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Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Icom ID-51A Help

Show all reviews of the Icom ID-51A

You can write your own review of the Icom ID-51A.

AE7Q  Rating: 5/5 Mar 14, 2013 16:14  Send this review to a friend!
A winner  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned (or been loaned) almost all of the Icom D-Star radios (including the miserable V82/U82 series) except for the new IC-9100, and I think that the ID-51A has the firmware with the best features and user interface.

I put myself on the local HRO wait list for an ID-51A in early January, and received it on Feb 4. I have been critical of Icom's radio firmware and associated PC software in the past, but this time they seem to have gotten it mostly right. The ID-51A is a pleasure to use, and the associated (free) PC software is much improved. I bought the radio with the extended-life BC-272 battery, and (one day later) the BC-202 rapid charger.

While the radio's options (and hence the menu) are extensive, the menu system is easy to learn, and (most importantly) the documentation (the manual for the radio, and the help file for the software) is extensive and much improved over prior Icom D-Star products. Icom produces two manuals for both the ID-31 and the ID-51 (available for download on the Icom/Japan web site):

1. An idiot's guide to getting started (Icom being a Japanese company, it's not called that, of course).

2,An advanced/complete manual.

You don't need the data port for updating settings: If you buy a microSD card, you can insert it into the ID-31/51 and copy your settings to/from it, move it to/from your PC, and update the settings using Icom's included software on the PC. So, the only thing you need a data cable for, is for D-Star low-speed over-the-air data transfer. The Icom-intended way for you to do this is to buy their OPC-2218L USB cable. However, due to issues with the Icom USB driver included with the OPC-2218L, if you have an available serial port (or another USB-to-serial converter), I think a better decision is to buy the Icom OPC-1529R serial (RS-232) cable instead. It fits quite snugly into the ID-31/51, but works.

Minor caveats:

1. Outside of the amateur 2m and 70cm ranges (those two amateur bands and the frequencies surrounding them), and the aviation ("air") band, the ID-51 only receives the broadcast AM and FM bands. There is no "DC-to-daylight" receive, like there is on many radios (eg, the Icom IC-91/92AD, and some of the Yaesu radios). Of course, the advantage of this limitation is better selectivity.

2, While most D-Star radios can transmit DTMF tones, due to the complexity of a useful front panel (or microphone) keypad interface in a small space, DTMF tone sequences in most current Icom radios are transmitted by first storing them in DTMF-sequence memory, and then using the menu to transmit them. OK for dedicated sequences, but not for just spur-of-the-moment tones.

To me, some of the concerns about muffled transmit audio are overblown. I have an early model with the thicker (black) microphone felt overlay, and I just (via a menu option) adjusted the gain up. 
Product is in production.
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