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Old 12-02-2013, 09:40   #1
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Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

I am having problems with the insulation jackets on the microphone coiled cables. I
have two Icom VHF M-602s (microphone model # HM-136B) on board. One is
mounted in a covered recessed pocket in the cockpit, the second is mounted at the
below decks navigation station. We also have one Icom HF Marine M-802
(microphone model # HM-135) installed at the below decks navigation station. The
cockpit location is protected from direct sunlight, rain and sea spray. Obviously, the
below deck installations are completely protected as much as physically possible on
a sailboat.

The insulation jackets are crumbling and falling off in pieces. I am not talking about
Normal use wear and tear. I am talking about the insulation crumbling and falling off
the cable while it is hanging at rest in the microphone clip. The below decks VHF is
a very lightly used radio. The first time it happened, I noticed what, I thought, were
cockroach or bug droppings on the navigation desk. Much to my amazement, I
discovered the cable on the HM-136B microphone connected to the VHF M-602
was falling apart! This turned out to be the first incident. I am now dealing with the
same issue on the third of the three Icom radios on board. I am interested in
knowing if other cruising boats are having the same problem and how Icom
resolved their issues.

When I bought our 44’ CSY walkover in 1992, I did an initial refit including the
installation of a VHF and a SSB Icom radio. I sailed for fourteen years with no
problems with either radio, including the microphones. Between 2006 and 2009, I
did a complete refit including upgrading and replacing all the electronics. Based on
my previous experience with Icom radios and favorable reviews of Icom radios by
other cruisers, I installed two Icom VHF 602s and one Icom HF 802. I also
installed one Icom Command Microphone HM-127B. And, I carry two Icom
handheld VHFs on board.

I had to replace the microphone on the first VHF M-602 in February, 2010.
Surprisingly, this was the VHF installed below decks at the navigation station (a
totally protected radio). Since I hadn’t even left the dock yet, this radio had never
been used. After numerous phone calls, I was finally able to secure a warranty
replacement.

In July, 2010, we left Fort Lauderdale and headed North up the ICW. At this time,
the microphone cable on the second Icom VHF M-602 installed in the cockpit,
began to crumble and fall apart. We spent many hours taping and patching the cable
together. When we reached D.C., our first order of business was to contact Icom.
After several phone calls, I was finally able to talk directly to the Service Admin-
istrator. I explained the problems we were having with the microphone cables and
our opinion that this was an obvious manufacturing defect. The SA agreed to replace
the microphone upon receipt of the defective one and confirmation that it was
indeed a manufacturing defect. They replaced the microphone. I asked the SA,
during our last phone conversation, if we should replace the HM-135 microphone
on the Icom Marine HF M-802 as well. My feeling at that point, was that it was
only a question of time before that cable would disintegrate too. The SA's response
was that Icom did not feel that it was necessary to replace it. However, if we had a
problem with it at a future time, Icom would replace it.

We are now in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Guess what I am finding on my
Navigation station desk, pieces of insulation jacket! The HM-135 microphone to
the Marine HF M-802 is crumbling and falling off in pieces. This time I am trying to
hold the cable together with a silicone epoxy while I work on getting a replacement.

I contacted Icom and was told :
What you describe is hardly ever heard in our department, and we do take a lot of telepone
calls and answer a lot of e-mails from all over the USand different parts of the world. The
HM-135 microphone is available from our parts department and so is the coiled cable, part
number: 8900011080. I believe that a reasonably handy person may be able to change out
the cable. From your description, it almost sounds like there is either a cleaning agent or
something in the immediate area that is reacting with the compound used in the cables.

Other than this, I do not have an answer for the deteriorating that you described, because we do not typically hear of this sort of thing. Should you wish to get a new mic or the cable, you can contact our parts department via e-mail at: parts@icomamerica.com.

This response anowed me, to say the least. So, on January 17th, I made one
announcement on the Rio Dulce VHF Cruiser’s Net regarding my problem with the
third Icom radio and Icom’s response. Now that hurricane season has ended and
most of the cruisers have left, I thought I might get a response from one or two
boats. Within two hours, I received responses from TWELVE different boats
involving TWENTY radios! Including mine, that makes thirteen boats involving
twenty-three radios just in this one anchorage area. In addition to the 602 and 802,
boats are also reporting problems with the VHF M-604 and the Command Mike.

