Midland MXT500 and MXPW500 Setup: Comms Up!

midland base station setup ready to function
July 25, 2023  
|  3 Comments
Categories: Gear Curious

I’m new to the world of comms. I feel like it’s one of those things I need to learn and is likely more valuable than all the time I’ve spent behind a rifle. With nature being the cruel mistress she is (and the fact I live in Florida), I recognize that cell phones go down. They go down often and they go down hard. Comms quickly become very important. Since I live near quite a few family and friends, I’ve been learning about how to outfit my family with comms equipment and to learn a thing or two. My home would be the base station, and with that in mind, I discovered the Midland MXT500 Micromobile 2 way radio, the MXPW500 base station, and, to top it off, a solar power panel to keep the thing running.

Midland Radio USA was kind enough to send me the base station, radio, and solar panel, and I’ve been experimenting and learning about radio systems ever since. The Midland micromobile MXT500 radio is a GMRS radio system that’s much more powerful than the standard FRS system utilized by your average hand-held, even the Midland FRSGMRS Walkie Talkies. A mobile radio like this can be up to 50 watts and have a much longer range. In the United States, the GMRS system requires a license. That license costs 35 dollars from the FCC and can get approved in 24 hours. It’s a family license, so it can be used by anyone in your household.

It’s easy to get, and the most difficult part is the FCC’s terrible website.

Why the MXPW500 Base Station

When we start talking about radios, there are basically two types. We have the standard portable radios, aka black gear, that fits into a mag pouch and can be forgotten about. Second, we have larger, more powerful systems that are relatively stationary. The MXPW500 Base Station is different.

mic and radio setup

Add a mic, flip some switches, and start chatting! A two way radio can be more than just a comfort if things go sideways…with more potential for use in bad situations than just listening for the next NOAA weather alert and keeping your fingers crossed. 

It’s both larger and powerful but also very portable. The MXPW500 base station packs away into a large ammo can. It’s fully encapsulated with the MXT500 Micromobile station. It’s not only large and powerful, but it’s now portable. The entire setup weighs remains lightweight and man-portable with ease.

I can bug out if need be and have a portable station I can bring with me. I can set it up in a tent, camp, or in a vehicle. Heck, I can pack it out in my pack and play squad RTO. The base station body fits into the ammo can, and the radio squeezes into the base station. I just need to make sure I don’t confuse it for my ammo boxes full of ammo, lights, 80 lower jigs, etc. Installation is very simple and doesn’t require much effort to get everything up and running. Even a grunt like me can tell that the red wire connects to the red wire.

packed up radio

Here is what the base station and radio look like all packed up.

Once installed, the base station provides a 10Ah LiFePo4 Battery. It’s user replaceable as long as you have a screwdriver. What does this mean to the average user? It means you get up to 50 hours of listening power and up to 20 hours of broadcasting power. Broadcasting power varies greatly on the power setting and transmissions. High power understandably uses more power than low power.

 

 

Midland MXT500 for Sale

tactical gear for sale

Lookin’ for an MXT500 2-way radio? Here are some places to check.

 

Where to Find Your Midland MXT500

 

 

 

Going Off Grid

The battery can be charged within two hours using the supplied wall charger. The battery can also be charged via a solar panel setup and can handle up to 60 watts. The solar panel makes it really easy to keep the system charged if you remain immobile. As with all solar chargers, you could theoretically kill the battery before the panel can charge it. This is a radio, though, so you are unlikely to be having hours-long conversations.

Radion in base station

The radio slides into the base station, and most of the cords are in the rear portion. Unlike walkie-talkie radios like the Midland FRSGMRS radios, this one requires a license. 

If you keep the solar panel plugged in all day, it’s likely going to work perfectly fine and provide enough power to keep you chugging along. This is especially true if you shut it off between radio checks or establish a comm protocol that shuts the system for periods of time for battery consumption.

The MXPW500 will provide the same amperage even when the battery life is below 50%, which is a very nice touch for an off-grid system. The system will also resist drain when unused. Only 2% is lost per month.

In Action

The MXPW500 isn’t a radio. It’s a base station that you plug a radio into. With that in mind, the new Midland MXT500 Micromobile is the radio you want. Once plugged in, you attach the handset and set up the magnetic antennae, and you’re ready to rock and roll. That is assuming you’ve turned off the privacy settings, turned off mute, set up a talk, and completed a few basic steps.

Solar panel

The 40-watt solar panel does a pretty good job of keeping things charged. That’ll let you talk, receive, listen to NOAA weather radio, and more. It has a better range of potential uses than a basic CB radio, at least for the people who are using them. 

I am lucky to have a diverse group of friends, and in that group, I have a number of GMRS and HAM operators to walk me through setting up the system and using it. I didn’t really need much help since it is very straightforward. If my caveman brain can understand it, then anyone else can.

