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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay Station

from Merrill Stevenson, KG6AMW on June 30, 2006
View comments about this article!

The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay Station

My interest in radio goes back many years and as a youth I would experiment with simple wire antennas and attempt to tune in distant AM stations on my fathers old cathedral radio. Later I used a Hallicrafters S-120 shortwave radio along with a trap antenna to listen to the BBC, Radio Australia and the Voice of America "VOA".

Recently I was talking an old friend who is an avid shortwave listener and the subject of VOA programming and history came up. We both agreed that at some point the VOA operated a relay station in northern California near the town of Dixon, but were unsure of its current status. I began to reflect back and wondered whatever happened to Dixon VOA.

The history of the VOA Dixon Relay Station goes back more than sixty years. Though not as famous as Bethany Ohio or Greenville North Carolina, it played a roll in the VOA success story. Prior to the inception of VOA, there were a number of shortwave broadcast stations in the United States of America operated by the National Broadcasting Company, Columbia Broadcasting System, General Electric, Westinghouse, Associated Broadcasters, Crosley Radio Corporation, Worldwide Broadcasting Foundation and the WCAU Broadcasting Company. Prior to World War II, The United States Government contracted with some of these companies for broadcasting government programming.

With the outbreak of World War II, the government opened a new agency, the Office of War Information (OWI) the genesis of the Voice of America. Following Pearl Harbor, the federal government decided to go forward with its own shortwave broadcast under the Voice of America program. As part of process they acquired interest in the broadcasting facilities at Delano and Dixon, California in the early mid 1940s to transmit programs to the Far East and the Pacific Rim.

I contacted the VOA on several occasions to gain information on Dixon, but in each case, they never responded. So, my wife and I decided to take a Sunday morning drive out to the town of Dixon for breakfast and from there do some exploring in the country side and see if we could find it. Using a street map guide I located several government communications facilities in the general area. As we drove out further and further out into the country side risking getting lost on roads that seem to become more and more decrepit we began to notice radio towers on the far horizon. Then little by little the wire antennas began to appear and finally, there it was acres and acres of wire antennas along with a number of old buildings now which one.


Figure 1 the former Voice of America Relay Station in Dixon California from a distance.

Of the four original major domestic VOA transmitting facilities Dixon remains one of the least known facilities. Greenville North Carolina and Delano California locations continue to be operated and maintained by the VOA. Bethany Ohio was decommissioned in the mid 1990's but has an active restoration program underway to preserve the facility. We finally arrived at Radio Station Road and my wife and I stopped the car and got out to have a closer look to see if we located the VOA facility. It wasnt easy since there are two other facilities with old buildings and big antennas nearby.


Figure 2 driveway up to the main building.


Figure 3 although the facility closed sometime ago, you can still see the rhombic antennas in the background.

To the south of the main VOA structure is what appears to be the original ATT/NBC broadcasting facility while next door is an abandoned naval communications facility. The style of construction of the building in these photos matches the other domestic VOA facilities which have a concrete/stucco appearance along with very high tower connected to the building. The purpose of the observation tower is for viewing the surrounding area for security reasons. It looks like we found the VOA facility at last.


Figure 4 the buildings main entrance -- note the main security tower which was a standard feature on this as well as other VOA facilities in the US.

The heart of the site is of course the transmitters and antennas. Most prominently visible are two larger dipole arrays, consisting of rows and columns of dipoles known as a curtain antenna which are rated up to 500 kilowatts. The VOA favored these antennas because of their ability to handle high power and while offering different angles of signal radiation to reach various parts of the globe.


Figure 5 dipole arrays consisting of rows and columns of dipoles known as a curtain antenna. These antennas are rated up to 500 kilowatts.


Figure 6 Another view of the curtain dipoles from a distance.

The Collins and General Electric AM transmitters were the standard workhorses for VOA Dixon. When the VOA took over they inherited several transmitters including a 100 kilowatt General Electric transmitter and smaller RCA shortwave transmitters. Later three COLLINS 250 kilowatt transmitters were added to Dixon in the late 1960s to improve the broadcast.

With the advent of newer satellite-based technology VOA Bethany Ohio and Dixon California Stations were no longer needed as much, and they were decommissioned. Transmissions from the Dixon Relay Station ceased in 1983. Since this time the facility has remained closed and for the most part unused, although its interesting that the antennas remain. Rumor has it that a private company moved into the facility recently and is using it for commercial marine HF communications; however, I was unable to confirm this.


Figure 7 VOA Dixon Relay Station from another angle.


Figure 8 VOA Dixon power substation.

