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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Icom IC-290A/H Help

Reviews Summary for Icom IC-290A/H
Icom IC-290A/H Reviews: 14 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: 2m all mode mobile rig
Product is not in production.
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N1LEU Rating: 5/5 Aug 3, 2013 14:43 Send this review to a friend
Great ssb/cw rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought my IC-290H because I wanted a rig for 2m SSB, It was used but in good shape and at a fair price. I hooked this radio up to a halo antenna and attached a straight key. the radio receives and transmits good but the squelch does chatter requiring the squelch to be turned up. but as for CW & SSB it is a great performer, I have made many contacts with this rig on both 25 watts and QRP (1 Watt). On FM this radio also works well and I have a Communication Specialists TE-64 p.l. encoder. Overall good rig I won't want to replace.
W9GB Rating: 5/5 Aug 8, 2012 19:46 Send this review to a friend
IC-BU1Battery Backup  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
IF you own one of these 3 Icom mobile VHF or UHF FM radios: IC-290A/E, IC-490A/E, or IC-25A/E
then you realize that these first generation radios required the Icom IC-BU1 Battery Backup Option,
to retain programmed memories when the 13.8 VDC source is removed.

Icom IC-BU1 Product Install Datasheet with Schematic (Icom Global Support - Japan)
[i]This option used a Ni-Cd 9 Volt battery (7.5 V, 75 mA) with 4 diodes and 2 resistors[/i].

Enter:  [b]IC-BU1[/b]  in search criteria.
G1HBE Rating: 4/5 Jul 2, 2011 09:32 Send this review to a friend
Old but still good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently bought one of these 'working but PA blown up' for just £20. I figured that even if it was completely U/S I could strip it for bits. I had been looking around for a cheap 2m rig to drive my homebrew 23cm transverter anyway, so this looked like it might be ideal. It was! Receive is truly excellent, and the SSB audio quality on both TX and RX puts many modern rigs to shame. Operation can be a little awkward with all that mode and step switching, but that's what rigs were like 25 years ago. It's built like a concrete out-house and the front-end filtering (one double helical plus a triple helical) is something to behold. A cracking rig from the era when they knew how to build them!
VK5LA Rating: 4/5 May 4, 2010 16:50 Send this review to a friend
2M Best Kept Secret...  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
These are getting on a bit now but I waited for one to come up at the right price, ($100 AUD) and I wasn't dissapointed. Very good RX on this rig, seems as sensitive as my 910H, but it's a bit more noisy. Yes it has it's operating quirks but that's half the fun! I wanted one to use as an IF for microwave transverters later down the track.
At the moment, I'm using mine as a base unit for monitoring the beacons around my state, and the 10 watts is great for some local FM simplex and repeater work.
Mine had a bad PTT switch, a common problem, in the mic, easily replaced.
It's also a fun portable rig to take out with a lightweight yagi in the field and do a little SSB operating.
All in all, it's a very versatile little radio. Don't you wish IKensu would make an all mode mobile rig again? ('specially a dualbander!)
they would sell like hotcakes!!!
Andy - VK5LA
K2SAV Rating: 5/5 Apr 9, 2009 16:31 Send this review to a friend
GREAT ALL MODE RIG!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned this rig for over a year and have been nothing but happy with has a GREAT RECEIVE TONE....very rich sound compared to many other mobiles I have used, owned or heard...i have read other reviews saying don't confuse it with the H model, well I never owned a H, but other than the higher pwr out (the A is 10w)what else does it do better, I have great reports 2m SSB, and the 10w is great to add a 80w mirage (like I did)or a 160w if your budget and antenna allow...they aren't expensive amps and get the FM Simplex signal or SSB signal out there...many vhf amps are designed for the 10W input. If you have a chance to pick one up on the cheap side (like me 80 Bucks!!) ,and jazz it up with a cant go wrong ...other than the no pl (which you could modify if you want to) but I ,like I am sure you , have other rigs for the few 2m nets w/repeaters , (I use repeaters as little as I can) you just cant go wrong....I really believe this rig will be with me to the end!!! with all the hf/vhf combined rigs of this era popping up ,these sometimes sell low, i have never been sorry I bought it, and I bet you won't either....73
K0CBA Rating: 4/5 Jul 22, 2006 09:27 Send this review to a friend
Great bang for your used radio buck!  Time owned: more than 12 months
First off, do not confuse the A and the H models. They may look alike but they are totally different critters, the A's leaving a great deal to be desired.

Thumbs up section....great receiver (holds it's own with my IC-275H and that's saying something)
......Transmit audio reports always good.

Thumbs down section....I dislike the "click" tuning, a little course for SSB/CW but back then it was the 'bees' knees!.....volital memory (I cludged a battery connecter on the plug (ground and middle pin). A 6 to 9 volt wall wart in the house and a 9 volt battery (just to move it to the car and back) keeps the memories in place.

