Over the past weekend we went out to a couple of high points in Exmoor national park so that I could try out my 2m/70cm Inflatable Antenna that I bought from www.radiogeeks.co.uk .
Both places were just a few miles from home> Home is not suitable for VHF/UHF bands due to it being half way down a hill leading to Withpool so we are in a valley. I can get to GB3EX (70cm repeater about 25 miles away to the south) using an antenna in the loft but that’s about it.
The antenna is housed inside an inflatable sleeve so like the HF version the antenna when deflated packs up quite small and I can fit both inflatable antennas into a pouch attached to my LC-192 Backpack.
It is fitted with about 6m of low loss coax and a PL259 plug and requires no ground or radials so you have just about everything you need to use it out of the box. Its waterproof and has extended RX for airband.
Remove from the supplied storage pouch, inflate by blowing into the valve and thats it, it works best elevated like any VHF/HF antenna but if you are already at the top of a hill or other high point you can just prop it up aginst something, hang it from a tree or, like I did, use the velcro straps to attach it to a pole.
Thats what I like about this design. its simple, lightweight and self supporting but small and portable when not in use.
OK so its a great design and great for portable use but does it work?
This weekend I was using a 10m pole, the car in the picture is used only as a counterweight for the mast mount is provides no power to the radio, that was done using either my 20Ah LIFEPO4 battery or on the Saturday my PowerFilm Solar LightSaverMax (that I forgot to recharge in the sun hence my reason for not using it on Sunday).
On Saturday with my radio set to 145.500 FM and 5W I had a QSO with MW0UCL who was activating SOTA GW-SW007, turns out he had an IC705 as well so we switched to DV and the radio measured the distance between us as 74.6KM (46.4miles) audio quality was perfect both FM and DV and 59+ signal report.
Sunday I didn’t have too much time so I set up for about 1/2 hour of operating and chose FT8 on 2m (144Mhz) as a the best mode to use so that I could easily see where I was being heard on PSKReporter.info. Setting up is a breeze, the mast and antenna were deployed in a couple of minutes and I was on the air with 10w from the IC-705 connected wirelessly to my SurfaceGo2.
As you can see from the map below, it works very well, with spots over 200miles away (I had similar results the day before and a couple of weeks ago so wasn’t just conditions on the day)
Once finished, tear down and packing everything back in the car took just another couple of minutes.
This is a well made, simple to use, self contained and self supporting antenna that works very well. Perfect for a SOTA or POTA activation or carrying with you to greatly improve the performance of your hand held. As I have said before I like this design, I will be keeping it in the black pouch you see attached to my LC-1923 along with the HF version so that I always have a quick deploy antenna solution, this version will be my primary antenna for 2m/70cm.