Shakespeare inflatable emergency VHF antenna, smart design with 3dB

That’s Shakespeare Marine Electronics manager Bill Eastwood hamming it up with their just-announced inflatable VHF antennas at METS last November, and the grin is well deserved as the product had just won the DAME Award for the Safety category. In fact, I was the DAME judge who got to pull the cord to inflate the sample — worked like a charm — and I think we were all impressed with how rigid it became.

I have not actually used the Galaxy-INFL8 Emergency VHF Antenna, and don’t know anyone who has, but it certainly makes sense that its 5-foot (1.5m) height can produce 3dB of gain. Which is a lot more than the “unity gain” offered by what Shakespeare now calls their 5911 Classic Emergency Antenna, and I’ve seen pretty good performance from that little 1/4 wave stick on occasion.

The Galaxy-INFL8 seemed to made well of tough materials, and so I believe it really is reusable and will hold up in challenging weather conditions. I also like the included connector flexibility:

The pre-soldered PL-259 connector allows connection to a Fixed VHF directly or a handheld via the included SMA Adaptor. The package also includes a solder-free female UHF connector that allows the antenna to be spliced into existing coax cables on the boat.

I’m not sure that the $150 retail INFL8 inflatable is shipping yet, but it is starting to appear at online outlets and I’ve asked Shakespeare about future availability. Please let us know if see one at a store near you and especially if you try one.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

5 Responses

  1. This is an awesome product! Really cool innovation to help when you most need it. Seems like something that should be included in any ditch bag or life raft.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I agree. Damn clever, and extra cool that you could conceivably move it from the fixed 25W VHF on your vessel-in-distress — picture mast overboard and slamming into the hull — to the handheld you bring along in your liferaft.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Shakespeare tells me that the Galaxy-INFL8 antennas will be “available by April 1.”

  3. Jonathan Woytek says:

    Neat idea! For any DIYers, a similar easily-deployable, easily-stored antenna can be made from 300 Ohm twin-lead (like the stuff used to connect old TV antennas). It doesn’t have a sexy auto-inflate mechanism, though, which seems especially interesting for life raft deployment and/or in the case of damage to the point of not being able to hang anything in the air easily.

    Info on the twin-lead antenna:

  4. Brian K Adams says:

    Because of the design it also serves as a visual target for rescue similar to an inflatable M.O.M. and other similar devices. Is it weighted on the bottom to keep it up right in a seaway? Maybe this technology could be combined with those Crew Overboard devices. I agree its another great tool in the rescue toolbox.

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