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

Show all reviews of the Icom IC-230

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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. 
Product is not in production.
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