Lido Radio Mount FTW

I promised myself when I was in the US Army (79-85) that I’d get my Ham license. I kept putting it off. I finally took and passed my Technician’s license test. Nailed it on the first try, only missed 2 of 35 questions. I was asked if I wanted to take the General test while was there, for free, but I didn’t feel right doing it, since I hadn’t studied for it yet. I plan to take and pass the General before the Fall.

Until then, I spent some time sorting out how I want to mount the new Yaesu FTM-400XDR (Ham) faceplate and the Wouxun KG-1000G (GMRS) faceplate. I don’t want my field of view blocked in any way, so I started looking for a seat rail bracket solution.

The first place I looked was at the RAM Mounts site. I’m a huge fan of their products, long lasting and durable. They make a really strong seat rail bracket (RAM-VB-196-SW2). I only saw pictures of it, but to be honest I’m not very impressed at the design. It attaches to the passenger seat rail bolts. I guess that makes sense, but the bar in between the bolts seems ready to tear into your passenger’s achilles heels. The top part of the bracket swings in different directions. Cool, but I want to move the whole thing out of the way when needed. The hunt continues. #sorryrammounts

RAM-VB-196-SW2

Searching through some Ham forums, a lot of people recommended the Lido Radio Products’s L-Max-Deluxe. Ham Radio Outlet has them in stock, so I headed out to their New Castle, DE location. The design is so much better than RAM Mount’s product. It’s an arm with bicycle wheel style quick releases at the mid point and at the base. The top and bottom ends also had very hefty tension dials. The pivoting points had teeth, so there is no chance anything would slip. The base design is brilliant, giving you the ability to move the arm between vehicles.

I bought the L-Max-Deluxe and headed home. Once home I started to come up with the design for mounting the two radios (stacked on one plate) and the two microphones mounted side by side. I figured an upside down “T” design would work. So I ordered an extra plate designed for the Wouxun KG-1000G (has a 5/8″ hole for the faceplate to body cable). That plate would be oriented vertically, with the 5/8” hole at the top to accommodate the Wouxun face plate. The Yaesu face plate would be positioned beneath it. The bottom plate would be oriented horizontally, and would hold the two microphones side by side.

Once the parts came in, I confirmed it came with enough nuts and bolts to put it all together. But I knew i didnt have the right size bolts, since the two plates were probably not designed to be mounted to each other. I also noticed the four center holes on each plate were designed for counter sunk bolts, which the kit didn’t come with. I figured I’d take the whole kit to Home Depot and find the right length bolts and nylock nuts.

The folks at Home Depot were very helpful. I love that place! The staff helped me find the right size philips counter sunk screws and matching nylock nuts. We found sets of different length flat head bolts, and the countersunk bolts for attaching the two plates together. I spent roughly $12, and it was fun going through the exercise.

When I got home I put it all together. I planned well, since I had all that I needed, and a few left over nuts and bolts. The kit looks great, even with the four shiny bolts holding the two plates together. Maybe I’ll look for black counter sunk bolts later, or I’ll take a Sharpie to them.

The back of the kit has the quick mount/unmount plate that came with the bracket. It went onto the bracket smoothly, was secure, and came off without much effort. I drove around some rough roads, and was surprised how little the arm wiggled. I’m very happy with the setup. I plan to send a link to this blog post to Lido, so they can share with anyone else who wants to mount two faceplates on a heavy duty bracket.

Next I had t create a couple wire harnesses, so I could run the cables back to my LiFePO4 off grid power kit. I originally had one of the radios wired to the Jeep battery, but this makes so much more sense. Plenty of power, plenty of connections, and lots of power management for protection.

I ordered the 1/2″ PVC flame retardant sheathing from McMaster-Carr, thanks to a tip from the folks on JLWranglerForums. Removed the inline fuses, since the Blue Sea fuse block provides ATO/ATC fuse slots. Both radio bodies are in the passenger foot well area (for now – I plan to mount them both under the driver’s seat once I build a kit). It was easy to run the new wiring harnesses through my Goose Gear stealth full platform.

Once I connected the wires, I stuck a 15A fluse in both spots, and bingo, we’re powered up and super protected. It took some work, but was well worth it!

I’ll update this article once I get both radio bodies mounted under the driver’s seat.

Jericho Mt with Evolution Jeep Alliance

I joined Evolution Jeep Alliance (EJA) this weekend for a planned long weekend trip to Mount Washington (Fri) and Jericho Mountain (Sat).

A few of us met in Allentown at 1300 on Thursday. We drove about four hours to Brattleboro, NH. We got there just as it was getting dark. We split up and went to our respective hotels or BnBs, had dinner, and rested up for Friday.

