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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Icom ID-5100A Help


Reviews Summary for Icom ID-5100A
Icom ID-5100A Reviews: 35 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $899
Description: Innovative 2m/70cm transceiver with touch screen and internal GPS
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/dstar/id5100a/default.aspx
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M0MTJ Rating: 2/5 Feb 21, 2015 11:27 Send this review to a friend
It works  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I wanted a 2m/70cm transceiver with dual receivers so that I can monitor two bands or two frequencies at the same time. Being as I have an Icom IC-7600 which is a phenomenally great HF transceiver in every respect, I considered Icom again for this purchase. I was also keen to add and try the D-Star digital mode.

The obvious choice, therefore, seemed to be an Icom D-Star radio. The latest addition to the range being the ID-5100.

The transceiver is supplied in two parts; the control head and the main body. More of which later. Both parts are quite solid and seem to be well made. The physical knobs have solid feel to them. The touch screen functions also have a positive and precise action.

While I took to the IC-7600 like a proverbial duck to water, I found the ID-5100 rather less intuitive. The learning curve is, to me, very steep.

Using the basic VFO and the dual receivers is fine and dandy, but sorting out memories seems less easy.

For me, the only way to set up the radio with memories and organised repeater lists is to use the Icom CS-5100 software. Fortunately Icom thoughtfully supply this on a CD ROM with the radio.

Unless I have missed something, a shortfall of the CS-5100 software, is that it will not allow information (text data) to be copied to the Memory fields from any other part of the software, eg the repeaters fields or, indeed, from another program such as a spreadsheet, plain text or a web-page. I wanted a few local repeaters in the Memory banks, so rather than a simple copy and paste job - this became a tedious exercise of entering everything manually, field by field. I suppose it's a minor niggle, but a nuisance.

However, once up an running, accessing the memories via the usual V/M function is simple.

The other functions, mostly accessed via the touch screen, work well. For example it is easy to switch between main and sub receivers, between bands, quick frequency changes and tuning step changes.

Although I have not made any measurements or critical comparisons, the receiver performance seems fairly adequate; perhaps not quite as sensitive as my FT-7900 which makes a better job of receiving marginal signals.

On air audio reports have been good on FM and DV.

The D-Star system really is quite complex. It is, of course, described in the documentation.

The radio comes with a printed 'Basic' manual which runs to 90 pages, which make the usual tortuous reading.

The ID-5100 also needs a further 'Full' manual which runs to another 352 tortuous pages. I found YouTube to be a more accessible source of information.

I would imagine that D-Star operation for those users who are already familiar with the system will find it pretty straightforward.

So far, so above average.

As mentioned, the ID-5100 is supplied in two parts; the main body and the separate control head. The head does not fit onto the body in the way that, for example, an IC-706 or an FT-7900 head does.

While a typical U shaped steel mounting bracket is supplied to install the main body, unforgivably, Icom does not supply any kind of bracket to support the control head. Without this the control head will be quite unusable; If using at home as a base station, for example, the control head will just slide around the desk with the display facing up at the ceiling.

This radio is supposed to sell for nearly £600.00 GBP ($900.00 US) and yet Icom are too mean to include a simple, but essential, mounting bracket. Wow.

How much would even a plastic 'get you going' solution cost? A pound or two. Yet nothing is included, and buyers are expected to purchase further expensive, overpriced, accessories.

Of course I knew this before making the purchase, but it is still unforgivable in my opinion. (I home-brewed my own from high impact polystyrene sheet material for £5)

I also knew, before purchase, that the screen was a simple monochrome effort.

However it's only after operating the unit for a while that one realizes what a cheap and shoddy affair this display is. In a world of colourful smartphone touchscreens and competing transceivers from other manufacturers (at more competitive prices) that use clear and informative colour screens, it is at best surprising that Icom have not used a colour screen and, at worst, inexcusable on such an expensive radio.

Worse than that though, is that Icom have used not just a monochrome display - but a really, really poor monochrome display. It can only be described as grey-on-grey. I know that the book and the film '50 shades of grey' has been popular recently, but come on Icom, this display is shockingly awful with poor contrast and poor viewing angles. Even the much older IC-706 and most other competing products have far clearer displays.

