I assume that larger boats normally have permanently installed radar reflectors but for those of us with smaller boats, having one permanently installed is problematic as they take up too much room even aloft. All of them are also problematic to stow too. My Davis one I keep permanently assembled but it is fragile and takes up a lot of space.
So, why not a radar reflector that stows flat in a bag and then pops open when pulled out for use? When you want to stow it, it collapses back into the bag.
No, it is not inflatable as I thought of that and I would worry about getting holes in it and I hate blowing things up.
Being collapsible, it could also be made with a larger area than most others.
It would be one of the Octahedral types and mounted so that when hung it would be in the correct "catch rain" position and weighted so it would always hang that way even when heeled.
Now, for the catch. Cost. Unless I find some dollar/hour foreign workers, it isnt going to be less than $100, probably $150.
Assembled, it is very lightweight and robust. I have it hung from a light fixture at home and when my neighbors come over, they walk around it for a few minutes before they finally ask what it is. Then we toss it around a bit for fun.
Cannot post any pics due to possible patent issues.
Our reflector, like many along the Maine and Canadian Maritimes is up pretty much all the time. It does not get in the way, it works and is an "aid" like many other tools we use on-board.
For years, since reading the studies that say "reflectors work poorly", I have studied the returns I get from boats with an without reflectors. I use my radar in clear weather a lot and this allows me to see clear delineations between boats with an without reflectors. For the most part boats with reflectors yield a larger and more clear echo, especially sail boats..
I have monitored this with virtually all brands of radar and what I see, in real life is very different, from what the "useless" contingent professes.. I find they do and can make your boat show up or not show up on radar. Are they perfect? No, but they are an AID..... They can often mean the difference between a blip that looks like sea clutter and one that looks like a good solid target.
The chatter I read on forums of how reflectors don't work, and are "useless" based on a couple of "scientific" studies, flies in the face of the reality of seeing them work, in real life when cruising a very fog prone coast. I would not be without one despite being told they are "useless" because I see them work, for myself.....
I have also weighed the decision to install an active reflector but then have had the ability to monitor my own vessel from another one and she show's up large as life.
Even the poorest performing styles, (Mobri or Plastimo) often yield a decent return and most often better than nothing at all. We get lots of fog up here and as such take seeing and being seen as good common sense. Some sailboats are very tough targets especially without a reflector.
I was once sailing off shore with a friend and I mentioned to him that his radar return was very poor. Within a few minutes he was returning a very strong echo. When I spoke with him again he told me he had forgotten to raise his reflector. We were both under sail at the time and the difference was night and day.
I work on lots of boats and have but only two customers with an "active" reflectors. I keep looking to see how "popular" they are becoming but they are few and far between.. These work better than passive types but when I have no trouble spotting the average boat, on the coast of Maine with a reflector, and often can't see one without, I have to boil it all down to what I see work in real life vs. what I read on the net.
What you read on the net these days is a few folks saying passive reflectors are "useless". This could not be further from the the truth. Remember these are AIDS to help you be seen. They are not "useless".. They cost all of $45.00 and take up so little space aloft I simply leave ours up all the time..
I invite anyone who feels they are "useless" to spend a day on the coast of Maine where folks leave them hoisted, even in clear conditions.. The results are clear to see.