The broadcast history of the VOA is an interesting one and the Dixon relay station played a major roll along with the others VOA stations in California, Ohio and North Carolina. Fortunately for us who have an interest in the radio history, these facilities still exist but for how long we dont know.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by WF7A on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, Merrill--thanks for sharing your trip with us!
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by W6TH on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
.
One picture is worth a thousand words. Good chance these sights could be sold to some of our great ham dx'ers.

Nice piece of history and one of my favorite swl station of a station heard 'round the world.

.:
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by K0BG on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
There are a lot of great stories about radio amateurs purchasing old government transmitter sites. W6AM and the old Navy/Coast Guard site is a good example.

Maybe, we could convince the ARRL to buy the whole site. Just think of the signal W1AW would have then?

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by VA3DXV on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've always found old radio facilities fascinating. What a great article... Thanks!
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KC0TUD on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Neat stuff. Thanks for the article.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K1KOY on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Nice work, Merrill. I just wish the feds were maintaining this equipment in some fashion. The internet is a wonderful tool for some people in some parts of the world but the VOA target audience still has far more radios than they do computers. Besides, we occasionally need a powerful HF facility for the same reason we need Ham radio operators: for emergency com when everything else has failed.



 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by W6TVK on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've been fortunate enough to visit the Greenville and Delano VOA sites and have never seen broadcast facilities as impressive as those.

One day in about 1985, I walked up to the gate at Delano, pressed the intercom and identified myself as a broadcast engineer from Los Angeles. The General Manager let me in a gave me most informative guided tour.

Among other equipment, they had two 500 kw and two 250 KW transmitters, plus a 60 kw Independent Sideband transmitter that fed two separate programs to a transmitter site in the Philippines...in case their primary satellite link went down.

Power transformers sat around the outside of the transmitter building. Just inside the walls were large 3-phase rectifier banks made of strings of series connected diodes that each looked like air conditioner fuses. These were behind plexiglas panels with air blown over the rectifiers. Filter capacitors were big oil-filled types that looked like refrigerators.

Each transmitter had a separate crystal oscillator for every frequency it used, and every tank circuit in the transmitter was operated by a servo motor system. When the operators changed frequency, the selector switch enabled an oscillator and a bank of potentiometers that preset every tuned circuit. When the operators selected a new channel, relays clicked and motors whirred for several seconds until settings were correct, then the transmitter was ready to go.

Antenna feedlines were pairs of open wire lines, with antenna feeds and transmitter outputs arranged as a grid of wires arranged under the ceiling of the switch room. Wire jumpers connected a transmitter to an antenna.

There were so many towers on the site I lost count, but my 1986 aeronautical chart lists 39 towers at the
Delano site.

The technical plants at Grenville and Delano were first class all the way, and the pride in workmanship was obvious. I feel very fortunate to have seen those two fine examples of the radio art.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by W6TVK on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Merrill,

Thank you for the very interesting story and the great pictures.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KC2FTN on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article! I grew-up in the Vacaville, California area and as a kid I would sometimes go there just to check things out. Awesome radio site and your article brings back found memories.

Mike KC2FTN
www.hamwave.com
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K8VPL on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you, Merrill, for a great article.

I was priviliged to visit the Bethany station in 1974, while it was still in full operation. I even had the opportunity to walk out to the gigantic crosspoint antenna switcher with a VOA engineer, to witness the changeover of transmitter/antenna at switching time. Several of the engineers related some old stories about the facility as well.

Although Bethany is shut down now, and most of the antennas are gone, if you have been to the Dayton Hamvention in the last several years, the volunteers, some of whom used to work at Bethany, have had a booth with historical photos and documents of Bethany in operation.

If anyone with any interest in SW broadcasting or SW listening has the opportunity, arrange for a visit to a still existing facility, and take your camera. (Security may make that difficult nowadays). Because soon, you may no longer have the opportunity to see, firsthand, some great RF high power transmitting/antenna facilities. Enjoy while you can.

Ted, K8VPL
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by AC9HE on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
This was a great article and the photos were very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by NS6Y_ on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Wow great stuff!!

What a Field Day site eh?

THIS is the kind of article we need here!
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by WA1RNE on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

Great article and photos.......my idea of an interesting field trip.


Hey, looks just like my backyard - NOT!


Wouldn't you like to have a chance to chat with the guys who designed these antenna arrays?


73, Chris
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W0FM on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
A really nice article, Merrill. Nice to see something relevant to radio (and non-controversial) in this section. Thanks for sharing.

73,

Terry, WFM
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by W6VPS on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Merrill:

Nicely done sir!

