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4x4tographer

"Oki": 4x4tographer's 2018 Jeep JLUR

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I did another thing today. Installed my new Midland GMRS radio! Even worse than that though..... I tore out my entire CB system!

 

I think I’ve used it a handful of times the last year, and generally the rx/tx is hot garbage. The range is also questionable, and it literally took me 2 years to get the SWR to an acceptable level. With more and more moving to GMRS, it just makes a lot of sense to me. With JJUSA ditching CB, I’m guessing that will just speed up the transition.

 

Between my cheap-o Baofeng ham handheld unit and the new GMRS, I feel like I’m still covered in spite of the lack of CB.

 

So what did I get? 

 

Radio: MXT275

Antennas: MXTA25 3dB gain “ghost antenna” and a longer traditional MXTA26 6dB gain antenna

 

Here’s a pic from before the install! This really gives you a good impression of the size of the equipment. Also pictured is the shorty mag-mount antenna that ships with the MXT275 radio.

 

EFkVjXC.jpg

 

I went with the MXT275 for a few reasons:

 

1 - It’s small and compact, with all of the controls on the hand-held mic

2 - The power is in the mid-range of the MicroMobile line up with 15 watts of available power.

3 - The price point was pretty fair to me, balancing power and features.

4 - Dual speakers. Both the hand-held mic AND the “guts” of the radio have speakers. You’re able to turn on the ability for both speakers to output simultaneously, making it a little easier to hear of the noise on the trail. This was a big bonus for me as I can be a little hard of hearing to begin with.

 

I went a little crazy on antennas and now have 3. I went with a MXTA25 “ghost” antenna for my day to day drives and to allow me to park in my garage without having to disconnect a longer antenna. I picked up the longer MXTA26 for our trail rides to maximize my rx/tx range.

 

Here’s what they look like installed:

 

MXTA26 - This antenna is 32” tall and has a pretty robust spring base. It’s fairly flexible, especially when compared to my 2’ Firestik from my CB set up.

ZQumwUz.jpg

 

MXTA25 - note the 3” Rigid Industries light cube behind it for size reference.

XB96KZF.jpg

 

Worth noting - the install was A BREEZE. No need to ground anything, no need to worry about SWR tuning, no need to fret over the order of components on the antenna mount to make sure you’ve done it right. It was brainless, and I really appreciate being catered to. :D

 

The bottom of the NMO mount/connector had a small insulating rubber ring pre-installed in a channel to make sure everything is grounded correctly with out the need to think. HOWEVER, in my particular application, the rubber ring was binding up when tightening it down to my Diode Dynamics cowl mounts. The rubber was catching the slots cuts into the mounts. I got around this by cutting a square of plastic and drilling a 5/8th hole into it for the mount to go through.

 

Next up is the radio.

tdigX7n.jpg

 

Maybe it’s my impression of my CB and cheap-o Baofeng, but this unit is luxury by comparison in terms of build quality. The mic has a certain heft to it, feels solid and substantial, is substantial in the hand, and all of the buttons have a satisfying “click” to their key presses letting you know that you did actually press a button.

 

That was NOT what I was expecting. I was expecting cheap, lightweight, and fragile. Instead, I got a hand-held tank for a microphone.

 

Now, I WILL say that the mic is large. Probably due to all of the controls, screen, and related electronics. That said, those with smallish hands might find this unit to be a bit cumbersome to use.

 

As for the install, since the “guts” of the unit are in a smaller external box, the possibilities are limitless. The mic has a very generous length of cable on it, letting you install the box under a seat, in a foot well, or inside of the dashboard itself.

 

Since the box has its own speaker, and I know I’ll want to use the dual-speaker mode, I opted to install it where I had my CB. The below is a photo of the install bracket (which is quick-release, by the way) mated up to my overhead molle panel over the center console.

