A Technical History
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A Technical History

Introduction

I  have been asked to write up certain information on the Radio Lumiere installations that might be helpful to future engineers.  This information is to focus primarily on why the network was developed as it is and why the present installation sites were selected.  To answer these questions in an organized and logical manner, I have decided to write a complete history of the technical development of Radio Lumiere.

Radio Lumiere began broadcasting on Christmas day 1958.  It was the brain child of Rev. David Hartt.  It was his vision, faith, and fortitude which made it a reality.  Most of the whys and wherefore of Radio Lumiere came out of his creative mind and advanced vision.  He was always ahead of his time in his thinking.  He has written a book on the history of radio in Haiti which includes the founding of Radio Lumiere.  This document will supplement that work giving more of the technical details.

I first learned of Radio Lumiere in the fall of 1964 while a student at Moody Bible Institute.  I began corresponding with David Hartt at that time.  I felt called to serve the Lord as a technical missionary and was studying in the Missionary Radio Technical course at Moody.  The fall of 1964 was soon after hurricane Cleo which had seriously damaged Cite Lumiere and put Radio  Lumiere off the air for a time.

In January of 1965 I dropped out of school and used the money saved to go to Haiti and help Rev. Hartt with the radio work.  I helped him for two months.  During the summer of 1966 I spent another month in Haiti helping with the ministry.  I felt called of the Lord to full-time missionary service with Radio Lumiere.  Along with my wife, Shirley , I moved to Haiti in November 1968 and served on the engineering staff until May 1984 at which time we returned to the US.  Since then I have followed the radio ministry and maintained sporadic contact with the engineers.  I returned with our son Jeremy in June 1988 to help rebuild the Port AM facility.  At the time of this writing (Feb. 1995) Shirley  and I are again in Haiti to help out for another two months.

All of this introduction is to give some perspective to this document.  Although I cannot take credit for the vision or strategy for the development of Radio Lumiere, I am familiar with most of the thinking that went into it's development.  David Hartt freely shared with me his thinking.  I also had a part in the actual construction of much of the present network.  Perhaps Dave will be able to review this and fill in where my memory is short or my understanding is incomplete.

I.  Radio Lumiere begins at Cite Lumiere in 1958

David Hartt came to Haiti as a missionary in 1942 with the West Indies Mission (WIM, now Worldteam).  Although a missionary pastor by job description, radio was always his passion.  He had been a radio ham and experimenter since childhood.  Although he didn't have formal engineering training, he became knowledgeable through self-study.  His ability to read and assimilate knowledge often put him ahead of those with the more formal education.  He was also a restless visionary who was always ahead of his piers and his time.  I often found that by the time I could understand his vision he had gone beyond it another two or three steps.

Dave had actually secured a radio station license to build a station at Cayes in 1945.  Despite his vision and drive, the timing wasn't right.  The biggest obstacle was the radio receiver.  In the days before transistors, vacuum tube receivers were expensive and required large heavy batteries to operate.  They were beyond the dreams of the target audience.  Instead of building a radio station, Dave Hartt went to Guadelupe and opened that field for the mission.

By 1958 there had been some changes.  The transistor had been invented and perfected.  Small transistor radios were available which could operate from flashlight batteries.  Although few people in the south of Haiti had radios, there was potential for radio broadcasting -- at least in the mind of a true visionary like David Hartt.  Still other obstacles seemed insurmountable.  Politically the country was unstable.  Francois Duvalier  had just  become president and was struggling to secure his position.  To government leaders, radio may represent a tool as dangerous as firearms.

The situation within the mission wasn't much better.  At this time there wasn't much respect for the Gospel message or its messengers.  Mission and church leaders felt alone, isolated and discouraged.  WIM leaders had never before been involved in broadcasting and didn't feel ready to start under such circumstances.

For Hartt, these circumstances were opportunities, not obstacles.  When mission leaders finally gave the nod for him to begin (as long as he could do it without involving their resources), he set about securing a license, developing a funding base, and building and buying equipment.   I don't know the exact chronology, but by late 1958, he  was ready to broadcast.

The first Radio Lumiere station was at Cite Lumiere, near Les Cayes.   Except for a few scattered missionaries, WIM had only one center in Haiti at the time.  Few cities had reliable electric power.  Cite Lumiere was not connected to commercial power, but they did have their own diesel electric power plants.  Although Cite Lumiere was a poor location for AM broadcasting, it was the only possible site to begin.  Initially both the studios and transmitters were located at the present Cite Lumiere studio.