The pix really add the icing on the cake of a fine article.
Thanks for you efforts.
Paul
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by AB2MH on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
What has this got to do with ham radio?


(just kidding!)


Nice article. I always enjoy reading about broadcast facilities and looking at pictures of them. I recently read an article about 500kW WLW. All I can say is WOW.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by N6AJR on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have lived in northern California, ( fairfield are, on and off since 1952 and did not know of this! I have been by the Delano site many times , the sterba curtain antennas are huge and near hiway 99 but the dixon station is not noticible from the hiway ( now I 80, used to be us 40). I will have to drive up there and take a look see.. nice article, thanks..
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6WLS on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the read and the pix. NS6Y hit the nail on the head. It would be an awesome FD sight.

73 de KG6WLS
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by AE6CP on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great story and pictures. I've never seen a place like that in real life. I would give anything to go back in time and be able to have a career in radio at one of these places. What cool stuff. I'm in awe.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KC0RDG on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
This is the type of material that should be psoted in the Articles section.

Great article and wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing and taking the time to write this up!
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by NN6EE on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great thread and a job well done!!!

But I've never appreciated VOA messing up a good part of the 40m. band especially here in "Region 2"! Ever try working phone or CW in the upper reaches of that particular band during the evening-hours? It's bad enough having to deal with the other foreign broadcasting hetrodynes let alone VOA with their 1/2 megawatt transmissions to Africa and Asia!!!

Most foreign listeners don't seem to be following American propaganda anymore besides and I persoanlly don't blame them!!!

Jim/nn6ee
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by N3OX on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Wowwwww...

Sweet!

When I lived in Erie, PA there was a little AM facility that had been taken off the air; always wanted to use that on 160 or something...

Wish I had some towers like that...

Dan
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K0AMZ on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I remember listening to that station as a youth.

73 de galen
K0AMZ
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K4JC on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
May I also echo the sentiments of the other posters. Having spent many years in broadcasting, and with my Ham radio background, I have always been fascinated by stories such as this one. And I have also been known to do some "tower chasing" from time to time! I can recall a time shortly after high school when I considered looking into a VOA career, but was afraid I'd be assigned to Outer Mongolia, or some such far-out location, and so quickly put that idea out of commission. Ah well, that's life...

Not only an awesome FD site; can you imagine hooking up to that antenna array!?
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K5KTX_REMOVED on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hello all i was at the ohio voa at the time i was haveing alot of tvi at home talk to aeng he show me i did need a low pass filter it was the one they use it was 26'long by 18X18"what a deal bigger then all my equd thank you goor reading tom "73" k5ktx
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KC5TTL on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I drove by the place on the way to Monterey CA once and wondered what it was -- now I know -- I thought it was some govt listening site or something from the cold war -- thx and great story...
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W5HTW on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article, and a deliciously wonderful "real radio" theme, without the controversy. Sure wish we had more of this type of thing.

Never been there. Have, though been to numerous other sites around the world, and always stopped to admire antennas, from government to commercial and even to a few amateur.

Recently I had a reason to look up the old KOA Denver radio site from the 1950s. Sure brought back some warm memories.

For those of you who have seen 'Elephant Cages' around the planet, you know about massive antenna systems.

Thanks for the trip. I wish someone would give a similar treatment to KPH and some of the other shore stations of yesteryear.

Ed
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KI4DTB on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for a very well written, informative, and interesting article. Reading this makes me want to read more about the VOA and radio history in general. 73 Doug KI4DTB
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by N6BOA on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Cool - I live about 60 miles east of Dixon, I am going to check this place out! :)
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W4LGH on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
WOW! Another nice article on EHAM. Growing up in the 50's and 60's, I was an avid SWL'er, and enjoyed listening to the broadcasts from the VOA, BBC, CBC, and many others. I usually had old Hallicrafters, that were scrounged from wherever. I had a nice long wire antenna, about 150' long, and could really pull in the stations. Then somtime in the early 60's Allied came out with the STAR ROAMER receiver kit. My Dad got me one for Christmas. For the following 2 weeks I stayed up as late as I could get away with building it, and I was hooked!

Here lately I have been hooked on the past , especially my radio past. Have been having a ball operating my Drake B line, and my newest edition a Drake TR-3. I guess we can really never go back, but for brief moments I feel like I have, and its been a real blast!

Really enjoyed the article. It brought back many fond memories.

73 de W4LGH - Alan
http://www.w4lgh.com

 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by LU1HQV on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great article and photos!
I'm living close to Dixon.. maybe I'm going any given day.
saludos
jose
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KF6UEB on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
These powerhouse radio stations all seem to have 'curtain' antennas. Does anyone know how these antennas are constructed? Would it make sense to build one for 'home' use??

