Battery Powered Memory

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    Mike Ryan
    Mike Ryan

    Coin cell style batteries such as the CR3216 are usually found in your calculator and your Laptop computer. You may be surprised to learn that some of the newer vintage Amateur Radio transceivers may also contain one. Power from this small battery may be used to support a built in clock module, but is sometimes also used to retain more CRITICAL radio parameters. Loss of such information may render your radio inoperable.

    The CRITICAL parameters I speak of usually will contain a list of Band Start and Stop frequencies which are used to inform the radio that you are allowed to transmit or operate within those Band Limits. Simply stated, No Limits = NO OPERATE! Access to these CRITICAL parameters are not available to the user, preventing you from using the radio on frequencies that you are not authorized to use. Usually a return to the factory is required to restore the lost parameter information (assuming they still support your radio model). The ICOM IC751A is an example of this.

    It is important that you know if your radio uses a battery to preserve CRITICAL parameters so that you can head off a serious problem. Battery replacement may be possibly performed by the user, BUT THE CIRCUIT MUST REMAIN PROPERLY ENERGIZED THROUGHOUT THE BATTERY REPLACEMENT PROCESS. Simply removing the battery and installing a fresh battery may actually CAUSE THE PROBLEM! You should tread carefully or get FACTORY QUALIFIED HELP to replace the battery.

    Step 1: Does your radio use a battery to preserve it’s memory? Check the Operator Manual or Users Guide and look for references to the word “Battery”. The battery will usually be good for it’s “shelf life” of perhaps 10 years, but the radio’s internal power drain may shorten this considerably. Don’t panic if you have a battery, but don’t say “I’ll deal with this later” and then forget about it.

    Step 2: If you have a battery in your radio – you’ll need to learn more about how to replace it and where it is located in your radio. The manufacturers maintenance manual may be valuable here, and a copy can usually be found online and available for download. You may want to have an electronic copy of all of your radios manuals available for some future use anyway, so why not try to locate and download a free copy of the documentation now. Searches on some online document will fail to find the battery as the manual images were scanned images and not generated from actual text entry.

    Step 3: Your SAFEST solution is to make an arrangement to have your radio serviced by responsible “FACTORY QUALIFIED” personnel. You should see what services they can offer and consider having the radio realigned and having suggested Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) incorporated at the same time. Electronic components “AGE” and adjustable components may need to be “tweaked” to restore peak performance. ECOs may call for replacement of marginal quality parts with more robust ones or call for adding or removing of some circuit components to improve overall stability, performance and extend the useful life of the radio.

    Step 4: If you have the necessary skills and technical experience, you may want to consider doing it yourself. This will almost certainly be the lowest cost solution, but you will also assume some added risk and should be prepared to deal with any problems that arise. You’ll also need to make sure that you have any special tools and equipment resources if you plan to do much of the work yourself.

    FINAL NOTE: Not all radio’s use a battery to store critical radio parameters, some limit it to just supporting the built-in Clock feature. But those that use a Coin Cell style battery include the ICOM: IC-751 and IC-756PRO along with the KENWOOD: TS-2000. Almost all suggest returning the radio to a qualified Factory Service Center for repair.

    CAUTION: Older radio models that you may purchase at a hamfest may also contain similar clock battery backup devices. If you purchase such an item, you may want to have the battery changed before it becomes a problem. Some Icom literature suggests a life span of 2 years, other documentation suggests over 10 years – Best to check your manual to be sure.

    Hopefully, this post will alert you to a potential problem that you can decide how best to deal with it before the battery dies.


    - Mike (K1WVO)
    Nashua Area Radio Club
    Visit us on the web at -

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