ICOM IC-2SRA 2 Meter HT and Scanner
A full-feature 2 meter handheld with a separate wideband receiver.
ICOM's new IC-2SRA should really get the attention of the avid ham and dedicated scanner enthusiast. Not only is it a 2 meter hand-held also has a built-in wideband scanner receiver.
The IC-2SRA looks exactly like the popular tCOM dual-band 2 meter/440 MHz IC-W2A. The buttons, oval magnified LCD screen, and top knob placement are identical. Even the littie red power-on button is the same as the ICOM IC-W2A.
but there lb one thing that immediately sets the two units apart when you put them side by side —the IC-2SRA boasts two antennas coming out of the top. That's right, folks—antennas in stereo.
On the first look, you might think someone is teasing you by sticking an antenna speaker/microphone jack on the top of the unit. In fact, when you take a close look at the top of the 2 meter scanner, you'll see that the two jacks are absolutely identical—the left jack for the speaker/ mike, and the right jack for the supplied wide- band rubber ducky. No
- BNC jack—no TNC
- jack—simply an ear
phone-type jack that B the wideband scanning antenna plugs into. It seems to make a good connection, but nonetheless, an earphone jack for an antenna connection?
The 2 meter side of the ICOM IC-2SRA hand-held transceiver/scanner seems identical to the IC-W2A receiver The 2 meter receiver tunes from 136 000 MHz to 174.000 MHz, and transmits from 140.000 MHz to 149.995 MHz We measured in-band receive sensitivity at 0.095 uV for 12 dB SINADT and 30 kHz selectivity at -60 dB. The 2 meter receiver gave us the good performance we have always found with ICOM hand-held transceivers, in both singfe-band and dual-band models,
We tested the 2 meter receiver on an outside antenna. There were absolutely no surprises when it came to good rejection to out-of-band paging transmitters, local weather stations, and numerous other high-band signals blanketing my local QTH. On the same outside antenna, some other brand HTs have not fared as well—but, as usual, the 2 meter receiver was nice and tight in a heavy RF area.
The 2 meter transmitter pops on at 140 000 MHz and cycles off at 149.995 MHz. This is good news for those of you in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, or MARS. As soon as you unpack the unit you are on the air on those government frequencies, if you've got the proper license.
Four levels of power output are available from the push buttons. (Table 1 shows what we measured.) When you first set up the programming of your handheld, you may dial in exactly how low you want your low-power output to be, I chose the lowest setting—Low 1 — because this only draws 478 mA on my high-power battery pack, as opposed to a whopping 1.34 amps on high power The 2 meter side of this transceiver/ scanner features all the functions and sub-functions found with a sophisticated handheld. It will take you some time to learn all of the programming steps to set in your favorite repeater and simplex frequencies in the 30 memory channels, plus the single call channel and two-frequency band edge channels.
Of course, what's a 2 meter transceiver without a clock? That same clock that can turn your unit on can also shut it off. In fact, the clock button is right next to the "enter" button, so you might be seeing the clock come up a lot more often than you want to until you get more precise at poking away at the closely-spaced rubber keypads.
Early press releases indicate that this single-band 2 meter or 440 handheld contains a built-in "wideband receiver/1 What they are saying is that the single-band 2 meter or the single-band 440 handheld has a built-in, wideband, multimode, 60-memory-channel scanner. (Table 2 lists what we found in the separate built-in scanner/receiver.) The wideband scanner/receiver is not part of the main transceiver receiver section. Rather, it's absolutely separate, with its own right-hand LCD readout, antenna port, volume and squelch knob, and automatic turn-off when you are actually transmitting on the 2 meter band.
This prevents feedback, desense, and potential damage if you're receiving on the same frequency as your transceiver is transmitting. We made that test, and as soon as we hit the PTT the receiver simply blanked out.
And speaking of blanking out—when you begin to program the wideband receiver, as soon as you hit the enter button, the screen goes blank. Do not worry! Start punching in numbers, and the screen jumps to life. This is different from what occurs on the 2 meter side of the radio. On 2 meters there are always a couple of leading numbers to let you know where you are, but on the receive-only side of this transceiver the screen blanks out to allow you to punch in anything from 25 to 950 MHz.
Use the AM mode for tuning in the aeronautical band, the 27 MHz band, or some aeronautical military frequencies in the 200-300 MHz band.
Use the FM mode to listen to regular two-way radio communications. For listening to some pop music on the FM music band, use the WFM (wideband FM) mode. It's easy to select the mode—simply press a single mode key. Be sure to add a leading zero to any direct-dial frequency below 100 MHz. If you don't, you won't hear your popular FM music station at 88,5, because your radio is at 885 MHz.
In the wideband FM mode, you can easily tune into all television audio channels. It comes out crystal clear (except for a birdie on 7175 MHz, TV audio channel 4t which ICOM indicates they will try and cure), and has a lot more fidelity than trying to tune into a ball game on an old-fashioned AM portable radio. Spend a few minutes, and store your iocal TV audio channels in the memory for quick retrieval. You can always search out the audio by setting thp squelch, and then electronically scanning up. Of course, you can do this at the same time as you are working on the 2 meter side of your transceiver. (See Table 3.)
Unfortunately, the receiver does not go all the way down to shortwave or AM broadcast band frequencies. The lowest you can tune is 25 MHz, and with that little tiny, skinny, rubber duck antenna, any signal below 40 MHz better be real strong,
There will be some ICOM products coming down the line, specifically for tuning in the shortwave bands, but this one won't go below 25 MHz.
To increase your scanner reception, solder up a miniature plug with micro-sized coaxial cable or a good shielded short piece of audio cable. Terminate that to a BNC jack, and this would allow you to plug into a regular outside antenna for improved reception. But a word of caution: The scanner antenna jack is little more than an audio plug receptacle, so don't even consider running a regular piece of RG58AU to it. It could cause the jack to fail.
Another word of caution: The engineers at ICOM recommended at least five feet separation between any external antenna hooked into the antenna jack from a regular transmitting VHF or UHF antenna. I tried this set-up, and didn't blow the receiver—but be careful. With any scanner on an outside antenna, permanent front-end damage might occur if your scanner antenna gets right next to a high-power transmitting antenna.
As for selectivity and intermod rejection, the triple conversion receiver did a good job of canceling out the stuff not on frequency,
I would have preferred a BNC or TNC type connector for the scanner antenna, and it would also have been nice to give you a little bit more "finger room" between the second antenna and the main tuning knob. Also, don't be surprised that the plug-in charger that comes with this unit features yet another design not found on those octopus charging plugs with multiple adapters. But good news—if you already own some ICOM products, the battery packs may be interchangeable, and this includes the drop-in charger, too.
If you are into both 2 meter and 440 MHz (separate units), and also want a built-in scanner, do consider this new offering from ICOM. The scanner capabilities were just as good as with a regular-sized pocket scanner, and the audio a whole lot better from the ICOM communications-style speaker. Best of all, it's one radio with both a built-in ham band and a scanner.
Gordon West WB6NOA - 73 Amateur Radio Today 1991 -