Conversations with Big Rich

Electronics Wunderkin Steven Lutz on Episode 127

September 08, 2022 Guest Steven Lutz Season 3 Episode 127
Conversations with Big Rich
Electronics Wunderkin Steven Lutz on Episode 127
Show Notes Transcript

When it comes to low-voltage electronics, Steven Lutz is the grand master. A Nissan buff he leads a band of off-roaders who don’t often get recognized. Listen is on a fascinating story told in Episode 127, you’ll learn more about some resources you didn’t know existed. Check it out on your favorite podcast platform.

5:03 – I was a nerd

11:11– I was just as serious about that class as my teacher was teaching it

16:30 – Rather than learning foundational knowledge and then building to the top, I kind of start at the top and work my way down… 

25:58 – I started building the website after a snowboarding accident

29:54 – Kirkwood was probably the single best experience of my life

35:34 – I ended up inheriting the Pathfinder, two-wheel drive basically stock everything

43:49 – getting support for pretty much anything Nissan has been historically difficult

49:09 – I need to know so I can apply the mapping methodologies to the off-road world

1:00:44 – the amount of data these images take up on disk is absolutely huge

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Support the show

[00:00:06.370] - Big Rich Klein

Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.


[00:00:53.790] - Steven Lutz

Whether you're crawling the red rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability. Four Wheels or two? Maxxis tires are the choice of champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.


[00:01:20.290] - Big Rich Klein

Have you seen 4low magazine yet? 4low Magazine is a high quality, well written, four wheel drive focused magazine for the enthusiast market. If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time, 4Low is the magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in stores, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit to order your subscription today.


[00:01:47.230] - Big Rich Klein

On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Steven Lutz is the owner of Rugged Rocks, Off Road and Rugged Routes, which is a GPS mapping based off of the Lowrance system. And we'll get into all that with him and his history and everything. But right now I'd like to say thank you, Steven, for coming on board and talking about your life and off road and your life in general.


[00:02:14.950] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, absolutely, Rich. I'm really glad to be on the call with you. It's always fun to talk about this kind of thing, and I was really glad when you reached out to me. So, yeah, let's get started.


[00:02:26.980] - Big Rich Klein

So you and I met via a phone call a couple of years ago, but we're not that close friends. Most of the people that I have that we've interviewed, I've got a pretty good history on anyway, because we've been good friends, we've been associates over the phone. I don't even know if we've actually met in person yet, but we're going to make a change on that here pretty soon, I think. And anyway, the first question I want to ask you is where were you born and raised?


[00:02:58.270] - Steven Lutz

Yes, born and raised down here, Fontana, California, and Rancho Cucamonga. For those of you that are listening that don't know where that is, it's just outside of Ontario, California. Just maybe ten minutes from the Ontario Airport is the easiest way to explain. So I'm about 2 hours or so from Johnson Valley, and it's been going to the Hammers for a long time. Mostly for the race, but we can get more into that later.


[00:03:24.660] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, and what was it like? You're a lot younger than myself, so was it built up in that area? Ontario Raceway was never around when you were a kid, was it?


[00:03:43.060] - Steven Lutz

No, it wasn't there. It was fairly populated when I was little, but not like it is today. I used to be able to see pretty much from my hometown all the way down to the Ontario Mills Mall, and now there's no shot, even when I tell people that are newer to the area. Yeah, I used to be able to see the mall from here. They just fall over like there's no way. My guys used to be all grapevines out here, just desert and grapevines, and over the years, they mow over the grapevines and they just keep building more stuff. So the 210 freeway didn't extend through here. In fact, I did a report on that in fourth grade. Like, we had to do these news assignments and go find something that's like latest news kind of thing. And I remember doing one of these weekly reports on this 210 freeway that was going to be extended and come through Rancho and Fontana Rialto, and it was like a big project. Right. And we didn't see that until I was in high school.


[00:04:43.580] - Big Rich Klein

Wow. Okay. I can remember when all that was being built.


[00:04:47.770] - Steven Lutz



[00:04:48.700] - Big Rich Klein

Let's talk about school back in those days. Were you studious or were you into sports? You did your own thing. What kind of kid did you grow up as?


[00:05:03.230] - Steven Lutz

I was a nerd.


[00:05:06.350] - Big Rich Klein

We didn't even know what that word was when I was a kid. Okay, that's how I'm dating myself.


[00:05:12.950] - Steven Lutz

No, it's okay. But not a nerd in a typical sense of like a bookworm kind of nerd. I was fairly studious, but I wouldn't say I got straight A's. I wouldn't say that getting straight A's was my highest priority, but I learned what I needed to learn to move on. And I had other interests in electronics, computers and that sort of stuff. And I was introduced to those things by my grandfather, who helped, I guess I wouldn't know how to really describe this properly, but he was around when they were going from manual switchboards to computerized Unix or computer based phone systems.


[00:05:59.850] - Big Rich Klein



[00:06:00.150] - Steven Lutz

And he works for Bell and GTE, the whole chain. They've all been gobbled up by now, but when he was going through all that, he kind of introduced me to some programming and some things like that. We didn't have a lot of resources, so a lot of the computers and stuff that I was able to get my hands on were all just older hand me downs that were coming out of the phone company. They were one man's junk, another man's treasure kind of thing. So they were getting rid of equipment, and we managed to pick a couple of machines up that I got to dabble with when I was really young. So at that point I was probably around six years old, seven years old, something like that, and it just kind of never stopped. My grandpa was an electrician in the Navy and somehow ended up with quite a bit of knowledge of low voltage electronics as well. And so he built some things here and there over time. No products or anything, but just things for fun. And he introduced me to soldering and basic electronics like Ohms Law and that kind of stuff.


[00:07:09.790] - Steven Lutz

So that was the beginning of it. In school though, I started going to school, actually, out in St. Gabriel Mission. It was a private school and only went there for a couple of years. Then my mom was commuting and we were driving every morning before the crack of dawn out to San Gabriel from Fontana. And so my mom worked out there, dropping me off at school, all that sort of stuff, and we did that for a few years now. I just went to public school with some of my cousins that were local here in Fontana and Rancho and stayed in public school until the rest of my schooling was all public after that.


[00:07:52.300] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, so then doing the commute, how long a commute was that for you and for your mom?