Thumbs sideways section....For the repeater guys, not having CTCSS encode is getting to be more of a problem as more repeaters are going to sub audible decoding. I am fortunate to still have the wierd 8 or 9 pin ACC plug so if I ever find it worth the expense I can always 'outboard' a ComSpec.

If you are interested in 2 SSB/CW and maybe a back-up FM rig, you won't go wrong with this little oldie but goodie.
VE9AA Rating: 4/5 Sep 17, 2005 20:08 Send this review to a friend
Good all around rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Good, but rx is a little noisey & not sensitive enough. Coupled with a 6m Ten-Tec transverter I have worked some good Es & F2 DX with it and on my 170w or 500w amp have worked 2m scatter with it. TX audio reports not the greatest, but not what I would call "poor".....could be better though. Wish it had mem backup.
Have owned it perhaps 10 years.....may never get rid of it!
VO1XH Rating: 4/5 Sep 6, 2003 10:24 Send this review to a friend
I have owned this rig for 9 years and it is always reliable .  Time owned: more than 12 months
This was my first 2m rig when I was licensed in 1994.I wanted a rugged,reliable mobile radio as I spend a good amount of time driving.When a local ham advertised that he was selling this radio,I wasted no time in purchasing it from him.From the moment I powered it up,I was impressed with its easy to use features and great audio.There is not a lot almost non-existant ssb/cw weak signal activity in Newfoundland,but there are a few locals who own VHF ssb equipt. and every now and then we use ssb for qso's.I found that the reciever in ssb mode was very good and hardly any drift once a signal was tuned in.Other operators complemented the good tx audio quality whether working FM simplex or through a repeater or on ssb.It does lack CTCSS tone capability,however,that is not a major problem due to the fact that most repeaters here are not set up for CTCSS and I have two other rigs that have the capabilities for tone use.Memory backup is another minor detail but as it is connected to a 13.8 vdc supply at all times I have the local repeaters and simplex programmed in the VFO'S.There are 5 memory channels which you can set your favorite frequencies in and dual vfo for another frequency.All in all,this is a rig that I will never sell but pass on to my son who is interested in getting his licence so it is I guess a "family heirloom" in that respect.It is my favorite rig and is always dependable.
K4TB Rating: 4/5 Feb 25, 2003 22:27 Send this review to a friend
Hanging in there  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my IC-290A for over 15 years and it still performs well. I did have to make 2 repairs and 1 modification over the years. The repairs were replacing a 4001 IC chip on one circuit board, then having to replace another 4001 on a different board a short while later. Probably a bad batch of IC's. Diagnosing the problems was educational and it was rewarding have a rig you can actually work on and repair! (unlike most new rigs today)

The mod was to clip a diode to allow tuning upwards while in transmit; necessary for satellite QSOs. I am holding on to this rig because it will make a perfect front end for a microwave transverter with a 2M IF. Downeast Microwave sells them for many different MW bands and they typically can handle up to 10 watts RF drive - precisely the upper limit of the IC-290A. No need for special interfacing! It also runs fine from a mere 3A power supply.

For its day, the IC-290A was a good rig. I never had the microphonic VCO problem others reported. Due to it's continued usefulness (to me at least), I still give it a 4.
N9DG Rating: 5/5 Jun 27, 2002 00:51 Send this review to a friend
Still Going  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my IC-290H since 1983 and can't bring myself to part with it, even though I don't use it all that much anymore. In all those years I did not have any problems with it of any kind. For many years it was my only 2M rig and it has seen a lot of use on SSB. Its longevity in my shack is my main reason for giving it a 5 (against today’s radios I would rate it a 3 in terms of performance).

By today’s standards however the synthesizer is a bit noisy and it can't match the current generation radios in sensitivity either (both are comparable to its same aged competitors). On the other hand if you are looking for a relatively inexpensive 2M only multi mode radio on the used market the IC-290H is an excellent choice. Keep in mind the lack of built-in CTCSS if you intend to use it for FM work, but then this radio is far better suited for CW/SSB work anyhow. Also consider the memory backup requirements of this radio as it does not have an internal battery (neither do its competitors of the same vintage). The memory backup will draw something on the order of 5ma to keep the memories alive (there are only 5). I have always received good TX audio reports and it has good RX audio as well.

Today's do everything HF-UHF boxes do actually cost less per band, unfortunately however they also limit you to listening to a single band at a time. A few older mono band multimode radios like the IC-290H will give you the ability to monitor several bands simultaneously, without spending a huge amount of money.

So the IC-290H really isn't a front line radio today anymore, it is however a very useful radio for dedicated 2M SSB band monitoring/use.

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