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0321_Bronco

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**Updated w/SWRs at end of thread**

So, to get this out of the way, I'm a licensed HAM and GMRS operator (nerd alert). Never cared much for mobile HF operations but having a mobile HF rig is fun (if you're into that sort of thing). And operating a radio shack is a whole different matter! Setting up an international shot from the beach campsite and hitting an eastern European station from a mobile HF rig is if fun. But I digress.

Please note, this is NOT a debate of HAM and GMRS, HF, or VHF, long wire antennas, the existence of aliens, Yagi’s, etc. I'm simply describing my mobile comms choice for this vehicle based on my planned use/application and the subsequent install.

2M VHF and 70cm UHF are much more practical for licensed mobile use. But again, require more radio manipulation than I care for while driving. That said, I've always run a 2M radio in my rigs. This time, given the maturity and wide adoption of GMRS, I made the decision to use a GMRS radio as the mobile unit (installed) and keep either an HT or mobile 2m/440 in a case in the back. Get the license (more like registration-no tests), it's $30, lasts ten years and covers your whole family.

So, now what? Well, GMRS is really taking off in my neck of the woods. Mid-Atlantic Virginia, eastern shore of Maryland, George Washington National Forest, etc. Several repeaters popping up too. It's the new CB radio and is far simpler to use than HAM- very practical for the whole family or inexperienced group to use. 22 channels (vs. frequencies and tuning--and yes, the 'channels' are actually frequencies but like a CB, they are numbered and thus easier to access and use) and are repeater capable. There are some channels shared with FRS but if you stick with GMRS, you can access up to 50W of power.

Locking the group on 'Channel 6', is much easier than ten rigs trying to tune in say 144.275MHz. Max power is 50W which makes GMRS very handy when out in the field/woods/beach and comms are spotty or non-existent. Add a repeater to the mix, either an existing one, or set up a portable one (using your licensed call sign) and you've created a very easy to use, semi-private, practical, and reliable communications network for your excursion. The weather alerts are a great feature especially when your on the coast, surf fishing, etc. Finally, even if you're all alone, having secondary or tertiary comms is like having a jack and shovel.

Anyway, I settled on the new Midland MXT575. I picked the version with the controls on the mic. That allows me to hide the transceiver elsewhere. For that, Mountains2Metal (M2M) makes a very cool and inexpensive mount that puts the transceiver or small amp, right above the glove box. Just have to love how Ford created all this space, nooks, and crannies for mounting stuff. And kudos to M2M for finding the space and making the mount! For me, it saved the under-the-seat, in the console, under-the-console, remove everything, debate. If you don't have plan for that empty cavity, use it. It couldn't be easier.

Step one, attach the radio mount to the M2M mount using supplied hardware. Tip, the 575 is the largest of Midland MicroMobiles (there's a little mod that needs made and we'll get to that). So, mount the radio with the 'M' or Midland as close to the front of the M2M mount as possible. Tip, get the Midland mic extension cable MXTA31 (you'll thank me later) and connect it once the radio is attached to the mount and before you install it in the horse:

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3469 Lar



Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3471 Lar


I took the extra step of driving a self-tapping screw into the mount for extra stability. The other two connectors are bolts and lock washers.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3470 Lar


Now the fun part. Remove your glove box and look for the two 'rails' and open space directly above. Make sure that mic extension cable is plugged in now! And forget about using that USB-C port. None of it will be accessible post-install. You figure out how to lay on your back, twisted half sideways with the door sill digging into your ribs.

Lift the rig into that free space:

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3500 Lar


It will look like this when set correctly, attach it with the two black torx screws that come with the M2M mount. I used one of the two screws as a ground point. Verified the ground and it looks like this (from the floor up, directly under the glove box. The coax and power wires are facing the firewall):

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3503 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3506 Lar


Notice from this angle, you don't even see the radio. I ran my hot wire and coax to the drivers side firewall. There is a very nice hole there with a removable cover (unless you have an manual trans because that's where the clutch cable runs).

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3512 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3513 Lar


You can also use one of the Aux wires just behind the passenger kick panel for power. But the pull to the battery is so easy, I didn't want to waste a switch position. The hot is fused and the fuse is accessible near the steering column and the radio has a time out feature. But, if you're not transmitting, battery drain is minimal, but a risk nonetheless.

Tip: Fully unwind/stretch out your coax and hot wire before pulling to the engine bay. Just makes life easier.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3504 Lar


Hot to battery and coax to either side a-pillar (or wherever else you want to run the antenna). Mounting any antenna is slim pickens on a vehicle with no metal roof. Metal roof = ground plane. There are a lot of antenna mounting options. Hinge mounts, bumper mounts, spare tire rigs, etc. I like to keep things clean and simple. I used the M2M NMO mount which I installed over top my SDHQ a-pillar light mounts. Very simple and straight forward. I also chose to use the Midland MXTA25 Ghost Antenna with an NMO mount. Claims -3db gain and looks amazing on the bronco. Blends right in.

