By Andrew Liszewski
Sometimes when you travel you like to bring as many of the amenities of home as you can, but trying to get that satellite dish on the roof to squeeze into airline-approved luggage can be a real challenge. You can put away that hacksaw and acetylene torch though, thanks to a company called GATR who makes inflatable satellite antenna solutions that are far easier to transport. They look like giant beachballs, with the actual ‘dish’ being hidden inside and protected from the elements. But the ball design is also crucial to how the system works. By increasing the air pressure on one side of the sphere you can force the dish, which divides the sphere in half, into the necessary parabolic shape.
The full-sized version, pictured at the top of this post, actually requires a few rolling cases to store and transport since besides the antenna you also have to deal with mounting plates, blowers and other hardware to make the system functional. But the company is working on a far more compact version (1.2 meters in diameter), available this Fall, which looks a lot more like a beachball. When deflated and broken down all of the components will easily fit into a backpack weighing less than 50lbs., and while it’s probably not as robust or capable as the full-sized version, sometimes portability is far more important.