[00:07:59.630] - Steven Lutz

Oh man, it was probably an hour and a half, almost 2 hours every morning each way. Like we were sitting in traffic the entire time. My mom would wake me up in the morning, I'd get dressed and she basically carried me to the car and I would just zonk back out in the car and the whole drive in the morning and those mornings were really rough. It was terrible. It wasn't even just in grade school because my preschool was out there as well. So I went to preschool a little early and was in preschool for two years. And then kindergarten, first grade was all out that way. And then even prior to that, I had an aunt and uncle that was watching me, would take care of me while my mom was at work. So the whole probably what is that, six, seven years of my childhood life was commuting. Yeah, brutal. And so yeah, it was kind of cool though, that something that came out of that was at that time, in 1990, my parents bought the Nissan Pathfinder, which I still own and was the foundation for starting Rugged Rocks. And we can jump into that later as well.


[00:09:12.980] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. So then that's through elementary school that you were doing that kind of commute and after that you were closer to home.


[00:09:24.710] - Steven Lutz

Yes, actually, starting in second grade, I was closer to home, and it was a lot better starting in second grade at that time, I was able to get more in with some better friends, like long term friends. Some of those friends I still have to this day, which is awesome. I was also in Cubs Scouts when I was going to private school. I don't know how my parents manage that. On top of going back and forth, my dad did work a lot at night, and he often pulled two shifts. He worked for the phone company as well. A lot of my family worked for the phone company, so I didn't get to see my dad all that much during the week. And if we got to do anything, it was always on weekends. But that was also often gobbled by a lot of family functions because I have a lot of cousins, a lot of extended family, and there was, like, always a birthday or something to go to. We did that kind of stuff. And sometimes my dad was able to go, and sometimes he wasn't. But, yeah, I was pretty busy when I was young, regardless, but jumping back to how I was as far as sports and anything like that, wasn't ever really involved in sports, but I was in Cub Scouts, and then Boy Scouts.


[00:10:46.920] - Steven Lutz

Eventually made Eagle Scout, and then all through all of those times, always tinkering with electronics and that sort of thing.


[00:10:56.380] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. Congratulations on the Eagle Scout.


[00:10:59.150] - Steven Lutz

Oh, thanks.


[00:11:00.060] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I'm an eagle as well.


[00:11:01.900] - Steven Lutz

Oh, fantastic.


[00:11:02.940] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. So the high school you went to, did you go did you go to the same high school for the whole time?


[00:11:11.250] - Steven Lutz

I did, yeah. I went to Edawanta high school. I was there the whole time. And oddly enough I don't know if we should put this in, but oddly enough, I didn't walk I didn't walk on time. Speaking of how studious I was, I'd never failed a class before, but of course, the one time I failed something, it was my second semester, senior year, English, and I was never a big fan of English, but I feel like even to this day, looking back on that, I was just as serious about that class as my teacher was teaching it. And unfortunately, she had the final say, so the joke was on me. So that was unfortunate.


[00:11:59.660] - Big Rich Klein

There's nothing wrong with that. I got through English classes in high school because I was on yearbook staff.


[00:12:10.270] - Steven Lutz



[00:12:10.910] - Big Rich Klein

I was the yearbook photographer. I did no writing except for keeping notes. So there's a reason that Shelley edits everything that I write.


[00:12:24.130] - Steven Lutz

Okay. Right on. Well, the funny thing is, I don't mind writing. I just didn't like the way that class was being conducted, and it felt like a waste of time. So anytime I'm learning something, I don't think school should be done for the sake of trying to get straight As. I think it should be done for actually getting an education. And if I were to go to a class and I don't feel like I'm actually getting an education, then it's hard for me to do that just for points and grades.


[00:12:54.330] - Big Rich Klein



[00:12:54.650] - Steven Lutz

And it just feels like a waste. Like, I have better things to do, and unfortunately, I went to a pretty good high school. Edawanda is historically known for being a pretty good school, but just like in anything else, you have a few bad apples. And unfortunately, I feel like that particular English teacher was falling in that category. So what do you do? Life goes on. I didn't walk. And everybody was surprised by that because I guess looking back at it, people felt like I had my head on pretty straight and had good things going rattling around up there. And so when people showed up to graduation, like, hey, where's Steven. And I was like, hey, guys, I didn't make the cut, so I didn't walk. But they let me do everything else. I got to go to go to.


[00:13:50.440] - Big Rich Klein

Grad Night and all that.


[00:13:52.100] - Steven Lutz

Grad Night and all that stuff. Yeah, I just wasn't allowed to walk. But I heard it was terrible. It was really hot. The sun was out and in full force. But I do wish I was there to take pictures with my friends, because seeing all the pictures hitting the Internet later on and everything was a bummer to not be part of that. So that was unfortunate. But at the end of it, I was able to crank through some summer school and basically walk in on day one. I said, hey, I start school in, like, four or five weeks, something like that, and I just need all of the work you need me to do throughout the summer. I just need it right now. And I walked out with a two and a half foot pile of books and paper and packets and anything you can imagine associated with that type of work and just cranked through all of it and turned it in. Picked up my high school diploma. Like. The day before I was supposed to start school and walked in. Got finished registering and all that stuff and started going to school for electronics engineering at Devry.


[00:14:59.640] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, and is Devry still in business today?


[00:15:05.690] - Steven Lutz

No. And it's a good thing to not okay. Yeah. At the time when I started, I felt like it was a really good thing. I walked in, I kind of did a tour. I was over here in Pomona, right next to Mount Sac, and I was really excited by all of the high end equipment that I did not have access to prior to this because I had been tinkering with electronics for so long, but I didn't have the stuff I needed to really build. Awesome stuff, right? Like, you need test equipment and all sorts of other things. So I was like, yeah, I want to come here. And I saw the classes, and it was minimally focused on gen ed, but then you're able to jump right into the meat and potatoes of your area of study straight out of the gate, and I really like that. So it started out good for the first few years, but there was something in the air after probably a year and a half, two years, and I was like, Something right here. So I did learn a fair amount. But then I remember sitting in a class talking about microcontrollers and stepper motors, which is basically the basis of building anything electromechanical to make things move like robots.


[00:16:30.590] - Steven Lutz

That's like the most simplistic way to explain it. And I was sitting in there and something was presented on the board and everything else just kind of clicked. And I just wanted to close my book right there and just walk out of school and be like, I don't need to come to school tomorrow because everything makes sense now. My brain seems to operate in a way of having this goal of figuring out how things work and then taking kind of this top down approach. So rather than learning foundational knowledge and then building up to the top, I kind of just start at the top and work my way down through a bunch of things that I really don't understand until I hit something I do understand and then start working my way back up. And on the way back up, it comes together really fast because you've already exposed yourself to a bunch of stuff and then everything just starts to click. And that's just the way I learn better. So even going into school, it was difficult for me to take the bottom up approach. So I have a lot of questions and a lot of curiosity, and a lot of that has fed my thirst for knowledge of sorts and just figuring things out.


