Ragged Ridge Radio Site


The Ragged Ridge radio site is located on Ragged Ridge, about 4 miles southeast of Cedar Pipeline Ranch just inside the perimeter. The coordinates are 37 42.829'N / 116 5.479'W. It is a microwave communications relay between the Cedar Peak radio site and Mount Irish and the site above Warm Springs. It also has an array of omni directional antennas for communication with aircraft and ground units in the area. Including a trunking site for the Nevada Shared radio system used by Emergency Services. For a while between 2015 and 2018 the site also provided a data relay to the Railroad Valley Data Relay Site.

An interesting feature is the circular antenna on the tower on the left. More on that below. The building next to it features all sorts of antennas, including a dish pointed west towards Cedar Gate. Another dish mounted to the tower points roughly east, towards Mount Irish. The structure in the center appears to be storage. The smaller box on the right can rotate. It appears to be some sort of targeting radar. We have seen similar boxes in various elevated locations around TTR, including peaks near Warm Springs (see under Basecamp) and near Tonopah (see below). The site does not seem to have changed much since 2001.

Update 05/13/2019: The microwave dish pointed towards Cedar Peak has been removed. The site is now likely connected to Cedar Peak via fiber optics line.

Update 03/2020: A massive new 7-story antenna tower was constructed at the Ragged Ridge radio site in late 2019 or early 2020. As of 03/2020 it only has some vertical dipole antennas on top, most of which have been moved up there from the top of the building. But due to its size it is likely designed to hold new microwave dishes or other equipment in the future.


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The Ragged Ridge radio site in 09/2001. Click in the photo to zoom in.


This photo of the same site was taken on 02/07/2019. Not much has changed except for some antenna upgrades. A new microwave dish on the tower provides a link to Mount Irish. Click in the photo to zoom in.


This photo shows the new antenna tower at the Ragged Ridge radio site. It also shows that the dish on the right side if the building, which was pointed to Cedar Peak, is gone. Click in the photo to zoom in. Photo taken 03/14/2020.


The radar to the left and below is very similar to the one above, but located north of Tonopah. The site there is on public land, but marked: "US Government Property. No Trespassing". The dish there is pointed southeast, again towards TTR.
The close-up below shows what looks like a ring of individual sensors or small antennas, each one individually connected to the box in the center, from where thicker cables lead down to an electronics shack at the foot of the antenna. It would appear that the box in the center is some sort of multiplexer that condenses the signal from the individual antennas. We have seen several of these antennas on peaks around TTR.

This is of course an interesting design: Imagine a ring of antennas, each one directional, facing away from the center of the circle. If you poll them with the electronics box in the center doing a time multiplex, you essentially have a very fast rotating 360 degree radar without any moving parts, and with a high resolution and fault tolerance due to overlap of the segments.

This design appears to be a Doppler Direction Finder. A Doppler Direction Finder works by quickly switching between receiving elements, thus virtually rotating an antenna. By doing this, and measuring the shift in the received frequency, it is possible to calculate the direction of an incoming signal. By linking several of these systems in different locations it is possible to calculate a position fix for a transmission. Most likely the units are tuned to UHF transmissions of military aircraft. They may be used to test the susceptibility of (test-)aircraft to passive radiolocation techniques.

Any further input on these systems is greatly appreciated. All photos taken in September 2001.


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