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Squier coupled to the tree with a nail, but more sophisticated coupling methods have been invented and patented over the years. Squier emphasized the use of trees as receiving antennas, but they can be used as transmitting antennas as well.
It should be emphasized that the ionic conductivity produced by electrolytes (like tree sap) is much lower than the electron conductivity of metals. So, tree antennas are not going to be particularly efficient, but they will at least work. A tree antenna would also be difficult to spot by the enemy.
Rich also included a non-radio related article about obtaining low-level battery power from trees that can be used to power sensors and monitors without having to ever replace batteries. This works on the same principle as the popular children’s science fair project demonstrating getting electicity from electodes poked into a potato.
To understand why a Major General (Squier) would be a noted electrical scientist, it should be appreciated that he got practically all of his education in the Army. He never went to high school. He learned his math and science at West Point. Computing artillery trajectories, and designing fortifications, for example, require a good understanding of mathematics and engineering, and it is not surprising that he studied scientific subjects as a cadet. After West Point, Squier went on to obtain a Ph.D.
By the way, “Squier” is prononced like “squirrel.” but without the “l” at the end.
What about tree antennas for Part 15? I guess the tree should be no more than 3 meters high (or should I say “hi,” […. ..]?).