[00:17:42.460] - Steven Lutz

So that day I just wanted to close the book and just leave. But I did want to finish. Overall, I wanted that piece of paper that I got my EE degree. So I ended up after that, I kind of fell behind on credits and I was tired a lot. I was overworking myself with numerous things, actually, including starting Rugged Rocks. So I started Rugged Rocks, and it was just a simple website at the time, but then I was going to school and I was working for another e commerce company called MX, which isn't really around anymore, but I helped them float for probably a couple of years before I stopped working there. And I just had a lot going on. It was all stuff I was interested in, but it was just too much. So I started getting behind in school and I took a year off. Statistically, they say if you take a year off, you're probably not coming back. And I told myself, I'm not going to be a statistic, I will definitely come back. So I took the year and when I went back a year later, I was registering just maybe like a week later than I should have been.


[00:19:05.590] - Steven Lutz

I barely was missing the boat and I was trying to work with them, like, hey, I need to come back, but what can you guys do? Classes were basically starting when I was trying to register and classes weren't full or anything like that. They could have gotten me in, but they were kind of playing hardball in saying that you missed the boat and we can't do it. And I was like, well, let me just talk to these professors and if they'll let me start, you know, a couple of days late, even starting a week late is only a couple class meetings, and it's not that big of a deal to catch up on right out of the gate like that. So I was willing to do it, but they said no. And not only that, because you were gone for over a year, a bunch of the credits that you have accrued through these other classes you took are no longer valid for your degree. So we're basically going to have to take you back in time and knock another year or so off of what you've already done. And I was pretty upset by that.


[00:20:08.910] - Big Rich Klein

As right as you should be.


[00:20:11.790] - Steven Lutz

Right? Yeah. It was just completely unreasonable. I was really mad. And I did not go back after that because I just couldn't believe what had happened. So I never went back after that. And they would call me. They would have these new hires that are looking back through their records of who's gone to school, who didn't finish school, what's keeping them from finishing school, and try to loop those people back in. And every summer they would call me and they would basically hear the story I just told you. And then they would say, that's not right. There's no way the school did that. And you're like, okay, well, if you can give me my credits back. But they were basically sweeping off my record. I'll come back and they're like, okay, let me see what I can do. And they would always call me back, like, a week later, be like, you know, I hate to tell you this, but you're right and there's nothing I can do. And it's not right, but that's the way it is. So it was really unfortunate, but that was the end of my schooling. But that didn't keep me from pursuing the interest in electronics further on my own.


[00:21:24.930] - Steven Lutz

I've done a lot of programming and electronic stuff since then, so I had some fairly decent knowledge from the time that I did spend a deri, but I didn't get the full education that I was hoping to get from there.


[00:21:40.080] - Big Rich Klein

Right, okay. And that's not necessarily a bad thing either, depending on where you're taking yourself, being that you're self employed or at least with the off road stuff. I don't know if you have a secondary or a primary job besides that. But knowing what you know, doesn't always have to have that stamp of approval by some university or college or whatever.


[00:22:18.650] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, absolutely. I think in the long run it ended up kind of being a blessing in disguise because the school did end up going downhill like I had mentioned, like something was in the air, things were changing, people from high up places were touring the campus and it was just like, something feels wrong. And then they started changing curriculum and stuff and I didn't know all the ins and outs but something smelled funny and at the end of it, Zebrai ended up in a bunch of lawsuits and all sorts of stuff that I don't know the ins and outs of. But it's probably for the best that they're not around anymore, right?


[00:23:03.350] - Big Rich Klein

My degree is in commercial photography and product advertising and the college that I went to was called Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and it was one of the top three rated photography school in the nation behind Art Center in La and then the Rochester Institute of Photography back in New York. And they got in trouble for predatory loan and got loans and then got their accreditation got removed and decertified or whatever. And they ended up when it was a private school and was owned by a family, the Brooks family. It was great. And then they got old enough and they said, okay, we're going to sell out to I guess like an investment firm or another college or something and those guys just screwed it up.


[00:24:06.730] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, DeVry was privately owned as well and I think something along those same lines had happened. They at one point did get their accreditation pulled and I did end up trying to go to Cal Poly, but it was always a very complicated thing trying to crossover classes to see what credit they were able to keep and that sort of stuff. And then at the end of it they said, we recommend you take care of some things at a community college and then come back in like a year. And when I went to the local community college here, it was just like high school all over again and I couldn't do it. So I was like, no, I'm done. Yeah, it's unfortunate that the schools like that that have a good reputation at first end up falling short and it just ends poorly and it's really unfortunate. I had some contacts in some aerospace companies and I was asking about Devra versus ITT tech versus traditional four year college and that sort of stuff. And the people that went to Device way before me came out with really, really solid education. Sometimes I would hear that there was a little like a small gap in knowledge here and there, but there was different small gaps in knowledge with people coming from other avenues of education as well.


[00:25:39.050] - Steven Lutz

So it was kind of like more or less on the same plane, right? But yeah, it just went down in a fiery blaze and that was that.


[00:25:49.870] - Big Rich Klein

So then get back to the working. You started Rugged Rocks in 2006.


[00:25:58.270] - Steven Lutz

That's correct. Yeah, 2006 at the time. Officially, I started building the website after a snowboarding accident. I had messed up my knee pretty bad where I had a full leg cast for about a month and a half, and I was pretty much useless. So I had been wanting to start the website and start selling Nissan parts. That was the other thing, right? It's very Nissan focused. So I built the website on the couch, and to hobble around on crutches and really do anything else was challenging, so I took the time to start the business. My girlfriend's mom at the time actually was the one that drove me around to file the paperwork and get the business license and resell cert and all that stuff going. That's how it very much originated from there. And if it wasn't for having that injury and having my butt sit down on that couch for a month and a half, I don't know if I would have ever gotten it off the ground.


[00:27:11.910] - Big Rich Klein

I guess you were a snowboard instructor after that?


[00:27:15.930] - Steven Lutz

Yes, it was after that. Okay, I was.


[00:27:19.230] - Big Rich Klein

And what was that like? We'll get back to the off road here, but what was it like being a ski instructor? You were at Big Bear one season and then Kirkwood another.


