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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Icom IC-502 Help

Reviews Summary for Icom IC-502
Icom IC-502 Reviews: 7 Average rating: 3.7/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: 6m SSB/CW portable
Product is not in production.
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N4KZ Rating: 4/5 Aug 9, 2011 11:36 Send this review to a friend
Interesting little rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought an IC-502 soon after they appeared on the market in the late 1970s or thereabouts. I used to carry it out to the backyard where I sat at the picnic table -- paper log, pen and small flashlight in hand -- and would work E-skip openings while running the rig on flashlight batteries and its own internal telescopic whip. It was great fun. Stayed out there until I was sitting in the dark and the mosquitoes were terrible on more than one occasion and filled log page after log page with QSOs. Today, the Yaesu FT-817ND does 6 meters and so much more in a similar sized package. But if you're just interested in 6 meters and /or have a limited budget and find an IC-502 in good shape, it's worth the investment to experience the fun of 6 meter portable during E-skip season.

73, Dave, N4KZ
N0CRS Rating: 4/5 Aug 7, 2011 05:33 Send this review to a friend
very good.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Had this rig in 1977 as new . Worked quite a few
stations and did lots of listening with it.
used it ground wave with a friend almost nightlytook it out west while hiking and camping..

then, WB0MJW . Now am: N0CRS
K7BG Rating: 4/5 Dec 21, 2006 10:44 Send this review to a friend
Fun rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
Nice little rig for what it is. I had a blast 4 or 5 years ago actually getting answers from JAs to my CQs with this rig at 3 watts! I was using my 20m monobander for an antenna! Great receiver, but as mentioned the tuning is a bit coarse.

I have 2 of these rigs. One is pristene, the other has seen better days. The antenna broke off (be careful) but it does great in the mobile where I have used it to work Es with a 2m 5/8 wave mag mount.
W7MY Rating: 5/5 Nov 29, 2006 20:01 Send this review to a friend
Super radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I am a long-term owner of an IC-202 and have been looking for a 502 for several years. Ebay finally through and I acquired a 502 about 6 months ago. The wait was worth it! This is the ultimate classic portable for 6 meters. Its performance with the long whip is exceptional. the size and weight of the radio makes it the best for a single band solution. the receiver is very sensitive and transmitter sounds great. If you get a shot at one of these radios, buy it!
NE0P Rating: 3/5 Feb 19, 2004 03:22 Send this review to a friend
Neat little portable  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked up one of these little units recently on ebay to use for 6 meter portable. Caity's review covers this radio very well, so I will just add a couple of points. As was said, you have to be very careful with the tuning, and the radio does drift, but this is also a 25 year old VHF radio. I wouldn't want this as my main 6 meter radio, but will do OK for occassional portable use.

And it is great as a self contained 6 meter unit. It will run on 9 C cells or 10 nicads/NIMH cells, but the charger is an option-probably one tough to find today. The whip antenna actually resonates on 6 meters unlike the FT817 antenna. I made a couple of contacts while standing in my back yard with the whip antenna and got good reports. Told that the audio sounded great.

This will be fun to use during the summer Es openings, although I just picked up a Yaesu FT690 which has digital readout and a built in charger, so it will be fun to compare these rigs.

I like the size of the Icom and the portable self contained nature of it, just wish the charger was standard. Might have to go in and mod the VFO for the slower tuning rate.
K7VO Rating: 3/5 Oct 22, 2003 17:17 Send this review to a friend
OK with mods, otherwise more of a curiosity  Time owned: more than 12 months
I once again am the owner of an original IC-502, part of Icom's "bookshelf portable" series. The original Icom IC-502 was introduced in 1975 and was immensely popular. It did suffer from two major flaws: a tendency to drift all over the place and extremely coarse tuning. The good news is several magazine articles way back when offered mods to reduce the tuning range of the IC-502 from 50.0-51.0 down to 50.0-50.350. That makes tuning tolerable. The mods also improved stability a whole lot.

The IC-502 was a simple rig with an analog VFO. The rig has a very hot receiver and a really quiet front end. The IC-502 has just a few controls: a large main tuning knob, an RIT control, a power/light switch, a volume control, a noise blanker switch, and a CW-T/receive switch. CW involves manually switching from transmit to receive and back again, which is somewhat annoying. Both receive and transmitted audio are excellent, either with the provided hand mic. or the optional SM-2 desk mic. Output power is all of 3W, which is more than enough to make lots of interesting contacts when the band is open. That, of course, is assuming the other op is willing to follow you as your IC-502 wanders around the band. OK, if it is a modified one it stabilizes pretty nicely after about 15 minutes and the one I have has been modified.

The rig sports a telescopic whip at the top and can run on 10 "C" cell batteries, making it portable. An optional BC-20 internal charger would take up one third of the battery case, and the rig could then be run on NiCad cells. The lighting for the S/RF meter and VFO dial can be switched off to conserve battery power. The DC power cord is coaxial and the center pin is negative--not brilliant as it is way too easy to short out.

Other options which were available (and are anywhere from somewhat to very hard to find) included the MB-2 mounting bracket, the IC-50L 10W linear, and the IC-3PS power supply/speaker, which included a place to put the linear into. The Icom IC-3PA or IC-3PE also makes a nice matching supply/speaker if you don't have the linear.

With the mods done (and no, I don't remember which magazine issues they were in) the rig can be a lot of fun to operate provided you don't need to know what frequency you're on. (No, you really can't tell from the dial.) If the rig is unmodified it is a royal pain to use. A modified IC-502 probably rates a "4". An unmodified one is a "2" at best.
VK3BRZ Rating: 3/5 May 12, 2003 03:36 Send this review to a friend
6m fun on a budget  Time owned: more than 12 months
I "inherited" a faulty IC-502 some years ago. It simply had a few minor faults (e.g. open-circuit loudspeaker) due to old age. It was very easy to repair and re-align without any special gear.

The rig is an analogue-VFO tuned, single-conversion design that covers a 2 MHz segment of the 6-meter band. Most units are aligned for 50-52 MHz, although when first introduced into VK in the 1970's we only had 52-54 MHz and so these rigs were aligned accordingly. It's no big deal to re-align as desired. Both the receiver front-end and transmitter PA circuits need to be aligned in the process too.

There are no bells and whistles (literally - the receiver is very clean) other than a fairly effective noise blanker. Sensitivity is as good as you are likely to need on 6m. Output power is about 3W PEP/CW. A built-in telescopic antenna (1/4 wave!) is included, but is only useful for casual contacts, of course. There is an SO-239 antenna connector on the back panel.

The rig can be powered off internal size "C" batteries or from an external 12V supply via its DC connector.

Frequency accuracy is approximate (that's putting it delicately!) and stability is rather poor. Fine for short contacts, but in a rag-chew they'll have to follow you around the band! The dial tuning rate is quick compared to modern rigs - you need fingers like a safe-cracker to tune in a signal.

I never used my IC-502 much. It was more of a curiosity than a serious rig. However, for a beginner on a tight budget wishing to try 6m it would provide heaps of fun. I did work some JA's using just its 3W and telescopic whip antenna at the peak of the current sunspot cyle. And of course, with sporadic-E propagation you can have a lot of fun even with low power and a modest antenna.

In VK, expect to pay about $50-80 for an IC-502 in good condition. Be sure to remove the battery compartment cover and inspect for corrosion due to leaky batteries (same goes for its 2m cousin, the IC-202).

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