During a visit over the weekend to Mystery Ranch in Bozeman, Montana, founder Dana Gleason gave me a quick look at a new technical development. Dubbed the PowerBuckle, it offers the same functionality and stength of a standard side-release buckle, but with the added utility of use as a databus.
Essentially, it buries a data cable in a National Molding buckle such as the quad release buckle used on the IOTV. While it is still a prototype, it is a Mystery Ranch exclusive.
Due to the buckle’s architecture, they can embed between two and 16 conductors. This one is set up as a USB and features four conductors. You’ll notice an access plate at the rear of the female portion of the buckle. This will only be present on the first thousand or so. Once users begin to integrate the PowerBuckle, they’ll be built to spec and there will be no need to access the circuitry in order to configure the circuits because each will be purpose built for the task. Dana went on the explain, “You may also notice that this isn’t waterproof. It’s a prototype and the production versions will be.”
Regarding the buckle, Dana related, “We saw a clear need for this technology, so we developed it. There were guys with cutaway vests getting hung up by comms cabling and we wanted a way for the gear to cutaway completely and safely.” He went on, “National Molding is our manufacturer. If anyone else is interested in using the PowerBuckle, you know where to find us.”