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Need help with new setup - MXT400


tkruppa
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Hello all,

 

New operator here, WRMW445. Finally got my radio set up in my jeep, midland MXT400 with midland 6db gain antenna. Operating in Staten Island. Just performed first range test and am confused by the results.

 

I had my dad stay at home with a walkie, Midland X talker ("38-mile" version).

I figured I'd begin to drive away until he could no longer hear me, and then bump the power to medium, high and so forth until he could no longer hear me to get an idea of the range at each power level. I only made it about half a mile away before he could no longer hear me on low power. At this point he began to break up as well. I switched to medium and was able to travel a couple more blocks before he could no longer hear me. Then switched to full 40w power, and it didn't make a difference. We were using channel 19 so I know the radio was not limiting my output. The radio was also quite hot at this point. All told I made it about .8 miles from my house before I was out of range, hardly farther than the walkie talkies range. So something isn't right.

 

I know there are plenty of line of site obstructions in a suburban environment but this doesn't seem right to me. I'm using midlands NMO cable as between the radio and antenna as well. Any thoughts? I have no means to test SWR or even the knowledge to understand the readings, is there anyone local to me that might? Or is there anything obvious I can look for with with this setup?

 

Thanks in advance for feedback and suggestions.

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Hello all,
 
New operator here, WRMW445. Finally got my radio set up in my jeep, midland MXT400 with midland 6db gain antenna. Operating in Staten Island. Just performed first range test and am confused by the results.
 
I had my dad stay at home with a walkie, Midland X talker ("38-mile" version).
I figured I'd begin to drive away until he could no longer hear me, and then bump the power to medium, high and so forth until he could no longer hear me to get an idea of the range at each power level. I only made it about half a mile away before he could no longer hear me on low power. At this point he began to break up as well. I switched to medium and was able to travel a couple more blocks before he could no longer hear me. Then switched to full 40w power, and it didn't make a difference. We were using channel 19 so I know the radio was not limiting my output. The radio was also quite hot at this point. All told I made it about .8 miles from my house before I was out of range, hardly farther than the walkie talkies range. So something isn't right.
 
I know there are plenty of line of site obstructions in a suburban environment but this doesn't seem right to me. I'm using midlands NMO cable as between the radio and antenna as well. Any thoughts? I have no means to test SWR or even the knowledge to understand the readings, is there anyone local to me that might? Or is there anything obvious I can look for with with this setup?
 
Thanks in advance for feedback and suggestions.

Your results sound completely normal for two radios operating simplex, antennas at 4-7’ AGL, and with loads of obstructions.

Midland’s lure of “38-Mile Range” is worse that saying “You too could win the lottery”. In the real world you are more likely to win the power-ball lottery 6 times before you would ever experience 38-mile range with their walkie talkies.

Obstructions are the enemy of range in radio communications. Never underestimate how much they negatively effect range and don’t accept any statements to the contrary.

Two GMRS handhelds will have a range of 6-miles if used on row boats over smooth water until the earth (water) becomes the obstruction and the signal is lost. That assumes both people are standing in the boat and holding radios at 6 feet AWL. If both people now sit in the boat, range will drop to about 3 miles until the earth becomes the obstacle again. Do an internet search on ‘Radio Horizon’ to see how this works. Also, here is a simple calculator to see what your best case scenario is: https://www.everythingrf.com/rf-calculators/line-of-sight-calculator.

As you will learn, the earth is an obstacle that blocks your signal quite dramatically. If there are hills between the two antennas, same thing. Hills are an earth obstacle. Now, if you go into a heavily treed area, or an urban area with lots of buildings everyone of these attenuates your signal to some degree too. All of these add up to reduce your range further. Mix distance, hills and other obstacles and range is squashed.

You will hear over and over phrases such as “Height is might”, “Height is King” and “Height is everything”. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, as each antenna goes up in elevation the radio horizon gets further and further way, so your theoretical maximum range on earth increases. Second, when you raise the antennas up, often the number and density of obstacles between the antennas drops too so your real-world range increases.

My simplex HT to HT range and HT to Mobile ranges mimics yours. However, when I use mobile to base communications with base antenna at 40’ I loose communications at around 4 miles. When I raise it to 56’ I loose all communications around 8 miles. Yet with both my base and mobile rights I can communicate with repeaters 22-50 miles away because the repeater antennas are so much higher than mine are. Higher antennas mean fewer obstacles, thus increased range.

