Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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tree travel

small scale cable system attached to trees
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Instead of the usual huge pylons and million dollar ski lifts I propose a private, low weight forest system that simply attaches to tree trunks, not for ski lifting but for general solo or duo transport, if only for quiet, slow strolls DEEP into the forest, especially for the many who can't hike. For those who know the emotional and aesthetic inspiration of regular walks in the forest. Could run directly out of the living room of your rural home or from a retirement home, or hospital.

The cable only around 3/8" dia., not so expensive or heavy, one could singly run a kilometer per day relatively cheaply. It could progress towards nanotube thin, but is economically do-able with today's tech. True, another wire fluffs the natural vibes, but is lower impact than a road or footpath. This would allow quiet flights through heavy forest where people rarely go. There would still be enough undisturbed forest for the purists, as in all things, restraint is necessary.

Employing a variety of well designed, low weight gondolas - one for limited freight, one an office version with desk and PC, enclosed and heated, or a pedal version (could get swingy,) or a dining gondola (5 k breakfasts,) convertable to a sleeping version (nap off while floating through forest,) etc..

Instead of being dangerously high, it is only suspended several feet off the ground with passenger's eye level the same as a hiker's, the cable running maybe 20' high amid the branches, attached to hangers with yard long curved horizontal shields for the wheels to ride over the humps, (as in existing ski systems) poked into tree trunks every 50 yards or so (less harm than a woodpecker,) the route regularly pruned (easily from gondola) to allow just enough space to pass through the under and upper growth. Possible whiplash from cable snapping is averted with elastic core in cable. OK, you can run it higher, but the last time I climbed a tree, I felt a bit isolated, the ambiance not as pleasant as from standing eye level, most of the forest charm is ground level.

Gondolas suspended (unwanted swinging reduced by computer controled gyro) from a tractor carriage of numerous 6" rubberized pulley wheels riding silent on the wire, driven by silenced elec.motors, powered from low volt current in cable.

For those living in the mountains, the drives up and down can be risky, the daily school runs, etc. - this system would cheaply deposit you and loved ones into the valley metro system elegantly and safely (then hope it has vigorous video surveilance to protect from the growing tide of holigans. Break the criminal tyranny, fight back with electronics and unified defense!Not Big Brother, but Yo Mamma!)

Vast webs developed quickly and cheaply, but with careful restraint. Sure, it will get out of control and crowded fast, so each licensed (for public web systems) gondola is tracked on every gondo's PC displayed map (either via GPS or location signals from each support rod that reports what's happening on its spans) so you could avoid contact with others, go off to a quiet hilltop, or avoid having two gondos on a single span of cable (then the computer automaticaly stops the offending gondo.) Passing Stations and detours branching off to allow others to get by, to allow folks to get out and walk, hidden Gondo Parking sub-terre, the gondo light enough to lift off cable.

Now, on to the goal of low profile architecture, sewn into the earth, hidden from public view, preserving our dwindling natural landscapes....

M Carter, Jan 01 2008

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       sounds like you put a lot of thought into this. [+]   

       [wish you had a drawing of your tree gondola]
pyggy potamus, Jan 01 2008
  

       // a variety of well designed, low weight gondolas //   

       We want to rent the camouflaged one with the rifle slits.
8th of 7, Jan 01 2008
  

       Would it be possible for trees to bear the weight of something like this? As low-hanging fruit, so to speak, the gondolas (or their cables, or their paths) seem like they would be frequent targets of vandalism. It would be small potatoes to start a large fire along the gondola route...
phoenix, Jan 01 2008
  

       There are no unused gondolas hanging around. If security becomes an issue there will be numerous cameras zipping along for a very extensive surveilance capability and rapid fire response, which could be another reason to install the web.
M Carter, Jan 01 2008
  

       I was thinking about this the other day...What?...I was!
tsh.
  

       The cables could be attached to the trees without damaging them by using an adjustable halo clamp.
A solar panel higher up in the tree could power a lift to raise the end containing the gondola or be activated manualy by someone wanting to use a single pulley harness.
A murcury switch at the far end would detect when the cable became level and allow gravity to lower the far end.
In this way travel in both directions could be achieved without a second cable system.
  

       ...honest. I was.   

       -doesn't hurt the tree to screw a few 1/2 bolts, only the bark is living   

       -what 2nd cable? Each gondo has its own elec. motor tractor carriage riding on the cable. problem is that requires a gentle rise/run ratio. It needs a multiple set of tactile pulleywheels that can climb a steeper cable. the more wheels the more traction.   

       - raising the cable on one end is good, but would require a raiser at each cable support tree. But it would welcome something at each support to make a smooth transition to the next span, that's when the rough jerking happens and you're sure you're going to drop and die when riding on those high ski versions.
M Carter, Jan 02 2008
  

       When the idea of tree gondolas crossed my mind I was daydreaming about redwood forests and a system that would only be used by hikers and adventurists. I thought that a harness could be rigged up allowing folks in wheelchairs to explore some of the woods as well.
Using a raiser at each support tree instead of powered gondolas is just to allow gravity to do the work.
  

       Yay, golf carts of the canopies!
4whom, Jan 02 2008
  

       When I read the title I thought someone had worked out a workable Tarzan-type system. :-(   

       I did some thinking similar to this for the balloon restaurant idea and there are some significant safety issues that have to be solved. In my view you can’t use a single cable because it will be too easy to derail at each cable hanging point. This is an issue in ski lifts also (in reverse, as there the cable is moving and here the car is moving), but in this case the issue is worse because the cable is not straight and will realistically change at least slightly at each hanging point unless all hanging trees are perfectly in a row.   