[00:27:28.590] - Steven Lutz

Yes, exactly. It was so much fun. So I started out they had this job fair up at Bear Mountain, but Big Bear and Bear Mountain became the same entity. So went up there. Everybody was just standing in line for a job, and I didn't know what I wanted to do on the mountain. I just wanted a season working on the mountain because I never got that experience of going away to college or moving out of town to just kind of go do my own thing. And working on a mountain always just seemed fun to me. So I was there standing in line, and this guy came out, and he's like, anybody want to be an instructor? I was like, I'll teach. That sounds fun because you're on the snow all day, and which is kind of a spur of the moment thing. I just raised my hand, he pulled me out of line, and the rest was history there. He signed me up, did a couple of checks with my boss, just making sure I can actually ride. And then they started teaching me how to teach. And it was fun. But Bear Mountain gets really crowded being in Southern California.


[00:28:34.600] - Steven Lutz

We get a little bit of snow, and everybody just rushes up to the mountains, and it's just packed. So the classes became a little chaotic, but got through it, and you end up with a season pass. So on days you're not working, you can go ride. And being that the business was very new, I didn't have firm obligations on a daily basis. So I would often take off for like a morning during the week and I would go for a ride, and so that was pretty cool. The following season, I went to Kirkwood, me and a friend that she had been snowboarding for a long time and had previously lived in Tahoe and done ski instructing and stuff prior to even us working. She was actually there with me at the job fair and also got a job, but she had been through it before. She was a handful of years older than me, and we just knew each other, were just friends, mutual friends kind of thing. And we're just like, hey, you know, it sounds fun. So we did that. I started looking for jobs up north to go to a bigger mountain, and she wasn't going to go, but I really wanted to do it.


[00:29:54.320] - Steven Lutz

And then she had a turn of events with her primary job. So overnight it seemed like, well, I just lost my job, got laid off, so let's go to Tahoe, started looking for a spot that they ended up at Kirkwood. They essentially hired us via email. Then we made a few trips up there to find a place to live and go meet the people on the mountain and that sort of stuff. But Kirkwood was probably the single most best experience of my life. It snowed so much that season. There were 64ft of snowfall that season. Wow. Yeah, it snowed like 3ft every other day. I woke up at 430 in the morning to tractors coming through the parking lot of the condo complex we were living in just the snow, like, pretty much every morning. It was insane. Because of that, there was a lot of the typical tourism stuff that brings a lot of people into the mountain on buses. A lot of that kind of stuff got cancelled even during the holidays and busy seasons, a lot of that was kind of dampened. So I'm sure the mountain was probably hurting financially that year.


[00:31:16.900] - Steven Lutz

But as employees being up there, it was fantastic because when there was no one to teach, it just turned into time to free ride and we were just snowboarding and need to waste deep, fresh, light, dry powder the whole time. It was endless. It was absolutely endless. And to this day, I still want to pinch myself and question if that whole thing actually happened, because I've never snowboarded in conditions like that again in my whole life.


[00:31:50.730] - Big Rich Klein

And Kirkwood is not an easy resort to get to compared to all the other resorts out in the Tahoe area, they run everything off the generators, at least they used to. I'm not sure if they've gotten on the power grid yet or had by then, but I can remember going up there and skiing and being stuck on ski list for like I think there was one season where I paid for one ticket one day and got enough free. Tickets to ride to keep going to Kirkwood like seven or eight times that year because the generators would shut off or the chair lifts would break and you'd sit there for an hour or two and so they'd give you a complimentary ticket.


[00:32:42.550] - Steven Lutz

Yeah. And as far as I know, they're still running on generators. I think they have a handful of large diesel generators made by Cat. Yeah, that's how they run everything. Everything from ski lifts to power for the restaurants that are there, the housing that's there. They have a pretty good sized little community back in this canyon and it's all off the grid.


[00:33:06.910] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty cool. I always loved it there. It was just a pain to get to.


[00:33:13.750] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, it was brutal. There was some times where we were driving up and so we were living in South Lake Tahoe and had to make that commute. I wasn't working on the mountain every day, so I was still building rugged rocks during the week and working the business there. But then I would leave for Wednesday afternoons to get assi. Is that what it is? The snowboard teaching accreditation classes? I would go do those on Wednesday afternoons and then on the weekends I would teach. And then the rest of the time I was still running the business from up there. It was kind of cool how I had that worked out. But when we were driving up to the mountain, I remember one time they had just plowed the roads like they were saying the highway was closed on the sign. But then we were getting about ready to turn around and the sign switched and like, oh, like it just opened. So we went. But then unfortunately, that highway essentially dead ended because the jurisdictions between two different parts of Caltrans weren't well communicated that day. So you're literally driving down the highway and then there's a gate that's closed and just the wall that's about five or 6ft high of just fresh untouched snow.


[00:34:41.600] - Steven Lutz

So we just sat there waiting for the snow plows to show up coming from the other direction to open the gate. They eventually did. So we were a little late to work that day, but that wasn't that big of a deal because nobody else was there anyhow. Yeah, couldn't get there.


[00:34:57.710] - Big Rich Klein

That had to be highway 88.


[00:35:00.650] - Steven Lutz

It probably was, yeah. Coming up from the south as we were heading south. Yeah. It was interesting having those types of experiences, for sure, but the writing there was absolutely phenomenal. Got to hang out with a lot of really cool people and I've been back to visit a couple of times since and it's just always a good time to ride that mountain.


[00:35:25.650] - Big Rich Klein

Cool. So let's talk about the Nissan and how that all came about. You said it was a family car.


[00:35:34.950] - Steven Lutz

It was, yeah. It's how I got to preschool. All those years of commuting was me pretty much zonked out in the backseat just trying to go to school. So yeah, that was my mom's car. And then later on when I got my driver's license, I didn't have a car of my own yet, so me and my mom were sharing a car somehow. I don't remember exactly how that was working at first, but we would each drive it when she was gone to work. Obviously I didn't have access to it, so I was still getting a ride from friends or other people or sometimes just walking to school. Even after I was driving, I just didn't have a car. So eventually my mom bought a more commuter friendly car, a Honda Civic, and then I ended up inheriting the Pathfinder. So it was two wheel drive at the time and stock tires, basically stock everything. My dad had put some BFGS on it because we did grow up going dirt bike riding on occasion, so it's kind of on and off. I did get my first dirt bike when I was five, so I wasn't new to the dirt when I started driving.