And another niggle, which was unknown before purchase: The base unit requires forced air cooling, so there is a familiar cooling fan fitted to the rear.

Initially I simply placed the base unit on top of my desk, with the control head in front of it.

However, the fan runs every time the mic is keyed and is amazingly loud. I tried the fan speed adjustments in the menu, but to no avail. For example, setting the fan speed to 'slow' causes the fan to run continuously. Even on the slow speed the noise is irritating, so it's not practical to leave the ID-5100 on this setting while operating another radio. The persistent noise will be there all the time.

So the fan was changed back to the 'auto' setting and then the only alternative was to try to re-locate the base unit somewhere where the noise would not be quite so intrusive. I tried under the desk, a bit further away from the seating position. Truthfully, installing it the next room is what's really required.

Other oddities:

1) The left hand receiver section has a somewhat harsh audio quality (FM) with lots of high frequency audio response, while the right hand receiver has rather less high frequency audio response and so sounds somewhat 'mellower'. This is odd - and why the difference?

2) The FM squelch knobs are rather peculiar in operation. On most radios the threshold of the squelch on a vacant frequency between noise and silence is quite sharp - i.e. the knob only has to be turned a few degrees (e.g. backwards and forwards between 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock). However in many circumstances, on the ID-5100, the squelch knob must be rotated around to 12 o'clock to achieve squelch, but then to release the squelch (i.e. to hear hiss again) the knob must be positioned back round to 9 o'clock - i.e. it is rather erratic and not as 'sharp' as you would expect - certainly on other radios.

This is a bit of an ergonomic frustration.

To summarize:

Good points:

A reasonable receiver with the benefit of dual receive. Good audio reports on transmit on both FM and DV. Thankfully Icom supply CS-5100 'cloning software' for memory management. D-Star operation is, I am sure, as 'old hands' would want it to be. Operationally the controls, both physical and touch screen, are positive in action.

Bad Points:

Shockingly bad screen quality. Shockingly noisy fan. No control head mounting bracket of any sort supplied. Some other peculiar quirks which probably should not be present on such an expensive radio.

Icom - Pull Your Socks Up. 2.5 out of 5




 
WZ4K Rating: 3/5 Jan 25, 2015 22:28 Send this review to a friend
Not my favorite  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
One star for the fan and one star for the display.

The fan is ridiculous. In a car you'de never notice it under your seat but as a base unit ... terrible. The display has very poor contrast - it lacks the sharpness and clarity of other much less expensive radios like my Yaesu FT-7900. The viewing angle is limited, especially in the vertical plane. That and the lack of an ambient light sensor just sucks in the car. Performance is OK but does not justify its price. I'm very sorry I purchased this radio. At the basic level, you get the human interface elements right - then you add features, this Icom seems to have tried this in reverse - let's add advanced features and then engineer the interface on our coffee break.
 
850MIKE Rating: 4/5 Jan 3, 2015 09:52 Send this review to a friend
Oh but it DOES perform DSTAR cross-band repeat!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I wanted to focus my review on aspects not already covered extensively.

First, as the title notes, one can indeed use this radio to cross-band DV RF. It's slightly non-intuitive in that both bands need be set to FM, but so long as there is a DSTAR radio on each end and the 5100 is the "dumb" translator go-between, it works, and works well! I find that it's not fast enough to pass link commands in the UR callsign field to my DVAP, but unlink worked. It works just fine for accessing and carrying on a QSO using my ID-51 on the local DSTAR repeater. Remember, you must be set to FM on both cross band repeat bands, and don't forget if using with a repeater, you need to ensure the offset is applied so that the cross band transmission comes out on the repeater input. It is necessary to use caution as you are essentially operating a riskier scenario without PL/DPL and any signal detected (interference too) could key up the radio. A heavy duty cycle can also potentially run your car battery down over a period of time, if using it mobile.

Second, the first radio I received was a lemon. Its control head had a degenerative nonresponsiveness issue. No big deal as the nice folks at Main Trading Company got me a replacement very quickly. This issue is not unheard of as I saw another post about the same problem right out of the box.

