Hooking it all up
With Primary and Secondary Comms in order, now its time to mount everything up.
The most basic of solutions involve simply mounting the radio/satellite tracker directly onto the harness using any provided clips or the flight deck using velcro tape. A secondary attachment via a leash of some form is a must – losing a piece of electronics worth several hundred dollars @ 1000 meters will not only be detrimental to our bank account, but also to any unlucky bystanders below.
Using the included clips to mount the radio to the harness comes with a downside – the clips are likely not easily replaced but very easily broken. Then we are left with a face slapping radio during a take off run.
Using velcro to mount to the flight deck is not much more secure, especially if the radio employs an extended life (larger/heavier) battery. Then there is the minor matter that we are using up valuable flight deck real estate. Real estate that would be better suited playing home to some form of visual navigation aid.
Harness Mounted Pouches
A more secure method of mounting involves placing the radio/tracker in a pouch and attaching it to the harness.
An increasingly common method used by paraglider pilots involves mounting a purpose built pouch onto one of the carabiners used to attach the wing. This configuration works best for radios paired with a headset or Push To Talk (PTT) speaker mike of some form. A secondary attachment via a leash (typically to the carabiner) is again a must.
The above example can be found at ParaSupply.
Another possibility is to borrow some tech from the military/law enforcement (Mil/LE). The Mil/LE world has devised a modular pouch system that accommodates many of their mission specific needs by supporting configurable layouts for ammunition, first aid, and communications. Referred to as Modular Lightweight Load carrying Equipment (MOLLE) , this system is exactly as the name implies. The attachment system for the pouches is known as Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) – a series of horizontally aligned 1.0 inch wide webbing strips sewn in 1.5 inch sections. Each 1 inch wide row is separated by a 1 inch gap. The pouch and webbing onto which it is to be attached have the same PALS configuration. A MALICE clip is threaded in an alternating manner underneath the aligned rows of webbing strips.
Now our harnesses typically do not include PALS webbing, but a radio pouch backed with PALS can have a MALICE clip run through the webbing and then run underneath the cover for the shoulder strap tension adjuster.
One example is the Tactical Tailor Small Radio Pouch.
Side Note: a MALICE clip can be used to also secure the satellite tracker pouch (such as the one included with the SPOT) to the shoulder strap adjuster covers. Useful for those who do not fly with a flight deck.If I were operating a school of my own, this is likely the method I would use to mount the radio and use a soldering iron to burn additional holes in the front of the pouch to reduce obstruction of the speaker. Then I would likely realize that what is useful for a school environment is probably useful in an SIV one as well.
Keep in mind, we are attaching our radio and tracker to the harness in a more secure manner than just using clips/velcro and a leash (BTW – remember to use a leash, even with this solution). This may make things more difficult to remove when packing up (if we plan to use the radio/tracker during retrieve). Also if we use any form of wired headset with the radio, we are binding ourselves to the harness which will complicate extracting ourselves in the event of a water landing (especially if the pouch covers the plug).
Chest Harness Mount
Desire to keep your comms setup disjoint from your paragliding harness? Then a chest harness is likely the best way to accomplish this and still keep things relatively organized.
There are several Search and Rescue (SAR) chest harness manufacturers whose product meets our needs quite well.
One such example is Coaxsher.
A chest harness allows the paraglider pilot to simply step into and out of their harness without having to worry about disconnecting a headset, keep their radio and satellite tracker on hand during retrieve, and have a consistent comms platform without having to worry about which harness they may be using (hike and fly vs distance XC).
The biggest disadvantage is the lack of line of sight to the radio and tracker if the pilot wishes to adjust device settings (such as a radio frequency) mid-flight.
And again, a secondary connection via a leash is a must.