Lipstick on a Pig: The 10 Don'ts of Vehicle Modifications

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The local clubs we have around here did not seem to want people who would not make HAM a lifestyle having any part of operating a radio.
You guys down in Phoenix should get in touch with Virgil, K7VZ, Randy, K7NNT, and Richard, N7IYT. They run an ARRL-affiliated club, 4x4 Ham, that is probably a good match. Never met any of them face-to-face, but seem like alright guys.

http://www.4x4ham.com

I think the hobby can be anything you want it to be, no reason to get intimidated. Just have to find the right mentors (Elmer) and fellow amateurs. That's why I think having it part of our 4x4 club is better, gives a purpose to the geek. Same as ARES/RACES, the radio supports SAR and EMCOMM use or volunteering to help local events. I get to mix my radio skills and bike shop experience supporting large cycling events throughout the summer, so that's fun.
 
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4x4junkie

Explorer
I use a little shorty on the Jeep. Works quite well.
It appears that you have it mounted where it's up in the clear, which is actually the most important thing you can do with any antenna. If it's working for your needs, then no need to change a thing.


Thanks for the words BF, appreciate it. :beer:
 

noJeepshere

Adventurer
I want to weigh in on the original list (since the cb v. ham debate was over a long time ago... :rolleyes: )

Engine mods: not always a bad thing, as long as it's reasonable and focuses on moving air more effectively. According to the OP, even a snorkel should be avoided, but the benefits of such have been touted for many years. Intake, exhaust, and a mild tune to take advantage of the freer flowing air is not detrimental in any way. Beyond that yes, reliability and component life is compromised.



cent frum a smaert fone
 

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
i have to admit, and it is my opinion. until this thread came along i was curious about ham radio usage and other facets of that hobby. my grandpa was a radioman in the korean war. unfortunately cruisers attitude in general has turned me off of the idea and lessened any desire i had to learn more about it...
I'll assume 'cruisers' is referring to me so I'll reply as such. LOL, if only my attitude could keep people from traveling in the outback of Utah too, it would be nice to have the place to myself at times. Don't get involved with HAM based on the merits, needs or attitudes of others, do it for your needs. If you haven't been on the hunt for a better comms system, you likely won't see an advantage to HAM. For my personal uses I don't really consider HAM a 'hobby', it is a tool that fit my needs and thus the test was an easy entry barrier to getting involved. I've never been to a HAM club meeting, never been involved with net's or field days, we simply use them to talk where CB's failed :D
 

wgyouree

KK6LZW
I actually just bought something I thought I'd never, ever buy, something that I've seen on many a mall crawler and laugh/cried about, billet grill inserts... My Jeep's at about 70k miles with lots of heavy upgrades and this is about where I usually do the cooling system overhaul. I'm so tired of cleaning massive amounts of leaves and bugs out from behind the grill that I finally broke down and bought a set of grill inserts to keep the crap out. Looked around and picked a set that matched the body (no chrome), are made of aluminum (no plastic) and have enough grating to actually keep rocks, bugs and leaves out. Ok, fire away, was that super lame or is it actually a good idea?
 

bftank

Explorer
here is another one, like that. i have always felt hoodpins were for posers, rice burners etc. never thought i could use a set. well i just put a pair on the explorer.

wait, wait wait, let me tell you why. this car is my daily driver for work etc. i found that when i use the brake wearing my steel toed boots i have to grab the corner of the pedal, push down and then move my foot over to get on it all the way.

so far no big deal because i live in a small rural town. panic stopping could be scary though. the reason i couldnt get my foot in there was because the hood latch release mechanism (which has always been very stiff, to the point where my wife could not open the hood) is mounted directly over the brake pedal taking away about an inch and a half of room. apparently ford engineers didnt design this car to be driven with a size 13 steel toed boot.

end result, hood is much easier to open even when articulated, braking is much safer because the latch is gone now and there is tons of room under there now. i think i could do the river dance if i wanted to. :)
 

noJeepshere

Adventurer
I actually just bought something I thought I'd never, ever buy, something that I've seen on many a mall crawler and laugh/cried about, billet grill inserts... My Jeep's at about 70k miles with lots of heavy upgrades and this is about where I usually do the cooling system overhaul. I'm so tired of cleaning massive amounts of leaves and bugs out from behind the grill that I finally broke down and bought a set of grill inserts to keep the crap out. Looked around and picked a set that matched the body (no chrome), are made of aluminum (no plastic) and have enough grating to actually keep rocks, bugs and leaves out. Ok, fire away, was that super lame or is it actually a good idea?
I think that's a brilliant idea. I'm going to do the same thing to mine one of these days, I like the idea of a metal grille taking a rock hit rather than a partly gone plastic one letting a rock through and ruining a radiator. And you did it right, no bling or poser stuff.
 

JP5EDC

New member
Great post! Just a heads up, there are some missing pictures in the article and the link in post 1 is broken :)
 

Tumbleweed

Adventurer
Many places I go to have lousy cell service coverage. Southern Idaho and Northern Nevada. I can leave my house and be out of cell service in 20 minutes. In some places I cannot reach a 2M repeater or even a 440 repeater. I carry a CB, dual band mobile, and FRS handhelds along with my cell so that I have some type of coverage for emergencies. I rarely use the CB even on trailrides. I hate the fact that most of the CB's on a trail ride are poorly tuned and barely operate. FRS is handy for line of sight but again, many people won't keep good batteries in them or let them slide all over the dash, or get lost between the seats and don't use them.
I do get a kick out of the don't use a hilift cause they are dangerous thoughts. Sure, they are a heavy tool and could hurt you-so can a screwdriver. The points made about a hilift and no jacking points is a good one, my pickup is a pretty good example. No decent spots to jack from. I still carry it though as it has a bazillion other uses, much like an OBA system.
 

