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Good Starter Mobile for a NON-RADIO Person?


WRUH396
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I would like to get some input from some of you long-time GMRSers.  

I am a long time Ham (sometimes Happy and sometimes Sad) 😅 but this radio would not be for me.
Anyway I recently got my repeater up and running and am looking for a "simple" mobile preferably 15W to 20W+ range for my wife's car.

She has nearly no understanding of radio so I need something that is not easily dropped out of Channel mode into VFO and something she cannot easily turn off the repeater offset and tone.  Am I better to stick to something like the MXT-115 or MXT-275 or are the Chinese SOC radios to the point where they are reliable and cannot be easily "unset"?  

For the record, I am a little skittish about the cheap Chinese radios as I rarely get more than about a year out of the ones I have used on the ham bands and I know the midland CBs while not fancy, were nearly bullet proof. 
 

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Unless things have changed, the MXT-115 (and likely the 275) are NFM (12.5kHz) only, and do not support "proper" GMRS 20kHz bandwidth.

OTOH: my MXT-115 was at least reasonable in power output (only about two watts below marketed 15W). In contrast, the DB20-G I replaced it with (to get 20kHz bandwidth, and extra memory slots to store repeater configurations [for repeaters I'll rarely be in reach of ☹️ ]). Two samples (returned first for replacement) both come in well below spec using the same measurement configuration. Others report reasonable power, but not mine. Sold as a 20W, manual documents 18W, mine puts out about the same as the MXT-115 on 462 Simplex, and even less than the MXT-115 on 467 repeater. "UNLOCKED" into a dummy load, it shows about 12W on 467, 13W on 462... But rises to 20W in the 2m band!

Decided the power level was close enough to the MXT-115 so kept the second sample -- 20kHz bandwidth and extra memories made a reasonable justification (in Locked GMRS mode, it provides only 9 "custom" memory slots, and the rest are receive only for out-of-band receive -- Unlocked makes all memory slots usable for GMRS [given an RT97 repeater alone has 16 memories for the 8 repeater channels, so one can set up two configs per channel, having more than 9 custom memories is desirable]; granted, they also become transmit capable on non-GMRS frequencies). Still need to cut the power plug off and rig a wiring harness with in-line fuse to wire to battery, and add a quick-disconnect at radio end -- the MXT-115 is double fused; lighter plug and in-line, and has a QD coupling near the radio.

 

 

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Radioddity has a 3 day sale on its DB20-G for $85 down from $109.

It’s the Midland killer, easy to use out of the box, mini-mobile (fits in the palm of your hand), 18 watts, cigarette lighter plug and many many satisfied users here on this Forum. 

@KAF6045is the only user here that published power problems with his unit which was replaced  

Meets all of your requirements: ask questions if you have any. 

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4 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

Radioddity has a 3 day sale on its DB20-G for $85 down from $109.

It’s the Midland killer, easy to use out of the box, mini-mobile (fits in the palm of your hand), 18 watts, cigarette lighter plug and many many satisfied users here on this Forum. 

Meets all of your requirements: ask questions if you have any. 

Thanks for the responses guys. 

Yeah, I saw the sale someone had posted for black Friday.  I may go that route.  That would probably be the quickest to get that car on the air and maybe buys tome time to figure out the programming on a Motorola SM50 or SM120.   Sometimes even 2 channels might be too much. lol 

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I have one in my car and another in my shack!

i purchased a new one recently after it got stolen when I had it sitting in my garage. 

This gave me the opportunity to use it “as-is” right out of the box as a strictly GMRS radio so as to be able to better answer questions about it for those, such as your wife, who will be using it unopened as a strictly GMRS radio. 

Can’t beat that price!

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7 hours ago, KAF6045 said:

Unless things have changed, the MXT-115 (and likely the 275) are NFM (12.5kHz) only, and do not support "proper" GMRS 20kHz bandwidth.

