During our previous series on pouches for the UV-5R, one of the criteria that I used to grade the pouch was the protection offered to the side buttons. One of the weaknesses of the UV-5R as a tactical radio is the fact that the on/off/volume knob and the side push to talk buttons cannot be locked out, even if the keypad is locked. This leaves the UV-5R susceptible to hot mics and other unintentional actions that can disrupt your ability to communicate.
Thankfully, Great Plains Creations has built (printed) their Exoskeleton to remedy this problem.
The Exoskeleton is a very simple concept: 3D print an accessory that covers the susceptible buttons. And within that concept, it is very well executed. As you can see below, the on/off/volume knob is completely enclosed, yet you can easily manipulate it with your finger if needed from either the top or back.
On the side, the Exoskeleton adds a 1/8 to 1/4″ fence around the PTT and other buttons. You can still access them purposefully, but the odds of accidentally activating are greatly reduced.
The Exoskeleton secures to the back with two extended screws (included) that thread into the belt clip attachment point. I like this feature, because it’s not just a snap on cover that can easily pop off. It’s going to stay where you put it.
There is also plenty of room within the exoskeleton for aftermarket antennas and antenna relocation kits, so don’t worry if you’re running an antenna with a larger base.
At just under $18, the Exoskeleton may seem a little pricey for a radio that only costs $25 to start with, but it’s built tough enough that it will likely outlast your radio. Also, you may not need the Exoskeleton for the pouch you are running, especially if you run the MC Kydex hard shell. But there are other times when it may come in very handy, such as running the Baofeng in a non-traditional way (secured in a backpack or in a pocket not designed for a radio). If nothing else, you can cut down on possible battery drain by making sure your radio won’t turn on in the bag you keep it in.
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