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  #1  
Old 07-23-2008, 04:45 PM
bruggers bruggers is offline
 
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Location: Addison, TX
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Exclamation ICOM-A210 Radio: BEWARE !!!

ICOM IC-A210:

This Radio has lots of features for the money. Looks great on paper. BUT it is designed by a bunch of Non-Aviation types who are very difficult to work with (Read: YOU Airplane guys must be wrong) If you want more specifics, you can call me. The highlights:

1) Crazy design requires removal of the front panel and inserting a fragile ribbon cable into a receptacle every time the radio goes into or out of the tray. Mostly only annoying until after being plugged/unplugged 20 or so times (being sent back to the service center for feature upgrades and such) the cable shorted out and fried a chip in the radio. ICOM refused to cover the cost of this repair ($600!!)

2) OLED Display. ICOM claims viewable in brightest light. NOT TRUE. Very difficult to see in an RV with the sun coming over your shoulder.

3) Dual Watch. After arguing with ICOM about the need for this monitoring to be Priority Channel Based (ie make Active Channel always over-ride any reception of the stand-by channel) ICOM comes out with a Firm-Ware upgrade to address this. (Read above: they treat you like an idiot until they themselves decide it is a good idea) Don't yet know if this functionality is any good, as the ribbon cable fried upon installation after receiving the radio (see #1 above) I will update this after enough time has passed to have an opinion.

4) Intercom. This is Voice Activated (VOX) and is really too sensitive for a noisy airplane like an RV. If you set the intercom squelch ALL THE WAY UP and turn the intercom volume down a lot it is BARELY usable. Otherwise it is frozen in the on mode all of the time.

Do I sound disappointed? This was supposed to be the PERFECT radio. If I hadn't paid $$ to have this installed as the core of my panel upgrade, I'd probably chuck the ICOM and go with the new VAL Flip Flop radio and VAL Audio panel plus a simple intercom. My experience with VAL is that their designs are robust and they are reasonable to work with.

Live and learn
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2008, 08:18 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Default Hmmmmm.....

It sounds like you've had a pretty tough time with your 210!

I got one of the very first units, and bought it before they were initially released based on many year's experience with the bomb-proof A200 from the same company. While I too found the removable front panel to be a very odd design, unlike any I'd seen in aviation before, I haven't had to remove it since the initial installation, so it hasn't been an issue. I figured I was buying a new design, I'd give new ideas a chance.

The way the dual-watch feature works has been discussed quite a bit here on the forums - what I take away from your post is that ICOM has come up with a firmware fix for it - or at least an attempt at a fix! I'm going to have to look in to it and see how it works!

I haven't had the same display experience as you have, instead, finding it to be quite readable in the -8. here are quite probably lighting conditions that don't work, as there are for every cockpit display, but I haven't run into them yet.

BTW, I remember a post just the other day from somebody who was having SERIOUS problems with a VAL radio - swore that he'd never touch another one. So....I have yet to find a product that someone doesn't have a problem with.

I'm not denying that you've obviously had a frustrating experience with your A210....but with a thread title like that, I figured a contrasting viewpoint might be appropriate. Perfect radio? Nope! But I haven't had a lick of trouble with mine so far....
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  #3  
Old 07-23-2008, 08:43 PM
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Geico266 Geico266 is offline
 
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Default

For $100 more you could have bought an XCOM. 10 times the radio, built in VOX intercom that is second to none. Dual monitors, & scans up to 99 frequencies.

http://www.aircraftspruce.com/menus/av/trans_xcom.html
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  #4  
Old 07-23-2008, 08:56 PM
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Mel Mel is offline
 
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Default I did buy the XCOM...

I was not that impressed with the first radio. After finally convincing Michael that the problem was not my installation, he sent me a new one. The new one works great. I really like it. I now use it as #1 and the GNC 250XL is #2.
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  #5  
Old 07-23-2008, 09:25 PM
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newtech newtech is offline
 
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by bruggers View Post
ICOM IC-A210:
3) Dual Watch. After arguing with ICOM about the need for this monitoring to be Priority Channel Based (ie make Active Channel always over-ride any reception of the stand-by channel) ICOM comes out with a Firm-Ware upgrade to address this.
Where do I find out what the procedure is to have this upgrade done? Any information would be helpful. I am a couple of months from first flight and would like to get my A210 upgraded before then. I have my panel built up using the intercom in the A210, sure hope mine works better than the one you have.
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  #6  
Old 07-23-2008, 10:50 PM
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rvator51 rvator51 is offline
 
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Default

I also would like to find out how to get this firmware upgrade done. The dual monitoring feature was the primary reason I bought the A-210. I actually really like the radio with the exception of the dual monitoring feature. I dont use the built in intercom though. I see that IcomAmerica has booth 2141/2142 at Oshkosh. I emailed IcomAmerica to see if any reps will be available at Oshkosh that could help or could upgrade it on the spot? That would be really great. The other part of the dual watch feature that is annoying is that if you press the PTT button, it disables dual watch. So everytime you talk, you have to remember to push the Dual Watch button again. Hope that feature is removed in the firmware upgrade too.
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Last edited by rvator51 : 07-23-2008 at 11:04 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-24-2008, 01:15 AM
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gmcjetpilot gmcjetpilot is offline
 
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Default Great write up, I complained to the Wa State Atty Gen

Quote:
Originally Posted by bruggers View Post
ICOM IC-A210:

This Radio has lots of features for the money. Looks great on paper. BUT it is designed by a bunch of Non-Aviation types who are very difficult to work with (Read: YOU Airplane guys must be wrong) If you want more specifics, you can call me. The highlights:

3) Dual Watch. After arguing with ICOM about the need for this monitoring to be Priority Channel Based (ie make Active Channel always over-ride any reception of the stand-by channel) ICOM comes out with a Firm-Ware upgrade to address this. (Read above: they treat you like an idiot until they themselves decide it is a good idea) Don't yet know if this functionality is any good, as the ribbon cable fried upon installation after receiving the radio (see #1 above) I will update this after enough time has passed to have an opinion.