Third, the brightness adjust has be done manually for day/night conditions. Oh how I wish it had an ambient brightness sensor!

The second/third items above are why the radio has earned 4 stars instead of five,

Fourthly, I find the GPS sensitivity adequate even with the radio being down lower on the dash than most. It is attached to in-dash mount adjacent the good-times radio in the car, thus it is not directly below the windshield on top of the dash, where satellite view is more optimal. I have had no problems acquiring lock and maintaining it on ,any satellites,

As you may have guessed, I do really like this radio!

73
 
K7CB Rating: 4/5 Dec 16, 2014 14:28 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio With Great Features  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First off, I rated this radio a 4 simply because of Icom's brilliant decision to NOT include mounting hardware for a mobile radio. Enough said on there since that horse has been beaten pretty thoroughly.

With the mounting hardware issue out of the way, so far I am very impressed with this radio. I especially like the larger display. With this radio, you can program a memory with a city that has a long name such as Albuquerque or Colorado Springs without having to abbreviate. If the name is too long for it to fit on the display, the name will scroll across once. Along with the larger display, the touch capability is a great feature - allowing Icom to cut down on the number of buttons while still maintaining good functionality without the need to dig into menus for certain settings.

The receiver, so far, has been great. I'm on the board of the Cheyenne Mountain Repeater Group here in Colorado and we have a D-Star repeater on Raton Pass. I can actually open and receive this repeater - located approximately 150 miles from my QTH. Granted, I'm on a hill and the signal isn't strong, but it breaks the squelch and I can easily copy anything said through it. Whether the receiver is better than the 2820 or 880 requires further testing.

The DR function allowing you to bring up a list of D-Star repeaters from the programmed database or based on your GPS location is a great feature. Through the use of the touch screen, setting the radio up for a particular D-Star repeater is much easier than it was on the 2820. You can even program analog FM repeaters into the database and the 5100 will list any repeaters that are near you.

No radio is perfect and the 5100 is no exception. Besides the lack of mounting hardware, I've found the GPS receiver to be a bit slow. Even with the control head mounted on top of my dashboard in full view of several overhead satellites, my Kenwood in-dash navigation system locates and locks on to overhead satellites much faster than the 5100. Not a major issue since I'm not using the 5100 for navigation. Another minor thing - I would have preferred that Icom NOT put the GPS antenna in the control head. I would have preferred it was external like the 2820. To get a good signal from the satellites requires that you put the control head in a location where it can "see" the birds. Mounting the control head in a storage bin under the dash will affect GPS reception.

Aside from the minor issues noted, the 5100 is perhaps the finest VHF/UHF radio I've ever owned.
 
KG5DZR Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2014 12:19 Send this review to a friend
Simply Amazing  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The Icom ID-5100A has been my first VHF/UHF base/mobile radio since I got into ham radio, and I could not have made a better choice. Touch screen enabled, the Icom ID-5100A allows any user to easily set up, and operate the radio with stunning ease everyday. It has much information built in which means almost no programming, just put in your reaper frequency and go is almost all you have to do.

DSTAR is also amazing and fun to use. I have had no problems with this mode, and have talked to the world.

All I can say about this radio, is 5++++++++++
 
K6ZA Rating: 5/5 Nov 23, 2014 21:24 Send this review to a friend
The Next Step  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I had a D710 in the car for 2 years with he G4 GPS map display. It was excellent for my need. The ID-5100 is a leap above for ease of use and intuitive functionality. That said, my experience with the ID-5100 had a rocky start. The unit arrived in perfect condition and worked for two days. I then bought the RT systems and ARRL travel database software to create my ideal import file. As soon as I uploaded the compatible file, the touch display failed to be consistently responsive. It was bizarre to imagine the upload caused the display failure, but no action fixed the issue. Kudos go to Gigaparts (great people) who recognized the failure and replaced the radio with a new one without question. The radio went back to Icom. Their note was Icom was going to review how they package the display for shipment. I have programmed the new radio manually being gun shy to repeat the file upload. I suspect it was just a lemon radio.. but the upload and then immediate failure was just too much of a coincidence. RT systems indicated that they never heard of the issue. I feel it is important that this be presented to the radio buying public.
 
