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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Icom IC-230 Help

Reviews Summary for Icom IC-230
Icom IC-230 Reviews: 8 Average rating: 3.8/5 MSRP: $495 in 1973
Description: Icom's first "synthesized" (really crystal switched) 2m FM mobile rig, circa 1973
Product is not in production.
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W0EAJ Rating: 5/5 Apr 20, 2016 16:23 Send this review to a friend
Best of the First  Time owned: more than 12 months
I owned the FIRST one in Kansas City ($475). Put it in my '73 Saab Sonett sports car - had to make a special bracket to hold it under the dash (thin fiberglas). Had a hb W/E touchtone pad and it was astounding... Look Ma, no crystals! I still have IT and 2 others, which STILL work splendidly. Yes, the helical-resonators do a great job with "cross-mod" (it's NOT "intermod"!!)and I'd have to say it's only downfall was that it'c coverage had no room for expansion, but THAT was due to the bandpass of the helical-resonators. Inoue (Icom) was an avionics manufacturer BEFORE they did 2-way, and it shows. All modular sections and quite tough. Yep, it was the BEST of the FIRST.
K7DXT Rating: 4/5 Dec 2, 2015 20:25 Send this review to a friend
Good Memories...  Time owned: more than 12 months
No reviews for so many years? I'll give this old beast a '4', for both nostalgia and functionality. I bought a 230 for $10 back in 1991 when I upgraded to Tech, and I couldn't have been more proud of owning it.

It sat on the hump of my Ford Pinto for a couple of years before being relegated to my base station. I had zero problems with it over the years owned. Eventually, it was replaced with a Kenwood 241...a less than stellar rig.

So yeah...the IC-230, IC-22s, and IC2at all served me well over 20 years ago.

WB6CSH Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2008 19:54 Send this review to a friend
GREAT RADIO in it's day!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This transceiver was purchased NEW back in 1975, and still works flawlessly. It was a relief back in the 70's and 80's to have a radio in So. Calif. that could literally go anywhere FM was allowed at that time. There were simplex frequencies that could NOT be covered with the five added Xtals, but in those days, added repeater coverage was the goal - simplex was well-enough covered by the standard 30 KHz factory "system" supplied. Compared to the frequency-agility of today's 2 meter FM radios, it would fall far short. It has a very good helical-coil tuned front end that does better than many other radios, even to this day. I put the 15 KHz "splinter frequency" crystals into the five (I recall?) sockets to allow me to have TX and RX functions for the "new frequencies" when the standard 30 KHz frequencies were split in half. This radio can also be equipped with an external VFO (11.0 MHz range), giving it more frequency-agility than a handful of Xtals. If you have the chance to pick one up, I would insist on a return guarantee, unless the price is so low as to be insignificant. Keep in mind that this rig does not operate below 146 MHz. I do NOT know if those extra crystal sockets could be used for 144-146 MHz operation. Maybe with those new Xtals, 144-146 MHz could be covered, but signal degradation would occur, both in TX and RX. The receiver and Xmtr would probably have to be retuned for such operation. CTCSS (PL tone) would have to be added, as I did with mine, by either adding and outboard encoder (like ComSpec) or as has been suggested, but for which I CANNOT recommend, through the accessory socket on the rear. Looking at the schematic, I doubt this, since there is no access to the phase modulator at this socket. You would have to do some internal rewiring of this accessory socket to be able to add a CTCSS low-frequency tone!
KE7DZS Rating: 3/5 Aug 22, 2007 21:47 Send this review to a friend
My new to me Icom  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked up this rig for $1 including the manual. The radio was dirty and the case was full of dents but when I got home and powered it up, bingo
it works. It puts out just over 10 watts at 147.420 so it meets specs for power.
Limited compared to todays radios I think I got a bargain. A good radio for simplex use and testing my home brew antennas.
K7UA Rating: 3/5 Feb 16, 2006 14:18 Send this review to a friend
Once was great  Time owned: more than 12 months
Excellent review by K7VO. I had an IC230 as my mobile in the 1970s. It was a definite "5" in its time. Now? Has serious frequency and tone access limitations. Not of much use in 2006.
NE0P Rating: 3/5 Jan 19, 2006 10:09 Send this review to a friend
Very basic radio for today  Time owned: more than 12 months
I agree-Caity, K7VO, did write an excellent review. She says about all that needs to be said (her review gets a "5", this rig gets a "3").

