Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

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Shakespeare INFL8
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Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

Hello,

Shakespeare UK have developed a new Inflatable VHF antenna that can increase the range of a handheld radio by 3x

We have been told by many people that the antenna is perfect for sea kayak use! It will allow you to stay in contact and make sure you are safe. Highly visible and adaptor for most VHF’s (SMA ) and packs away to a very small space.

We have heard a lot about limited VHF range from kayaks due to low level and the performance of handled radio antennas - we really feel this is a game changing safety product - welcome your feedback or questions!!

See the product here https://productimageserver.com/literatu ... 6391BR.pdf

See a video here

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Chris Bolton »

Am I right in thinking that connecting this to a handheld set requires one with a removable antenna, eg, an BNC connector or similar? Not to say there are none, but I haven't seen a handheld set like that since the 1980s, probably because with the models available now sea kayakers always go for fully waterproof IPX 8 models.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Chas C »

Its an SMA adaptor not a BNC, the linked pdf details it.

You'd need time to deploy it and then how well would it would operate if the connectors got wet during assembly.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by andynormancx »

The antenna on my Standard Horizon attaches with an SMA connector so there are definitely some handhelds this could connect to.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by G7AFM »

even the cheap Baofeng (£40) have sma connectors.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by andynormancx »

My ICOM in comparison did not, though I believe they did an adapter for it to get a BNC out.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

Hi - Yes, it is supplied with SMA adaptor which will fit about 70% of the handhelds on the market.

The connectors could be pre-installed before use, permanently connected to the handheld if preferred. The unit can be inflated when needed and deflated when not.

Although Shakespeare is predominantly an antenna company for boats, when we have shown this product to local safety advisers, they told Shakespeare to introduce it to the Kayak market because of the additional range and visibility. There are stories of people using phones for emergency contact, which is not safe in open water - anything to increase the range of your communications is important and this antenna packs up to a very small size.

Genuinely we welcome feedback on this. Thank you for your questions!

Note - we tested it on the Icom IC-M73 Euro hand held, which does have SMA fitting.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Chas C »

Hi Shakespeare - thanks for the fast update :-).

Looks like an option people could choose, what would the price be.

Oh and your comment "its not safe to use mobile phone in open water", why would that be, I'm interested as I can't see any reason why using a mobile phone might be dangerous (perhaps to rely on as only means of communication). PLB's, Radio, Mobile Phones all have their place.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

No problem :)

Happy to reply - The concern for Mobile Phones at sea is range. As you get further out the signal / coverage is limited. We would advise you not to take the risk in open water. Being honest - my background is based in bigger vessels where you MUST have a VHF. Of course Phones / PLBs do all have their place but in open water - range is key for contact.


Retail is £149 but street price is lower of course. (There are offers out for next few months in many shops)

happy to answer any other questions

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Sean_soup »

Shakespeare INFL8 wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:29 pm
We have been told by many people that the antenna is perfect for sea kayak use!
Erm.. you know sea kayakers carry a 2m+ paddle and a 2m+ spare paddle right? There have been some musings on here before about increasing the range of a VHF by using some kind of extension to get more height on the antenna - I don't think anyone yet has suggested a short inflatable stick would be a useful part of that.
Shakespeare INFL8 wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:18 am
The concern for Mobile Phones at sea is range. As you get further out the signal / coverage is limited.
Exactly the same as a VHF then. 'Further out' is a relative concept, and some coastlines have better mobile phone coverage than others.

Funnily enough I overheard the CG end of a conversation following a 'mayday' call from a yacht in Pembrokeshire last summer. Apparently the CG were struggling to understand barely intelligible transmissions, but had established that the person calling them had a mobile phone which did appear to have a signal. The last thing I heard on Ch16 was the CG advising them to discontinue the radio conversation and use the phone to call 999 instead.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

100% correct that no-one has ever suggested an inflatable 'stick' before, which is why we were awarded the global patent on the idea :)

Appreciate the feedback - Extension height on the antenna is all good for extending range and you could strap this product to one of you paddles and increase height even more. The antenna is a full 3dB half wave - making it much more efficient than the small helical on many units.

The good news on your other point is that the person did have mobile phone signal! Glad they were OK. If you have signal and can call 999 that is great, but... if they hadn't and the barely intelligible transmission was all they had? This highlights to me the benefit of a better antenna product.