Slight digression. I've now bought 3 different a-pillar light mounts. The SDHQ are by far and away the best of the three. All three were good (Baja Designs and ZROADZ) but the build, finish, and 'lift' for the SDHQ are fantastic. It also move the lights out and away from the edge of the hood and gives ample room for the largest of cube lights. I'm running two XL80s which are some of the largest and they sit perfectly on the SDHQs. The SDHQs also align perfectly with M2M NMO mount.

A word on SWRs relative to GMRS. I haven't tested SWR yet. There's no trimming of the Ghost Antenna but I will and post the results. I suspect this Midland set up will yield decent SWR. If so, I'm done. If the readings are unacceptable, I'll switch to a 1/4 wave antenna, trim and test. I doubt that will be the case and if the results warrant it, I'll do a new thread. Generally, standard transceivers, unmodified coax, and appropriate antenna combos should be ok, but certainly not always. I just didn't want to turn this in to a thread on antenna theory. I'll test later this week and add if there's anything worth reporting.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3556 Lar


So here's the catch. This is the mod you aren't going to like. But I swear, as a guy who like clean, neat, OEM-like installs, this one is a trim and forget kind of things. You have to notch the back of your glove box if you chose the MXT575 using the M2M mount. The heat sinks are bigger (50W) than their other rigs. No way around it. But, for the clean, neat, permanent kind of placement, I'd do it again and again. I highly recommend this mounting approach and once you make the trim, you don't see it and will forget it's there! I used a Dremel and cutting wheel. Marked a space and cut away.

Here's what the un-sanded notch looks like:

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3497 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3499 Lar


I cleaned it up and reinstalled it. Like I said, you can't even see it.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3510 Lar


I also installed the Mountains2Metal MOLLE panel. Very nice product! Great for adding a small MOLLE bag to make up for the lack of driver accessible storage. Here is the mic extension tied in.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3509 Lar


I just realized it took me more time to write this post than it did to mount and install the rig and wires...

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3557 Lar

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3559 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Hope this helps someone. Up next, JCR winch plate and Warn Zeon 10-S.
+++++++++++++++++++++
SWRs. Interesting results tonight (12/06/22). The 575 only has two power modes (Low/High, 5W/50W respectively). I tested two antennas, the short wire that came with it and the Midland Ghost.

The SWRs with the wire antenna were terrible:

1.9 on average on the low power channels, 2.09 average on the high power. Unacceptable for an out-of-the-box configuration. To be fair, this could be influenced by any number of environmental/installation factors, not just Midland's tech.

When I switched to the Ghost antenna, things got a lot better. 1.01 average on the low power channels and <1.04 on high! With no other factors changed, those are exceptional results, all things considered.

Last word on this, power.... I'm disappointed. Midland calls this a 50W radio ("all values are approximate"). Low power was ok @4.4W on average. But, on high power, I didn't see an output of more than 42W. I would have liked to see something closer to 50W. Could +/-5W make a difference? YES. If I knew this would I have not bought the radio, no. I'm still very satisfied with the unit, antenna, install, etc. We'll see what Midland says, but I'm still a happy camper!
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2020FordRaptor

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So, to get this out of the way, I'm a licensed HAM and GMRS operator (nerd alert). Never cared much for mobile HF operations but having a mobile HF rig is fun (if you're into that sort of thing). And operating a radio shack is a whole different matter! Setting up an international shot from the beach campsite and hitting an eastern European station from a mobile HF rig is if fun. But I digress.

Please note, this is NOT a debate of HAM and GMRS, HF, or VHF, long wire antennas, the existence of aliens, Yagi’s, etc. I'm simply describing my mobile comms choice for this vehicle based on my planned use/application and the subsequent install.

2M VHF and 70cm UHF are much more practical for licensed mobile use. But again, require more radio manipulation than I care for while driving. That said, I've always run a 2M radio in my rigs. This time, given the maturity and wide adoption of GMRS, I made the decision to use a GMRS radio as the mobile unit (installed) and keep either an HT or mobile 2m/440 in a case in the back. Get the license (more like registration-no tests), it's $30, lasts ten years and covers your whole family.

So, now what? Well, GMRS is really taking off in my neck of the woods. Mid-Atlantic Virginia, eastern shore of Maryland, George Washington National Forest, etc. Several repeaters popping up too. It's the new CB radio and is far simpler to use than HAM- very practical for the whole family or inexperienced group to use. 22 channels (vs. frequencies and tuning--and yes, the 'channels' are actually frequencies but like a CB, they are numbered and thus easier to access and use) and are repeater capable. There are some channels shared with FRS but if you stick with GMRS, you can access up to 50W of power.