Live and learn
Nice write up. I hate to admit this but I made a complaint to the Washington state US District attorney for their advertisement about the "Dual Watch" function "simultaneous monitoring" of two freqs. I only did it to prove my point to ICOM. The main issue of course is the danger of the second channel overriding the primary channel (ATC). I told them the same thing. The software upgrade is a good thing and a SAFETY improvement. That was my main complaint, it was not safe to use it if you needed to monitor a primary ATC freq.

You just have to have two radios (or a SL30/40) to truly listen to two freqs at the same time. The A210 will not do it, even with the software upgrade, unless they they are also installing a second reciver inside the A210.

I called ICOM and discussed "dual watch" with the customer service guy. He understood the issues, and it was clear he wrote it down, documented my reasons why this was almost useless. I pointed out losing monitoring of primary freq and the sales brochure was just NOT true. There is no "simultaneous monitoring of two freqs". Its just not happening. Its scanning back and forth. He tied to argue what simultaneous means.

Than I shot a complaint to the Washington State attorney Gen on their web site, for deceptive advertising. It was a simple form to fill out. They where helpful. I actually got a call. Discussed it with an Atty. Later I got a letter through the mail they where investigating. Than after that I got a second letter that the item was closed. The State Atty indicated ICOM would change their "Flyer". Last I checked the PDF version is still unchanged. They might change the description down the road if they get more complaints, after they run out of their current supply of existing deceptive Flyers?

If you look at the manual it is clear that it does not monitor both freqs at the same time (simultaneously), but the flyer is not clear.

ICOM USA is not ICOM Japan, where the whole company, soup to nuts. All engineering, publications is done in Japan. I suspect ICOM Japan treats ICOM USA like idiots. The USA office in Washington is just distribution, warranty & customer support for the USA, which is not staffed by technical people involved in the details of the design. I have called a few times on the A200. The actual technical people all speak Japanese, thus their manuals are pubs are some times vague or just wrong, ie, lost in translation.

The A200 issue is the so called "intercom" which is nothing more than a hot mic and requires you to use an external switch. If you notice the INFO Flyer for for the A200 it does not play up the intercom function, with a fair but minimal job of explaining the limited nature of the so called intercom. No doubt there where complaints about that and they fixed it. That is why the made the A200 a little better in the intercom, but that is too bad its not the full meal deal. I suspected that it would be a compromise intercom.

If they fix the description of the "dual watch" it would not sound very impressive. It would read like .........really is that all it does? No doubt they lost sales to the Garmin SL30 and SL40 because it's more radio (but more money, a lot more).

ICOM tried to pretend to have the Garmin true two reciver function into the 210 cheap, with "dual watch", which is just not even close.
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Last edited by gmcjetpilot : 07-24-2008 at 01:44 AM.
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  #8  
Old 07-24-2008, 05:07 AM
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Jamie Jamie is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmcjetpilot View Post
You just have to have two radios (or a SL30/40) to truly listen to two freqs at the same time. The A210 will not do it, even with the software upgrade, unless they they are also installing a second reciver inside the A210.
Hey George: Just a minor correction on this point. The SL-30 and SL-40 only have one COM receiver in them. The software takes care of the monitoring.

When you are monitoring the standby frequency, the radio is continuously switching back to the primary frequency to check for reception on that freq. This is why when you're monitoring a standby frequency you hear a little pulse (about 3 times per second I would guess).

You obviously don't hear the pulse on the primary frequency because the radio gives it priority -- no need to check for reception on the standby freq.

BTW: My SL-40 is an awesome radio...although I'm about to swap it out....for an SL-30. :-)

In other words, assuming that A-210 radio can switch frequencies quickly enough, the equivalent of the SL-30/40 series should be achievable with a firmware upgrade only. ICOM is a respected company in the HAM world -- I can't believe they botched the dual frequency monitoring so badly on this product.
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Last edited by Jamie : 07-24-2008 at 05:10 AM.
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  #9  
Old 07-24-2008, 09:15 AM
bruggers bruggers is offline
 
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Default How to Get the Dual Watch Upgrade

To have your ICOM A210 upgraded with the new firmware requireds shipping it back to corporate in Washington state. Simply call Service and inform them that you are sending the radio in the work.

Be careful with the ribbon cable!!!!
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2008, 11:05 AM
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rvator51 rvator51 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruggers View Post
To have your ICOM A210 upgraded with the new firmware requireds shipping it back to corporate in Washington state. Simply call Service and inform them that you are sending the radio in the work.

Be careful with the ribbon cable!!!!
Received an answer from Icom. They are not charging for this "product enhancement", so for just the shipping, you can get the unit updated. Will stop in at the Icom booth and Oshkosh and try to get a demo of how the new priority function works on the dual watch mode and report back. If its an improvement, will send my A-210 into ICOM after Oshkosh.
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