This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 issue.
A Grav Handle is a pocket-sized device designed to carry objects which are bulky, or heavy, but not large/massive enough to need a full-sized grav floater. It also allows you to carry items while keeping your hands free for other uses. It’s a great thing to have on you when you're doing the weekly shopping. (How many times have the crew of the tramp freighter in your campaign had to pass up a great deal on 50 kilos of frozen groat steaks because they didn’t have any way to get them back to the ship on time?). If you like, you can think of it as a high-tech version of the “airporter” case, or “wheelie bag”.
It’s basically a portable grav module, a battery, a control unit, and a means for connecting it to the object being carried—perhaps carabiner clips, bungee cords, “magnatomic adhesion”, or whatever fits your campaign setting.
How does it work? Well, if you have to transport something then you hook the object up to the Handle (e.g., by putting the handles of the bag it came in or you put it in through the carabiner, or by using straps around it and hooking it up ditto, or whatever), and turn the device on. It then lifts up, cargo and all, until the cargo is 10cm or so off the ground. You then use the control unit to drive it along to where you’re going (probably your ground vehicle, but could be taxi, subway, anything). Simple, no?
|Load vs TL and Quality|
|TL||Quality||Load at 5kph||Load at 7.5kph||Load at 10kph|
Load is estimated maximum safe mass, for given speed of motion or slower. For intermediate TLs, interpolate using same quality, or simply use figures from one column left for next TL lower (e.g., TL11 use TL10 5kph figure for up to 7.5kph, 7.5kph figure for 10kph).
There’s a trade-off between carrying capacity and battery life. The exact tradeoff depends on TL, speed, and quality/cost; see the table for one set of suggestions.
There is a potential ‘pendulum’ problem with basic models—the bag is going to swing. More advanced models might have various methods for stabilizing the load.
Most models allow some variation in height. Generally, the range of permissible heights is 10-30cm, but the most sophisticated models at higher TLs can adjust this based on the mass and shape of the object, and the speed of travel.
Control units vary; the earliest are literally handles—essentially, making the load into a “wheelie bag” without the wheels. Later versions range from button-based to touchpads to haptic sensing to voice control; which you get depends mostly on how much you want to spend.
Even the earliest models have a “dead-man switch”; if you release your grip on the control unit, the Handle (and its load) will stop. Later models, which can be controlled by your personal comm or hand computer over a personal-area network (think BlueTooth-equivalent), will stop if the controlling device goes out of range or is powered down.
More sophisticated units, with various types of load sensors, may limit how high a load may be lifted, based on where the estimated center of gravity/center of mass of the load is.