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Monitoring Times Reviews

February 2004



 The Powerpoint Gearharness

By T.J. "Skip" Arey N2EI

            Those of you who have followed my writings in the On The Ham Bands column and my previous work with MT's Beginner's Corner know that I participate in the radio hobby from DC to Daylight. This is both a blessing and a curse.

            I have any number of radios, many of them portable and handheld types, that allow me to listen in on just about anything in the radio frequency spectrum and talk on all the frequencies that I can legally operate on as a ham. However, in doing this, you run up against a unique law of diminishing returns: That being, the more radios you hang on your belt, the more likely your pants are going to fall down! My waistline is good for two medium sized handhelds and then I need to start holding things up with suspenders or something.

            When operating in extreme conditions such as search and rescue work, I've even used surplus military Load Bearing Equipment (LBE). You do this for a while and you start to mutter under your breath..."if they can put a man on the moon... why can't they come up with a better way to carry radios."

            Well, I am here to tell you that a significantly better way to carry radios and radio gear has come along in the form of:

 The PowerPort GearHarness


Cutting Edge Enterprises

130 Anacapa Circle

San Luis Obispo, CA 93405


             The Powerpoint GearHarness appeared on my Holiday Wish List in the November 2003 issue of MT. Since that time I have had the opportunity to take The GearHarness out to every activity short of a parachute jump (I'm working on it) and found it to exceed my every expectation for radio adventure.

            This lightweight and durable harness has three pockets. One is in the back and the other two are in the front. There are also two vertical pockets that have multiple uses depending on the activity. Along the bottom, one large zippered pocket runs the entire width of the front of the harness for stowing larger items.

            The harness also has multiple connecting points for accessories. The GearHarness has a heavy duty nylon exterior with foam padding and a mesh back for ventilation.

            I took mine out of the box and started stuffing radios into it just to see how things might go. It didn't take very long for me to come up with the "hot setup" for my kind of tactical radio operation under extreme conditions.

            In the "over the shoulder" pocket I placed my Uniden Bearcat Trunk Tracker handheld that runs constantly with the requisite public service frequencies I monitor during a typical ARES/RACES activity. In some instances I might swap this radio out in favor of an AOR-8000. After all, it's important to keep one ear on what's going on around you.

            This radio fed a small speaker that I clipped to one of the three front "snap" tabs. Right below this on the second "snap" tab,  I mounted my diminutive Icom R2 that I usually set up for any special frequency monitoring the activity might require above and beyond what the Bearcat or AOR 8K is keeping track of (eg. Marine or Railroad frequencies). Having these other signals coming out of a different radio alerts me to their overall importance better than any priority channel setting. 

            Finally, in the lower right front pocket I place my main tactical rig, a Yaesu RD-50 feeding either a speaker/mike or headset depending on how free I need to keep my hands. I set the RD-50 up with a longer, non-standard antenna that goes under the lower "snap" tab to keep it out of mischief.

            In the left front pocket I loaded a small first aid kit, a few "glow sticks" for evening operations and my Gerber Multi-Tool. The large zippered pocket got filled with tactical maps, emergency service SOPs a few pens and a notepad. I've still got enough room for spare battery packs if the situation warrants it.

            With this setup I am able to carry significantly more radio gear that I was ever able to hang off my belt. Further, I am able to carry it in a safe and balanced way that does not restrict my freedom of movement at all. (Perhaps most importantly, I can use the on site sanitary facilities without worrying about one of my radios doing the deep six into a port-a-pottie. That simple bit of insurance more than covers the cost of the GearHarness.)

            So far I have used the GearHarness on a number of emergency service drills, hiking, bicycling, light climbing, and working on ladders and roofs. The ability to have all of your radio gear at hand and yet safely out of the way cannot be underestimated. The GearHarness is tactical radio done right!

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