As you may know (if you’ve been following my posts on instgram and twitter) I’m a big fan of quick to deploy simple antennas. But I wont use any old gimmick or rubbish. It has to work.
So a could of years ago I was interested in the RadioGeeks inflatable antenna for 2M which I bought and had some success with even from my boat at sea level. They recently updated the VHF version to include 70cm, I bought that recently as well and that will feature in a later post when I get time to walk up a hill to test it properly.
But this isn’t about the VHF/UHF version (its also not a review. I don’t do reviews) No, this is even more interesting because the latest Inflatable Antenna from www.RadioGeeks.co.uk covers HF bands, specifically 40, 30, 20 and 17m.
You do need a tuner for it, and its recommended that you elevate it slightly only use the provided feeder coax (ie don’t extend it).
Ordering is quite simple, from the website – Antennas | radiogeeks.co.uk find the “Click to Order” button, fill in the form and tell them what you want. Tom will reply with details of how to pay. It took a couple of days to get my order for the two antennas I bought from stock. The HF antenna was a pre-order so I had to wait a little longer.
Setup and tear down
To deploy inflate the antenna by blowing into the red valve, it only takes a few breaths. If possible lift it up suspended from the top, or attach to a suitable pole. Connect the coax to your radio tune to the desired frequency and tune. That’s it, you are ready to go within minutes, no need for radials. Similarly tear down takes a minute or two, deflate by pushing the valve in, squeeze the air out and fold into the bag and you are ready to move to a new POTA/SOTA or just go and have a cup of tea.
Now this is a obviously a compromise antenna being just over 5ft long when inflated. But it works quite well with digital modes one all the bands its designed for, it seems to work best on 20M with my tests over the weekend, I did not use SSB it was mostly JS8Call and FT8.
When I received mine last Thursday I was working but as soon as I finished I headed out into the garden to test it and was up and running with JS8Call in a minute or two, followed by some FT8 on the bands that did not have anyone operating JS8Call, you can see from the spots below using my Icom IC-705 and 5W and I used my Icom AH-705 to tune it.
The following day I ventured out further afield only to find that it was really cold and windy at the top of the hill, I didn’t have a very good support or guy lines for the pole and the antenna kept blowing over but as you see from the next map I still got a few spots early in the morning. The picture really doesn’t illustrate how flippin’ cold the wind was 😉
Weighing in at just under 15oz/409g its light enough to carry around even if just as a secondary antenna.
I like it, it packs up small, goes up (and down) in minutes and is very portable. Stick one in the bottom of your go-bag, chuck it in the trunk of the car even fit it in a coat pocket and you will have a usable HF antenna wherever you are even if you only have a few minutes spare to get on the radio.
Look out for more of this antenna, and the VHF/UHF version from me in future.