", in favor of an 10in. touch-screen LCD. Heck, can't the computer geeks go bother some other hobby?

Don't ever open that box on your brand new rig, for you will surely be disappointed at how little you see inside.


IC-756PRO LCD Durability  
by KC2GMC on September 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
As an avionics technician I am seeing crts and vacuum flourescent displays being phased out by LCD displays, which attests to their reliability in high vibration environments and wide temperature ranges. The one caution with them is anti-glare coatings on the displays are very sensitive to abrasion and some chemicals. Generally lens cleaning solutions and cloths work well for cleaning, but manufacturers guidelines should always be followed. The older displays required higher voltages which made cleanliness of connectors critical, and vacuum loss was often a problem over a period of years.
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