[00:36:53.650] - Steven Lutz

But besides some BFG, alterings that Pathfinder was bone stock. My dad had a separate truck that we would go camping and stuff. It was old Ford, and as far as the Pathfinder goes, I really just wanted to use it to get to the mountain to go snowboarding. And then eventually I was like, I want four wheel drive, but I don't want to get rid of the Pathfinder. There's so much history here and I enjoy driving. It my first car. I want to keep it. So I had jumped on the Nissan forums. There's a forum called Empora. It stands for Nissan Pathfinder Off Road Association. And tons of information on that forum at the time. There was a fair amount of information, but there was still a lot of gaps and stuff, so I seemed to have found another interest that it was a puzzle, I think, in my head. Like there was a lot of people that were wanting to do more off road with their Nissan but had limited access to parts, or the parts that were available from various companies in the industry, weren't well distributed or even known about, well advertised for that matter.


[00:38:08.480] - Steven Lutz

So when I started Rugged Rocks, I had basically started fixing up the Pathfinder and was bringing in or bringing the parts that were available that many people just didn't know about into a central place that then they could be purchased from. And that was the regular Rocks website. So that was the very beginnings of it. But eventually I bought another Pathfinder that had been really beat up and I think it was like stuck in the Zeus Canyon. Like in the creek crossing for multiple days from what I understand. And just basically used it for the drive train. Moved over all the four wheel drive components off the transmission and all that stuff and converted it to a four wheel drive vehicle using all factory parts. And it might sound complicated, but it was actually fairly straightforward. Besides modifying a crossmember for the four wheel drive trans and welding in just two brackets to add a crossmember for the front diff, everything else bolted right together. So it was actually really smooth. Me and my dad had done that. We'd done that in his garage, by the way. My parents had split up when I was in fourth grade, so after that, I was living this whole split up family, double life thing.


[00:39:38.540] - Steven Lutz

But by the time I was in high school, he had some garage space made available so we could do this for a long drive conversion. So that worked out pretty well, and.


[00:39:49.780] - Big Rich Klein

Hence your interest in off road at that point.


[00:39:54.970] - Steven Lutz

Absolutely. So it really just started out as, I want fool drive so I can go snowboarding. And then once I realized what else I could do with full wheel drive I don't know what you want to call it, but the interest was just peaked, and there was just no stopping after that.


[00:40:18.530] - Big Rich Klein

So you worked with guys that were already fabbing parts and became kind of like the store for those other guys, or did you start doing some of that stuff yourself?


[00:40:32.270] - Steven Lutz

So I wasn't fabricating anything. I was just getting the stuff that was already available. So, like Rancho, even to this day, like, they still have shocks for those older trucks that were made in the 90s, super Lyft used to make upper control arms for the old hardbody pickups and pathfinders. And so I was selling those, and they were available. I mean, Super Lyft, you were able to get through falloff parts and various other mom and pop off road shops, but nobody knew about the Nissan stuff just because they weren't coming. And it wasn't even that they weren't in the catalog. Just nobody asked for Nissan stuff very much in each of these stores, so nobody knew about it. So I would start digging up these things that were available, just lesser known, and I just pulled those together first. And then as I started doing other things to the Pathfinder, I started working with some of these companies to bring other parts out. And at one point, me and a friend of mine, his name is Kenny, we were doing we started really getting in heavy and solid axle swaps and other things, but then worked with advanced adapters on bringing the Atlas adapter out.


[00:41:48.820] - Steven Lutz

And what else did you do at the time? Doug Thorley the history of headers for Nissan has kind of been stop and go over the years just because of demand. It's like they want to discontinue the part, but then after a short amount of time, there's enough people that want them again because demand is building, so now they have enough interest to do another run of them. So it's kind of an interesting history. There with trying to keep some of that stuff in production. It's always been a bit of a game juggling what people are interested right now in the Nissan world and what they're not. So it's been challenging for sure. But at the time being that I started so young, I didn't have a lot of financial requirements right out of the gate when I was first building the website and doing all of this. So it was definitely a really slow build of just getting momentum going and all of that. But about probably ten years ago, eight years ago, there was still a lot of people building like the second Gen X Terrace and Frontiers where nobody knew what they were doing with these trucks.


[00:43:04.310] - Steven Lutz

Like, there's a lot of investigating and figuring what's going to work, what's not going to work, and somehow I've managed to stay on the forefront of a lot of that as the generations of trucks have come out, with the exception of the latest Frontier, to some degree, I've dabbled with that a little bit, but not in as deep as I have with previous generations.


[00:43:23.810] - Big Rich Klein

Did you find that even the companies that you were dealing with to supply the parts, especially somebody like Skyjacker or Rancho, that they may have the part numbers, but people didn't know much about those parts because they weren't popular as maybe Toyota or Chevy, ford or Jeep parts?


[00:43:49.730] - Steven Lutz

Absolutely. Getting support for pretty much anything Nissan, even through the manufacturer, has been historically difficult. So it was very much up to me to figure it out and then become kind of that support person. And that was it was good in some ways, but difficult in other ways because then I became like this mastermind Nissan resource, and my phone would ring off the hook with just technical questions rather than people actually buying parts. Right. So I know these things pretty well, but over the years, yeah, it's gotten even worse, actually. So those upper control arms from Super Lift, they ended up discontinuing them. At one point they called me and they were like, hey, how many of these do you see going out the door this year? And I gave a number and it was fairly consistent, but ultimately it didn't make the cut. And right when I found out that they were planning on discontinuing the part again, I tried buying the Jig from them so we can just fab them up ourselves. But by the time that phone call was made, they had already gotten rid of the Jig. Everything was in the dumpster, and they completely called it quits on that part and there was no coming back.


[00:45:11.800] - Steven Lutz

So dealt with some of that stuff as well.


[00:45:15.590] - Big Rich Klein

Wow, it's amazing that a company would get rid of Jigs.


[00:45:22.550] - Steven Lutz

I thought the same thing. I had a guy check on it. I was like, I'll buy the Jig off of you because the hard work is done. It's just if I can have the jig. We'll keep it going. And it was relatively small quantities that were going outdoor. But if you can sell a lot of things at low quantity, then it's essentially the same thing as selling fewer things at high quantity. And it's always kind of just been the way it's had to be with Nissan stuff. But, yeah, he tried and he was like, I'm going to see what I could do. And they called me back. Everything's gone, it's gone and there's just nothing I can do. Hard stop. I was just like, well, it is what it is at that point.


[00:46:07.550] - Big Rich Klein

So do you have a source form now?


[00:46:11.810] - Steven Lutz

I don't. I get calls on them occasionally, just a few times a year now. I know how many still advertise them. I don't know if they're still making those Nissan parts. I know for calmingi, it's even become a bit of a slow mover. So for them to make Nissan parts as a priority in their production line has also been challenging. At least that's what it seems like over the years. Okay, so I know they have a lot going on up there and it makes sense that Nissan's aren't at the top of the list.