Tnx,

Rick
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by K7AAT on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

Very nice article. Those pictures are keepers for me. As a High School senior in 1965 I drove out to that nearby Dixon site for a nice tour. My friends and I, being new hams, were very pleased at the nice walk-through the operator gave us. I only wish I had taken pictures of the inside.... to go along with the ones you posted of the outside.

As an added bonus, a few years later I was stationed on Okinawa, Onna Point, and was able to make a short drive north to the VOA receiving site which received and relayed broadcasts from the Dixon site. Very nice to see both ends!

I hope VOA manages to stay in existance to some extent in the future.

Ed K7AAT ( ex WB6SAT )
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by OBSERVER11 on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Looks almost identical to the Bethany Relay Station. If you had not said this was the Dixon Station, I would have guessed Bethany from your pictures.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB9AUJ on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Bethany was completely different. I worked there for 10 years. The Delano and Dixon sites were identical in their layout.
John WB9AUJ @ VOA / Delano
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB9AUJ on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Bethany was completely different. I worked there for 10 years. The Delano and Dixon sites were identical in their layout.
John WB9AUJ @ VOA / Delano
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KF4VGX on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well respected article .

You bring to mind why most became Amateurs.

with respect- KF4VGX
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by AC7AP on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great article and photos. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. (I remember the facility in Delano when I was a kid.)

TNX
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KF4VGX on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
BTW, Please post this article on QRZ.com

Its in dire need of your expertise ;-> .
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by AB3L on June 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the story, I love hearing about these old sites. Go to this Google link and see a satellite shot of the Delano location. Look for the big brown box west and slightly south of town and zoom in on it. The Dixon view doesn't have as good of a detail to see anything.

http://www.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=delano,ca&ie=UTF8&ll=35.756682,-119.279766&spn=0.034269,0.085831&t=k&om=1
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB9AUJ on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
You can find a great website at:

http://www.radiomarine.org

This is the Maritime Radio Historical Society. They operate KPH and KSM marine stations on the West coast.
There is a wealth of information on KPH there, including pictures. Also, they have the frequencies for the "Night of Nights" broadcast on July 12 of each year. This is to remember the CW stations and the men and women who operated them.

73 John WB9AUJ @ VOA / Delano
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB9AUJ on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well, VOA is just one of the broadcasters in the upper part of the 41 meter band. Region 2 broadcasting is permitted above 7300 KHz. That is not to say that we have not been on 40. I know for a fact that Delano has been. I put it there by mistake.
Dialed up 7045 instead of 7405 one night. VSWR didn't look right, that was my 1st clue that something wasn't right. Only there for maybe 30 seconds.
John WB9AUJ @ VOA / Delano
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB9AUJ on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Also, not to take anything away from the West coast stations, BUT, if you want to see the VERY BEST that VOA ever had, go to:

www.wc8voa.org

This is the Westchester, Ohio club that is located in
the former Bethany Relay Station building. There are
a lot of pictures of the station, from the 40's up to now.

John WB9AUJ VOA / Delano
and no, I am not biased..well not too much anyway.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by W5BXE on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Good article and pictures.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6AMW on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the nice comments. Im hoping a former/current VOA employee shows up with some stories and maybe a picture or two of the inside to fill in the gaps. By the way if you want to see some of the other VOA facilities check out Jim Hawkins web site http://hawkins.pair.com/radio.html .
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W5GNB on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
As a young man (Way Back When) I was priviledged to have had a tour of this facility when it was in operation. It was really quite impressive and it is great to see the old site is still standing although now silent.

I have a neighbor who is not a Ham but he is wondering if it might be a good site for operation of his CB intrests??? HIHI!!

73's
Gary - W5GNB
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by K8MHZ on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"BTW, Please post this article on QRZ.com"

If you do, I can assure you that N1IR will ask "What has this got to do with ham radio?"

It's indeed a great article with great pictures but it is about broadcast radio and SWL.

I could be wrong, but my bet is that Chip will bring this question up.

I am surprised he hasn't done so here. Obviously the article has nothing to do with ham radio but is interesting to most of us. I have always wondered what the exact criteria was for both sites. Articles only about ham radio, or articles of interest to ham radio operators regardless of content? I prefer the latter as we see on eHam. I think QRZ may have a different standard?