Once set up, my friend and GMRS license owner introduced me to the local radio community. Every Thursday, they tune in and chat briefly. They also maintain a local community page that turned out to be invaluable. If you get into comms and GMRS, you should certainly check out the local community that also uses radios. You can get some practice, ask questions, and, best of all, build a community!

MIdland MXT500 and power station: solar panel charging the setup.

The solar panel can keep it powered up. It might be slow, but it’s capable. The MXT500 is a more powerful alternative to the highly-regarded Midland MXT400.

Communication once connected to local repeaters was crystal clear for a great many miles across my county. Talking from base station to base station is quite clear. I plan to include some portable radios in my lineup and catalog and to use those with the base station while riding the property and touring the backwoods with friends.

This radio utilizes 15 GMRS channels and eight high-powered repeater channels. Fit for all the elements, this radios IP66 waterproof rating means reliable communication in any environment. The MXT500 is a narrow and wide-band capable

This Midland USA radio utilizes 15 GMRS channels and eight high-powered repeater channels. Fit for all the elements, this radio’s IP66 waterproof rating means reliable communication in any environment. The MXT500 is a narrow and wide-band capable, with USB C fast charging capability. It’s the most powerful GMRS radio allowed by law, delivering “unprecedented range” to users on farms, ranches, remote areas, construction sites, and any other “massive sprawling properties” where reliable communications are important.

 

Midland MXT500 Parts, Specs, and Features

Ships With

  • MXT500 MicroMobile 2-Way Radio
  • Microphone
  • Magnet Mount with Cable
  • 2.1dB Unity Gain Antenna
  • Power Cord
  • Owner’s Manual
  • Quick Start Guide

Radio Features

  • Full 50W Radio
  • 15 high-powered GMRS channels
  • 8 repeater channels for increased communication range
  • repeater capable: allows one set of CTCSS/DCS tones per channel
  • Split tone capable
  • Narrow & Wide Band
  • Waterproof (IP66)
  • USB-C Fast Charging
  • 142 privacy codes
  • NOAA Weather Scan Capable
  • Silent Operation
  • Channel Scan
  • Programmable Squelch
  • Keypad Lock
  • Monitor Mode
  • Keystroke Tones
  • Digital Volume Control
  • Backlit Display
  • 2.1dB Unity Gain Antenna
  • Magnet Mount with Cable
  • Compatible with all Midland FRS/GMRS radios
  • Radio Dimensions: 1.8″ x 5.5″ x 7″

Radio Accessories

A number of radio accessories are available, including a magnetic mount, an external speaker, a two-way radio programming cable, a 6dB gain whip antenna, low-profile antenna cables, the MXTA52 12V power cord, and many more. There are also mounting brackets for numerous vehicles (including Jeeps and John Deere tractors). Take a look at those here. 

Reception: The MXT500 includes the MXTA51 antenna assembly, which is a quarter wave antenna and NMO style mag mount. The included mag mount is basically the same as the MXTA12 mag mount (except it has a removable FME it PL259 adapter on the radio end of the cable to make it easier to route the cable through smaller openings).

Reception: The 50 Watt MXT500 includes the MXTA51 antenna assembly, which is a quarter wave antenna and NMO style mag mount. The included mag mount is basically the same as the MXTA12 mag mount (except it has a removable FME it PL259 adapter on the radio end of the cable to make it easier to route the cable through smaller openings).

Are Comms Up?

If you want to get into comms and you are coming from a know-nothing background, then the MXPW500 base stations and MXT500 radio are a great way to start. Midland’s website offers free software to allow you to program the radio, and numerous radio mount options (with mounting hardware) to put yours into service.

I have zero experience programming radios, but even I found it usable. I have heard it’s not the most diverse programming system, but more experienced comm guys have said it’s the easiest to use they’ve ever seen. If you’re sticking to GMRS radios, it seems to work perfectly fine.

Learning comms is a new adventure for me, and it’s one that I’m excited to get even deeper into. I won’t lie, I thought it might be one of the more boring skills, but it’s been quite interesting so far. I look forward to mastering the GMRS channel options, the programming side of things, and in general to becoming a commo guy.

Pike

Have an interest in keeping comms, power, and personal safety in a grid-down, rule-without-law type event, or just while overlanding way out in the middle of nowhere? Read Cacotopia Today.

You know, we might also suggest it as an addition to your dream-built technical truck. Even if you aren’t allowed to put a rocket-launcher in the back.

 

 

 

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike

About the Author

3 Comments

  1. Bemused Berserker

    Good summary review Travis. I’m set up short range wise with enough UV 52HPs to outfit a 6 man team, but a base station is something I really need to get, as I’ve very little and limited transmission/receiver range/ability. The nearest repeater is a hit and miss most days.. Unfortunately, my retirement pension means I’m going to have to save up for the purchase of one
    This unit is definitely on my list of possibilities.

  2. Roman

    would like more info please

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