Recent versions of the MXT-275 with a USB-C port can have wide band on the repeater channels.  The first run with USB-C, which may still be on the shelf at retail outlets, has to be sent back in for reprogramming.  (Quick turnaround!)  Later USB-C models come from the factory with wide band already programmed.  The non-repeater channels have narrow band.  For example, ch15 is narrow, but ch15 repeater is wide.  No user control over wide/narrow by channel.

After reprogramming and antenna cable mods, my 275 was reported to be as good as they've ever heard a Midland.  (Which may not mean a whole lot, but it's something.)

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If you're wanting to talk simplex, the Midlands aren't a bad option. While their simplex channels are indeed narrowband, it's not really any issue if the radio on the other end is set for narrow as well. They're also about as foolproof as it gets, save having to reference a table in the manual to translate tones to codes in the menu.

The db20-g is a solid option as well, though a hair less foolproof in gmrs mode, and allows a lot more freedom unlocked...great all arounder (I have 2 of the anytone version, at779uv). They will have to be reprogrammed when switching between modes (locked vs unlocked). Also very close in size to the mxt115...there's comparison pics somewhere in another of my posts (that I'll try to find).

Edit: they're in my "gear" album.

Edited by wayoverthere
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Personally I'm a midland guy for non radio users. Everything else on the market is a CCR rebadged to something and are too complicated for most. As said the new 275 will do wideband for repeaters. IF simplex is the plan any of the midlands are fine. My parents run them in all their vehicles. 

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You can put me in the Midland camp, too.  I have used a lot of different radios over the years and they seem to hit the mark with reliability, advertised v. actual power, and ease of use. 

 

If you only want a few watts, the MXT115 is good, but I recommend the MXT500 and MXT575.  They were natively designed to be wideband, they have a lot more power (enough to actually make a difference in range), and the audio quality is much better on both transmit and receive.  The down side is, they can be a bit pricey. 

 

While the newer MXT275 can be programed to run wideband, the circuits were not originally designed for it.  This means you are working on the edge of the capability, which leads to weak performance in wideband.

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On 11/24/2022 at 11:14 AM, marcspaz said:

While the newer MXT275 can be programed to run wideband, the circuits were not originally designed for it.  This means you are working on the edge of the capability, which leads to weak performance in wideband.

Well for the latest revision they made some changes to supply USB-C.  I don't know if they changed anything else as well.

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5 hours ago, bd348 said:

Well for the latest revision they made some changes to supply USB-C.  I don't know if they changed anything else as well.

 

If you go to their submission for change on 6-21-21, the C2PC letter asking to go to 16kc from the 11kc, the documents very specifically say that no hardware changes were made to the transmit and receiver. It's not the full 20kc, it's 16kc by software. It could only go to 16kc and still remain in compliance. 

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I've mentioned this elsewhere but will repeat it here for the original poster: The 275 comes with a nice little mag mount antenna with an adhesive disc which can stick on aluminum hoods, but it also has very thin coax which soaks up a lot of signal, essentially turning a 15W transmitter into a 6W transmitter.  It also soaks up reception.  So get another antenna with better coax, preferably only as long as necessary.  In my case I changed the original antenna's 20 feet of RG174 into 6 foot of RG58 plus one foot of RG174 where it goes around the edge of the hood.  But that required cutting and adding a connector to the original cable, plus ordering more cable.  So just get a mag or lip mount NMO connector and a quarter wave antenna.  Some allow you to select coax length on order. And you can still order an adhesive disc for the mag mount if you wish.  In fact I'd recommend it to save the paint job.

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14 hours ago, bd348 said:

The 275 comes with a nice little mag mount antenna with an adhesive disc which can stick on aluminum hoods, but it also has very thin coax which soaks up a lot of signal, essentially turning a 15W transmitter into a 6W transmitter.  It also soaks up reception.  So get another antenna with better coax, preferably only as long as necessary. 

Another Midland "feature!" 🤣

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