Video courtesy EJA, that’s me at 00:46. We are pulling into Jericho Mountain

Friday was a little anticlimactic, since it turned out Mount Washington was closed. We knew before we left, so everyone found a way to keep busy that day. I chilled and went to see Top Gun, and found a nice dinner spot.

On Saturday all met at the Moat Mountain Brewery parking lot and planned to hit the road at 0900. It took about an hour to get to Jericho Mountain. I was about 2/3 of the way back in the Jeep convoy, so I got to see folks watching the us drive by. Not sure if they were liking it or just annoyed.

Once we got to Jericho Mountain, we split into two groups. Most of the Jeeps were highly modified and capable, so they went to the black trail. Jeep Badge Of Honor rates the black trail up to 9 of 10. They decided to use GMRS channel 6.

Those of us in more modestly built Jeeps took the green trail. Two of the Jeeps had broken front driveshafts, and one older Jeep had overheating problems. Never saw coolant boiling before. They took the shorter green trail and I was happy to keep them company.

If it didn’t rain I probably would have done the entire green trail, even if it includes a portion of the black trail. But I’m not willing to take unnecessary risks on slippery rocks, not interested in unplanned body or drivetrain damage. Besides I haven’t gotten around to relocating my steering stabilizer, so it’s in it’s stock position (too low). So three of us waited in the parking lot for the black group to return.

My GMRS lets me monitor two channels, so I was able to hear the few green group folks making their way back to the lot. The black group had excellent spotting, but had to winch a few times, as expected. I heard one Jeep slipped off a rock and is pinned to a tree.

We eventually all got out safely and met in the parking lot. I latched on to a small group heading to North Conway. A small blue car decided to squeeze into the convoy, almost hitting one of us. He eventually peeled off. Boy it’s folks like that who shouldn’t be licensed to drive.

I stayed at the 1880s School House Inn on Saturday night for $8 (had a free night at Hotels.com). They have an old restored gas pump in the lobby. The price hasn’t changed in a couple years.

I had breakfast at Banner’s, a little earlier than the group that’s convoying back home. Best omelettes ever! I had some time to kill so I topped off gas and air, and tidied up the cargo area. Including blowing out all the annoying flying cottonwood things. Did I have too much coffee?

I made use of the extra Strachits and used them to secure everything. There wasn’t much to secure since it’s a short trip, but that just meant there were more tie down loops available on the Goose Gear platform.

The EJA club seems very friendly and welcoming. They’re experienced, capable Jeepers. I’m impressed, and I hope to join them again.

Apr 16 – Moab, UT (Flat Iron Mesa)

I loved this trail. It has four sections. Hard, easy, hard, and easy. This hard sections are worthy of a 7. I’m not sure how I got over some of those big boulders without hitting metal. I must be getting better at finding the best lines. The easy sections are maybe a 4, where a stock vehicle can get through it if careful. Here is a video of the route. I’m also attaching images.

Apr 15 – Moab, UT (Kane Creek Canyon)

Had to pass on Kane Creek Canyon since it includes Hamburger Hill and no bypass. That’s a big no without 37s and a bigger lift. 🙂

Did Fins N Things on my own today. One of the easiest yet one of the most awesome trails in Moab. And it’s the one most folks start out with. So I kind of goofed around, at one point on the trail I tried all three descent options at a triple fork. I always tried the 2nd/3rd options, but never the first because it’s so damned steep! Finally did it, and it wasn’t bad.

Today EJS is having their raffle give aways. If I’m lucky, I’ll be driving home in a 2022 JLUR 4xe. Ha…at least I’ll finally pick up my registration packet. I picked up a free Tailgater Magnet bar. I also met Brittany and Kevin Williams of Lite Brite fame.

We to the Friday evening raffle. Didn’t win the Jeep 4xe. Didn’t in anything else. But had fun watching $210K of stuff be given away. Next year I’ll buy twice as many Teraflex tickets. 🙂

Apr 14 – Moab, UT (Golden Spike)

Overslept so I missed the Golden Spike group this morning. Unfortunately the route to Golden Spike is closed off at the Poison Spider entrance. so I took the day off today to rest up for the three remaining days of trails.

I visited the petroglyphs on the side of the road by the river. Hard to believe rock climbers are crawling up so close to these precious artifacts. I know Utah is serious about conservation.

The local Red Rock Crawlers scheduled their annual Hell’s Revenge night ride, so I joined them. It was exciting and scary. The best part was watching a couple dozen Jeeps send it on Hell’s Gate without any spotters! They climbed fast and didn’t make any mistakes. Definitely a great event!