 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by WG7H on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Merrill. The pictures say a thousand words. As you know,(Merrill is a personal friend), my wife has no interest in radio at all and she came in and looked at the pictures and her word was "WOW" when she saw the antennas. Although I have listened to your observations during our rag chews regarding this for several months, the article really put it together for me. Extremely interesting. GREAT JOB!!
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KV6O on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Nice Job! I wonder who owns it now? It sure would be fun to bring out a HF rig and hook up to one of those antennas! Do an A/B comparison @100W between a 40M hamsitck and the curtain. "this is a.... AND THIS IS B... ANY DIFFERENCE?" That would be wild!

SteveL
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by K5UJ on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hey John, good to see you on eHam; this is rob / k5uj from the broadcast list--to second everyone else, great story and thanks for sharing it--it's kind of a shame that such a fine facility is gathering dust. I wish VOA would reactivate it or do something like lease it to rich hams for use as a killer dx/contest station. If the price were right I bet there'd be some hams who would pay to move in for a weekend to use those curtains! hi hi. if you know what a 60 dipole curtain can do for your sig., you all would be tempted to pay to get a taste just once. Of course the downside is that you have to go home and face your yagi on a tower/dipole/verticals. Anyway anything this fantastic should not be allowed to rust away.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by AE6RF on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Please be careful about taking photographs of federally owned antennas now-a-days.

One of the local 9am talk net guys took some photos of "a neat antenna array" while on a trip and got to meet federal marshals "up close and personal" for a couple hours.

Something about photographing "federal installations" being against the law...

-Donald
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KX8N on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Do an A/B comparison @100W between a 40M hamsitck and the curtain. "this is a.... AND THIS IS B... ANY DIFFERENCE?" That would be wild! "

Tell me if you can tell the difference: THIS IS THE CURTAIN, and thi...

Yeah, you're 59+80 on the curtain, and 36 on the hamstick.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W2RDD on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Although VOA projected the US government's point-of-view, it was delivered in a rational, calm, non-threatening manner. Fine programming.

Now, with internet streaming-audio radio, the whole world can listen to American AM Talk Radio.

Yikes!
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WA1KWA on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article indeed. On the way to Prince Edward Island every year we drive by Racio Canada Internatonal's site. It is quite impressive, here is a good link to it. http://hawkins.pair.com/rci1.shtml I'd love to get a tour of that facility.

73,
Colin WA1KWA
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by AC7KZ on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
When can we setup for a special event station, or operate a contest from there using their equipment?
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KF4VGX on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
K8MHZ , Yes you are correct in your analogy.

However QRZ has been doing quite a bit of house cleaning.

Please read in the RAGCHEW section .

I apologize to the author for being off topic .

Again what a great read ;->
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by AC7DX on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Who really cares what N1IR says or thinks!
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K4VOA on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
The site is currently occupied by Globe Wireless and ARINC, according to:
http://lists.contesting.com/_towertalk/2001-07/msg00609.html

Seemingly confirmed by the map at http://www.globewireless.com/network_networks.php
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W6EM on July 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I can still hear Columbia the Gem of the Ocean in my head....and those famous words: "This is the Voice of America Transmitter at Dixon (or Delano) California signing on."

I was fortunate to get a very thorough tour of Delano in the mid '60s with the Kern County Radio Club. A great place. Great ham stories too.

A couple of the engineers were hams, so idle Sterba curtains were put to good use.

Great idea for ARRL to make a deal for Dixon. W1AW would definitely be heard.

73,

Lee
W6EM
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6AMW on July 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I also heard the rumors about Globe, but never could confirm it. They never returned my phone calls or responded to my emails so I have no idea if they are there. To WG7H: Hi Larry. Glad you guys liked it.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KE4ZHN on July 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Cool article and great pics! I love the big monster stations like this. Always fascinated me to see the fine engineering and beautiful installations of these huge rigs. Its a shame that these are going by the wayside. It must be a real hoot to fire up about 500kw of RF into a huge curtain array. Just the scale of the operation is awesome. I guess times are changing and now computers are all the rage. I like computers but they will never replace tuning across the bands on my receiver and listening to far away lands. It was SWLing and AM BC band dxing that got me interested in ham radio. Sometimes progress isnt always as wonderful as its cracked up to be Im afraid.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KI6ADA on July 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I live about an hour from Dixon, what a great drive. I will have to plan a outing with my local club. Thanks for the story!
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KC8VWM on July 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
On the way to Prince Edward Island every year we drive by Racio Canada Internatonal's site. It is quite impressive.

---------

Nice... I too have been to the RCI Sackville, NB transmitter site. Similar to VOA, these antennas are also rated at 500,000 watts and are still in operation today.

