icom ic-720a problems

Icom IC-720a Problems and Their Solutions

The Icom IC-720a is a popular amateur radio transceiver that was manufactured in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It belongs to the family of HF (High Frequency) transceivers and is known for its robust build quality and reliable performance. With its compact size and ease of use, it has gained a dedicated following among amateur radio enthusiasts worldwide.

Importance of Understanding Common Problems and Solutions

While the Icom IC-720a is a well-regarded radio, like any electronic device, it is susceptible to various issues over time. Understanding these common problems and their solutions is essential for users to maintain the optimal performance of their radio equipment. By being aware of potential issues and knowing how to troubleshoot them, users can prolong the lifespan of their IC-720a and ensure uninterrupted communication during their amateur radio operations.

Common Problems with the Icom IC-720a

Problem 1: Poor Audio Quality

Poor audio quality is a common issue faced by users of the Icom IC-720a. This problem can arise due to several reasons. One cause may be a malfunctioning microphone or headset. When these components are not working correctly, they can distort the audio signal, resulting in unclear communication.

Another reason for poor audio quality could be interference from nearby electronic devices. Electrical interference can disrupt the audio signal, causing it to sound garbled or fuzzy. Additionally, if the radio’s audio settings are not properly configured, it can lead to subpar audio quality.

The impact of poor audio quality on communication can be significant. When the audio signal is distorted or unclear, it becomes challenging for users to understand each other. This can hamper effective communication, especially in situations where clarity is crucial, such as during emergency communications or contests.

To address poor audio quality, users can first check their microphone or headset for any physical damage or loose connections. They can also try adjusting the audio settings on the radio to optimize sound quality. In cases where interference is the culprit, relocating the radio to a different location or using filters to reduce electrical noise can help improve audio clarity.

Problem 2: Frequency Drift

Frequency drift is another common issue encountered with the Icom IC-720a. This phenomenon occurs when the radio’s frequency output deviates from its intended frequency over time. Frequency drift can be caused by various factors, including changes in temperature, aging components, or improper calibration.

When frequency drift occurs, it can adversely affect the radio’s performance. For instance, users may experience difficulty tuning into specific frequencies or maintaining a stable connection with other stations. This can be frustrating, especially during long-distance communication or when trying to participate in contests or special events.

To understand frequency drift better, imagine trying to tune a radio to your favorite station, but the signal keeps shifting slightly, making it challenging to lock onto the correct frequency. This is similar to what happens with the Icom IC-720a when frequency drift occurs.

To mitigate frequency drift, users can calibrate the radio periodically to ensure that it stays aligned with the desired frequency. Additionally, keeping the radio in a stable environment with consistent temperature can help minimize frequency fluctuations. Using external frequency stabilizers or oscillators can also be effective in reducing drift and maintaining signal stability.

Problem 3: Receiver Sensitivity Issues

Receiver sensitivity issues are another common problem reported by users of the Icom IC-720a. These issues manifest as difficulties in receiving weak or distant signals, despite having a properly functioning antenna and adequate signal strength.

Symptoms of receiver sensitivity issues include faint or intermittent reception of signals, even when the radio is tuned to the correct frequency. Users may notice that certain stations are harder to pick up or that signals fade in and out unpredictably. This can be frustrating, especially when trying to communicate with stations located far away or in areas with poor signal propagation.

Several factors can contribute to receiver sensitivity problems. These include antenna mismatch, improper grounding, or antenna placement near sources of interference. Additionally, aging electronic components or circuitry degradation over time can also affect receiver sensitivity.

To address receiver sensitivity issues, users can start by checking their antenna system for any signs of damage or misalignment. Ensuring that the antenna is properly matched to the radio’s frequency range and that it is positioned away from potential sources of interference can help improve reception. Performing regular maintenance on the radio, such as cleaning the contacts and inspecting for worn components, can also aid in maintaining optimal receiver sensitivity.

Read More: Emergency Communications: How Ham Radio Operators Help During Disasters

Solutions to Address These Problems

Solution for Poor Audio Quality

When dealing with poor audio quality on your Icom IC-720a, there are a few simple solutions you can try to improve sound clarity.

  1. Adjusting Microphone Settings: Sometimes, the microphone settings on your radio may not be optimized for clear audio transmission. You can try adjusting the microphone gain or sensitivity settings to find the best configuration for your setup. Experimenting with these settings can help enhance audio quality and reduce distortion during communication.
  2. Checking for Loose Connections: Loose connections between your microphone or headset and the radio can also contribute to poor audio quality. Make sure all cables are securely plugged into their respective ports on the radio and that there are no signs of physical damage or wear. Tightening connections and replacing damaged cables can help restore proper audio transmission.

Solution for Frequency Drift

Frequency drift can disrupt communication and make it challenging to tune into specific frequencies on your Icom IC-720a. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions you can implement to address this issue.

