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Interesting new Icom radio


Brian Nystrom

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Icom has come out with a new model called the M72. It's about the same size and shape as the M1V, but has some new features. Those of particular interest to kayakers are:

- Better waterproofing (IPX8 = 30 minutes at 1.5 meters)

- Higher volume audio

- "AquaQuake", which clears water from the speaker automatically.

- A "street" price of under $200.

I have no experience with this radio yet, but given its feature set and Icom's proven reliability, it has the potential to be the ideal kayaker's radio.

Here's a link to a PDF with more information:

http://icomamerica.com/brochures/ic-m72.pdf

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>- Better waterproofing (IPX8 = 30 minutes at 1.5 meters)

I must confess to being confused by the various IPX waterproof standards.

IPX7 is a standard that states the unit must be functional after submersion while IPX8 was a standard for units to be functional while submerged which is not all that important for a radio since RF isn't going far underwater. Add to the mix that IPX6 is a standard involving equipment being subjected to strong jets of water under considerable pressure for a specificed period of time. I have seen it argured that IPX6 is a higher functional standard than either IPX7 or IPX8 given the conditions of the test, but I have never seen an authoritative explanation. It is also not clear to me that a IPX7 or 8 device would also pass an IPX6 test, but for kayakers a device that would pass both seems a desired goal.

Ed Lawson

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Well, you've touched on something that is definitely applicable to our use of radios. It seems pretty obvious from the number of failures that some of us have experienced with certain radios that IPX-7 (a.k.a. JIS-7*) radios do not necessarily meet IPX-6 standards.

IPX-6 is a dynamic test, in that the radio is forcefully sprayed with water, which causes transient, localized high pressures.

IPX-7 is a static test. The radio is immersed in calm water and left there undisturbed until it's removed 30 minutes later. It creates a uniform, sustained pressure.

Which is more important? It depends. If you're getting whacked by waves or wind-driven spray, it seems that IPX-6 is more applicable. Drop your radio into the water and IPX-7 would seem to be the standard you'd want to meet. If you capsize, both would seem to be important.

My gut instinct would be that IPX-8 is probably sufficient for all three scenarios above, but I haven't seen any comparative tests, so your guess is as good as mine.

The fact that Icom IPX-7 rated radios - specifically the M1V and M88 - have proven to be very reliable under real-world kayaking conditions leads me to believe that an IPX-8 rated model from them would be even more reliable and certainly sufficient for our needs. I would feel confident in buying one, based on that.

* At level 7, IPX and JIS standards are the same, but they differ at other levels. For example, JIS-8 is a more stringent, continuous immersion standard than IPX-8.

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>Well, you've touched on something that is definitely

>applicable to our use of radios. It seems pretty obvious

>from the number of failures that some of us have experienced

>with certain radios that IPX-7 (a.k.a. JIS-7*) radios do not

>necessarily meet IPX-6 standards.

Isn't it possible that the Standard Horizon models simply passed the IPX-7 tests but without really being functionally waterproof.

For example, one of the problems was getting the cap on the mic port slightly askew, either in advance or as a result of being bounced around a bit in advance, a commmon enough occurrence with a very flimsy cap. Given that, the unit was bound to fail. Ditto the charging port, though that was more robust. And also ditto the general construction, as shown by Dee's dissection. Those flaws might simply not show up on a standard test.

All this goes to show that, while standard test ratings are a decent starting point, YMMV, and the best guide is experience of others using it under the conditions you'll subject it too.

Say, Brian, aren't you a QA engineer -- you know this stuff ;-)))

--David.

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>

>All this goes to show that, while standard test ratings are

>a decent starting point, YMMV, and the best guide is

>experience of others using it under the conditions you'll

>subject it too.

Bingo! FWIW, in one reported test of certain marine radios the Standard Vertex model came out on top and the Icom model failed some basic tests. Tested models were not the M88 and the Horizon so its not as if Icom overall makes better radios than Vertex. They all make lemons from time to time.

Ed Lawson

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I documented everything I learned about the flaws and vulnerabilities in the HX460-S - at the request of Standard Horizon - and sent it to them. You can seen how much effect it had...ZERO. The current radio is identical to the ones we experienced so many failures with.

While Ed is correct that every manufacturer screws up from time to time, I have no confidence in S-H and it will take some serious changes to convince me to buy or recommend one of their products again.

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>I documented everything I learned about the flaws and

>vulnerabilities in the HX460-S - at the request of Standard

>Horizon - and sent it to them. You can seen how much effect

>it had...ZERO. The current radio is identical to the ones we

>experienced so many failures with.

I'd guess that they are selling enough of the 460s into non-immersion environments, like small power boats, that they are willing to tolerate the occasional return from a kayaker. After all, they just recycle the returns back as refurbs, which is of course another problem.

Besides, it's unlikely they will redesign an existing product. They might well use the info for subsequent models. In fact, I wonder how later models have fared on immersion.

But yup I agree, bottom line -- no more Std Horizon for me. ICom all the way!

--David.

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>I'd guess that they are selling enough of the 460s into

>non-immersion environments,

The current model is the 471 which mechanically may well be the same as the 460, but they have added a few things such as FRS and a broader receiver range which no doubt were simple software changes. Since the antennas on these HTs are at best poor, not sure it makes sense to compromise them further by adding transmit ability far from the marine bands.

The best radio, for RF performance, would be on specifically designed and build for the marine bands, but these I suspect are rare.

Ed Lawson

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New Icom Radio.

Saw one at the NE Boatshow a few days ago. Icom rep was hobnobbing with a other attendee so I didn't get a chance to ask about it. The display had the M32, M1V, and M72 all underwater and on. The M72 looked a little thinner (depth) than the M1V. Very sleek.

TheBigYaker

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had the chance to compare this radio with the m88 at West Marine the other day and for the most part I don't see much advantage to it. Although the specs say they weigh the same and they are the exact same height when including the antenna, the M72 seems more ungainly. If you are one to keep the radio tethered to a shoulder while paddling, this might not be the radio for you since it has more of presence than the m88. Notwithstanding the different transmitting power, battery life levels of waterproofness and different sized screens, I'm curious as an economist why there is such a significant price difference between the two radios. Although not a foolproof indicator by any means, the old maxim that you get what you pay for does in fact generally hold. That being said, it makes me slightly suspicious of the M72.

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