[00:46:48.740] - Big Rich Klein

Right? Yeah. They're just not quite as popular a vehicle, not the quantity out there that some of the others have.


[00:46:57.410] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, exactly. And it's a bummer that that's the case because county actually turns out some really nice stuff for the Nissan. But again, they can't make it a priority and I don't blame them for it. It makes sense.


[00:47:12.140] - Big Rich Klein

Right. So let's talk about rugged routes.


[00:47:15.950] - Steven Lutz



[00:47:16.740] - Big Rich Klein

Your mapping, that's something that I'm really starting to dive into a lot more. I mean, it seems like I've had a Laurent since almost I didn't have one in 2003 when I went to Baja the first time, but it was shortly thereafter I got the first Laurence, and I loved it because no matter where I went, I could always get back out.


[00:47:47.790] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, absolutely. And I was first introduced to Laurence just through the grapevine, knowing that guys were racing with them. And I'm not a racer, but I just figured, well, if the guys are racing with these things, it must be good. And they're great pieces of equipment, fantastic. But when I got my first one. I was bummed out about the map availability and with my history with computers and electronics and everything else. I figured there's got to be a way to fix this. And started making phone calls and actually. I had a friend that was managing the marine department at the local Bass Pro Shops here in Rancho and he was like. You know. The data in the most simplistic form. He really dumped it down and he knew this stuff fairly well and he kind of ran through how the data worked. He didn't know all the ins and outs of it, but he knew the basis of it. So maybe just try calling Laurence and see if they can help you out or get started with it. They said they get people in there all the time looking for the Baja units in the store, typically carry them, they would get them on occasion, but there's a need there, especially locally, and see what happens.


[00:49:09.170] - Steven Lutz

And so I started making some phone calls and, and got a hold of a department that was beta testing some software. This was back in 2013, I think. I called over there and I told him like, hey, you guys aren't going to have to walk my hand, you're going to hold my hand with everything on this process. But I know this is possible, I know the software is there, I know you guys are doing this and that. I just need to know what I can do or how this is done so I can apply the mapping methodologies to the off road world. And it was just pure dumb luck. Good timing because there was a guy that was heading up this department that was helping some marine companies do mapping and they were beta testing some new software. So I had to sign some NDAs and stuff and got my hands on this software and started dabbling with it. And the first one I did was the Johnson Valley map. And originally when I went into doing this, I didn't have the idea or the goal of spinning off a new part of the business or anything like that.


[00:50:24.610] - Steven Lutz

It was just like, I want maps, I want to be able to put stuff together for my own personal use. And so I built one for Johnson Valley and the first completed map that I did, I was out in the truck one day and I was just staring at it on the GPS. I was just like, holy cow, this is too good, people are going to want this. I surprised myself and then I just spun up a real simple website seemingly overnight, I think it only took me, programmed most of it in one night, got it up and running using some other software that was already available and about a week later I took my first order without really advertising anything and then the ball was rolling from there. So did San Diego National Forest and then built a few others and it just has snowballed quite a bit ever since. There has been a fair amount of things that have just happened in my life over the last handful of years that kept me from really moving forward with building new maps and that's always been the biggest problem. Like, people love my products but they want more of it.


[00:51:33.840] - Steven Lutz

And so I had quite a few roadblocks and not so far off path that was keeping me from really dedicating a lot of time to doing that. But things are changing and I'm really looking forward to building more cool and.


[00:51:53.710] - Big Rich Klein

So what you have available now, of course, you have Johnson Valley, the Hammers, and that'll help people get to each one of the existing trails, correct?


[00:52:08.790] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, exactly. So all the main historically famous hammers trails are on there as well as a handful of others. There are some trails out there now that have been broken just in the last couple of years that I don't have tracks on. So I do need to go back out there, spend some time and get that updated. Really recognizing the need in needing to redo Johnson Valley, fair amount of time has passed to where the quality of the imagery, I could do a little bit better on that and then just things have changed. The main trails that are on the map there currently are still very valid, but there's been a lot added and I need to spend some time out there. So we'll do that every year.


[00:53:00.010] - Big Rich Klein

There's people breaking new canyons or faces out there that they turn into trails.


[00:53:06.990] - Steven Lutz

Yeah. And it's all just word of mouth, like there's no good database for all of these trails. It's just kind of you're either in the loop or you're not in the loop and it's hard to keep up on who's doing what, you know, what's a good trail, what's worth running and tracking, what's not. And there's just so much out there now that it's time for a redo on that one for sure.


[00:53:34.310] - Big Rich Klein

Right? And then you have glamis.


[00:53:38.010] - Steven Lutz

I do have Glamis. That one has all the major points of interest, although the satellite imagery on that is not as crucial for navigating out there. Having something that has all the main points of interest in the places to camp, all the washes marked, stuff like that, is very crucial, especially for the guys that write out there at night. I'm not a dune guy myself, but I know enough of them and I've talked to enough people over the years to understand the problems they face when writing the dunes when it comes to navigation, because of the way you have to kind of surf the dunes and especially doing it at night, you can get turned around really fast. So having this product has helped a ton of people. And I've heard stories time and time again, most commonly in Johnson Valley and Glamis where a customer of mine will be out riding with a group of friends. They will all be lost and then somebody pipes up thinking they know where they need to go and it's wrong. And then my customer says like, no, I know where we're going, just follow me. And then everybody is in doubt and be like, no, it's this way, just trust me, I got it on the GPS.


[00:54:48.650] - Steven Lutz

They show back up at camp and everybody's just shocked. So it's just kind of funny, that kind of stuff, especially this day and age still happens and that people get that disoriented in the outdoors like that.


[00:55:03.610] - Big Rich Klein

Well, in Glamus, even in midday, from eleven to one, or even about ten to two, you might say, it can be hard to know where you're at, especially if you're out in the middle there. I do the rebel rally and working with staff and as part of the course crew, and I kind of wander the fringes and don't go into the very beginning. I've never been to Ozmobile or the swing set because I've not been shown the way out there. There's nothing that's on my Laurence that says that's where it's at. Get to that point. And even this year with the Raptor, and last year the Raptors made the sand dunes much more enjoyable for me. But now it's like, at least with my Laurence, if I go someplace to a checkpoint that I need to go pick up or get to, I can get there, but I can get back. And that's the main thing with Laurence that I've always used it for absolutely getting back.