  1. Calibrating the Frequency: Periodic calibration of the radio’s frequency can help ensure accurate tuning and reduce drift over time. Consult your radio’s user manual for instructions on how to perform frequency calibration properly. By calibrating the frequency regularly, you can maintain stable communication and minimize frequency-related issues.
  2. Ensuring Proper Ventilation to Prevent Overheating: Overheating can exacerbate frequency drift and other performance issues in your radio. Ensure that your Icom IC-720a is adequately ventilated and that airflow around the device is not obstructed. Avoid placing the radio in direct sunlight or near heat sources, as excessive heat can cause components to drift out of alignment. By keeping your radio cool and properly ventilated, you can help maintain optimal performance and reduce the likelihood of frequency drift.

Solution for Receiver Sensitivity Issues

If you’re experiencing receiver sensitivity issues with your Icom IC-720a, there are a few steps you can take to improve signal reception and enhance overall performance.

  1. Cleaning and Maintaining the Receiver: Dust, debris, and other contaminants can accumulate inside your radio over time, affecting receiver sensitivity. Regularly clean the exterior and interior of your Icom IC-720a using a soft, dry cloth to remove any buildup or debris. Pay particular attention to ventilation openings and cooling fans, as these areas are prone to collecting dust. Additionally, inspect internal components for signs of wear or corrosion and address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.
  2. Installing External Filters for Better Signal Reception: External filters can help reduce interference and improve signal clarity on your Icom IC-720a. Consider installing bandpass or notch filters to block out unwanted frequencies and minimize background noise. These filters can help enhance receiver sensitivity and make it easier to pick up weak or distant signals. Experiment with different filter configurations to find the combination that works best for your operating environment and communication needs.

Read More: Why Do People Find the World of Ham Radio so Fascinating?

Additional Tips for Maintaining the Icom IC-720a

Regular Maintenance Schedule

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your Icom IC-720a, it’s essential to establish a regular maintenance schedule. This involves performing routine checks and tasks to keep the radio in good working condition.

Regularly inspecting the exterior and interior of the radio for any signs of damage, wear, or corrosion is a crucial aspect of maintenance. Look for loose connections, frayed cables, or any other visible issues that may affect performance. By identifying potential problems early on, you can address them promptly and prevent more significant issues from arising.

In addition to visual inspections, it’s also essential to test the functionality of various components regularly. This includes checking the transmit and receive capabilities, verifying frequency accuracy, and ensuring that all buttons, knobs, and switches are working correctly. Performing these tests periodically can help detect any performance degradation or malfunctions and allow you to take corrective action as needed.

Importance of Keeping the Radio Clean and Dust-Free

Keeping your Icom IC-720a clean and free of dust and debris is crucial for maintaining its performance and longevity. Dust and dirt can accumulate inside the radio over time, potentially causing overheating, component damage, and interference with electronic circuits.

To prevent dust buildup, regularly clean the exterior of the radio using a soft, dry cloth. Pay attention to ventilation openings, cooling fans, and other areas where dust is likely to accumulate. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or solvents, as these can damage the radio’s finish or internal components.

Periodically opening up the radio and gently blowing out any accumulated dust with compressed air can also help keep it clean and free of debris. Be careful not to touch or disturb any internal components while cleaning, as this could cause damage or affect performance.

Seeking Professional Assistance for Complex Issues

While regular maintenance and basic troubleshooting can address many common problems with the Icom IC-720a, some issues may require professional assistance to resolve. If you encounter complex or persistent issues that you’re unable to diagnose or fix on your own, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified technician or radio repair specialist.

Professional technicians have the expertise and specialized equipment needed to diagnose and repair more complex issues with your radio accurately. They can perform thorough diagnostics, identify underlying problems, and implement appropriate solutions to restore your radio’s functionality.

When seeking professional assistance, be sure to choose a reputable service provider with experience working on Icom IC-720a radios. Ask for recommendations from fellow radio enthusiasts or consult online forums and communities for trusted repair shops or technicians in your area.

By seeking professional assistance when needed, you can ensure that any issues with your Icom IC-720a are addressed promptly and effectively, allowing you to continue enjoying reliable communication and performance from your radio for years to come.

Read More: Q&A Session: Answering Common Ham Radio Questions from Beginners


In conclusion, understanding the common problems and solutions associated with the Icom IC-720a radio is essential for maintaining optimal performance and prolonging its lifespan. By addressing issues such as poor audio quality, frequency drift, and receiver sensitivity problems, users can ensure uninterrupted communication and enjoy a seamless amateur radio experience.

Simple solutions like adjusting microphone settings, calibrating the frequency, and maintaining a regular maintenance schedule can significantly improve the performance of the IC-720a. Additionally, keeping the radio clean and dust-free, as well as seeking professional assistance for complex issues, are important steps in ensuring its long-term reliability.

By following these tips and implementing the suggested solutions, users can overcome common challenges with the Icom IC-720a and maximize its functionality for years to come. With proper care and maintenance, this versatile radio will continue to provide reliable communication and enjoyable amateur radio experiences for amateur radio enthusiasts everywhere.

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