This blog post is a part of our recent “Pick of The Bunch” series. You may have seen these blogs on this website or via our weekly newsletter (You can sign up for this here!) and although they are extremely long and factual (Some people may call it boring), we have covered a range of radios from manufacturers such as Motorola, Kenwood and Hytera.
Icom are our chosen brand for this weeks blog, they are a Japanese company that specialises in the manufacturing of radio equipment. A brand that you may very well be aware of, Icom has been a popular choice for many industries within the UK for a number of years. No matter what type of radio you are looking for whether it be a simple black box or a more complex feature rich ATEX two-way radio there is an Icom option for you.
Similarly to Kenwood, Icom’s way of differentiating a radios frequency band is via the product name. Using the IC-F1000 and IC-F2000 as an example, the former is a VHF radio whereas the latter is a UHF radio, this wildly different from let’s say a Motorola radio. Whereby both UHF and VHF is covered under the same name, for example the Motorola DP1400. For clarity, throughout this blog post I will be talking about both radios by using the UHF (Ex. IC-F2000) product name.
As I mentioned this radio in the previous paragraph I will begin with the Icom IC-F2000. This is by far the most popular choice that we at Radiotronics supply due to its many variations. In total there are 6 different models of this radio available to choose from including the IC-F2000 black box model, the IC-F2000S full display and 4-key keypad model and finally the most advanced IC-F2000T that has both a full display and full keypad. All radios are available with both UHF and VHF frequencies.
All models in the IC-F2000 series of radios are built tough, this being a key factor as to why they’re so popular, meaning that they can be used in almost every working environment with the exception of industries such as coal mining or nuclear power where an ATEX radio would be required. IP67 protection rating ensures that the IC-F2000 radios not only have a full Ingres against dust intrusion, but are also fully submergible in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This alongside being put through various tests to ensure it meets military standard (MIL-STD-810 C/D/E/F/G). These military standards ensure that the IC-F2000 range can continue operating in a wide range of environmental conditions, ranging from snow and sleet at -30°C through to extreme heat in sandstorms and such at 50°C. The military protection rating also ensures that the IC-F2000 is protected against shock and vibrations.
There are many features available to be programmed into the IC-F2000 radios, each with their own way of helping to improve both safety and efficiency within the workplace. Starting simple, every IC-F2000 can be programmed to make use of a channel announcement feature. This is ideal should you be working in an environment that has minimal lighting, when the user changes channel the channel number will be announced by the radio to ensure that the user is transmitting on the correct channel at all times. These announcements are heard from, the IC-F2000 has a large forward facing 36mm speaker giving off an impressive 800mW audio power. This comes in alongside a built-in bridged-mono transformer-less BTL amplifier, delivering loud and intelligible audio even in the loudest of working environments ensuring that a transmission is never missed.
The IC-F2000 has a built in motion sensor that is used to detect its current position, state of motion or non-motion and is capable of sending an emergency signal should an operative be in danger. The motion sensor can also be used in collaboration with advanced features that are available to be programed into the radio such as Man Down and Lone Worker. These features are designed with worker safety in mind, the former monitoring the radios orientation and the latter monitoring activity levels of the radio. How both of these work is explained below.
Lone Worker: This feature monitors the activity levels of the radio. Should the radio be inactive for a pre-programmed period of time an alert will be sent to the user, if this alert is still not responded to then a high priority alarm will be sent to the base station notifying them that the radio user may be in trouble, allowing for fast action to be taken.
Man Down: Working similarly to the previously mentioned Lone Worker, Man Down monitors orientation rather than activity levels. As suggested by the name should the radio be laid on its side for a pre-programmed period of time then an alert will be sent to the user, if unresponsive then an alarm will be sent to the base station notifying them that their colleague may be at risk.
All versions of the IC-F2000 are supplied as standard with a BP-279 1485mAh Li-Ion battery. A waterproof battery, the BP-279 will supply your IC-F2000 with up to 14 hours of operating time when the radio is used with the power save function activated.