Anyone travelling in this area can take a tour of the station by writing to "The Manager", RCI Shortwave Transmitting Station, P.O. Box 1200, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada E0A 3C0.

For those that never seen the massive curtain arrays or equipment at RCI, here's a pretty good virtual tour:

http://hawkins.pair.com/rci1.shtml

73 Charles - KC8VWM
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K4VOA on July 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Prior to World War II, The United States Government contracted with some of these companies for broadcasting government programming."

What was the source of the gov't programmng prior to WW2?

Dan
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by AA6PY on July 3, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've got the old Drake bug too. I have a B line plus I'm restoring a C receiver with Sherwood mods.

What surprised me the most about using my B line, after 18 years of sitting around, was how sensitive and functional it was even when compared to my TS-450.

The only thing missing was the digital readout and DSP.

Add those items and you've got a very competitive rig.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KD5XB on July 3, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Very fine article!

While I've never visited the site at Dixon, I did get a tour of the Greenville facility once. I was in the Marine Corps, stationed at Cherry Point, wasn't even a ham yet, but I had the ITCH to do something with radio. When I figured out just how close Greenville was to me, I started planning and went there unannounced one day. They gave me a very fine tour and I was quite impressed with it all.

I have read various accounts of people visiting unused sites and using them on the ham bands -- one said that, even though the band wasn't "open", and he could hear no domestic stations, every once in a while he heard a DX station. Never heard domestic, only DX. Interesting thought there.

Thanks for the article!
7 3
Earl
KD5XB
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6AMW on July 3, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"What was the source of the gov't programmng prior to WW2?" I would think it included FDR fireside chats and US government commentary and opionion on world news.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by DAVEUK on July 3, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I am a Short Wave Listener and very much enjoy reading your website weekly. The article showing the VOA relay station was extremely fascinating, and reminded me of the Rugby/Daventry radio station here in the UK which I believe, amongst other things, is used to transmit the 60K/c time signal from the National Physical Lab. Incidentally I live only 5 miles from a smaller, but similar, ex-naval station called HMS Inskip which is reputedly currently one of the world's most powerful broadcast stations.
Keep up the good work, Merril!
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by AK2B on July 3, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Your curiosity has rewarded us all. I drool when I see pictures like this. I sometimes pass the Brooklyn Navy yard and see that antenna and wonder what it would be like to hook my KX-1 to it.

Tom, AK2B
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W7CNA on July 4, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Merrill, Thanks for a Great Article and Pic's. Brings back great memories of Broadcasting in that Era.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KU2US on July 4, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Facinating!! my qrp station could radiate about 2 inches of that array..Great photos..
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KC8YXU on July 5, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for sharing your trip with us merrill, Looks to be very interesting, I find old relay stations like this one to be very interesting., sharp pictures!!!

73's
Johnnie
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by N8QBY on July 5, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Merrill, excellent article. Thanks for the breath of fresh air here on E-ham. 73
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6UHZ on July 5, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Jerome S. Berg has an excellent book titled "On the ShortWaves, 1923-45," with excellent background and analysis of shortwave operations in many parts of the world. During my time with the Far East Network, Tokyo in the mid-60s we broadcast our programming on both 810 kc in Tokyo and two shortwave frequencies beamed east and west. Information about Military broadcasting including some information on shortwave is included in Trent Christman's "Brass Button Broadcasters," a wonderful summation of military broadcasting from the WWII, Korea, & Vietnam eras, plus our operations from just about every corner of the world. Our men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Mideast locations are served today by military broadcasters. By the way, I was Air Force, and worked with Army, Navy and Marine broadcasters so not all of us were "Brass-buttoned."
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by VK3HOT on July 5, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, thanks for taking the time to share it with us. Much appreciated info.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KG6WLV on July 5, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Wonderful story and pics. I, too, have taken the backroads to the old VOA facility in Dixon. The last time I was there, there was an old weatherbeaten sign for the VOA at the left hand side of the main drive you depict. Would love to see a shot of that!
My understanding is that Globe Wireless is the company that now runs the facility for HF maritime communication, including such things as email.
From the Bay Area, take State Route 4 eastbound to the Antioch Bridge and State Route 160 north. Turn left at State Route 12, westbound to Rio Vista, and then northbound on State Route 113 toward Dixon. You can't miss it. Alternative route is southbound 113 from I-80 between Dixon and Vacaville.
I remember in my high school days, hearing an ID from the Dixon facility. Although I was only twenty or thirty miles from the transmitter site, the directional arrays and the "skip zone" made it sound like a distant signal.
Also nearby for radioheads: A naval radio station adjacent to the old VOA facility, and in Collinsville the three-tower array of KATD 990 AM, licensed to Pittsburg, just across the delta. Up highway 160 from Antioch are the tallest structures in California -- three newer 2000-foot towers for the Sacramento TV stations at Walnut Grove, and their older tower, built around 1958. It's red and white aviation markings make it obvious (the others use the newer unpainted design and strobe lights rather than red beacons). That tower is 1548 feet tall, and at the time of its construction, was the tallest structure in California. These all make dandy sights on Google Earth.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by WA6OWH on July 5, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I too wondered what happened to the Dixion VOA site. Thanks Merrill for the current information and great photos too.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6AMW on July 6, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
It's an interesting area with the three facilities all in the same general vicinity. Its basically flat Sacramento Valley land with miles and miles of antennas. John you mentioned an old weather beaten sign, I didn't see it. There was a pile of old wood next to the entrance of the drive way, but I couldn't see what it was.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by K4CEH on July 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks very much for your time and effort. Yours was a very informative article.