N8UMW Rating: 4/5 Nov 2, 2014 11:38 Send this review to a friend
Good Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned this rig for a couple months now and am very pleased with it's ease of use. The performance is very good as well, both transmit and receive. While I have to agree with some about the lack of any mounting brackets, I would not let this deter you from owning one. It is a performer. I do however have one issue with this rig that I've seen on some other Icom rigs. The volume knobs are sloppy. They shouldn't be loose on a brand new radio. The squelch and encoder knobs are firm, why can't the volume knobs be? There should be nothing cheap feeling on a radio of this price and otherwise excellent quality.
 
WK3P Rating: 5/5 Sep 8, 2014 18:48 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I canít believe the people complaining about no mount. I bent a piece of aluminum drilled two holes and was done. They could of put a different screw size. The Pan Head Machine Screw 2.6mm were a challenge to find. I just went to Ebay.
The radio was so easy to work I had trouble at first looking for a way to make it harder.
Dstar has a learning curve but isnít that what the hobbyís about?
I love the radio
 
WD1V Rating: 5/5 Sep 4, 2014 05:23 Send this review to a friend
Best Dual Band Digital  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just 2 weeks into owning. I am often hearing on the air
other 5100A owners saying this is their favorite radio - ever!
Its in my top 5 and still trending up.

* XMIT and RCVR audio - stunning - Analog and D-Star
* Touch Display and smooth, intuitive UI
* Sensitive and Tight Receiver
* GPS miles and direction to station listening
* Built in Repeater Directory with Local Auto Load to Mem
* 1000 Memories
* SD Card QSO Recording
* Crossband Repeat Function Included

I also purchased RT Systems software and cable for programming memories and an Icom external speaker.
Vehicle is a Jeep so nice to have the speaker aimed at me and the radio secure under the driver's seat. Also bought 7' CAT-5 cable for easy mic extension.

Also of note is the high degree of courtesy and quality of QSOs on D-Star. There are several regional and international nets that are so well run. The phenomenal reflectors and end user controlled linking of repeaters is 21st century preparedness. Semper Fi brothers and sisters.

 
K7NG Rating: 5/5 Aug 11, 2014 15:18 Send this review to a friend
I love this radio!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I really didn't NEED the ID-5100. I have a perfectly good Kenwood mobile dualband radio. I studied the product sheet for the 5100, decided that a great deal of the NON-DStar features were worth having the radio, and I am interested in getting my feet with with D-Star, though I may be the only D-Star capable ham in my area at the moment. The way Icom has improved the user-friendliness of each generation of D-Star radios is quite impressive... but again, the non-D Star features of this radio were what sold me. It seems to have a really hot front end on VHF, and I'm not sure yet about UHF but it's as good as the radio it replaces. The great big display panel and touchscreen make it very easy to do an installation that suits me rather than suits the radio, as in most cases. I really liked the many banks in which both digital and analog channels can be placed, as I drive long distances I can change from one bank to another or use the DR function to find repeaters for me (sometimes).

All is not perfect; there is no 'perfect' radio as there is no 'perfect' girlfriend or 'perfect' shotgun. In my case, I find that the display is either a little too bright at night or too dim in daytime without making an adjustment as ambient light changes. An auto-dim feature would be nice, but would take a light sensor. The internal GPS receiver seems to be a little feeble, my vehicle navigation system with a little 1.2" square puck antenna keeps more satellites in urban canyons or tree canopy than the 5100: I have the display (and GPS antenna) mounted on a gooseneck which puts it alongside the dash, not atop it. The outside view is good thru windshield and side windows but the GPS isn't always available. I'd like to have an external antenna connector. Even when I placed the display temporarily on top the dash I saw the GPS drop out much more than the vehicle system did.

The mic cord worked out to be just about 18" shorter than I needed, but I made a regular straight thru RJ45 cable out of CAT 5 and with a splice connector I happened to have I have the microphone hanger where I want it now.

I haven't really fallen all over myself about a radio in many a year. I have some equipment I 'really like' such as my TenTec Orion, but so far I 'love' the ID-5100.
 
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