[00:56:27.250] - Steven Lutz

And that's the number one thing. When people call me, they're looking for it and they're like, can I just get back to camp? Absolutely. You can trace everywhere you've been, you can organize all the tracks that you've created throughout the day, you can mark your own waypoints, and all of that data is overlaid on top of any of my maps that you might have inserted in the GPS as well. So it layers together and can handle a good amount of data. So it's become very favorable over the years, as well as just being a reliable piece of equipment that was made to be outside. A lot of people just coming into this don't know, but eventually figure out, and I'm very transparent about this as well. Lawrence is primarily a marine company, but these devices have been made to be able to withstand very cold temperatures, very hot temperatures, be out in direct sunlight, have a wide viewing angle of the screen, and be able to take on lots of shock and vibration and therefore typically stand up for a very long time. Yeah.


[00:57:35.070] - Big Rich Klein

If people have never been in the marine environment, on boats, especially out in the ocean, they have no clue on what those things, the amount of impact those things will take.


[00:57:49.830] - Steven Lutz

Absolutely brutal. Yeah.


[00:57:51.670] - Big Rich Klein

And now in a trophy truck situation, well, not even trophy truck, I'd say more like a Class Eleven with limited suspension. Any of the limited classes, they take even more of a beating. And I've never had one fail on me.


[00:58:10.110] - Steven Lutz

It rarely happens. Rarely.


[00:58:13.830] - Big Rich Klein

What other areas do you have available besides besides those?


[00:58:19.220] - Steven Lutz

Yeah. So I've got a category of wells, which is really high detail one, I finished that one up last year and I re ran all the trails there, did embedded some photos into some of the points of interest that are out there, so you can kind of check it out before you make the track. That one worked out really well. The most recent one is one that is going to serve a wider purpose than being just specific to an OGB area is state by state Forest Service tecomaps. So that has turned out really nice. I only launched that and put that up on the website. Made that available about a month ago and it started kicking out the door pretty quick when I first launched him. And I've been getting really good feedback on them. In fact, I got an email yesterday from a guy that was just thrilled that he had that in his GPS. So I have that for most of the western United States. Those can be found on the website. There's a whole list there for the US Forest Service topo maps. Trying to think what else I have in there right now.


[00:59:30.400] - Steven Lutz

I have a basic USGS Tuple map that covers the whole country. It's not super high detail, but it's much better than what comes in the Laurence just out of the box, the base map. So it's something to get you started if you're somebody that jumps around a lot and goes to a lot of various areas. Maybe I don't have a high resolution map for these other areas that you're visiting, but it's definitely a good foundation for that white area.


[01:00:02.410] - Big Rich Klein



[01:00:03.680] - Steven Lutz

Yeah. So I'm trying to think actually Rich, I kind of losing track of them too. I have some stuff that's out in Moab. I have some stuff in Arizona, but I need to get out and do some really high res ones for the Havasu and like the Arizona strip I do have plans to do. Sand Hollow is a big one that is really high on my list. But as far as other ones that are available now, I'm actually pulling up the website because I have too many things rattling around in my head.


[01:00:40.050] - Big Rich Klein

There's no problem. That's why we have those resources.


[01:00:44.110] - Steven Lutz

Perfect. Yes. Acatilla Glamis. Johnson Valley, the San Francisco National Forest. That was one that I spent a lot of time on. Not much has changed up there since I've made that map, although I've had that map for quite some time now. But everything is color coded according to the difficulty, like the signs that are actually on the trail. So that turned out really nice. As well as color coding like 50 inch tracks and single tracks for dirt bikes. Although my maps aren't typically used on those vehicles, it's nice to have the data. So I do have quite a few things that are going to be coming down the pipe and I'm getting really excited about some stuff. If I have a customer that wants high resolution satellite imagery for an area that I don't currently have covered, I can do custom satellite overlays as well. And I've been doing a lot of those lately. Just because people travel all over the place and they ride all over the place, especially in states like Arizona where there aren't firm boundaries where you can and can't ride. OHV. It becomes a very complex problem for me to solve on my end as far as how big these maps are going to be, what kind of boundaries I'm going to use.


[01:02:01.670] - Steven Lutz

Because the amount of data that the satellite images take up on disk is absolutely huge and I can't do, let's say, a whole state on one card. Right. And the amount of processing power that it takes to even convert all of this stuff into the Laurence format, which is extremely efficient, by the way, if there's any techies out there questioning how this is done. Everything is done in tiles and then these tiles get down sampled into different layers, but then they get compressed extremely tight multiple times and it becomes a lossless compression process. But there's multiple types of compression involved. So I will start out with a data set that's about 200 plus gigabytes and get it squeezed down to about 32 gigs. Wow. The setback that we have right now is the 32 gigabyte SD card limit on the Laurence. So there are some ways that I've gotten around that limit in the past, but it's not officially supported, so I stay away from it unless there's a really big need for it, such as some maps that I've done for Cal Fire as well. I've done some stuff that they're using in Dozers, most prominently up in Northern California, actually right around where you guys are at when there's a forest fire.


[01:03:30.340] - Steven Lutz

They're actually using a lot of my stuff to cut the fire lines.


[01:03:35.770] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. I'd like to help you with getting the word out on that through for Low, so we need to talk some more about that as well.


[01:03:45.860] - Steven Lutz

Absolutely. I actually have a shipping label already printed on my desk to get some stuff up to you. I just haven't compiled everything I want to get up your way yet.


[01:03:55.070] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, get Glamus in there because I'm going to Glamis here in October.


[01:03:59.950] - Steven Lutz

OK, cool. Yeah, I could definitely do that.


[01:04:02.090] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. So besides mapping and the products on Rugged Rocks, is there any expansion in those? I know with the mapping, of course there is a lot of expansion, but are you going to continue diving in with the Rugged Rocks?


[01:04:24.730] - Steven Lutz

Yeah, there's a few projects there that have come to the table recently. There are still some locker projects on the table with various manufacturers. One of the ones most recently was doing the front locker did a test install for a front locker on the New Frontier. So even though it's very similar to the previous generation of trucks, there were some changes that needed some attention and test fit, so was able to get that addressed very recently. Beyond that, there's some possibility that Rugged rocks will end up expanding into some parts outside the Nissan world, but we'll see how that goes. We'll know. More on that in the next six months, probably. Okay, yeah, that's up in the air at the moment, but there's a strong possibility. Yeah. So as far as rugged routes go, expansion there I am tapping a little bit more into my electronics knowledge and about a year when we first got into COVID, so almost two years ago now, there's the CVT belt temp sensor for side by side because that's a really big problem on those cars with the heat generation with the CVT clutches.