Chuck, K4CEH
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KG4OHE on July 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great Article! Thanks.

I started out in my radio interest as an aspiring SWL/AM dx-er. It's nice to see the source of the signals that we worked so hard on to comb out of the airwaves with our Knightkit "Star Roamers" and "Band Spanners".
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KE2SP on July 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
What a great article and pictures. It brought back old memories and a coincidence. A few days ago I was deiving down I-5 and passed a sign indicating an exit to DAVIS. I was tempted and pulled off to see how far it was. Too far given my schedule so I didn't go. The reason I was tempted was because I was stationed at the DAVIS transmitter site when I was in the USAF back in the late 1950's. Dixon was where our receiver site was located. Our Senior NCO took some of us on a tour one day and we visited several other comm sites in the area belonging to the Air Force, Navy, Army, ATT, and VOA. The whole area was miles of open farm country sprouting with antennas. Whreas our largest transmitters were only 50 kw we were shown some at the VOA that I vaguely recall were 500 kw and were so large that we could walk inside of the PA! Very impressive. At our facility we had dozens of 4kw SSB and FSK transmitters for ground-to-air communications and about about a half dozen Western Electric 4 kw ISB transmitters - connected to (I believe) 30 kw HPA's - and rhombics - for point-to-point transmission to Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam. The large main building had 4 wings, one had offices and living quarters, and the other three were lined with transmitters. We used to joke about needing roller skates to get to the distant transmitters far down the wings of the building. It was great fun working there. Now, where are those pictures .....??
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KC9AGG on July 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
These powerhouse radio stations all seem to have 'curtain' antennas. Does anyone know how these antennas are constructed? Would it make sense to build one for 'home' use??

oh yeah!! try a search on the "sterba curtain"--there is an old qst article on arrl.net which describes how to construct them. they are bi-directional with gain dependent on number of elements. they work very well--you need two high supports ~135 ft apart for a 20meter 5 element.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6WLV on July 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
KG6AMW, DARN! I KNEW I should've taken a pic of that old sign! LOL Thanks again for a great article.
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by NA6DF on July 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Get in touch with Dave Thomas, w6nse. w6nse@yahoo.com

The company he works for now operates that site, but I can't remember what the name of the company is. They also have an HF site on the island of Molokai'i.

dave na6df
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by KK6AS on July 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
really enjoyed seeing the dixon site. I live in lompoc,ca. But never have been able to get up to dixon.
Alwas get excited when I see H.F. antenna farms
Lucky you could even drive onthe site since post 9/11
73's
Ben kk6as
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by W6WBJ on July 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, Merrill, and you didn't even mention the code/no code debate!