The initial equipment was rather simple.  Dave Hartt built most of it or modified equipment from surplus.  The first antenna consisted of several pieces of 3" aluminum irrigation pipe hooked together.  To erect it took the entire missionary community holding guy wires and pushing it up, section by section.  During the early testing, this had to be done several times until Dave could get it tuned well enough to accept the load.

One of the people instrumental in preparing the early equipment was P. K. Myhre of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He was a brilliant pioneer missionary engineer who had been associated both with HCJB and Collins Radio.  He became Dave's mentor and resource person.  He formed Mission Engineering, which built several of the later Radio Lumiere transmitters.  Much of the early Radio Lumiere equipment was built from Collins surplus parts, which were readily available at the Collins surplus outlet in Cedar Rapids.  Dave Hartt did the building under the guidance of P. K.  As far as I know P. K. Myhre never visited Radio Lumiere or Haiti, but remained a rich resource well into the 1970s.

When I first arrived in Haiti early in 1965, Cite Lumiere was still the primary Radio Lumiere site, although a 250-watt relay transmitter had been installed at Cote Plage in Port-au-Prince.  At that time a 160-foot tower was installed on the hilltop beside the radio studio (next to the pump house) for AM on 760 KHZ.  The transmitter was a 1 kw using four 833 tubes.  This is the same transmitter that later operated at Torbec until about 1992.  It was homebuilt using the cabinets and many parts from some high power VHF transmitters. The console was also homemade, using tubes.  It was housed in a surplus Collins enclosure.

Shortwave broadcasting was also part of the early Radio Lumiere history.  In 1965 we had two transmitters operating on three frequencies.  One was a band-switching surplus transmitter, and the other was a homebuilt, operating on a single frequency.  Both operated between 250 and 500 watts and used wire antennas.  Frequencies used were 2410 KHz on the 120M band and 6100 KHz on the 49M band.  Both were designed to help augment the limited AM signal to reach the WIM (or MEBSH) churches in the southern peninsula.

A frequency in the 31M band was also used for awhile, beamed into Cuba.  When missionaries left Cuba after the Castro takeover, there was a desire to encourage WIM churches there.  Spanish programs figured into each day's broadcast, about an hour per day.  After Louis Markwood left Cuba and became Haiti Field Director, he became the primary speaker for this broadcast.  Shortwave broadcasting was terminated as the network developed and when interference from high power transmitters rendered the Spanish broadcasts ineffective.

Something should be said about receivers.  In 1958 there were almost no radio receivers owned by our target audience of MEBSH church members.  Success in broadcasting required not only transmission of the message, but also helping people get receivers.  Dave purchased transistor radios in bulk quantities from Phillips at a reasonable cost.  These were fix-tuned to the Radio Lumiere frequencies for both AM and shortwave.  They were loaned under written contract to churches and key individuals.  Radio Lumiere was also responsible for the repair of these radios and trained technicians to do most of the work.

A later adaptation of this program about 1970 was called the Radio Club. Standard tunable AM radios were then purchased in quantities and sold on contract along with a maintenance contract.  This program was discontinued when low cost radios became readily available from merchants, even in the smaller towns.

Some outstanding radio people got their initial training as radio repairmen in the Radio Lumiere transistor radio program.  Dennis August was an early technician.  He has made a successful career in radio technology, working now for many years in the U.S.  Seraphim Moise, who became Cayes station manager, began in the radio repair shop.  Jean Verdier was another to receive his first training with Lynn Becker in the radio shop.  He has gone on to become one of Haiti's leading radio engineers.

II.  The Network Concept

Dave Hartt's vision was always for more than simply broadcasting to the Cayes plain.  He wanted to provide quality Christian broadcasting to the entire nation.  Such a lofty goal certainly presented incredible technical challenges.  Even a high powered AM transmitter couldn't do the job in mountainous Haiti.  The cost of operating such a high powered station exceeded even David Hartt's faith.  Shortwave was never more than a stop gap measure.  Short wave is inherently unreliable and low quality.  Shortwave receivers are also more expensive.

