19 ianuarie 2012

Ten things about ICOM IC-R20

ICOM just announced that IC-R20 is not longer in production. 
I still have mine.

I have this pretty communication reveiver for more than 2 yrs. I had a lot of fun with and found a lot of use especially on my experiment bench but also to listen to various stations while travelling.
One of the main benefits is the enourmous autonomy from the LiIon battery which keep the receiver "alive" for more than one week. Of course, with some moderation to the loudspeaker volume and around 2 hrs/day listening.
The full characteristics of the ICOM IC R-20 "A.K.A. "features"are to be found on various places on internet so I do not want to trick you to land on my page for this, HI.
Instead, I will emphasize some of the features and some of the missings of this radio.

1. The SSB is missing above 470 MHz. This lead to impossibility to trace faint signals with a waterfall software (like Spectran or SpectraVue);
2. The excessive sensitivity of the front end sometime make impossible to listen to some signals in a strong RF environment; fortunately, the RF level CAN be applied simultaneous with the RF ATTenuator.
3. The memory and scanning is a little weird for someone used with transceivers. Banks and lists are too complicated but I believe it is hard to organise more than 1k slots.
4. A big plus is the "onboard" recorder though the audio format ( .icw) used is obscure and not supported by the programming software. One have to upload the recordings into the scanner and listen with the IC R20 which is stupid! really stupid. But there is solutions! The squelch-activated recording is a nice feature!
5. The original antenna seems to be fragile but I did'nt manage to broke. Yet!
6. The LCD screen is "the best". Simple and effective, visible in the full sun and also at night. The backlight is also, the best I seen.
7. A high level of IMD above 1.5 GHz made this radio tricky to use on some SatCom. I didn't tried in remote places and Bucharest is not the best place for that kind of weak signal receiving.
8. The audio jack is shared with the CAT (CI-V) port. It is mandatory to have some kind of separation between when using headphones. Or to hack a headphone to use it. The built in speaker is not so loud so one will take benefit from a headset in noisy environments.
9. Excellent below 30 MHz and exceptional above 100 MHz; The BC receiving is very nice and the autotune is working well. The SSB is pretty like on a big transceiver.
10. Very quick on scanning memories. Also, the CTCSS/DCS scanning is working very nice.

OK for now...
What about the software? one will ask...

So, there is a programming softare. CS-20 is the "name". With this you will be able to programm the memories and banks. You will be able also to download the recorded communications.
To listen to that recordings is a different story but it is a solution.
You have to use a ICW2WAV utility (audio conversion software)
Also, a steady hand will be able to take the last IF (450 kHz) and send it to a SDR receiver to decode unusual modes while tuning above 1 GHz!
You can use Ham Radio Deluxe to controll the Icom IC R20. With DRM you will be able to decode most of the digital modes below 470 MHz and if you made the IF mod, you will be able to "unleash the beast"!

This are hard to find so, let's organise the files:

-Programming software;
-Service manual;

-ICW2WAV audio conversion software.

Please, be aware that the software is hosted on external server. Use a antivirus software to scan for problems before installing and make a  backup copy because I do not how much that will be there!

73 de yo3hjv


So, just happened! Told you to make backup copies!
Fortunately, I was able to find them again so, the links are updated.

LLE (August 28, 2015)
After more than 3 years after the first impressions and tests with other scanners, I strongly believe that ICOM IC-R20 is the best comm. receiver.scanner at his category (portable/handheld). It's not cheap but the quality has a price!
The LiIon battery is doing fine, after this years keeping the radio running for a week or more on moderate use.
There are hardware mods to use a RTL SDR on first IF; one can have all modes on the entire receiving range but a very steady hand and good eyes to do it.
The original antenna is doing fine, beating the record on this kind of antennas!
I was sorry to heard that the rado is no more on production so, if you find one on stock somwhere, grab it before anyone else will do it.

Definetly, a keeper!

13 comentarii:

DougK911 spunea...

Thank you from the US for your excellent post about this receiver - very helpful!

Walt spunea...

Hi YO3HJV, I tried to get the icom-r20 software files but they are no longer available on server. Please, could you upload again? Thanks in advance! Walter PU1WRT - Brazil

Walt spunea...

Hi YO3HJV, I tried to get the icom-r20 software files but they are no longer available on server. Please, could you upload again? Thanks in advance! Walter PU1WRT - Brazil

YO3HJV, Adrian spunea...

Hi Walt. I updated the links. The files are available.

Walt spunea...

Hi Adrian, thank you very much!Greetings from Brazil!
PU1WRT Walter

gandac spunea...

salut. iti spun de la inceput ca nu ma pricep deloc dar fac "research" de 1 saptamana in acest domeniu. sunt curios daca acest scanner "prinde" ceva, ambulanta, politie, jadarmerie etc si daca un om ca mine cu aceste curiozitati..exista si variante un pic mai ieftine. 2300ron e o suma cam mai gandeam si la yaesu vx 7r dar daca s-ar putea as dori sa cobor si mai mult la pret insa sa "prinda" cele mai sus mentionate. m-as orienta spre scanner pt ca nu am de gand sa fac glume ci mai mult sa ascult. multumesc anticipat, sper sa imi raspunzi curand :) daca vrei putem vorbi pe un chat ceva

YO3HJV, Adrian spunea...

Imi pare rau Gandac, desi acest scanner receptioneaza taxiuri si bodyguarzi, nu receptioneaza politie, salvare, pompieri, pentru simplul motiv ca acele comunicatii au loc acum pe sistemul TETRA, care este si criptat. Desigur, poti receptiona semnalul respectiv dar el este modulat printr-o schema digitala complexa si neinteligibil. 73 de yo3hjv
PS. Nici VX7 nu receptioneaza ce vrei tu.

gandac spunea...

tu de exemplu ce asculti cu acest scanner sau ce utilitate ii dai?

YO3HJV, Adrian spunea...

Sateliti (1-2 GHz), benzi de radioamatori (multimode), verificarea rapida a emisiei unei statii radio etc.
Are viteza mare de scanare ceea ce il face potrivit pentru a asculta o banda intreaga (2m, 70 cm). Deseori verific propagarea in scurte cu el.

Popescu Ovidiu spunea...

As vrea sa te intreb de unde l-ai cumparat ? si ce magazine (din romania) serioase de unde l-as putea lua sti ?

YO3HJV, Adrian spunea...

L-am luat de la magazinul radioamatorilor, LC COM:, dar a fost scos din fabricatie zilele acestea.

Vivi Paris spunea...

Can you please upload the R-20 software?
Greetings from Greece.Elias.

YO3HJV, Adrian spunea...

The links were updated.

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