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#273006 - 11/24/14 12:19 AM Re: Survival Balloon? - Jungle Marker Helikite [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 218
Loc: Southern California
Here's another survival balloon / distress balloon / rescue balloon / emergency signaling balloon from Britain that has been around for decades.

Allsopp Helikites cites using their "Jungle Marker Helikite" in
1993
, and getting approval from the British Army Jungle Warfare Trails Unit in Brunei in 2002.

The price point ( over 98 British pounds) and weight (2 kg) are more than the $45 US Rescue Me Balloon target price, and there is no integral light (though suspending one is suggested).

On the plus side, it seems available now, looks larger than the Rescue Me Balloon (see photos on the Jungle Marker Helikite page), and is designed to handle (and even benefit from) winds up to 25 mph.

The Jungle Marker Helikite Product Page has lots of photos, including the 2002 Brunei trials.

There's a photo of two Jungle Marker Helikites aloft in Brunei in 2005 at the bottom of this page: http://www.allsopp.co.uk/index.php?mod=page&id_pag=56

That page says: "A special high specification version of the Lightweight Helikite is in a tough, waterproof, bouyant 2kg package with its own helium supply called the "Jungle Marker Helikite". The balloon has a flourescent [sic] orange upper surface for high daylight visibility and can carry a strobe light or light-stick for night use."

The specs for the generic Lightweight Helikite are here: Helikites product spec page: 0.15 cu meters of He, 0.001" thick envelope, 60 grams lift in no wind, 106 grams lift in 15 mph wind, 25 mph wind max, 1300 ft max altitude unloaded, 3 ft x 2 ft, cost: 98 pounds Sterling + tax (may be more for the customized Jungle Marker Helikite).

The Helikites main page says: "Special Forces troops can take a Jungle Marker Helikite from their back pocket, inflate it with 0.4m3 of helium in seconds and then fly it hundreds of feet above the jungle canopy for emergency position location."

Helikites seem to be mainly used for (a lot of) other aerostat purposes, and have been around for a long time - the basic US patent: US patent on Helikite was filed in the US in 1994 (20 years ago) and cites a priority date of 1993 (likely the UK filing date). Due to transitional US patent rules, I suspect that the US helikite patent is good through 2017, but IANAL - if it matters to you, get legal advice.

The Allsopp Helikite Wikipedia entry dates back to 2006!
_________________________
A signal mirror should backup a radio distress signal, like a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)
(Ocean Signal PLB)

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#273008 - 11/24/14 01:49 AM Re: Lots of ideas for emergency signaling balloons [Re: Anonymous]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2396
Wouldn't a kite be cheaper/ lighter?

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#273010 - 11/24/14 07:08 AM Re: Lots of ideas for emergency signaling balloons [Re: TeacherRO]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 218
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: TeacherRO
Wouldn't a kite be cheaper/ lighter?


You'd think so. I'll take a crack it this, keeping in mind that I can't personally recall the last time I flew a kite.

The only (but seemingly excellent) commercial visual distress signal kite I found on the market, the Sky-Alert Parafoil Rescue Kite, retails for $53 US, and seems targeted at the marine market.

It requires 5 knots (6 mph) of wind to get aloft, and 8 knots (9 mph) wind to loft a strobe. It is a 28"x38" parafoil with 12 feet of streamers, likely based on this patent.

I'm pretty sure I could buy a cheaper kite - so why has this one has survived on the market since at least 2002 , likely since 1986?

A few points in its favor that I can see:
  • It is USCG certified as meeting the USCG requirement to carry a distress flag, which its target customers require anyway, and seem to go for about $10, so there's sort of a $10 discount here.
  • As a parafoil (non-rigid frame), no assembly required, it likely packs compactly, and is tough
  • It apparently has the lift to hoist an honest-to-god USCG compliant strobe (which is the light I'd want up there)
  • It is marked with the standard USCG distress markings, so there is some hope that the message will get across.
  • The target market (especially sailboat owners) are likely to be out in windy enough conditions to loft a kite.
  • Will fly when wet.

