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Icom ID-31A Review: 440Mhz D-STAR HT

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  #17  
Old 01-09-2012, 08:46 PM
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GPS Functionality

The ID-31a has very complete GPS functionality which I'll give an overview of. It supports not only use of the internal GPS receiver; you can use an external GPS by wiring one up to the DATA port. I've already shown how you can display your own position or the position of another digital station that is broadcasting the information. The radio also completely supports DPRS, the D-STAR version of APRS. If you've used another radio that supports APRS, the DPRS setup is nearly identical. You can tell the ID-31 to include your DPRS info while also transmitting digital voice (often D-STAR repeaters have the IGATE program running) or set it to beacon periodically while operating simplex.

The ID-31 has extensive GPS memory capabilities. You can store your own waypoints, other stations' locations, or even manually enter coordinates to store. The memories can be given names and assigned to one of 26 memory banks if desired. There is also a special RX station memory bank. The manual isn't clear on how many GPS memories may be saved, but I assume that they are included as part of the 1250 memories available. Even the memory banks names can be changed from the default lettered names to your own custom names.

Another nice feature is the GPS Alarm function. This function will sound either 1 or 3 beeps depending on how close you are to the memory you set an alarm for. You can turn on alarms for specific stations, locations, or even an entire GPS memory bank.

In all, the GPS functionality is well thought out and very complete.

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  #18  
Old 01-09-2012, 09:04 PM
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Miscellaneous Features

Several miscellaneous features included with the Icom ID-31 are worth mentioning. One very innovative feature for an HT is the speech capability. When used in digital mode, the ID-31 has the ability to announce the callsign of other stations. You can adjust both the speed and volume level of the callsign announcement and how frequently it is announced.

The ID-31 can auto reply to a call to your callsign by either transmitting yoru callsign digitally or by transmitting a recorded voice message. This might be useful if you happen to walk away from the HT while expecting a call. Not only can it record your own audio to play, but it can record an entire TX and RX QSO. There are many options for recording QSOs including recording based on PTT, recording only the RX station, or recording both RX and TX audio. All recordings are saved to the microSD card as WAV files.

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  #19  
Old 01-10-2012, 02:26 PM
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Summary

After using this new HT for a few weeks, I have some overall thoughts on this product. First, it is a very nice, well built, sleek little radio. I like that it is waterproof and it seems like it will take some abuse. It's obvious that a lot of thought went into making this radio very easy to use, especially when you consider that programming D-STAR isn't typically as easy to do as the analog modes. The ID-31 makes excellent use of the microSD card and I can only hope that Icom continues to add this feature to other radios. They've done GPS functionality right in this radio, as well.

It seems like they have some work to do with the TX audio quality, though. I'm not sure if this is something that can be corrected in firmware, but I hope so. My biggest issue with this radio is that it is 440Mhz only. While there are quite a few 440Mhz D-STAR repeaters in my area, the inability to use this radio to access the 2 meter D-STAR repeaters is frustrating. I also regularly use 2 meter FM repeaters and simplex with an HT, which means I must carry two radios if I want to use both 2m and 70cm on both FM and D-STAR. This is just impractical. I realize that Icom has other radios that fulfill these requirements, so I view the ID-31 as a niche type of product.

So here's the summary: D-STAR is neat, it's a quality radio, built tough, nice features, easy to use with lots of functionality, a niche product because of the single band capability, but the microSD card and the included programming software is where the innovation is.

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  #20  
Old 01-13-2012, 12:29 AM
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Default ID-31A Audio Quality Issue Origin?

Hi Moleculo,

Cool Moniker, BTW!

I read your posts on the new ICOM HT with great interest. I am wondering if the audio issue is due to the IP7X waterproofing? The Microphone may have some sort of membrane over it to protect it.

Has anyone tried and external microphone on the radio, such as the HM75 (or newer versions)? If so, I am very interested in knowing the result of that trial.

I sold my Icom 91AD last year, and I am looking to buy a new HT.

What is the radio like in a rag chew session? The 91AD used to get so hot it was painful to hold on to, and the radio itself would go into a self protection mode and stop transmitting after about 2 minutes of fairly continuous transmission (yes, I'm a real long winded sort).

I appreciate the effort you've gone through to relate your impressions of the radio.

Regards,
Shane

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  #21  
Old 01-13-2012, 09:17 AM
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I suspect the audio problem may be in part caused by the weatherproofing since the comments are that it sounds a bit muffled. I don't have the external mic to try with it, but I'm sure that will have a different audio quality than the built in mic as I've never used an external mic that didn't sound different than the radio itself.

The radio can get hot if transmitting for an extended time on high power, but it doesn't seem any worse than any other radios of similar size. Remember, these little radios don't have a huge surface area for the heat sink so the case is designed to do the job. That can make it get pretty hot to the touch if you get long winded. I haven't been able to make it shut down yet

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  #22  
Old 01-16-2012, 11:43 PM
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How would you compare the ID-31A to the Yaesu VX-8?

Have you had the chance to work the D-PRS? I'm presuming it is digital proprietary version APRS. If so, I find this unfortunate. I like using APRS in remote locations, and don't need it worsen by trying to find someone with an ICOM radio.

The lack of VHF is a turn off. I use my radio in the backcountry, and it is tough enough trying to transmit, let alone only have 440..

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  #23  
Old 01-17-2012, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snakyjake View Post
How would you compare the ID-31A to the Yaesu VX-8?
They are really entirely different radios. The VX-8 is a jack-of-all-trades type of radio, while the ID-31A is a very purpose-built, DSTAR radio.

Quote:
Have you had the chance to work the D-PRS? I'm presuming it is digital proprietary version APRS. If so, I find this unfortunate. I like using APRS in remote locations, and don't need it worsen by trying to find someone with an ICOM radio.
You can set up the radio to send DPRS info along with your DSTAR QSO when you key. Because it's part of the data stream, you never are bothered with it. Most D-STAR gateways are setup to gate the information to the APRS network, so your info will show up on sites like aprs.fi. The catch is that the radio does not have a built in TNC to use in conjunction with a normal digipeater. So, if there happens to be someone beaconing APRS info on a 440mhz frequency (I'm not sure why they would be doing that), the ID-31 won't do anything with it.

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  #24  
Old 01-17-2012, 11:06 AM
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For those in need, I've posted the expanded TX/RX modification information here:

http://www.worldwidedx.com/icom/1328...-internet.html

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