As a Sterba Curtain builder/user, yes, they work great. But the limiting factor is how high you can get it. You need the bottom of the antenna to be at least a quarter wavelength, but preferably 3/8 or a half wavelength, above the ground. When you do the math, you can see how you need some pretty tall supports to use a Sterba cut for 3.5 mhz. But you can use a 20-meter Sterba on 75, for example, with good results. When you plot the radiation pattern of the Sterba, you will see that it has quite a number of lobes where its gain exceeds that of a dipole, but remember that for every lobe there is an accompanying null.
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB6PIR on July 17, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
HELLO ,,THERE REALY IS NO MYSTERY TO THE VOA IN DIXON
CALIF. BUT IF YOUR A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK ,YES IT WAS A GREAT PLACE AND STILL IS TODAY,,,,,
I FIRST WENT THRU A GUIDED TOUR IN 1953,,WOW THAT WAS 53 YEARS AGO I WAS LIC. AS A NOVICE AT THE TIME,KN6HGW AND LIVED IN WINTERS,ABOUT 14 MILES TO THE NORTHWEST,,,
IT WAS A THRILLING EVENT FOR ME I WAS ABLE TO SEE THE WHOLE WORKS,,,THEN THEY WERE USING THE LARGE TRANSMITTER ,,IT WAS IN A ROOM OF ABOUT 28 FT BY 28 FT,,,,ALL THE COMPONETS WERE LARGE EITHER SITTING ON THE FLOOR OR ON SMALL BOX LIKE STANDS,,,,THE WIREING WAS COPPER PIPE AS I REMBER IT WAS AROUND 2 INCHES IN DIA. THE GUIDE TOLD OF A TALE THAT HAPPEN ON THE LARGE TRANSMITTER ,,IT SEEMS THAT THE VOA HAD A PET CAT OR A MOUSER AND ONCE DURING SOME MAINTANCE HE DECIDED TO STAY IN THE AMPLIFIER ROOM,,,,WELL WHEN POWER CAME UP ,,,,THE MOUSER EVAPERATED TO HEAVEN,,,,I WAS ACTUALY ABLE TO GO INTO THE AMPLIFIER ROOM AND LOOK AT THE GIANT PARTS THAT MADE UP THE GIANT AMP,,,,,ON AN OTHER OCCASON I SAW THE BIG ONE ON THE AIR,,,,AS I REMBER I THOUGHT THAT THEY SAID IT WAS A MILLION WATTS,,OR A MILLION WATTS ERP FROM THE ANTENNA ,,,AFTER 53 YEARS I CANT REMBER WHICH,,,,,
DURING THE MID 1990,S THE GOVERMENT AGENCY PUT IT UP FOR BID ,,,SINCE I HAD RETIRED I HEARD ABOUT IT AND RECIEVED A BID PACKAGE,,,I BID ON IT AND THERE WAS ONLY TWO ACTUAL BIDDERS ON THIS PARCLE ,,,IT INCLUDED 160 ACRES THE 100,000 SQFT BUILDING ,,THE GENERATOR BUILDING AND GENERATOR,,AND ALL THE ANTENNAS,,,,
WELL THE WINNING BIDDER BOUGHT THE PLACE FOR $160,000 OR A 1000 DOLLORS PER ACRE,,,,I UNDERSTAND AS FOR FARMING YOU CANT DO TO MUCH WITH 160 ACRES OF BURIED COPPER MATTS RIGHT BELOW THE SURFACE,,,,,,BUT I STILL REMBER THE FACES OF THE EMPLOYEES BACK THEN ,,,YOU COULD SEE THAT THEY REALY LOVED THERE JOBS AS THEY WERE REAL PROFESSINALS IN THERE BROADCAST TRADE..
CARL RAMOS,,,,WB6PIR
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by KG6AMW on July 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the information Carl . Are you saying that they sold this facility for $160,000? If that's so, then it's an amazing deal for the buyer!!!! The land today is worth much more and the buildings appear to be in very good shape. Hell if you had mind to, you could live out there. Thanks
 
The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Relay St  
by K6ZOD on July 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
What an excellent article. My high school electronics class took a tour of the facility in 1973. What I remember most is the size of their large transmitters. They were the size of a small cabin and even had a front door. One unit was down for service and you could actually walk inside the transmitter. Some of the fuses were nothing more than a length of wire spanning a couple of posts.

73
Jim Farley
 
RE: The Mystery of the Dixon Voice of America Rela  
by WB6PIR on July 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
HI AGAIN,,,YES THE FACILITY DID GO FOR $160K I HAD BID $100K AS I REMBER,,,,AT THE TIME I WAS PLANING TO CONVERT IT INTO A RV CAMP GRD FOR HAM RV,ERS AND INSTALL A GYM ,BAR,POOL FOR THE WOMEN AND KIDS,,,,,OH WELL ,,,AT THE ABOUT THE SAME TIME THERE WAS AN OTHER VOA SITE THAT WAS AUCTION OFF DOWN THE VALLEY ,,,BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN INFESTED THROUGH OUT THE ANTENNA RANGE WITH KITT FOXES THE BUYER AGREED NOT TO DISTURB THEM AS THERE ON THE LIST ,BEING PROTECTED,,,,,,YOU COULD NOT EVEN DRIVE A TRUCK ACROSS THE ANT. RANGE,,,,IT WENT FOR LESS THAN $25,000 DOLLORS BELIVE IT OR NOT,,,,,,CARL RAMOS,,WB6PIR
 
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