Finally we will discuss the dimensions of all three versions of the IC-F2000 and some accessories that can be purchased to help with usability. Standing at 111.8mm in height, 52.2mm and 24.5mm the IC-F2000 range is relatively compact, and although the F2000S and F2000T have aesthetical differences such as screens and keypads they remain the same size as the black box design of the F2000. Weighing in at just 240g even when the BP-279 battery is attached makes the radio lightweight compared to many other radios that are on the market, this ensuring that it will cause minimal strain on the user should they be carrying it via a belt clip, carry case or wrist strap.
There are many accessories that can be used with the IC-F2000 including batteries, antennas, chargers, earpieces and microphones. Although the radio is supplied as standard with the BP-279 1485mAh Li-Ion battery there are many other options available when purchasing. Both genuine and aftermarket Radiotronics batteries can be purchased, ranging from the lower capacity 1180mAh Icom BP-278 battery through to the highest capacity Icom BP-280 2280mAh Li-Ion battery. The only Radiotronics battery that we offer is the 1500mAh Li-Ion BP279LI. With any radio you’re obviously going to need a charger, options available include single pod chargers (BC213) and multi chargers (BC-214, UK6WAY). The single pod chargers can be used in a vehicle when used with the MB130 charger bracket and CP23L cigar lighter power supply.
We will now be talking about Icom’s premier licence free radio the IC-F29DR. This radio is digital DMR446 meaning that for a licence free radio the sound quality is exceptional. There is an analogue equivalent of this radio in the IC-F29SR but we will solely be focusing on the DR version in this blog.
Being a digital radio the IC-F29DR is also capable of talking with analogue licence free radios. When programming the radio it is possible to program 8 analogue and 8 digital channels, this meaning that should you have existing PMR446 radios then your new DMR446 can still communicate with them until they have been removed from circulation. Should you be communicating using any of the analogue channels obviously as the distance between radios increases the sound quality will worsen, but the sound projected when using digital channels will be crystal clear until maximum range has been reached, this in part due to the large 36mm 800mW speaker located on the front of the radio.
Usually when looking at licence free radios they commonly have low Ingres protection ratings, due mainly to them being used as toys or for leisure purposes and not in working environments. What makes the IC-F29DR stand out is the fact it has an IP67 rating. This rating not only ensures that the radio is completely protected against the intrusion of dust, but can also be submerged in water that is 1-meter-deep for up to 30 minutes. Although it wouldn’t be recommended to use a licence free radio when working due to a limited distance coverage, should you be adamant that you want one then the IC-F29DR is more than capable enough of dealing with the rigors of working a construction site.
There are many internal features with the IC-F29DR that help with usability for the operator. When using the radio with the optional HS-94LWP or HS-95LWP VOX Voice Activation allows for the radio to be used hands free should it be needed. Being able to simply speak and your message be transmitted, without having to press the PTT button, allows for users in working environments or partaking in leisure activities where both hands are required to still have adequate communications. This feature also works in louder environments, so should there be a lot of noise where you are then there is no need to worry as the microphone will only pick up on your voice and not the environment around you, this due to the technology within the headsets.
With the IC-F29DR being licence free you would presume that it would be easy to use, and you would be right. For a radio so rugged the operation is extremely simple, this because there are just three main controls… Transmit, volume and channel selection. The simplicity of this radio means that it is ideal for use in working environments where a high turnover of staff is expected or less advanced safety features are required.
On the Radiotronics blog website we have often ranted and raved about the introduction of cellular technologies to the two way radio market. Icom released their cellular radio in 2017 named the IP501H, and for a device so small in stature it certainly packs a punch.
As I mentioned it in the opening paragraph of this section let’s get right into the dimensions of the IP501H. The radio stands at just 95mm in height, 59mm in width, 32mm in depth and has a weight of just 240g* means that the IP501H is relatively tiny in size compared to some competing radios in the marketplace. Usually at this point I would say at this point that the low weight means that the radio can be carried stress free to the user via a belt clip or wrist strap, but due to the dimensions and weight mentioned that’s a fairly obvious point to make.
*When standard BP-272 battery is attached.
A running theme with the previously mentioned Icom radios and the IP501H is the IP67 Ingres protection rating. Although it has been mentioned twice before this rating not only ensures that the radio has a full resistance to dust intrusion, but it also confirms that the radio can be full submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. With this IP rating and the radios industrial look and feel, the IP501H would look like it belonged in a variety of working environments. Although commonly used in transportation companies due to the radios unlimited range, the IP501H could be used on constructions sites whether that be for a single site or to connect sites cross country.