Locking the group on 'Channel 6', is much easier than ten rigs trying to tune in say 144.275MHz. Max power is 50W which makes GMRS very handy when out in the field/woods/beach and comms are spotty or non-existent. Add a repeater to the mix, either an existing one, or set up a portable one (using your licensed call sign) and you've created a very easy to use, semi-private, practical, and reliable communications network for your excursion. The weather alerts are a great feature especially when your on the coast, surf fishing, etc. Finally, even if you're all alone, having secondary or tertiary comms is like having a jack and shovel.

Anyway, I settled on the new Midland MXT575. I picked the version with the controls on the mic. That allows me to hide the transceiver elsewhere. For that, Mountains2Metal (M2M) makes a very cool and inexpensive mount that puts the transceiver or small amp, right above the glove box. Just have to love how Ford created all this space, nooks, and crannies for mounting stuff. And kudos to M2M for finding the space and making the mount! For me, it saved the under-the-seat, in the console, under-the-console, remove everything, debate. If you don't have plan for that empty cavity, use it. It couldn't be easier.

Step one, attach the radio mount to the M2M mount using supplied hardware. Tip, the 575 is the largest of Midland MicroMobiles (there's a little mod that needs made and we'll get to that). So, mount the radio with the 'M' or Midland as close to the front of the M2M mount as possible. Tip, get the Midland mic extension cable MXTA31 (you'll thank me later) and connect it once the radio is attached to the mount and before you install it in the horse:

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar



Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


I took the extra step of driving a self-tapping screw into the mount for extra stability. The other two connectors are bolts and lock washers.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Now the fun part. Remove your glove box and look for the two 'rails' and open space directly above. Make sure that mic extension cable is plugged in now! And forget about using that USB-C port. None of it will be accessible post-install. You figure out how to lay on your back, twisted half sideways with the door sill digging into your ribs.

Lift the rig into that free space:

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


It will look like this when set correctly, attach it with the two black torx screws that come with the M2M mount. I used one of the two screws as a ground point. Verified the ground and it looks like this (from the floor up, directly under the glove box. The coax and power wires are facing the firewall):

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Notice from this angle, you don't even see the radio. I ran my hot wire and coax to the drivers side firewall. There is a very nice hole there with a removable cover (unless you have an manual trans because that's where the clutch cable runs).

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


You can also use one of the Aux wires just behind the passenger kick panel for power. But the pull to the battery is so easy, I didn't want to waste a switch position. The hot is fused and the fuse is accessible near the steering column and the radio has a time out feature. But, if you're not transmitting, battery drain is minimal, but a risk nonetheless.

Tip: Fully unwind/stretch out your coax and hot wire before pulling to the engine bay. Just makes life easier.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Hot to battery and coax to either side a-pillar (or wherever else you want to run the antenna). Mounting any antenna is slim pickens on a vehicle with no metal roof. Metal roof = ground plane. There are a lot of antenna mounting options. Hinge mounts, bumper mounts, spare tire rigs, etc. I like to keep things clean and simple. I used the M2M NMO mount which I installed over top my SDHQ a-pillar light mounts. Very simple and straight forward. I also chose to use the Midland MXTA25 Ghost Antenna with an NMO mount. Claims -3db gain and looks amazing on the bronco. Blends right in.

Slight digression. I've now bought 3 different a-pillar light mounts. The SDHQ are by far and away the best of the three. All three were good (Baja Designs and ZROADZ) but the build, finish, and 'lift' for the SDHQ are fantastic. It also move the lights out and away from the edge of the hood and gives ample room for the largest of cube lights. I'm running two XL80s which are some of the largest and they sit perfectly on the SDHQs. The SDHQs also align perfectly with M2M NMO mount.

A word on SWRs relative to GMRS. I haven't tested SWR yet. There's no trimming of the Ghost Antenna but I will and post the results. I suspect this Midland set up will yield decent SWR. If so, I'm done. If the readings are unacceptable, I'll switch to a 1/4 wave antenna, trim and test. I doubt that will be the case and if the results warrant it, I'll do a new thread. Generally, standard transceivers, unmodified coax, and appropriate antenna combos should be ok, but certainly not always. I just didn't want to turn this in to a thread on antenna theory. I'll test later this week and add if there's anything worth reporting.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


So here's the catch. This is the mod you aren't going to like. But I swear, as a guy who like clean, neat, OEM-like installs, this one is a trim and forget kind of things. You have to notch the back of your glove box if you chose the MXT575 using the M2M mount. The heat sinks are bigger (50W) than their other rigs. No way around it. But, for the clean, neat, permanent kind of placement, I'd do it again and again. I highly recommend this mounting approach and once you make the trim, you don't see it and will forget it's there! I used a Dremel and cutting wheel. Marked a space and cut away.

