VOA Transmitter Rescue

Collins Radio Model 821A-1 VOA Transmitter Rescue

Honoring the technologies of the Collins Radio Company and the Voice of America 

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We have saved the largest HF Shortwave Transmitter made by Collins Radio. Now, we need your help to display it for future generations.

The development of satellite communication, the internet and social media over the last 4 decades has dramatically changed the way information is disseminated around our globe. The fate of many of the grand high power AM shortwave transmitters of the mid-20th century has followed the fate of the dinosaurs. Extinction is eminent.

The recent turnover of the large Voice of America broadcasting station in Delano California to the General Services Administration for disposal potentially sealed the fate of the last compete Collins 250,000 watt ( 1 Megawatt PEP) Model 821A-1 HF Autotune transmitters in the world.

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In February of this year the Collins Collectors Association and the Antique Wireless Association formalized an alliance that had been functioning effectively for over a year. This alliance, the Collins Radio Heritage Group (CRHG) – working also in cooperation with members of the Arthur A. Collins Legacy Association (AACLA) in Cedar Rapids, had been raising money and supporting archival efforts related to the history of Collins and Rockwell Collins.

Hearing of the potential loss of the last of the Model 821A-1 megawatt level transmitters, the CRHG (the CCA and the AWA) – working in cooperation with members of the AACLA – went to work to save some of the significant historical artifacts related to the VOA transmitter site in Delano. In December of last year, a proposal was submitted to the VOA and the GSA to recover, preserve and display one Collins Model 821A-1 250,000 watt transmitter and the Analog Studio Control board from the Delano site prior to its planned destruction. In May of this year, that proposal was approved and recovery began.

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Click Here to View more of this transmitter and the extraction adventure

We are proud to announce that the recovery is now complete, and that the transmitter, the studio board, associated remote studio controls, as well as site ambiance, have been removed from Delano and shipped to the AWA Museum in Bloomfield New York where they will eventually be displayed. This effort was funded by several private donations and a “friend” who loaned us the remaining money to pay for the supplies and trucking needed to accomplish this task. We do now need your help to finish paying for the extraction of the equipment and memorabilia from the Delano VOA site, and then to build out the displays involved at the Bloomfield, NY AWA Museum. Please read below for how you can help.

It is noteworthy that this transmitter, as installed, weighed in at over 22 tons, stood over 20 feet tall, occupied two rooms (three counting the remotes in the studio) totaling over 1000 sq. ft. and that the studio equipment occupied another approximately 400 sq. ft. The 4CV100000C vapor phase cooled PA and modulator tubes weigh in at 95 pounds each. Plate and modulation transformers weigh in the range of 4-6000 pounds apiece!

The future vision includes coordinated displays in both Bloomfield, NY and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, streaming video and audio linked to these displays, and to the CRHG website. The presentation of this beautiful piece of engineering will serve as a tribute to the VOA, the Collins Radio technologies and the people who made it happen.

The first several chapters of a great story can now be shared. You can now come along and share the ride as we write the final chapters and build out the displays that will present these artifacts and stories for your enjoyment.

We are still in fundraising mode for the extraction from the VOA facility…. and then we must raise the money to display our “capture”. So, you can see…WE ARE NOT FINISHED! We cannot let up on fundraising. A big push is vital to now continue this campaign to save and display this historic transmitter, and then present the VOA/Collins story. And this is why we need your help now. We need to raise an additional $12,000 to cover the expenses that were incurred during the emergency extraction. Then we need to raise approximately $175K to modify the AWA museum facility and build out the VOA & Collins Model 821A-1 displays – and tell that story.

Due to government GSA donation rules, this equipment must be “On Display” by the end of the 12 month period beginning when the transmitter was given to the Museum. This means that it must be displayable by June of 2015. The museum expansion work must be completed by that time, and the transmitter and VOA studio board moved to its permanent location for display.

The CRHG premise is simple. Save astonishing and significant technology, put it on display, and use it to lever and display projects that will stimulate the impressionable middle-school aged children of the United States to become involved in STEM related class work, and then a related college career path. This is our end-game!

Looking from a very high level, this VOA/Collins project has four phases:

  1. Rescue the transmitter and complete extraction fundraising
  2. Upgrade and expand the existing AWA Museum to house and display the VOA/Collins equipment – In fundraising now
  3. Activate live internet streamed display video and audio for active displays in New York and Cedar Rapids, Iowa – the home of Collins Radio
  4. Produce dedicated Smart Device free applications for kids that demonstrate technology history and leadership in the United States – Give them toys that tweak their imaginations

The end result will be two significant displays of the VOA history and that of the associated Collins Radio Model 821A-1 250 KW carrier shortwave transmitter. These displays, located in New York, and ultimately Iowa, will be streamed through, and also presented on, the CRHG website here to be watched and listened to live. These three displays will be leveraged into, and used for, presenting free downloadable applications for children’s smart devices. End objective – Kids exploring technology – kids in the STEM education paths.

The challenge, as stated above, is that we have 12 months from the time it was acquired in June of 2014 to place it on display – Otherwise we risk losing it. 3 months of that 12 are now behind us.

This equipment requires a lot of space and just setting it up is a job requiring many folks and many months. You can see that time is short. There are nine months to go and we have a lot of work to do. Due to the space required, and local codes, the VOA/Collins display has triggered a larger expansion project for the AWA Museum – driven mostly by Electrical and Fire Suppression Codes. The total expansion project will require an expenditure totaling almost $400,000 and is in the drawing stages now.

The space and build-out associated with the VOA/Collins Rescue Project totals $175,000 and funds are needed quickly in order to meet the very tight timeline.

We ask for your support now. We basically have 4 to 5 months to raise a significant part of these funds in order to keep things on schedule. Any amount will help. Large amounts will certainly help move things along. All donations go to the Antique Wireless Association (AWA), a 501(c)3 non-profit educational corporation chartered in the state of New York, and are – in almost all cases (you should consult your tax attorney) tax deductible.

Donations can be made by mail (See below) or you can donate here. By clicking on this following link, you will be taken to the Antique Wireless Association (AWA) site page where you can select the amount you wish to donate. Your contributions will count and be much appreciated. Together we can make a difference for the youth of our country and for the future of American science and engineering.

I Want to Help Now – Take me to the AWA Page

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BY MAIL

Large, or small, your donation will help. We are certainly also looking for those big helpers who see the importance of this mission and who can afford the larger donations. They should be all tax deductible – as always, you should check with your tax advisor to see how this applies to your individual tax situation. If you would like to help, please send your donations in support of this VOA/Collins 821A-1 transmitter project to the Antique Wireless Association, c/o Robert Hobday, P. O. Box 421, Bloomfield, NY 14469. Checks should be Memo Marked for the “VOA & Collins Project”. You will be sent an acknowledgement of thanks that includes your Federal Tax Deduction paperwork.

Watch this site, the Antique Wireless Association website at http://www.antiquewireless.org, or the Collins Collectors Association website at http://www.collinsradio.org, for news of our project progress. This project is like an iceberg and you are just seeing the tip.

For further information, contact:

Robert Hobday, Antique Wireless Association Deputy Director, Bloomfield, NY (585) 314-7310

William Carns, President Collins Collectors Association, Wimberley, TX  (512) 618-2762

Collins Radio Heritage Group