Apr 13 – Moab, UT (Moab Rim)

Moab Rim is a sleeper. Never really heard of it. In fact there’s weren’t many hints that the trail is even used much. Apparently it’s a dangerous trail that has claimed lives, and therefore isn’t really discussed much. I mean, really, who ever even heard of Devil’s Crack?!

The first section of the trail seemed like a mix of Pritchett Canyon and Rubicon Trail. It’s rated 7 of 10, which makes it a hard trail. At the drivers meeting we were told “There’ll be some scraping.” Myea, I should be so lucky. #imawuss

Let’s talk spotters. Suffice it to say, with an experienced spotter, carnage can be minimized. With someone’s passenger trying to spot, not so much. The best intentions is no substitute for experience and capability. It didn’t take long to realize who not to allow to spot you. At the end of the day you’re responsible, accountable, and liable. So don’t be a wuss, just pick your spotters wisely. 🙂

I may have had the smallest tires (35s) and lift (2”), but I think I did well. There are no bypasses on Moab Rim. Dana (sponsor) was there with two Jeeps sporting Hemi engines, Dana60/80 axles, 40” tires, and what appeared to be dial reservoir shocks (etc.). It wasn’t a walk in the park for them either.

If you look at my Jeep you can’t tell it bounced off boulders today. I plan to get it on a lift and survey the damage when I get back, and likely upgrade the diff covers since I’m pretty sure they took a beating. Four more days of trails left. Having a blast.

Apr 12 – Moab, UT (Gold Bar Rim)

It was a little windy (10-15) so I parked the Jeep so the iKamper shell is against the wind, and I attached the two hydronic strut brackets to brace the hard top against the wind.

As soon as my head hit the pillow, got a flash warning of 30-40 mph winds with gusts up to 60 lasting all night. Already feeling and hearing the wind. The tent seems to be handling it well.

Not worried about the tent failing, but iKamper rated their tents up to 23mph winds so not taking chances. I try to get out of the tent and there’s no ladder.

I mean the ladder is there. But the foot end of the folding platform of the tent was lifted by the wind, resulting in the foot of the latter swinging in towards the car.

I ended up crawling out the side window, very scary. I packed the iKamper to went to sleep in the Jeep.

By morning I saw it was snowing, so far a couple inches. Well I won’t go wheeling in the snow, too risky. Guess I’m going to Moab Diner for breakfast and find other things to do today.

Apr 11 – Moab, UT (Metal Masher)

Today’s ride is Metal Masher!

It’s not the first time here. But when I did it last year, in took all the bypasses. Every. Last. One. I promised myself I would not take any bypasses this year. I’m proud to say I only took one. At the end. Because I don’t have the courage to creep down a 48” high 45 degree wall. Nuh uh!

The trail reminded me of Texas. Lots of dust, lots of challenging stretches. And a significant number of walls to climb over. I made it a point to follow a JLUR that is equipped like mine. 35” tires and 2” lift. I followed his line and found myself in trouble a few times. Nothing terrible but some metal was mashed. Apparently a winch mount bolt came off. Ruh roh!

Apparently this is one of my winch mount bolts.

I decided to follow a different Jeep. A two door TJ with 33” tires and a 4” lift. Close enough. I followed his line every time we got to a wall. Absolutely no issues. It’s amazing what a Jeep can go over if you take the right line, and go slowly. I followed that Jeep until the last wall. He went over it but slammed down pretty hard.

That’s when I radioed the tour leads asking about the bypass. “The bypass is in the left but not sure what shape it’s in.” I hightailed to the bypass and so did a dozen others. I guess I’m used to being the squeaky wheel.

Some pictures…

Metal Masher was loads of fun, more so than last year. But who am I kidding? The ESJ spotters were awesome! Tomorrow is Good Bar Rim.

Apr 10 – Moab, UT (Top Of The World)

Top Of The World has been on my list for a while, but it’s 30 miles from Moab, and is rated closer to Hard than Moderate, so I never tried it. Well that changed today. 🙂

With a total of 60 miles spent on the road, and a not very scenic but demanding trail to the top, not much to take pictures of. The goal today was to drive to edge of a cliff and have my picture taken. #gulp

Now I always wondered how the photo thing worked. I mean I’m on the edge of a cliff. Who is taking the picture and HOW?! Is a drone used? Is someone on another mountain with a really big lens?

Well as it turned out, there is a landing about 50 feet from the cliff, but just a little lower. You can hand someone your iPhone or camera and hope they don’t drop it (or fall off) while they photograph you from the landing. Or you can luck out and a commercial photographer is there to take your picture. Luck was on my side.