How many more of us are out there having this "hardly ever heard of" problem?
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:00   #2
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

As a surveyor I am seeing more and more of this on boats I look at. It is not just an Icom problem as I see more Raymarine units with this than any other brand. My guess it is poor QC from parts the manufactures purchase from sub vendors (Read China) I am also seeing this in hoses less than a few years old. There seems to be an issue with rubber products out there in general. I am guessing Icom and Raymarine as well as others are fully aware of the issue whether they admit it or not. So all I can say is you are not alone in this issue. I hope Icom takes care of you with this.
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:20   #3
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

I have the same issues and the same lame excuses and fables from Icom support. We all know they will tell you it has never happened before but oh how I hate it and the people who do this.

It's got nothing to do with China either: the charging cord that came with my iPhone will outlast my own body and that is from China too.
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:21   #4
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

You are definitely not alone.

SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom mic problem
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Old 12-02-2013, 14:22   #5
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Same problem with the cable on a command mike. Investigated replacement parts: about 65 bucks for a cable that I had to install, which involves breaking into the sealed microphone case. Or, I could buy a whole new command mike off the internet for 75 bucks... hmmm, hard decision!

Anyhow, I too find Icom somewhat deceitful about problems, and wish there was better support and better quality in their products.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 12-02-2013, 14:34   #6
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Rather than buy another cord and mic from ICOM I would like to change the just the cord but the 8 pin plug seems to be perminate on the end of the cord. Any ideas for removing one? There are heavy good 8 conductor made in USA cords on EBAY.
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Old 12-02-2013, 14:51   #7
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Samson View Post
Rather than buy another cord and mic from ICOM I would like to change the just the cord but the 8 pin plug seems to be perminate on the end of the cord. Any ideas for removing one? There are heavy good 8 conductor made in USA cords on EBAY.
Try to find the plug. Or splice the old plug onto the new cable. The cable does not to be heavy, nobody broke it by stretching it too much; it just needs to be made out of good quality materials so that it doesn't fall apart by itself.

Use the cord from a $25 second hand old Standard Horizon mike. I have decided that Icom does not deserve my money anymore and bought other gear even though I still have the two Icom radios.
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Old 12-02-2013, 16:07   #8
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

I can't completely agree with you. I have 2 ICOM radios and the mic cord I have to strech to reach the wheel is the one that failed. Coincidence perhaps.
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Old 12-02-2013, 16:25   #9
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Boy am I glad someone else has this issue too. Not encouraging to hearing ICOM is not standing behind their product. I have a white command mic on the helm and love it. While on vacation last year, I noticed the cord comming out of the plug exposing the wiring. I ended up putting several small ty wraps (zip tie) on trying to support the cord from comming out. I was going to send the mic in for repair over winter but forgot to pull the mic off the boat last fall prior to shrink wrap.

I have had several other manufactures VHF's over the years and for one reason or another settled on the ICOM brand. Other than this, I was very happy with it.

IF someone finds out if the manufacture changes their mind and stand behind their product please let everyone know. If someone figures out a subsitute feel free to chim in. Sounds this is a little more than an isolated issue.

Maybe they will do the right thing and find out happy customers are returning paying customers.
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Old 12-02-2013, 16:34   #10
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Somebody posted a few months ago that they sent their HM135 to Icom for a cable replacement and they received it back no charge.
YMMV
Chip
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Old 12-02-2013, 17:02   #11
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Try Coppers online ! They have 8 pin connectors and cords out the waazoo, also mikes and most all or any radio stuff you might ever want !! I have nothing to do with them except being a happy customer!!! They have shipped to me all over the world at different times !!
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Old 12-02-2013, 17:07   #12
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

I sent an email to the sales dept. of Icom America with a URL to this thread. Maybe everybody with failed cords could do the same.
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Old 12-02-2013, 17:09   #13
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerSailor View Post
Somebody posted a few months ago that they sent their HM135 to Icom for a cable replacement and they received it back no charge.
YMMV
Chip
Sending back to Icom from paradise costs more than a new mike so is not an acceptable solution for those that are "out there", unfortunately. They should just send replacement cords at no charge when presented with a picture of a failed cord... imho of-course.
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Old 12-02-2013, 17:11   #14
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

We have the smallest Icom VHF in our boat; I think the model is around 8 years old, and it's in near-new condition and operation, mic cable included.

