delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 37 NUMBER 6


Craig MIller  W8CR

Head in the Trees

I can’t say it was my best idea but something had to be done.  Ever since I assembled and hoisted up an 80 meter cage dipole (Delara News, Feb 2017), I’ve been untangling it from the trees ever since.  Who doesn’t like a tree?  To a ham, they are wonderful devices from which to string antennas, the rest of the time, you’re cursing them for clogging the gutters with leaves or dropping dead branches on your car.  Worse yet, jacking up that super cool cage dipole intertwined in the twigs 45 feet up. Enough is enough, these trees either are going to be trimmed back or dropped to the ground!  I’m way too cheap to hire a professional to cut back the branches but these black walnuts are way too tall to use an aluminum ladder.  Stan “Spandex” Broadway, N8BHL, gave me the skinny about a towable, portable lift – that you can rent! I contacted the rental company and they had what the doctor ordered, a unit was available for the weekend that reached an astounding 50 feet up.  That should be high enough to give these cellulous monstrosities a trim.  I booked the unit and picked it up late Friday afternoon.  It was mine for the whole weekend.   “Just bring it back by 8:00 am Monday” the kid behind the counter said.  He gave me a 5 minute training course on how to use it out in the equipment lot.  Amazing that it took only a few moments to instruct a total dullard on the operation of a dangerous, expensive yet extremely cool machine.  Only in America! Once home, I immediately put things in motion.  Deployed the outriggers, leveled the unit up and took it out for a spin – woo hoo!  This is cool.  I am able to slip the surely bonds of gravity and sore, slowly, into the canopy.  It is rather wobbly the higher one goes but no hint of it tipping over.  I sure hope the engineers that designed this thing anticipated that a totally unqualified operator was going to risk his own life trimming trees for a stupid wire antenna on a spring weekend in Ohio. The next day I outfit myself with enough safety gear so the life insurance company wouldn’t rule my demise as a suicide and into the trees I go.  The first limb cut fell and nailed the clothes line pole.  The second a little better, only crushed the lilac bush.  I was getting the hang of it.  Still a little iffy when you’re a full 50 feet up and the platform swings a little more than you’re comfortable with.  By the end of the day, the yard was full of debris destined for the chipper at a later time. Sunday, I tackled an oak tree near the house that was leaning the wrong direction (towards the house) and needed to come down.  This tree is at least 70 or 80 feet up, I couldn’t cut it down this time but I was able to trim it back so I can fell it in the fall.  Gonna be some good fire wood! Job well done.  I was shot by Sunday afternoon.  I had more trees to trim, but I felt I may be pressing my luck operating a 20” Pouland above my head any longer.  The rest of the day the lift was used for site seeing, aerial photos and thrill rides for my son’s girlfriend.  Coolest toy in the world.