       I think the best choice is to have “J” shaped brackets attached to trees to provide a perfectly verticle support rod for the cable, where rollers are contacting the top and both sides of the cable. The cable will sag, so attachment points will be sharp peaks that include a change of direction. The rollers will assend the peak and then attempt to follow the cable in the new direction, but will have a lot of problems not derailing, escpecially if the “cars” are travelling at any speed. They will be like cars cresting a steep hill with a turn at the top. “L” shaped brackets have less problems on the hill, but more with the curve.   

       My best solution is to use a tractor feed looking belt that is hung from one edge. That way you have constant interface with the belt by running it through cogs in a slightly serpentine manner. This still isn't perfect, but it also solves the traction issue.
MisterQED, Jan 02 2008
  

       Un grand remerciment - MisterQED - with thinking like yours, this thing might see the light of day.   

       With the constant appearance of new tech miracles, there definitely should be a way to glide through the forests smoothly and cheaply. Air travel without all the noise, risk and expense. In a few years, the maglev technology could probably send us zipping along, with some low resistance cable and computer derived miracle of juggling with the elec. frequencies fed into the cable; half, turned opposite with wierd wiring at the gondo to produce lift and propulsion. Then there could be a greater cable climbing slope (safety brakes certainly.) That's probably possible now. Especially if the weight is kept down; if they can lift a locomotive, it shouldn't be too hard to float 300lbs along a wire.   

       Since the power coursing through the cable should be safely low, maybe the effect could be multipied by an extra long maglev tractor, 10'-20', that snakes along the top of the cable. Like the extra long gun (50 m ?) Iraq had pointed at Israel, (and could still be refined to shoot things into orbit,) a simple, low-tech physical extension succeeds.   

       The span slopes are a concern, the tighter the cable the better, but that would seem to get more risky. But hell, the suspending wires that hang the gondo from whatever tractor on the cable could automatically raise and lower the gondo to cancel out the slope effect, or even adjust to the ground level at whatever height clicked in.   

       Don't need to go so fast, it seems the slower I drive through the countryside, the more enjoyment. Crawling along would be just fine; zipping, not ruled out.   

       In case I'm not fully grasping maglev realities, back to the pulley wheels. What about a 'tractor' of 8 pulley wheels, (each with its own direct drive motor running off the low current) that flexes with the cable arc, and at the approach of the 'J' anchor, the front four wheels lift off the cable and fall back down on the other side and do the churning while the back wheels lift off. That might reduce the jerking from span switches.   

       Though just a flexible tractor might suffice. Your tractor feed belt has promising traction but I like the idea of rubberized wheels rolling on taut cable, which would seem to make less vibration and could roll faster, maybe smoother. Yeah, maybe top and bottom pulleys, but as regards safety, at least the low clearance height should put us at ease, while still allowing for thick untrammeled undergrowth. On your 'J' hanger can be welded an 8' long bar that channels and supports the cable to produce a passable slope, as with existing ski lifts. But they pull the cable and attached cars to allow a much greater slope climb. But a cable pulley system wouldn't be very elegant in the forest, and alot more trouble than hanging a small single cable. Camoflauged by the way, to blend into the branches, maybe changing to light blue over open spans.   

       Ooohh, the maglev is much more preferable, much less moving parts. Doesn't it just need some long tube filled with the properly turned wiring. It could split in half linearly to allow easy mounting and dismounting on the cable.   

       But likely to hum. No problem - "Computer - cancel out hum, stop my swinging, keep me level, warn me of worn cable, tell me where everyone is on the web, do my office work, call Mom, and, (unfortunately,) warn me of dangerous intruders."   

       Sure, -two fries- a sports 'flying' harness that hangs you from your back. Don't fly too fast and smack into a tree trunk.   

       A web of wire over a twenty mile forested mountain might pick up some interesting signals, maybe some subtly powerful gravity waves and earth frequencies.   

       Lightning,... is a concern...
M Carter, Jan 03 2008
  

       I like the idea of people being able to add their own extensions onto the network, though if there was a cable going into my living room I might want to restrict access to it.   

       I'm not sure if running the power through the support cable would work to get it to the gondola. Maybe it would work using induction and AC current. But it could be easier with one or two extra cables to run the current.   

       Within the requirements of inter operating with the cable size and pulleys and communications system, you could have cables with different weight limits, cables at different heights, tunnels of different sizes and shapes, unpowered cable sections, and gondolas that know their size, height, weight, and ability to supply their own power, to determine compatibility. Stations could also sense some of these factors on the gondolas, as a backup in case the gondola isn't reporting them correctly.   

       Gondolas could have a lowering cable to be able to reach the ground in an emergency.   

       The system could scale from cables around mailbox height for deliveries, to systems with a metre or two of ground clearance which can take a recumbent bike-like gondola underneath which the rider can pedal over unpowered sections, to travelling through the trees, to dense many-level webs in cities.   

       A scalable system should make it much easier for it to grow from a small start   

       Multi-level gondola parking should be much cheaper to provide than multi-level car parking, and it should be easy to make them self-driving enough to travel by themselves between an inaccessible-to-pedestrians parking spot and a nearby place where you can get out of the gondola (the emergency lowering cable might not be useful if there were lots more gondolas moving or parking underneath you)   

       There could also be higher weight cargo systems interconnected with it if that's useful anywhere, up to a maximum strength limited by the standard cable size.
caspian, Oct 29 2018
  

       It would be great if you could detach the gondola from the cable and ride it on the ground. It could be a bicycle, tricycle, or quadricycle, and either pedal powered or battery/motor powered.
caspian, Oct 29 2018
  
      
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