Dave conceived of a network of medium-powered AM stations that would blanket the entire country with quality programming.  Such an idea wouldn't be unreasonable in a developed country with the availability of leased phone lines or with the satellite technology of today.  In Haiti in the late 1950s it seemed far fetched.  Only a visionary would even dream up such a thing.

Dave made his first attempts at a network in the early 1960s.  He established a two-way radio link between Cite Lumiere and Jeremie using old commercial FM communications gear.  The frequencies used were in the 48-49 MHz range.  This path is far from line-of-site, with a large mountain in the way.  Propagation was possible on these frequencies because of reflections and refractions in the mountains.  A low power AM station was put on the air at Jeremie.  The project ultimately failed due to (1) unreliable commercial power at Jeremie and (2) long-term signal fades on the FM signal, making it unsuitable for rebroadcasting.

By 1964 Hartt was experimenting with mountain-top relays on the standard FM broadcast band, using low-powered, transistorized, on-channel amplifiers (or repeaters) and translators.  A one-way link from Cayes to Port-au-Prince was functional by late 1964, making possible the initiation of a 250 watt AM outlet in Port-au-Prince by late December 1964.

In retrospect, the network concept has proven to be an ingenious and highly effective approach for Radio Lumiere.  I remember reviewing plans for the network with Dave on the front steps of the radio station in Port in 1969.  By comparison, a single 50 kw AM station doesn't have nearly as much coverage, and yet will cost far more to operate.  The downside of the network is the problem of installing and maintaining equipment at several different locations.  Even with these problems, the network has been a great success.  No other Haiti broadcaster has ever achieved an equivalent result using other methods.

III.  FM Translators and Repeaters

Without phone lines or other common carrier resources available to connect the network stations, Dave Hartt was faced with having to develop systems to carry the signal between AM transmission sites.  He developed the idea of using the standard FM broadcast band (88-108 MHz) with mountain-top relay sites to carry the signal from location to location.  Such a system had never before been done.

Several factors made this idea rather attractive.  The wide band channels would provide much better audio quality than narrow band commercial channels.  The frequency range was also near ideal.  Relatively large distances between relay points could be tolerated.  Higher frequencies (even 150 MHz) would require shorter distances between relay points, hence, more equipment, sites, cost and maintenance problems.  Frequencies below 50 MHz don't have this problem, but are much more subject to skywave skip interference during periods of high sunspot activity.  The FM broadcast band occasionally experiences skywave skip, but it is relatively rare.  An additional benefit from using the FM broadcast band was the potential for FM listeners, although FM radios were almost unknown in Haiti in the early 60s.

Since FM broadcasts were unheard of in Haiti at this time, the Haitian government granted Radio Lumiere almost  unlimited use of the band.  This spectrum was considered virtually useless.

With the concept of an FM relay system in mind, there was still the problem of finding suitable equipment.  Since such a thing had never been done before, there was not any available manufactured equipment.  A relatively new technology at the time was the use of translators and repeaters for television rebroadcasting.  Such devices were being used to extend the coverage of TV stations, especially where part of a station's primary coverage area was blocked by mountains.

By definition a translator is a device which receives a signal, amplifies it, and retransmits it on another frequency.  A translator does this without demodulating the signal so that it retains it's original characteristics.  This is in contrast to a typical communications repeater which receives a signal, demodulates it to audio, and then uses this audio signal to modulate a transmitter on another frequency.  The term repeater has a different definition as applied to the early Radio Lumiere network.  In this usage, a repeater is a device which receives a signal and retransmits it on the same frequency.  In effect it is a high gain tuned RF amplifier.

By 1963 transistor technology had advanced to the point where low power devices were available for VHF frequencies.  Keith Anderson Co. of Black Hawk, SD was custom manufacturing low power transistorized VHF TV translators.  He agreed to adopt some of his designs for the FM broadcast band for Radio Lumiere.  All of the early repeaters and translators used by Radio  Lumiere were Keith Anderson units.  All of them were low power devices.  The highest power translator used was rated at 1 watt, but would produce it only under ideal conditions.  The repeaters and other translators produced 100 mw to 250 mw.  Dave actually succeeded at transmitting signals between Tete Boeuf and Morne L'Hopital with as little as 10 mw.  This equipment was relatively reliable.  It's greatest limitation became apparent when other stations began to use FM.  Since the equipment was designed to reproduce wide band TV signals, it was capable of repeating or translating a major segment of the FM broadcast band.  We found ourselves rebroadcasting several stations besides our own!  Several people, including myself, Dave Hartt, and state side friends tried to design a replacement narrow band translator.  None of them ever proved suitable.