 

dOEgT5O.jpg

 

Here it is with the “guts box” snapped into place. Speaking of which, the build quality is shown here too. The box is stamped metal, and feels substantial with no odd panel gaps or rattles.

 

There are literally 2 ports on it. Coax, mic, and a USB (for firmware updates). That’s it.

PktWhKX.jpg

 

 

That’s it for my first impressions of my new MTX275. I’ll post a follow up once I get to use it, program it, and play with it! I hope this post helps anyone that is curious about this particular model.

Edited by 4x4tographer
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I am not a fan of sleeping on the ground for the critters to get me either. 🤣 On the camping trip to Signal(My first camping adventure) I got my hands on a Wellax self inflating pad. Kris has a nice one too, a little more dollars  than mine though. I put an "egg crate" style foam pad from Wal-Mart under that for extra cushion.  It was pretty comfortable to be honest. I am 6' 2" and fit back there at an angle and slept good, not the best nights sleep but not the worst. I do not recall what style sleeping bag I have but it's a Coleman. It is  heavy and warm. I bought it when I was driving truck a long time ago and it always kept me warm.  I also borrowed Kris's passenger seta/foyer idea.  I am going to get some cheap window shades and cut them to fit the windows down the side primarily to block out more light in the morning. Secondly I would hate to wake up and see Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kruger staring  at me. 😱😜

 

 

 

Edited by shellback91
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great job on the sleep platform!

 

does the JL passenger seat not lean forward any further to give you a couple more inches of headroom?

 

one idea for you - grab the correct size countersink drill bit from Home Depot, and use it to bevel the screw holes in the hinges so you can use flat-head screws. that should allow the gate hinges to fold almost completely flat... you may still want thin spacers on the opposite edge of the platform (the same thickness as the whole hinge itself) so the folded over section of wood can rest on the spacers.

 

awesome use of your holiday vacation ;) - looking forward to you coming on some overnights with us now!

 

 

Edited by theksmith
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The fam and I took a little spur of the moment trip up to Sedona yesterday to get out of town for a bit. We ended up running through Broken Arrow, as @Yodamom hadn't see it yet, and I think it's frankly one of the biggest bang for your buck trails in the area.

 

I love living in the north valley as that puts places like Sedona just 1.5 hours of our driveway and makes for an easy getaway whenever we want a dramatic change of scenery. ❤️ 

 

A few photos just as we entered the trail and aired down.

xLB3cZL.jpg

OPt9IR0.jpg

 

Submarine rock is my absolute favorite part of this trail. I could spend most of my day hanging out there. When there are no vehicles around and the tourists quiet down, its amazing how quiet this large of an open space really is.

569YyUl.jpg

42OnI2F.jpg

KmoRsQE.jpg

 

Chicken Point always has some pretty dramatic scenery.

d2TVMMb.jpg

 

A little flexing just before Devil's Staircase

1iecZJH.jpg

 

Here's the staircase itself. 

 

The girls hanging out with the Jeep at Chicken Point.

1jWPXnh.jpg

 

Brynna really wanted a photo with one of the Pink Jeeps :) since "her room is pink and he pants are pink and pink is her favorite color". She's also let me know that she wants her own pink Jeep when she's old enough to drive. 

Wo2DJfp.jpg

Edited by 4x4tographer
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Sedona is such an awesome and BEAUTIFUL place, Sarah and I have have talked about living there in past years.  Some years back we went there on a family trip and did the Pink Jeep tour through Broken Arrow, such a blast.  The notorious Devil's Staircase in on my bucket list now that I have my rig, can you say jealous?  LOL!  I want to go both up and down the Devil's Staircase! 😎

Edited by Trail Toy
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We ran Broken Arrow last year for the first time at 2am, the night sky was amazing.

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Finally got a chance to get some air time in with the new Midland MXT275 GMRS radio. I have to say - I'm hooked. I was out looking up repeaters, joining some local and national networks, and listening in to a Wednesday night "radio net" with the AZ GMRS Repeater Club.