Steven Talley, of Expedition Builds (who is also a commercial photographer) was there taking everyone’s picture. All in all, another great day. I’m really digging Easter Jeep Safari 2022!

Apr 09 – Moab, UT (Hell’s Revenge)

38 vehicles, all but one (?) a Jeep. Aired down to 14 psi. CB mic check. GoPro mounted and ready. Freedom panels stowed and sunblock applied.

After two years of missed opportunities, I finally conquered the optional Hell’s Gate climb at Hell’sRevenge. The best way to describe the climb is think of a gigantic System Of A Down vinyl record groove at a 45 degree incline.

When I asked the tour guides for a spot, one of them, a professional spotter, bet me a doughnut that if I followed his instructions, I wouldn’t spin a wheel. Boy was he spot on. He led me through the perfect line. I’m down a doughnut!

The Staircase and The Car Wash were two more options we got today. I got a video of Staircase, but I dropped the ball on The Car Wash.

Tired and hungry, once I publish this blog I’m gonna shower and crash. Tomorrow is Top Of The World.

Apr 08 – Moab, UT (final prep)

Today was my rest day. I took a couple hours to clean and reorganize the cargo area. This included finally installing D-rings to the hard top mounting bolts so I could add a few more straps to keep stuff from bouncing around. And finally mounting the RAM Tough-Rack onto my dash so I can get the GoPro and Garmin Overlander mounted for tomorrow’s Hell’s Revenge ride (using C size ball mount).

I tried to get the Garmin DC35 camera mounted so I can see down in front while I’m climbing Hell’s Gate but that’s not a priority since I’ll be getting spotted. You read that right, after two years of trying and getting detailed, with luck I’ll finally get to do it this year! So yeah, GoPro is a must, front facing trail camera not so much.

Ok work is done, time for a rest day dinner. At tomorrow’s starting point.

Wait, scratch that, one more thing to do.

Apr 07 – Moab, UT (solo dry run Hell’s Revenge)

I woke up when the sun came up, loving the moonroof on this roof top tent. 35 degrees, but no wind so wasn’t bat. It’s going up to 65 today. After five days of driving, and two days to goof around, I had a well earned breakfast at the Moab Diner.

Stopped at GearHead Outdoors Store to get a 10L Specter water container (left the 20L behind since I’ll be with a group every day and camping at KOA nightly), a blanket (since my sleeping bag is way too warm) , and a laundry bag (because I forgot). My new favorite Moab store, they have free unlimited filtered water.

I decided to give Hell’s Revenge a go, wince I was getting bored. I love how Relive now offers 3D videos! The last mile or so is more eroded than last year, so I had to get out a bunch of times to minimize scraping.

Airing down from 35 to 15.
That’s a damned cliff!
That is a wall. no bypasses, wasn’t as hard as it looked.
The real Mickeys Bath Tub.

Apr 06 – CO…err…KS to UT

Today was supposed to be the final leg of the trip from PA to UT. #shakesfistatmothernature

Made up for lost time. 610 miles, 14.8 mpg. Got to camp just before 1900. It took 1 min to set up the roof top tent. #pffffff Yeah right. Stole that from every iKamper video on YouTube. More like 5 min when you consider the wiring I need to set up.

  • The Dometic hard wire kit that I was afraid to have permanently mounted in the tent, well, I wish it was permanently mounted in the tent.
  • The strip light plugs into an accessory port, and mister genius is regretting swapping out both accessory ports for PD/QC (USBC/USBA) ports on the hard wire kit.
  • Who would have thought I’d need an extension cord. Yea, to power my laptop, from the inverter to the laptop. A 15’ is perfect.

All three cables need to run into the roof top tent through a 1/2” opening in the rear passenger window, making sure the wires droop to prevent water from going into the Jeep if it rains. The roof top tent extends out over the rear passenger door, but ya never know. Torrential storms and all. #tongueincheek

Next mod is Main Line Overland hard wiring things into the tent. iKamper warranty be damned. I mean the iKamper base is rated to hold 900 pounds. So how would a little 2” hole hurt? These guys build, modify, and support the most incredible overland vehicles. Can’t wait to have that done, so I’ll be ready for my August vacation.

Apr 05 – KS to CO

Well today was a wash. Got a little over 200 miles in before Kansas’ infamous high winds derailed the rest of today’s trip. After seeing a truck nearly overturn, I decided to pull into the local Pilot and wait for the winds to die down.

I remember a few trucks got rag-dolled last year. Not interested in seeing that again. The roof top tent increases risk in this kind of weather. Not taking chances. Tomorrow I’ll need to make up for lost time.