This Ham's Best Friend is Not a Dog - it's the Grasshopper SUV!

Re-tasking the Grasshopper Mower into a general utility vehicle serving a variety of shack needs


The most fortunate decision we made when buying this QTH was to include the mower into the purchase.  As the ham shack has grown in antenna count, the mower (sometimes in combination with a 6x12 trailer) has been used for a wide variety of tasks beyond it's original mowing purpose, and has proved to be an amazing labor saving device beyond my wildest imagination.  I guess you could call it a SUV - Shack Utility Vehicle!

The 2013 model most similar to mine is shown in the picture to the right.  My mower is about 10 years old and has a 21 horse Kubota gas powered engine, 61" cutting deck and all-terrain tires.  All the smaller tires are of the filled-type so they are not susceptible to the thorns which are present on so many of the local trees.  To keep the ATV tires inflated, serious quantities of Slime (a leak stopping fluid) are the only solution as any mower owner in this area will attest.  The mower has a top speed of about 10 mph and I can cut the entire lawn (several acres total) in a couple of hours.


Most recently, a winch was added to assist with raising/lowering the short "basketball" tower which supports the 12/17/6m band stuff.  And it will be used for the same task on the 80/160m vertical rework planned later this month.  The winch is rated at 2000 lbs.  The mower weighs in at about 1200 lbs.  The control wires disconnect near the winch.

Mounted on the front and back, 3 LED powered spot-lights have replaced the original incandescent lighting.  The LED lights have far more light output and make night work a snap.  And because the current drain of the LED is less than half the original bulbs, I can leave the mower idling to illuminate an area.  The rear mounted LED helps when backing out of an unlit area and illuminates the winch or trailer.  

Not shown in these pictures is a set of bolts placed on the battery which allows a 3KW power inverter to be connected giving me 120V AC in the field.  I have used that along with some high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs to light up a large area and to let me run other small hand tools as needed.

Another recent application is adoption as a spraying platform to help control the acreage.  A 26 gallon sprayer sets contained within a wood footing.  It features a hand sprayer for close-quarters weed-work - as well as a rear mounted "tail" which will lay down a 12' width spray pattern from the back and is handy for covering large areas.  

The sprayer tank and the rear-mounted tail are held down by bungee cords.  Conversion to "sprayer duty" only takes a few minutes with everything having a quick-connect capability.






The most common use for the SUV is hauling me and some tools around.  The wooden frame originally built to hold the sprayer serves as a nice perimeter fence for the otherwise flat mower deck. That provides a great place to stick a cardboard box of whatever needed size for the task.  Here I'm repairing a bit of damaged coax - and kicking myself for not getting busy on the weed containment task earlier in the season!





The SUV is also handy whey laying down coax and control wiring.  Shown here are two 1000' rolls of RG6 for the receiving antennas. 










While the mower is less suited for snow-cat duty, it can provide a reasonable approximation to a snow plow with an attached bit of plywood in the front.  





Over the summer of 2013, we also hauled off about 25 trailer loads of brush and tree cuttings.  The SUV pulled the trailer around on the property and over to the driveway where the trailer was hooked to the car for a quick run to the local brush-only landfill.

The SUV / trailer combination has carried all of the antennas, tower out to their final installation points on the Not to mention serving as a mule to carry this ham to various parts of the property to attend to whatever the task of the day was.  It even cuts the grass from time to time, 61" at a pass!

Now I've seen a lot of fine dogs, and even a few fine horses, but as mowers go, this is one fine tractor!



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