*EDITORIAL* Antenna Safety – Elevated Work Platforms

Accessing antennas at great height poses many potential safety hazards.

Essentially, climbing ladders or scaling towers, regardless of whether or not a commercial safety harness is fitted, is risky business indeed — particularly for those hobbyists in their latter years or not as physically capable as others.

Perhaps the safest means of accessing an antenna overhead is by an ‘elevated work platform’ or ‘cherry picker’ (also known as a nifty lifter, boom lift, snorkel, condor, man lift, basket crane or hydraladder).

This awesome equipment is a type of electrically or diesel engine powered aerial work platform that consists of a platform or bucket at the end of a hydraulic lifting system.

Originally designed for use in orchards, cherry pickers are now used in construction, on film sets, by fire-fighters, in rock concerts, by painters, in mining, to access unclimbable trees, poles, or fix items such as lights, speakers, etc. at height.

The flexibility they offer makes them also perfect for accessing, assembling and dissembling antennas in ham radio comms!

Cherry pickers are often mounted on the back of a large vehicle such as a truck (in which case it may also be called a bucket truck).

They can also be mounted on a flat back pick up van, or sometimes on a stand-alone trailer or self-moving platform as the above picture shows.  In this case, they can be driven to remote field locations and so make the work of a dx adventure team installing large antenna arrays so much less problematic.

100_2647The bucket (also known as a basket) is designed for a person to stand in and work from, allowing you to tinker with and adjust your antenna from the safety of an enclosed space.

Sometimes a duplicate set of controls that are used to manipulate the position of the bucket are available to the person/s in the bucket, allowing the operator to locate himself at different parts of the antenna.

The lifting arms of some cherry pickers are capable of telescoping to adjust the reach of the device, usually with automatic safety controls to prevent tipping over.

When accessing antennas in tight spaces or maneuvering past nearby obstacles, articulated boom lifts are apparently more appropriate than stick booms.

I hope this article has provided readers with some safer options for antenna work.  A simple search on Google will help you locate a hire company dealing in elevated work platforms in your area and also provide you with hire cost details.

As with all overhead work, care should be taken to avoid overhead power lines.

To see how the Northwest Adventist Amateur Radio Association used a cherry picker to remove a large tower and HF and UHF antennas, click on: http://www.naara.org/Camp%20Hope%20Antenna%20Removal%20Nov%202011.htm