This was my first 2 meter base/mobile rig, and I did have a lot of fun using it. It got me started in VHF DXing by making tropo contacts on FM simplex. It is amazing what you can do with 10 watts and a 5/8 mag mount antenna stuck in the rain gutter of the house-From Iowa to Michigan and Indiana!

As was stated, it is limited to what frequencies it will cover, although it might have those extra crystals added. Good luck trying to find those crystals today! It also has a strange 3 pronged mic plug, if I remember correctly.

Given its limitations, I wouldn't recommend it today because you can pick up rigs that will cover the entire 2 meter band for little of nothing. And it is large by todays standards-probably larger than my Yaesu FT100D.

It would make a fun rig to have again for old time's sake, though.
N1BEC Rating: 4/5 Sep 26, 2004 16:04 Send this review to a friend
IC-230 troubleshooting advice...  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Excellent review by '7VO!
I can add a little info if you're tearing your hair out by the roots trying to get one of these running.
Their Achilles Heel appears to be the band change switch.
I was given a unit as a basket case which was just about ready to meet a sledge hammer by its former owner. It wouldn't transmit or receive.
After some frustration, poking the band change switch caused the S meter light to momentarily light, so I cleaned out the switch with contact cleaner, and the unit came to life!
All of the controls needed cleaning, and after that the unit performed according to specifications.
Yes, the unit has its limitations, but it still can be used on some repeaters, and on Simplex for sure!
It's an interesting step in the evolution of synthesized 2M equipment.
It was a good unit in its day, and that's why I give it a 4 now.

73's, -Tom
K7VO Rating: 3/5 Sep 5, 2003 13:14 Send this review to a friend
Very durable old beast, requires a lot of modification  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Icom IC-230 was the very first Icom 2m FM mobile rig they called "synthesized" back in 1973. It was terribly expensive when it first came out, but it became popular anyway because you didn't have to buy a set of crystals for each repeater or simplex channel you wanted to work. That was quite an innovation back then. The radio puts out 10W on high power, 1W on low power.

The IC-230 actually switched in crystals to derive the desired frequency. It has a switch for 146 or 147 MHz (North American version) and knobs for 100s and 10s of KHz. The vertical meter lights up on frequencies where the cyrstals can be switched and operation is possible, but remains dark on other frequencies. So.. if you dial up 146.94 it's lit up, and 146.95 it's not. The radio worked in 30 KHz steps, which was the standard back in the early and mid '70s. No allowance for a tone encoder, of course, since CTCSS (PL) wasn't used back then, and there is no direct allowance for frequencies below 146.01.

As 30kHz spacing was replaced by 15 or 20kHz spacing, and as repeaters became common below 146Mhz, Icom actually had made some allowances for flexability in the design. You could add "A" or "B" crystals for both the 146 and 147 MHz segments that would give you a range of additional frequencies 30KHz apart. If, for example, you added a rock that would make 146.625 possible as 146.A2 on the display (the "A" position), you would get 146.655 as 146.A5 and 146.685 as 146.A8. By cleverly adding four rocks most all of the splinter channels (15kHz separation) could be added. A mod was available to change the normal/reverse switch for the duplex to a +10/-10 switch for 10KHz steps as well. Other mods came out for odd splits. You can add a tone encoder internally or externally through the 9-pin accessory socket. You can sacrifice splinter channels and make 146.A1 refer to something like 145.11 and then use the +/-10 mod to cover the lower part of the repeater band.

All of this is well and good, but it's a lot of work on a very old radio. OK, it works, and the reeciver is good. Some rigs will have extra rocks when you find them. Some will be modified, some won't. Most 30 year old rigs sold to you as "working" at a hamfest or online may function after a fashion but will need some cleanup or work. Way too many of these rigs have seen the "magic screwdriver".

I bought one at a hamfest for $10. After some contact cleaner, and a new power cord pigtail and connector it worked OK. That's pretty typical. Many rigs will need a full alignment after 30 years.

IF you don't mind tinkering, and IF you get the rig for $5 to maybe $15 for a nice one, and if you understand the limitations of the radio and it can do what you want, the IC-230 is remarkably durable and will probably work out well for you. I imagine quite a few still do duty in an odd room monitoring a single repeater or simplex frequency. They're quite good for that.

In their day these radios would have been a clear "5". Today, all I can do is give a "3" and say they are clearly not for everyone.

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