 

Like, a serious, 5-alarm, full-blown nerd alert. 🤓  I actually had a serious fleeting thought about setting up my own repeater in the attic, but I came back down to reality. Then I saw this portable 5 watt repeater and about had a nerdgasm. 

 

 

In using the Midland, I'm getting the hang of using it, and have fallen in love with the "scan" feature. It basically will cycle through every available channel until it picks up a transmission. It will stick to that channel through the transmission and wait 3 seconds before resuming the scan. 

 

On our drive to/from Sedona last weekend I got to listen in on several new GMRS users testing their equipment with some other folks, doing radio checks. There was some fun rag chewing to listen in on as well. 

 

So far, the system appears to be working flawlessly, at least for receiving transmissions. I haven't attempted connected with anyone yet personally, though I did do a few successful test transmissions to my Baofeng handheld ham. To date, I've been rocking the 6dB gain 32" MXTA26 antenna. I want to try to hit the repeaters located at the White Tank Mountains (20miles) or Towers Mountain at Crown King (32 miles) to see if I can.

 

 

In looking for a better way to mount up the mic (I used to use a retractable lead which left the mic swinging everywhere) I stumbled across this magnetic mic (not to be confused with Magic Mike). It has a pretty crazy strong magnet that securely holds the handheld in place. I mounted it up to my overhead molle panel and am really happy with the location. Right within reach, and it doesn't shake around or wobble everywhere like the old lanyard did.

 

y5tpkHa.jpg

 

Here's a shot of the mic sitting nice and flat.

mKHbc02.jpg

 

 

 

Since I've been getting out on the trails more and more often @Yodamom sort of pushed me into getting a tracking device for her husband. Strange request, right? 😅 After looking at what some of the ORP members are using, and at a lot of reviews, we settled on the SPOT X 2-way messenger with Bluetooth. SPOT was running a pretty decent deal of $50 off after the holidays which helped to bring down the price to a more palatable level. Its looking like the price went back up, so I'm glad I saw that deal when I did.

 

I'm still getting the hang of it, but was able to successfully get it activated and synced up. Sent my first test "check in" yesterday and 2-way message with Michelle, which was awesome to see work. 

 

For anyone unfamiliar with it, it offers a pretty crazy array of features that work anywhere in the world with line of sight to a GPS satellite constellation. Big selling points for us were the tracking options, check ins, 2-way messaging, and the SOS feature for those doomsday scenarios. It also comes with an internal rechargable li-ion good for 10 days of tracking at 10min intervals, which I think is plenty.

 

On the negatives list, however, the unit is a little counter-intuitive to use. It'll take some practice to get used to using it, but I was left scratching my head on a few of the features. Needed to do a little more intensive reading to figure out how certain things work, or the reasons you'd use them. The admin side of the website also feels like something out of the 90s. My last complaint is that the keyboard isn't easy to use, especially if you have fat fingers. I think this has something to do with the dust proofing they've done, but its not a big deal since you can pair it to your phone and just hammer out a message that way.

 

qsVdPMx.jpg

 

Here's a shot of the SPOT X on the dashboard (please excuse the Sedona dust and fingerprints!). Everything is mated up nicely to my 67Designs rail system. I picked up a new carbon fiber arm for it with a RAM ball "DAM Adapter" which converts the 67D arm from a 20mm ball to a standard 1" ball that RAM uses. This now supports the SPOT X.

9iyiry1.jpg

 

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27 minutes ago, 4x4tographer said:

Finally got a chance to get some air time in with the new Midland MXT275 GMRS radio. I have to say - I'm hooked. I was out looking up repeaters, joining some local and national networks, and listening in to a Wednesday night "radio net" with the AZ GMRS Repeater Club.

 

Like, a serious, 5-alarm, full-blown nerd alert. 🤓  I actually had a serious fleeting thought about setting up my own repeater in the attic, but I came back down to reality. Then I saw this portable 5 watt repeater and about had a nerdgasm. 