[01:05:45.960] - Big Rich Klein



[01:05:46.240] - Steven Lutz

So we can plug in this belt type sensor to the Laurent system, similar to how the external antennas plug in and allows you to display the temperature of the belt right on the screen of the Laurence. So you're going to see more stuff like that. One of those things is bridging data from the diagnostic ports onto the Laurent. So that's one thing. So you can get Rpm and engine temp and all that sort of stuff. So I think that will be really useful for people building custom cars from the ground up. And that way they don't have to put individual gauges or maybe even replace other solutions that are on the market where they're running a Laurence. And something else maybe they'll consider just running the Laurence system. And a lot of these race cars, they're running two lances anyways and it's very highly configurable at that point. That will be cool. Yeah, I think that's going to be a pretty big hit. I have mentioned that and have that as a pending product listed on the website just to try to gauge interest. So I do get calls on that on occasion, people wanting updates for various cars and side by side, et cetera.


[01:06:59.400] - Steven Lutz

Buddy tracking is something that's on my list. These are a lot of big projects, some of them bigger than others, but the ball is rolling on a lot of these projects, some a little bit faster than others. My method of getting things done is very often having multiple irons in the fire, knowing that there's going to be roadblocks of various types along the way and to eliminate just wasted time when those roadblocks do occur. And I have to put that on the shoulder of somebody else, such as a support person at chip manufacturer. Actually what happened earlier this week that I'm not just sitting and waiting, I can pivot to another project while I'm waiting to hear back from them. So I'll often have multiple things kind of rolling forward at the same time, which makes it difficult to give firm ETAs on when some of these things are going to be done. But overall, big picture wise, I feel like it's the most efficient because I don't like sitting still and twiddling my thumbs. So just kind of keep all the balls rolling and then depending on what obstacles pop up and how efficiently they are handled, something more complex might end up getting finished before?


[01:08:20.110] - Steven Lutz

Something seemingly simpler. It just depends.


[01:08:23.340] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. Well, cool. Is there anything else that we haven't discussed that you'd like to talk about?


[01:08:33.590] - Steven Lutz

The only other avenue of interest, just stuff about me. I mean, I was in Scouts because of Scouts is why I got on a ham radio, actually. So I play with radio a lot. Not professionally, but I do get a lot of radio questions. I help a lot of friends and friends of friends tune their antennas for their race radios and stuff like that. I solve a lot of those problems more for fun, though. Like, even just yesterday, I had an inquiry through the business about radio stuff, and I referred them elsewhere. But it's not that I don't know about radio. It's just not part of my business. And PCI does a good job with a lot of that stuff. I have a good working relationship with them, so there's a lot of players in that market. But nonetheless, I love playing with radio. Not just on VHS stuff, but the worldwide stuff on ham radio, too. So it's from a scientific standpoint, it's fun to tinker.


[01:09:31.490] - Big Rich Klein

I can understand that. I have avoided getting involved with ham just for the simple fact of time. I have race radios in every vehicle that we own, including the semi truck, so that we can communicate when we're using multiple rigs or outed in a park or something like that. Handhelds. I've probably got like 20 handhelds. I've got probably half a dozen icon, small radios that are sitting in totes that are set up as portables with a MagMount antenna and all that kind of stuff for during race situations or when we're running. Dirt Riot had recovery rigs out there on course. I could easily just tap into their power supply and they'd be set up with a race radio. But eventually I hope to use all that stuff doing social runs where the people that come out to do the run with us, if they aren't equipped with the radios, that we can make sure everybody can talk to each other, communicate. Yeah, I love them so much more than the FRS radios.


[01:10:55.980] - Steven Lutz

Oh, my gosh, yes. Don't even get me started. Or even back in the day when everybody on the trail just running four wheel drive trails was using CB, right? And the interesting thing is in the forest right there, they're absolutely terrible. But more than that is most CB radios are built so poorly to begin with, and then most people don't understand radio and coaxial losses don't pinch the coax, don't kink the coax, don't cut open the coax, and then you still got to tune the antenna. And nobody I don't say nobody, but most people don't have the equipment to make the system work properly, regardless if it's CB, GMRS, FRS, even the race radios. There are people that complain that they don't work right, but it's because they haven't been set up right. So it's not the radio. It's all in just getting it to work the way it's supposed to. And it's definitely not a set it and forget it kind of thing. You don't just unravel the stuff out of the box and plug it in and it works. There's a lot of environmental factors to that affect how the system works. So it's something that I think somehow needs to be addressed in educating people that are purchasing this stuff that you don't just open the box and use it.


[01:12:25.730] - Steven Lutz

You still have to set it up and set it up right.


[01:12:28.150] - Big Rich Klein

Very true. I've always relied on PCI for that, and they've done a pretty good job. I did communications for a couple of different teams down in Baja, whether they were trophy truck or Jeep speed or Class Seven, whatever. And it was amazing that I always had a radio that could get out, get out clearly and then receive better than everybody else.


[01:13:02.970] - Steven Lutz

Yes. And that's a really big thing, is the receive. Right. You might be getting out, but you also might not just be receiving properly. And a lot of that comes down to coax and tuning as well, because if those things aren't addressed properly, the signal loss that you experience both transmitting and receiving are so massive and they're compounded problems as well. So if your co accident in optimal condition, but you can have a coax that's in sub optimal condition and an antenna that is tuned perfectly and vice versa, so it becomes an exponential issue when these things start to affect each other.


[01:13:54.620] - Big Rich Klein

True. Cool. Well, Steven, I want to say thank you very much for spending the time today to talk with us about your history and everything that you got going on. I'm really interested in what's going on with rugged routes and your mapping with the Laurents. I use it all across the country. Got three disks cards that I put in for different parts of the country, but it's not real accurate. It's not perfect in any sense of the word. But luckily, I know I use my Laurence for, like I said, getting back out of places, but also to lay down something if I need somebody that wants to go in behind me. Yeah, that's awesome.


[01:14:48.390] - Steven Lutz

Absolutely. And I'm going to get some stuff in your hands that will be more up to date, more accurate than what you've been using. We can definitely address that. And thanks for having me. I was really excited to talk about this stuff with you and really excited about just kind of given this stuff a lot more attention that I wasn't able to give it the last handful of years. So I haven't gone anywhere. But I recognize that production of New Things has slowed drastically, but things are shaping up, and I'm really excited and looking forward to it myself as well.


[01:15:32.770] - Big Rich Klein

Great. Glad to hear that. So have a great day and we'll talk again soon.


[01:15:40.310] - Steven Lutz

Sounds good. Thanks a bunch, Rich. Thank you. Have a goodbye.


[01:15:44.150] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happened to be listening on. Or send us an email or text message or Facebook message. And let me know any ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest. Please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.