Hope this helps


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM
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The so-called "38-mile" range is nothing more than sheer fantasy. It assumes one is on top of a 4,000' mountain talking with someone else down in the valley. Seriously! The best one can expect is nearly always less than 1 mile.

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24 minutes ago, n4gix said:

The so-called "38-mile" range is nothing more than sheer fantasy. It assumes one on top of a 4,000' mountain talking with someone else down in the valley. Seriously! The best one can expect is nearly always less than 1 mile.

Absolutely agree, just wanted to give some context on the model of walkie used. I was expecting that I would stop hearing him way before he stopped hearing me 

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2 hours ago, mbrun said:


Your results sound completely normal for two radios operating simplex, antennas at 4-7’ AGL, and with loads of obstructions.

Midland’s lure of “38-Mile Range” is worse that saying “You too could win the lottery”. In the real world you are more likely to win the power-ball lottery 6 times before you would ever experience 38-mile range with their walkie talkies.

Obstructions are the enemy of range in radio communications. Never underestimate how much they negatively effect range and don’t accept any statements to the contrary.

Two GMRS handhelds will have a range of 6-miles if used on row boats over smooth water until the earth (water) becomes the obstruction and the signal is lost. That assumes both people are standing in the boat and holding radios at 6 feet AWL. If both people now sit in the boat, range will drop to about 3 miles until the earth becomes the obstacle again. Do an internet search on ‘Radio Horizon’ to see how this works. Also, here is a simple calculator to see what your best case scenario is: https://www.everythingrf.com/rf-calculators/line-of-sight-calculator.

As you will learn, the earth is an obstacle that blocks your signal quite dramatically. If there are hills between the two antennas, same thing. Hills are an earth obstacle. Now, if you go into a heavily treed area, or an urban area with lots of buildings everyone of these attenuates your signal to some degree too. All of these add up to reduce your range further. Mix distance, hills and other obstacles and range is squashed.

You will hear over and over phrases such as “Height is might”, “Height is King” and “Height is everything”. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, as each antenna goes up in elevation the radio horizon gets further and further way, so your theoretical maximum range on earth increases. Second, when you raise the antennas up, often the number and density of obstacles between the antennas drops too so your real-world range increases.

My simplex HT to HT range and HT to Mobile ranges mimics yours. However, when I use mobile to base communications with base antenna at 40’ I loose communications at around 4 miles. When I raise it to 56’ I loose all communications around 8 miles. Yet with both my base and mobile rights I can communicate with repeaters 22-50 miles away because the repeater antennas are so much higher than mine are. Higher antennas mean fewer obstacles, thus increased range.

Hope this helps


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM

Michael,

 

Thanks so much for such a clear explanation. I feel much better knowing this, I was worried there was something wrong with my setup. 

I quickly learned yesterday what you were saying about height, I had my radio on scan and finally started to pick up some noise so started driving around hoping to get a clearer signal. Only once I drove up a pretty significant hill in my area did I finally get a clear signal and could listen in. It was a few guys chatting on a repeater, but I have no idea which or where they were located so I could not talk back. There's only a handful of repeaters near me and most of them are part of the same system, I've reached out to get PL tones but havent heard back yet. Hopefully I can get on and make contact eventually. For now I will just be a listener.

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I too have the Midland MXT 400 using the 6db gain antenna that you have. I purchased it with the intent to stay in communications with family as we live relatively close by 4 to 10 mile range. I knew I wouldn’t get close to the 10 miles with the terrain and interference in the area. 
 

I usually get a solid 5 miles when talking to Midland MXT 275 using the short stubby 3db gain antenna. I’m fairly impressed. 
 

I get mixed results 1 to 2 miles when transmitting to the Midland GXT1000VP4 from either radio while in the city. Out on the road, when transmitting to these handhelds from the MXT400, I have gotten close to 3 miles on a flat open stretch!

I plan on buying the data cable that can allow me to do some more things, but I know (from having read so much here) that this unit is limited to what it can do. As I am a beginner, I find it fascinating! 
 

I hope you establish your needs to work your radio as needed. Since I too am “newby”, feel free to reach out to me so we can chat. 

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