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Old 15-01-2021, 15:17   #1
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Join Date: May 2019
Location: Merritt Island, FL
Boat: Nautical Development Offshore 40
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Icom M506 VHF/AIS Failure

Upon departing Antigua last night, we discovered our Icom M506 was suddenly non-functional. It powers on, transmits (as reported by a friend), but does not receive and outputs no audio. The backlight stays lit, but the display cycles on and off every ~1 second.

I called Icom support today (from Statia), and was told my only option is to send it in to their service center. Right, let me just stroll on over to the post office and mail it right out! No method to reset and no support for troubleshooting it myself. The support person began looking for service centers in the Caribbean and suggested St Lucia. Only 3 days away from here, perfect! Not sure they understood how sailing works.

So, we are now cruising (we do multi-day passages regularly) without a fixed VHF. Our handheld is obviously a poor substitute, although better than nothing.

Has anyone had a similar failure of an Icom VHF? Anyone have experience with their service center?

Before paying international shipping then $100/hr plus parts, I am thinking buying a replacement may be wiser. We have a Command mic wired to the cockpit, so unfortunately we may be married to Icom. Perhaps this failed one is better used for speargun target practice.

The VHF was installed by the previous owner, and I believe it is only ~5 years old. Pretty disappointing from a supposed quality manufacturer.
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Old 16-01-2021, 08:29   #2
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Re: Icom M506 VHF/AIS Failure

Quote:
Originally Posted by SV One Life View Post
Has anyone had a similar failure of an Icom VHF?
I have an ICOM VHF Marine Band radio model IC M-402. I bought this ICOM radio in c.2001. It continues to operate normally in 2021, now in its 20th year of service.

I was able to implement several repairs and improvements to the device a few years ago, when it was in an unusable state.
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Old 16-01-2021, 14:22   #3
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Re: Icom M506 VHF/AIS Failure

I opened it up today, and found nothing obviously wrong with it. Since it powers on and transmits, I'm guessing there's no quick fix I can make with a multimeter and solder iron.
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Old 16-01-2021, 16:58   #4
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Location: Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia
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Re: Icom M506 VHF/AIS Failure

Does sound like you have a cactus VHF. Given that you can transmit which takes the most power and relies on the antenna being good and the microphone. In my working life I maintained the vhf/uhf radios on a mine site. I didnít fix them just exchanged components mainly. So I divided them into power supply, antenna and cable, micro phone, speaker (most machines had external speakers) and finally the radio itself.
If I was attending your installation Iíd be happy with all the info you have given as this clears the power supply, the microphone and the antenna and cable.
So to the unit, if you canít see anything obvious your next option is to look harder for a dry solder joint. Try to work out the audio section of the radio. It may help you narrow down to the problem. You canít do much damage as it sounds like itís cactus anyway. Given you need it now sending it for repair will take some time so really not an option. Could be a diode or a capacitor. Diodes are diodes in a pinch so you can pinch one out of something less important. As a shipís electrician I was able to get the ship going one time doing this, 10cent diode stopping a ship. Not much fun if your at sea focusing down on a small circuit board. Good luck.
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Old 16-01-2021, 17:57   #5
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Re: Icom M506 VHF/AIS Failure

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Originally Posted by philcun50 View Post
So to the unit, if you canít see anything obvious your next option is to look harder for a dry solder joint. Try to work out the audio section of the radio. It may help you narrow down to the problem. You canít do much damage as it sounds like itís cactus anyway. Given you need it now sending it for repair will take some time so really not an option. Could be a diode or a capacitor. Diodes are diodes in a pinch so you can pinch one out of something less important.

Thanks for the suggestions! I will open it up again and try to figure out where the audio circuit is. The anchorage here in Statia is incredibly rolly, not the best for staring at small PCBs.
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