Icom A-16 Bluetooth Review

8-31-19

I’ve been looking for a good com setup for a year now and I think I’ve found it.

I got the Icom A-16 last week, and have spent the last week testing it out. Here are the highlights.

Construction– Appears to be very solidly built. The buttons and screen are easy to read and manipulate. The “Lock” button is located on top beside the power/volume knob. This makes it easy to access during flight without having to look for it.

Programming– The unit came with the basic instruction manual. This is enough to use the radio, however if you want to get the most utility you will need to download the Full Manual in PDF. Link here. It is not intuitive at all but the manual is easy to follow.

Bluetooth function– I use a BT-S2 motorcycle headset to pair with this radio. This also allows me to pair my Galaxy S8 at the same time for music and phone calls. Pairing is simple and quick, after reading the manual. There is a slight time lag between hitting the PTT on the handset and the headset picking up your voice to transmit. Music cuts out automatically when transmitting or receiving.

Communication– Using this setup, transmissions are very clear and crisp. I’ve had no problems talking to other pilots 5 miles out. And I’ve picked up transmissions from 20+ miles out.

Battery Life– This came with a 2400Mh battery and charging station. Icom claims 5 hrs Tx time, much longer standby time. My longest flight has been 2hrs so I’m not getting close to the end of this battery.

Overall impression– I’m very happy with this purchase. It paid for itself the first time out while making an approach at our usually low traffic local airport. There were multiple aircraft moving on the apron, doing pattern work and touch and gos as I came in. I was able to talk with everyone from several miles out and work in safely for a landing near our fuel farm without inconveniencing anyone.

Bluetooth Headset Review

I’ve been looking for a headset for voice recording and making phone calls in the air, but I didn’t want to spend $200+ on a SENA. The solution: A Chinese knockoff.

Yideng makes a headset very similar to the SENA at about 1/5th the price.

Mounting It’s designed to mounted on the bottom lip of a full face helmet using a clip that screws into the main unit. I use a half face with built in ear cups so this wasn’t an option. It also comes with strips of velcro backed 3M tape to allow you to stick it just about anywhere securely.

My only real complaint is that it’s setup to be mounted on the left side which is my throttle side. This really wasn’t a problem as I didn’t need to manipulate it in flight.

The boom mic has another velcro/3M tape piece which I mounted to my earcup and then ziptied the boom onto my existing boom from the helmet. The earpieces have the same velcro/3M tape setup, but I found they fit snugly inside my earcups so I didn’t use the tape. It was no problem routing the wires out of the way.

Field Trial
I took it up for an hour and was very satisfied with it. It had no trouble tethering to my phone, and the speakers were plenty loud to listen to music the whole flight. The recording quality was not bad, there is a little wind/motor noise and you have to keep the mic close but I expected that. Receiving a phone call was no problem, it stops your music when the ringing starts. A friend flying a Champ happened to take off just after I did and we had no problem talking in the air.

I’ve got no regrets with this purchase. Battery life is supposedly 8 hrs of talk time which is way more than I need. If your looking for a good headset to outfit an existing helmet I would reccomend giving it a shot.