Due to the IP501H operating using cellular signals to transmit, this also brings the added bonus of GPS capabilities. Location tracking can be activated when your system uses the Icom UK RMS-Net dispatch solution with this software also providing benefits such as IP Repeater Connection, Radio Recording and Complex Call Routing. Location tracking is a great feature to have should you be using features such as Man Down and Lone Worker with your radios, allowing for the potentially injured worker to be found quickly. If you want to see the full description of how MD and LW work then you can see this in the IC-F2000 section of this blog post.
There are many features that the user of the IP501H will benefit from. Starting with calling features the radio has the ability to perform individual, group and all calls. Fairly simple to gather from the names an individual call allows for a private call to be made from one radio to another, group allows for multiple radios to be contacted and all calls are used to contact every radio within the network. Priority interrupt is classed as an all call, this allowing for a transmission of high priority to interrupt any ongoing conversations to relay an important message, usually used in emergency situations. The IP501H can also make use of a vibrate alert function, this ideal should your work need to remain covert.
A 500 memory address book allows for you to quickly find the person or persons you are wishing to contact, the IP501H is able to store individual and groups whilst also having the ability to store telephones. Not only can you contact the user you need via PTT, you can also send and receive pre-programmed text messages with the IP501H. Common messages that Radiotronics have previously programmed include “Arrived at Location” and “Job Complete”.
Finally a note on an accessory feature, although there are many accessories available to use with the IP501H to help with usability for the operator there is one, technically two, that stand out. Should you purchase the BC-218 charger cradle and the HM-215 Remote Speaker Microphone, due to the IP501H Bluetooth abilities this allows for the radio to be used even when charging due to the RSM being wireless. As long as you are within Bluetooth connectivity distance you can still use your radio as though it was at your side, this can even be done when the radio isn’t in its charger.
Because of their appearance ATEX models are usually one of the radios a first time customer will ask about, but ATEX radios are actually only needed in highly dangerous working environments. Before we get into talking about the IC-F4202DEX’s features and functions, I previously mentioned that these radios are for use in dangerous environments. In order for the radio to be used in these environments they need to pass certain specifications and certifications, the codes of which can be found bellow.
Mining : I M2 Ex ib I Mb
Gas : II 2G Ex ib IIC T4 Gb
Dust : II 2D Ex ib IIIC T110°C Db –20°C≤Ta≤+55°C
EN 60079-0 (2012), EN 60079-11 (2012)
Mining : Ex ib I Mb
Gas : Ex ib IIC T4 Gb
Dust : Ex ib IIIC T110°C Db –20°C≤Ta≤+55°C
IEC 60079-0 (2011), IEC 60079-11 (2011)
The IC-F4202DEX is Icoms flagship ATEX radio. Commonly with other brands I would be typing now about how this ATEX radio has a much higher IP rating than the others mentioned in the blog, but due to this being Icom this radio has the already high IP67. We don’t need to go over this in too much detail as It has been mentioned 3 times previously, but what this means is that the radio has a full Ingres protection against dust whilst also being submergible in water.
Due to the fact that the IC-F4202DEX is designed for dangerous working environments there are many safety features present. The previously mentioned Man Down and Lone Worker are a possibility, this alongside an emergency button to instantly alert other members of the workforce that you could potentially be in trouble. The Icom IC-F4202DEX also has VOX capabilities, this will allow for the radio to be used hands free when used with compatible accessories. VOX stands for Voice activation allowing for the user to simply speak and their message will be transmitted, this is a feature that is most effectively used in environments where use of the hands is an absolutely necessity, and not in workplaces where the feature would be seen as a novelty as it decreases the sound quality of transmissions.
These radios are very complex and are only required in dangerous working environments. Should you want to learn more about the IC-F4202DEX then you can check out our product page for this and the VHF IC-F3202DEX.
All radios mentioned in this blog post are available to view on the Radiotronics website, should you wish to learn more about any of them you can check out the website here or give our sales team a call on the following number to discuss any queries – 01425 533 533.