OKLAHOMA CITY�International Crystal Manufacturing Co.has announced plans to close its business in the next few months. According to its website, ICM plans to go out of business at the end of May, although the date depends on the availability of raw materials and the facilities it has sold.
Founded in 1951, the family-owned business manufactures �quartz crystals, oscillators, filters and TCXOs and VCTCXOs used in military applications, communications, microwave transmission, data acquisition and transmission� and also participates in research.
The company says it will honor all existing orders and will likely �be able to fill a limited amount of new orders dependent upon raw materials available,� according to its website. Customers can call (800) 725-1426 or email the company for more information.
�The closing of ICM is a game changer for the broadcast industry,� radio technical consultant and Radio World contributor Mark Persons told Radio magazine. �I understand they are the last manufacturer in the U.S. that makes crystals to order in quantities as little as one. Crystals typically cost $35 each.� Radio magazine was not able to independently confirm whether ICM was the only manufacturer that provides crystals in such small quantities. Ham operator Keith Hibbert (WB2VUO) compiled a list of crystal manufacturers in 2000, which may be useful.
Persons wrote in an email, �Maintenance of RPU (remote pickup) and STL (studio-transmitter-link) units, and AM transmitters that are more than 10 years old will be a real problem, if not impossible. That equipment uses cut-to-frequency oscillator crystals to put it on a specific frequency. Changing frequency on this equipment will have to rely on the few used crystals on hand in repair facilities. Don�t count on finding the right one for your equipment. The other problem is that crystals do not last forever. They often drift in frequency or quit working after ten or more years of use and need to be replaced.�
He continued, �The repair industry has been doing fine up until now with ICM. I typically repair and retune equipment that is 30 or more years old. It still works fine and makes original manufacturer�s specifications. Without ICM as a source, that equipment will have to be thrown out and replaced by units that are far more expensive than a simple repair job.
�For perspective, newer equipment uses synthesizers that employ a reference crystal whose frequency can be divided down. Those crystals are standard values that are made by the thousands at a time. They usually come in a module that includes the electronics to output a signal at one frequency, typically 10 MHz. Trying to retrofit an older transmitter or receiver design to work with a reference oscillator and divider is a bad choice. It could even degrade the equipment performance, which may then no longer make specifications.�
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