I am happy to listen to any other questions and learn.

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Effective VHF Coverage - temporary topic please do not post

Post by Northern Blue »

If you’d like it trialled, please get in touch. I’ll be paddling throughout the winter.

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Re: Effective VHF Coverage

Post by Northern Blue »

Initial thoughts.... I can see some situations where it would be a benefit in a kayak ie. rafting up in an emergency and having the stability and time to deploy and attach to a radio, but other situations where a paddler has become separated and in the water, where deploying might be problematic, especially in rough conditions.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by robhorton »

I'd be interested to know how much difference it makes to handheld range in practice - I'm suspecting the difference might not be massive.

I think a PLB would be my first choice for raising the alarm in an emergency (and the cost of this isn't far off a PLB) but this could be useful in a range of scenarios where having two way communication is helpful.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by andynormancx »

The theoretical extra range is two miles, from 16 miles to 18 miles.

This is based on the height of the Coast Guard antenna being 30 metres, the height your handheld normal is of 0.5 metres and the height with the Galaxy of 2 metres.

I used this line of sight distance calculator https://www.qsl.net/w4sat/horizon.htm

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Chas C »

An improved antenna performance will also add to the range but from experience its almost impossible to estimate as it will be location dependant ;-)

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by G7AFM »

Chas C wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:45 am
An improved antenna performance will also add to the range but from experience its almost impossible to estimate as it will be location dependant ;-)

Time of year & also radio propagation (sporadic e season) makes a substantial difference also any objects in between transmitter & receiver causing
refraction/reflection.
Or in other words it,s the same as asking how long is a piece of string.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Chas C »

G7AFM wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:54 pm
Chas C wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:45 am
An improved antenna performance will also add to the range but from experience its almost impossible to estimate as it will be location dependant ;-)

Time of year & also radio propagation (sporadic e season) makes a substantial difference also any objects in between transmitter & receiver causing
refraction/reflection.
Or in other words it,s the same as asking how long is a piece of string.
Indeed its like a piece of string, but having worked in secure radio systems for 20+ yrs you would always add the highest performing gain antenna you can get that meets the customers size needs as it will always out perform a lower spec one (laws of physics definitely apply) - but only possible to prove in use.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

Hi

Appreciate all the questions and advice.

In our testing we got 3x the range verses a small helical handheld unit- BUT, being completely honest - That was done on a small boat! We are arranging Kayak testing going forward.

Definitely the fact this antenna is a full 3dB halfwave will not only help with height it also helps with efficiency.

Will keep this forum updated when we get any more results back.

Always happy to hear comments

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by grizzly7 »

Hi
I have no working knowledge of VHF radios apart from the one day course prior to a radio purchase soonish for occasional use. A bigger aerial was among my thoughts, and strapping a flexy 1.5m along the kayak side to wave about as required seemed a good idea. Permanently attached while in the kayak.

A similarly sized diving SMB doesn't cost too much, and is strong enough by manual inflation to stay up enough to do it's job so why doesn't this?

If it was always attached to a handheld VHF would it work at all while rolled up?

I wouldn't pay £150. I would think the air canister may end up being inoperative if left for emergency use packed away somewhere damp, so £50 for a manual only one may be ok for me. In orange of course :)

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

Hello!

The antenna rolled up would not be advisable because it would not be tuned correctly in rolled up form - it would need to be straight. Not needed to inflated, but flat!

You can manually inflate this unit, but in high seas the canister does give it more pressure and more rigidity.

Appreciate your feedback on the price - all noted - I will stay in touch on here

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Chas C »

Indeed, VHF portable radios are roughly £100 depending upon spec etc so an extra antenna costing more than the radio would not make it a difficult decision.

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Re: Increased VHF range on your Kayak! GALAXY-INFL8

Post by Shakespeare INFL8 »

Just to update - the antenna is made too life jacket standard, so the air canister firing method is fully tested to remain operative no matter how long left. The origination of the antenna was safety - in the yacht world admittedly - but safety!
Again - being open, the antenna is fully uk made so lower manufacturing pricing is not available - each unit is individually tested. Retail is £150, but in the first quarter of 2020 there are discounts available.
Also - we have a few units out on test around Europe and when I get feedback from these I will share. Still learning here :)

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