Critical Communications

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio Teardown

18 September 2008
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The M/A Com P7100IP Model III (P7170) is a VHF-band portable 2-way radio with full keypad and monochrome LCD for law enforcement and public safety use. Its software programmable operating modes include P25 digital trunked mode, P25 conventional mode, EDACS or ProVoice trunked mode as well as conventional analog mode. The product also meets MIL-STD-810F specifications and is certified an intrinsically safe device by FM and CSA.

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio Main ImageMA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio Main Image
Target Market

Law enforcement and public safety environments


Received FCC approval in July 2003; actual release date unknown.

Pricing and Availability

Only one reference pricing was found through a distributor. The base P7170 hardware is priced approximately $2300 at list without options. However, this price reflects only the hardware cost of the radio. A fully operational M/A Com P7100IP radio unit will require software-defined radio protocols that can drive the cost of the final product to over $4500 depending on configuration and options selected. Note that these prices reflect the upper bound of the true per-unit purchase price for a typical high volume government, municipal or commercial customer.

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Main PCB TopMA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Main PCB Top

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 350K-500K units (50K units/year for 7 to 10 years).

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed, volumes increment by an order of magnitude. Minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis.

Function / Performance

No performance testing was performed on the M/A-Com P7170IP.

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio Cost AnalysisMA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Unlike with consumer products which feature very high production volumes over short life cycles, such two-way radios have very long lifetimes and are produced in modest volumes. The end result is that the cost structure of these devices is elevated at every level of the supply chain. Low volume production environments present a plethora of cost amortization issues - and typically each vendor in the chain will mark-up their product handsomely to reimburse themselves for these extra costs which include inventory management and holding costs (broken reels of electronic components), set-up and break-down costs for custom component manufacturers (especially if asked to do multiple small runs, and maintain custom tools when idle, etc., set-up and break-down costs for PCB and final assembly, etc.

As a result, it is difficult to produce an accurate assessment of what costs are currently being paid by the manufacturer, but we have factored these elevated costs in various parts of our analysis from electronic components, to custom components and manufacturing costs.

The end result is that even if these radios use fairly common, commodity, off-the-shelf electronic components, the low volumes makes their cost much closer to 'full retail' pricing than to 'tier 1' volume pricing that major producers would enjoy.

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Main PCB BottomMA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Main PCB Bottom

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / EMS Provider

Based on markings, the unit was assembled in Japan. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc. were sourced in Japan.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as PCBA), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. "Auto inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Enclosure DisassemblyMA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Enclosure Disassembly

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

Mechanical Design

The M/A-Com P7170 radio has a mechanical components count of 102 which is only slightly less than the similarly designed P7270 model (higher grade M/A Com model) previously analyzed by iSuppli. Overall, for a generic 2-way radio design, the M/A-Com P7170 contains a large number of mechanical parts. The added complexity in mechanical components was likely necessary to meet the strict standards of a MIL-Spec and Intrinsically Safe certifications as well as to accommodate for the multiple internal PCBAs. Compared to the Motorola XTS-5000, EF Johnson, Vertex radio, in terms of component count, the P7170 ranks second with the Motorola having the highest count of 115. All in all, the M/A-Com P7170 does not seem overwhelmingly manufacture challenging.

Electronic Design Complexity

The electronic component count is 871, which is lower than the 1397-part count of the previously analyzed M/A Com P7270 but comparable to the Motorola XTS-5000, EF Johnson, Vertex radio.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for Japan.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes


From a mechanical point of view, the M/A Com P7170 represent a ruggedized yet simple 2-way radio design. The device consists primarily of a front enclosure, made from a very thick molding of PC & ABS plastic, a heavy-duty die-cast aluminum alloy main rear enclosure as well as a PCB mounting plate. The device also features a number of silicon seals for weatherproofing around the perimeter and openings. All of these custom moldings and castings add significant cost to the design, but are not inherently complex or time consuming to integrate into the end assembly.


Two-way radio designs are typically not complex devices when compared with other handheld communications devices such as consumer handsets - but handsets are also more integrated, as the silicon manufacturers have a financial incentive and larger market that drives higher integration levels than are possible with two-way radios.

Nonetheless, the core of this design revolves around the CPU 'functional area' (as defined by iSuppli) which includes the TI Microprocessor TCM9108A and TI DSP TMS320VC5416PGE120. The rest of the design consists of much lower level RF components and discrete semiconductor components.

Here is a summary of the major components used in the MA-Com HT7170TH1A-IS2 design:

Main PCB


  • Microprocessor - Texas Instruments - TCM9108A
  • DSP - Texas Instruments - TMS320VC5416PGE120


  • SRAM - Renesas - R1LP0408CSB - 4Mb
  • Flash - Spansion - MBM29F016A-90PFTN - 16Mb


  • Frequency Synthesizer - Skyworks - SKY72301-21
  • IF Digitizer - NXP Semiconductors - SA647DH - IF Receiver

I/O & Interface

  • Codec - Texas Instruments - TCM9108A - Voice Codec

MA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Box ContentsMA-COM P7170IP VHF Two-Way Radio - Box Contents

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