Here's what the un-sanded notch looks like:

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


I cleaned it up and reinstalled it. Like I said, you can't even see it.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


I also installed the Mountains2Metal MOLLE panel. Very nice product! Great for adding a small MOLLE bag to make up for the lack of driver accessible storage. Here is the mic extension tied in.

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


I just realized it took me more time to write this post than it did to mount and install the rig and wires...

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar

Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Ford Bronco Midland MXT575 GMRS 2-Way Radio Install & Photos *SWR Report* IMG_3560 Lar


Hope this helps someone. Up next, JCR winch plate and Warn Zeon 10-S.
Wow!
 

JediMcMuffin

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I completely agree. The last few outings I went on I spent considerable amount of time getting everyone's Baofeng radios that they have no idea how to use onto the proper frequencies and transmit power. Total pain in the butt. I have a Yaesu 400 MT in my rig, but I also bring a BF-F8HP that is programmed to transmit on both, and a dedicated Wouxon GMRS HT as well.
 

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Really nice install. How does that antenna perform? I’ve read some so-so comments elsewhere.

Could the USB-C be used to power a walkie-talkie charger? I’m thinking of dropping a couple into the glove box for others.
 
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0321_Bronco

0321_Bronco

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Really nice install. How does that antenna perform? I’ve read some so-so comments elsewhere.

Could the USB-C be used to power a walkie-talkie charger? I’m thinking of dropping a couple into the glove box for others.
Thanks! So far so good. On 50W, I'm hitting non-repeater units at 2+ miles. Need to see how the SWRs are, that's tomorrow night's project. I'll be comparing the Ghost antenna and the Midland stick that comes with it. I'll post results. If this were a 2m rig, I'd be real particular on SWRs, power and the like. Just my opinion, for most of my (and likely our) applications, it will do better than most.

As for the USB-C, you get 5W so depending on the charger. You could easily drop an extender into the glove box. That's a great idea!
 
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0321_Bronco

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I gave up on the m2m mount and just put it under the console

panel mounted the jack extension and panel mounted the usb c extension

mounted a 32” antenna ona drop down bracket on drivers mirror
Yea, the M2M takes some patience for sure but well worth it. I hate the thought or moving all that plastic and the glove box access can't be beat. Love the panel mounted jacks for sure!
 

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Nice write up and photos! This explains the M2M description that no other videos or posts have addressed until yours:

Works with Midland MXT575 GMRS Two-Way Radio (not included)-Note: Trimming at top of glove box required to fit around any interference.

I opted for the MXT275 for ease of install and not expecting to need a 50W range. If I do, I'll upgrade later.
 

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Just curious why you opted for the 50w unit and the “shorty” antenna? From my experience and research the antenna height is the largest determining factor (all other things being equal) with GMRS? I currently have Btech V1 handset and am starting a series of tests, first, adding a 1/2 wave non ground plane antenna to a trail site mount, then switching to Midland 15w mobile and then potentially the Btech 20w mobile and event the Midland 575. Long story, but it will be for our club (will post here on B6g too) and I have access to a couple of radios to test. We have almost no repeaters near our trails in MI, so it’s all line of sight. Trying to help our big and varied club have access to the best, most simple and “cheapest “ options to keep us together on trail rides.
 

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What is everyone doing with the extra 15' of coax cable when you are running from the dash to the A-pillar?
 
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0321_Bronco

0321_Bronco

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Nice write up and photos! This explains the M2M description that no other videos or posts have addressed until yours:

Works with Midland MXT575 GMRS Two-Way Radio (not included)-Note: Trimming at top of glove box required to fit around any interference.

I opted for the MXT275 for ease of install and not expecting to need a 50W range. If I do, I'll upgrade later.
Thanks, I'm sure you'll love the 275. Let me know if you change it out, I'm betting you don't.
 

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I completely agree. The last few outings I went on I spent considerable amount of time getting everyone's Baofeng radios that they have no idea how to use onto the proper frequencies and transmit power. Total pain in the butt. I have a Yaesu 400 MT in my rig, but I also bring a BF-F8HP that is programmed to transmit on both, and a dedicated Wouxon GMRS HT as well.

So much this. I've harped and nagged on my friends to bite the bullet and get *some* kind of radio setup for their rigs, and they're finally coming around. After a 2500 mile trip to Yellowstone and back, they have finally seen the light.

And emergency communications aside, the ability to shitpost and banter with your friends while driving down the road is simply the best.
 

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What is everyone doing with the extra 15' of coax cable when you are running from the dash to the A-pillar?
I coiled it up, bundled it in velcro straps and stuffed it right next to the overhead switch wiring sorta inside the fender
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