Given the number, and the nature of the reported failure, it sure sounds like Icom had a load of substandard mic cables. Unfortunately, it's not unheard of for some subcontractors, or their suppliers to slip in substandard materials. It sounds like the plastic jacket is of an inferior plastic.

I don't think a company like Icom would deliberately under-spec the cable. They're probably victims too. But that doesn't mean they can evade responsibility for the bad ones. But manufacturers will do whatever they think will minimize cost, if there's no significant PR penalty.

(We have a washer/dryer pair where the dryer has a chronic and well-documented design flaw in the logic board, but Frigidaire hasn't publicly stepped up with a board recall. I'm a tech from a past life and was able to fix it myself, and the dryer has been ok otherwise, but I don't mind calling them out for not acknowledging the problem. Google "Frigidaire dryer E68 fault")

If it were me I and the radio is within a reasonable range of new (eg under 5 years old). I would bring it to their attention. Worst case, they can only say no, and risk further forum-bashing. More likely, they might not eat the cost of a full cord replacement on a 5-year-old radio, but it would be good business to make some concession like a discount towards a newer model.
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Old 12-02-2013, 18:57   #15
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Re: Icom Radios - deterioration of microphone cable

Good News for all here!!!

Icom Service DID acknowledge this problem last summer!!
And, YES they WILL replace the cord for free, and YES, you can send it to your local/regional Icom Service Center!!!
(Do NOT attempt to work with the "parts dept", as they will simply try to sell you a new microphone, as they are NOT privy to the Service Center's "out-of-warranty NO Charge cord replacement"!!!)

N-Aimless (and I suspect others who have recently had no luck with Icom on this issue), has been dealing with the "parts dept" (see his post above), whether contacting them directly, or being transferred/referred to the "parts dept" by "cust serv" when mentioning needing a new mic cord.....and this is reason for the mis-communication / mis-information.....
But, if you contact the SERVICE department (or one of Icom's regional service centers), you should have no problems....

Icom WILL replace defective mic cords at no charge.....but this means what it says, "defective".....NOT "chafed" or "overly-stretched and broken", as those are a consequence of use (abuse??) and not a "defect".....
And, you do NOT need to send it off to their main service center in Bellevue, WA.....but you can use one of their regional service center....(this IS what I did, read details below...)


As Don pointed out this issue reared its head in 2010, and was discussed at some length on the SSCA Disc Board "Communications" Forum, starting 2 years ago....
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom mic problem


Here is the update I posted there, just this evening...
Quote:
As written above, this past summer (summer of 2012), Icom did publicly acknowledge their QC issue with microphone cords.....and actually this is now effecting other manufacturers as well, as many of these cords' manuf. is now out-sourced by the OEM vendors (who supply Icom and others) to plants in China....

The good news is that Icom Service Department (NOT the "parts dept") is fully aware of the problem, and is happily / politely offering to replace any "defective" mic cords for free, without worrying about a "warranty claim"....
This means that if your M-802 is 6 - 9 years old (as my two M-802's are), they will replace the mic cord on the HM-135 mic for free....
You ship it to them (you pay to ship it to them) and they ship it back to you with a new cord on it (they pay for the shipping back to you)......

The further good news is that Icom has made all their regional service centers aware of this issue, and has authorized them to do this work, and hence this allows those with deteriorated Icom mic cords can send them to their local / regional Icom service center and do not need to send it off across the country (or across an ocean!)

In my neck of the woods (Florida), and/or for those in the Bahamas, etc. that means Williams Communications, in Tallahassee, FL....
I sent one of my mics there, and got it back with a new cord, 3 days after I sent it there!!!!
A couple weeks later, I sent my second deteriorated mic into them, but this time it took a whole 6 days to get back to me (there was a weekend in that 6 days, though...)
Now, I cannot promise that everyone will get the same quick turn-around, but I was impressed!!!!

So, here's the procedure as I know it....
Call Icom Service Dept (NOT the parts dept) and tell them of your problem and where you are at....they'll tell you where to send your mic w/ bad cord.....and they will replace it for you...for free....


Am I disappointed that these mic cords have this problem??? Yes...
But, I applaud Icom for recognizing the problem, and stepping up to offer a great solution!!!

(whether the new mic cords will last, or not....I don't know.....but so far so good!!)


I hope this helps some of you out there...
Fair winds...

John

Maybe not a "perfect solution", but better than I would expect....

I hope this helps clarify things...
Fair winds...

John
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