{ Late update: Non-emergency Kayak Kites in this class go for $45-$49 with no USCG certification and no emergency markings, so I think the Sky-Alert Parafoil Rescue Kite is a bargain price when you consider the effective $10 USCG credit and the fact you get emergency markings included. On top of that, soft kites of this class seem to be recommended as the easiest to fly and easiest to setup/takedown (essentially, none required), so it seems like a good fit.}

The choice of balloon vs. kite depends on the wind speed. No wind, no kite. In the local foothills I tend to hike in, there's rarely enough wind for a kite. On the other hand, as the wind picks up, balloons look like a poorer and poorer choice. The British Jungle Marker Helikite, as a hybrid balloon/kite, spans a 0-25 mph wind range, having the advantage of living in both worlds.

The Balloon and Kite Antennas site looks to be a fount of information about using balloons and kites to loft equipment from an expert facile with both ( he apparently habitually leaves his kite/balloon lofted antenna 50 metres in the air unattended overnight). Here's is a guide to what he recommends as a function of wind and weather, which transitions from balloons through hybrids to pure kites as wind speed heads up to 45 mph: Recommended lifting units vs. wind speed

One proven approach is to have both balloon and kite handy, and switch off as wind condition change. For hoisting the antenna of the German/British/American emergency dinghy radios of WWII, the kit was equipped with a box kite for winds above 13 mph, and two 36" diameter balloons and two hydrogen generators, for when the wind was under that. See this great page: Gibson Girl Part I: Air-Sea Rescue

I did find this: 1869 patent mentioning lofting a light with a kite as a distress signal


Edited by rafowell (11/24/14 08:08 AM)
Edit Reason: more info on soft kites
_________________________
A signal mirror should backup a radio distress signal, like a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)
(Ocean Signal PLB)

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#273011 - 11/24/14 03:05 PM Re: Lots of ideas for emergency signaling balloons [Re: Anonymous]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6854
Loc: southern Cal
Is there any information as to the effective sighting distance for any of these items?
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#273017 - 11/24/14 06:50 PM Re: Lots of ideas for emergency signaling balloons [Re: Anonymous]
CANOEDOGS Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1841
Loc: MINNESOTA
the outdoor magazines ran ads some years ago for signaling balloons.the ad had a drawing of a lost hunter sending one up but if a recall it just came with 50 feet of line.
the ads went away after awhile as it was just a bad idea.
wind would push the balloon down into the trees,you needed lots of line and how big would it have to be to be seen?
modern times now and PLB's are cheap for what they offer in the way of rescue.

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#273154 - 12/06/14 10:27 AM Re: Survival Balloon? [Re: Anonymous]
quick_joey_small Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 505
Loc: UK
Found this in my shopping list for if i ever get to the USA. Can' remember who posted it or when:

VARIABLE LENGTH PLASTIC BAGS
I was killing time in a West Marine the other day when i came across a nice survival addition, the Knot-a-Bag plastic bag refills from Davis, the weather station and sextant company. It's about $7 for 3 rolls.
Basically, it's exactly like the vegetable bags you get in the supermarket except stronger and each roll is only 1 1/2 by 3 inches and weighs less than 2 ounces. It is 10 meters of 8" diameter polyethylene bag material. You pull the plastic out of the center and cut it off and put a knot in the end to make a bag.
What can you use it for?
It's food suitable, so you can carry lots of water, berries etc and could use it as a transpiration bag over a leafy branch to get water.
It's very strong, almost as good as rope for tying things. Or you could use twisted strips of it as lashings for your shelter, or holding a dressing on etc.
If you spread it out, you can make a triangular bandage out of it to hold an arm.
A longish piece can be stuffed with non-pointy items and used as a billy bag over your shoulder.
It's flammable, will light from a flame but i can't start it with a ferro rod...
Since it's airtight, you could inflate one to use as a buoy to hold yourself up in water.
You can make a hat, or a brooch or a pterodactyl...
The only thing it's not really good for is shelter itself or weather protection, a trashbag would be a better choice. But you could still put lengths over your arms and legs and wrap some of it around yourself to keep wind and rain out. So it's useful and small enough to stow in my kit bags.

qjs

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