For the vigorous crew at APL, this is not an issue, but for some users, depending on conditions, getting up on a ladder can be difficult, and particularly while holding 50-75+ pounds of wood chips to load in a hopper.
I realize that there are many more pressing engineering issues to solve for the GEK than loading the hopper on the Power Pallet, but since I'm probably not ready to solve those issues yet, I thought I'd share my loading idea.
Again, it seems to me that the lid mechanism is a separate issue, but if it could be changed, then a ladder would not be needed to load the Pallet at all. What is needed for the lid is something like a sealable jar system, where a vertical upward motion can unlock the lid on one side, and then the other side acts as a hinge. If we had something like this, then an extension pole with some kind of hook at the end or whatever could be used to pop the lid off prior to loading without need for a ladder. The same pole could be used to reseal the lid after loading.
Even if this change is not feasible, it is still a heck of a lot easier to climb a ladder just to unfasten the hopper lid than it is to climb a ladder and then have to control, lift and then dump a bunch of wood chips in. Conditions won't always be ideal for end users like they are at workshops.
Again, this whole idea is kind of obvious, and the plan may be for individual users to find their own loading solutions, but anyway here's my tentative suggestion:
My considerations would be:
1. The loader should be able to be used by one person without a ladder.
2. It should be simple, cheap, and durable.
3. It should look GEK-ish
4. It should be physically integrated with the GEK without taking up any additional space.
5. It should fit with the GEK Shipping method.
So, how about starting with a half of a 55 gallon drum? I don't know if you'd have to cut one, or if you could just buy one. Maybe you could just completely make the thing from scratch yourself. Steel or plastic? I dunno, but anyway it can hang from the hopper when not in use, like this (please forgive these crappy drawings, but I really suck at it) Instead of a short chain, we might also want a real short rubber bungee, so we could stretch it a little when we pull out the loader and spin it. By the way, the chain is supposed to look like it's in the middle LOL
After spinning it 180 degrees, we push it on to the edge of the hopper where it sits in place so we can take one hand and lower the legs.
The legs can be extendable if need be - painting poles do this cheaply, and those sliding glass door security bars are another option. I guess it depends on what ends up being the best place to secure the feet of the legs - the ground, or the bottom of the hopper.
Then, there is the issue of what holds the chips in the tilted loader. Just use or make the 1/2 bottom piece. This piece can be left to dangle by a chain link when the loader is not in use, and then reattached to a couple more holes with short chains or hooks. For that matter, make it more than 1/2 - you could use a fuller, more circular bottom/end piece to hold in more chips.
A metal loader would be more GEK ish, and bulletproof, but a plastic one would be lighter. Rigidity might be a problem with plastic.
Some things may need tweaking, or be oriented wrong, or just plain be wrong but you all get the idea I'm going for - a loader that you just tilt up with handles and dump. Maybe it could even ship russian doll-style inside the other drum.