 

 

In using the Midland, I'm getting the hang of using it, and have fallen in love with the "scan" feature. It basically will cycle through every available channel until it picks up a transmission. It will stick to that channel through the transmission and wait 3 seconds before resuming the scan. 

 

On our drive to/from Sedona last weekend I got to listen in on several new GMRS users testing their equipment with some other folks, doing radio checks. There was some fun rag chewing to listen in on as well. 

 

So far, the system appears to be working flawlessly, at least for receiving transmissions. I haven't attempted connected with anyone yet personally, though I did do a few successful test transmissions to my Baofeng handheld ham. To date, I've been rocking the 6dB gain 32" MXTA26 antenna. I want to try to hit the repeaters located at the White Tank Mountains (20miles) or Towers Mountain at Crown King (32 miles) to see if I can.

 

 

In looking for a better way to mount up the mic (I used to use a retractable lead which left the mic swinging everywhere) I stumbled across this magnetic mic (not to be confused with Magic Mike). It has a pretty crazy strong magnet that securely holds the handheld in place. I mounted it up to my overhead molle panel and am really happy with the location. Right within reach, and it doesn't shake around or wobble everywhere like the old lanyard did.

 

y5tpkHa.jpg

 

Here's a shot of the mic sitting nice and flat.

mKHbc02.jpg

 

 

 

Since I've been getting out on the trails more and more often @Yodamom sort of pushed me into getting a tracking device for her husband. Strange request, right? 😅 After looking at what some of the ORP members are using, and at a lot of reviews, we settled on the SPOT X 2-way messenger with Bluetooth. SPOT was running a pretty decent deal of $50 off after the holidays which helped to bring down the price to a more palatable level. Its looking like the price went back up, so I'm glad I saw that deal when I did.

 

I'm still getting the hang of it, but was able to successfully get it activated and synced up. Sent my first test "check in" yesterday and 2-way message with Michelle, which was awesome to see work. 

 

For anyone unfamiliar with it, it offers a pretty crazy array of features that work anywhere in the world with line of sight to a GPS satellite constellation. Big selling points for us were the tracking options, check ins, 2-way messaging, and the SOS feature for those doomsday scenarios. It also comes with an internal rechargable li-ion good for 10 days of tracking at 10min intervals, which I think is plenty.

 

On the negatives list, however, the unit is a little counter-intuitive to use. It'll take some practice to get used to using it, but I was left scratching my head on a few of the features. Needed to do a little more intensive reading to figure out how certain things work, or the reasons you'd use them. The admin side of the website also feels like something out of the 90s. My last complaint is that the keyboard isn't easy to use, especially if you have fat fingers. I think this has something to do with the dust proofing they've done, but its not a big deal since you can pair it to your phone and just hammer out a message that way.

 

qsVdPMx.jpg

 

Here's a shot of the SPOT X on the dashboard (please excuse the Sedona dust and fingerprints!). Everything is mated up nicely to my 67Designs rail system. I picked up a new carbon fiber arm for it with a RAM ball "DAM Adapter" which converts the 67D arm from a 20mm ball to a standard 1" ball that RAM uses. This now supports the SPOT X.

9iyiry1.jpg

 

My rig is getting jealous and my wallet is starting to cry watching these builds! 🤣 But seriously, those are some great gets. After I get my navigation set up ironed out (and some maintenance done) something like a Spot X is on my radar. Maybe I can find something gently used somewhere along the way this year.

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b08UxcH.jpg

 

6/7ths of my lift kit have arrived! The front adjustable track bar is so excited it tried to open itself early!

 

Hopefully the final box will be here in a week or so. Currently sitting on a pile of parts to install. The "Era of Amazon" has really diminished (unfairly) my ability to suppress my impatience. 😅

 

Waiting Gif GIF

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