TangoBlue

American Adventurist
I think that's a brilliant idea. I'm going to do the same thing to mine one of these days, I like the idea of a metal grille taking a rock hit rather than a partly gone plastic one letting a rock through and ruining a radiator. And you did it right, no bling or poser stuff.
It's clearly brilliant - I did it a couple years ago.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
The local clubs we have around here did not seem to want people who would not make HAM a lifestyle having any part of operating a radio.
This has been my experience as well, unfortunately.

Here's how I look at it: I have a busy life. I have a lot of irons in the fire. Work, family, and my hobbies and interests. Among those hobbies are off-roading, camping (not neccessarily off-road), motorcycle riding, shooting, hunting and fishing. I also have a house and several vehicles that need maintenance, and a wife who has hobbies that she expects me to support just as she supports mine.

I simply don't have the time/energy/desire to adopt another hobby. What I want in a radio is simple: Push the button, talk, and have the other person hear me, and me hear them. That's what I need and that's ALL I need.

Talking around the world, communicating with a satellite, bouncing a signal off the moon - I don't have the slightest desire to do any of those things.

To me, the biggest problem with HAM is that the radios are made for enthusiasts, which is to say, gadget geeks. So they are packed with a bewildering array of features features that make it difficult for a casual user to operate. And honestly, I think a lot of HAMs like it that way. They like having this hobby to themselves and they have no desire in a radio that's simple to understand and operate. And since HAMs are the only ones who are buying amateur radios, the manufacturers have no reason to make "simple to operate" HAM radios.

I think the mindset that amateur radio needs to be exclusive and snooty will just lead to its irrelevance, which would be a great loss. So I don't mind just as long as people are willing to put in some minimal effort to understand and be good operators. Most of the guys get fed up with me, I tend to be tangential (I'm an Extra and an EE), but I just like talking about radios.
But there's the rub, Dave: There's no reason for someone to put "extra effort" into communications when there is an option that meets his needs without requiring "extra effort." "Effort" - like time and money - is a zero-sum game. The effort a person spends on setting up a radio is effort he could be spending on something that interests him more.

And I agree that the exclusive nature of Amateur Radio will lead to its irrelevance - there are some that say it already has (like these guys: http://www.hamsexy.com.) The problem is, there are a lot of folks within the amateur community who like the exclusive/snooty nature and who will fight tooth and nail against it (the way they fought against dropping the CW requirement, for example.) Like any other hobbyist (even those of us with 4x4s) there are a lot of folks within the hobby who are jealous of preserving it for the dedicated few, and with the license requirement as a gateway, I don't see that changing any time soon.

Bottom line is that at the present time, for most casual off-roaders within the US (and maybe Canada, but I can't speak to that), CB is the most practical 2-way communications option. Yes, it has its drawbacks, but so do the other options and the "universality" of CB is its biggest advantage, because the best radio in the world is a paper weight if there's nobody on the other end to talk to. :ylsmoke:
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
It appears that you have it mounted where it's up in the clear, which is actually the most important thing you can do with any antenna. If it's working for your needs, then no need to change a thing.
Yup, I've been running a small (maybe 12-14") mag-mount for several years and it has worked fine for trail use. I mount it dead-center on the roof so I have a pretty good ground plane and it's up high. I may eventually switch to a higher roof mount but I think I will stick with a mag mount just because I have to park in a garage. I suppose I could do something like an NMO mount in the roof but I'm a little reluctant to drill my roof. It would be cleaner, though, than having a wire run through my passenger compartment.
 

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
Obviously HAM use, HAM clubs and the characteristics of those communities is going to be very diverse in different geographies. HAM use seem to be growing and thriving here in Utah, between a growing number of 4x4 users, support from the local prevailing religion (that has hundreds of active users) and active HAM clubs. But you only have to make it as much as you want it. I bought the study book online, studied online, took the test in person at a test I found online and have never associated beyond that with a local HAM club beyond utilizing their repeaters when not in use. I personally don't consider it a hobby in the least bit as it doesn't take up any of my time as it hasn't since I finished the 30 minute test :D. Now some of the 4x4 users do get far more involved with it, one of my good friends chimes into several different radio 'nets', attends HAM club meets and is a member of his local club. Obviously he is our local go-to guy for questions on gear, install, etc but you don't have to be that guy or even have access to that guy to have recreational use of a 2M radio for example. My first radio was a simple model, turn it on, set the freq and talk away. I've still never toyed with all the features it has. I've since become acquainted to the additional features my newer radios have but out of curiosity and function, not need. My point is, don't feel like you have to deal with any of your local clubs if you are not getting a good vibe from them. Study online, take the test, pickup a simple radio and use it. The technology is very basic in some models, i.e every bit as intuitive if not easier than a CB. We have members of our desert racing chase team operating essentiall 2M radios, zero instructions other than to push to talk, don't talk to listen, adjust volume as needed, lock the rest of the buttons and it is that simple. I'll absolutely agree with Martin 100% in that the "best radio in the world is a paper weight if there's nobody on the other end to talk to". If your not traveling with 2M owners, don't invest... It would be like buying a Pull-Pal without a winch :D
 
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