By the early 70's the lack of a suitable FM translator was our greatest technical obstacle.  The need was finally met by the development of the Jones translator.  Robert A. Jones was a well known consulting engineer from La Grange, IL.  In the early 1970's he began volunteering his time as a consultant for Radio Lumiere.  He saw our need for a reliable translator, but also saw a potential market for FM translators.  It was about this time that the FCC approved the use of FM translators in the US.  His basic design, which has been built by several companies, has become the standard of the industry.  It is used worldwide and is still being produced today.

Before leaving the subject of  FM translators, something more should be said about the FM repeaters as used by Radio Lumiere in the early days.  This technology was abandoned as higher transmitting powers came into use and as the Jones translator was developed.  Today the FM broadcast band has become the primary interest of commercial broadcasters.  There is great pressure on the limited FM broadcast spectrum.  Even if not forced to do so by the Haitian government, Radio Lumiere should voluntarily minimize it's use of FM frequencies.  The use of on channel repeaters may be one way of doing this at certain installations.  It may be necessary to revive this technology.  In order for an FM on channel repeater to work, the isolation between the input and output must be greater than the gain of the amplifier.  This can be done several ways.  The use of highly directional antennas such as stacked yagis placed so that one is in the null of the other is important.  The use of cross polarization (horizontal to vertical) between input and output adds approximately 20 db of isolation. Increasing the distance between the input and output antennas also helps.  Some people have succeeded with repeaters by vertical distance isolation of antennas on the same antenna support structure.  Generally long transmission line runs are used to isolate antennas on the horizonal plane.  The primary method for providing isolation, however, is terrain isolation.  The ridge of a mountain is used to isolate the input and output antennas.  Some experimental work has been done using the Jones translator as a repeater by tuning the input and output to the same frequency.  To do this successfully will probably require removing the translator input and output sections from their cabinet and mounting each near it's respective antenna.  This also has the advantage that the long transmission line between the units carries only the IF frequency resulting in lower losses.

Let me also say a word about the welded steel FM antennas developed by Dave and used throughout the network.  For many years I felt that the performance of these were inferior to commercial antennas made from other materials.  At one time we purchased some commercial antennas and did comparative testing.  Although the welded steel antennas appear crude, their tested performance was excellent.  They are also extremely durable.  Some of our antennas have probably been in operation for 30 years.

I would also like to make a note that much of the Radio Lumiere network was build using 70 ohm transmission feedlines rather than the more conventional 50 ohm line.  The primary reason for this was the donation of a large quantity of low loss one inch foam dielectric coax cable.  Superior Cable company on two separate occasions donated a 3000 foot roll of this cable.  This cable was of extremely high quality with low loss and high power handling capability.  The first roll donated (in the late 1960's) had a built in messenger cable.  The second roll was donated in the early 70's and did not have the messenger cable.  Some of this cable is still in use today and functioning well.  Since this cable was designed for the cable TV industry, it had a characteristic impedance of 70 ohms.  At one time 70 ohm became our standard system impedance.  Later as we got newer equipment which was designed to only operate on 50 ohms, some installations were changed to that standard.  The important thing to keep in mind is that some of our older equipment and antennas is actually designed for 70 ohms.  The only practical problem in dealing with this 70 ohm cable is that most of the test equipment is designed for 50 ohms.  In many situations the two cables can be mixed with minimum signal degradation, although a correct match is always preferred.

IV.    Site Selection

David Hartt spent considerable time and energy in researching, selecting, and purchasing the various transmission sites used by Radio Lumiere.  The perspective of history has proven that his choices have been very wise.  Future engineers need to understand the strategic nature and value of these sites and to make every effort to preserve them.  Before reviewing each site individually, I would like to outline the general characteristics for site selection.

In selecting locations for AM broadcast transmission, the primary factor is ground conductivity.  Medium wave AM signals travel primarily by ground wave.  Vertical antennas work in connection with a ground system.  Propagation is by waves that travel along the surface of the earth.  When the soil conductivity is good, signals will travel great distances.  When soil conductivity is poor, even high power transmitters will cover only short distances.  Salt water has the highest conductivity.  Salt plains, marshes, and fertile farm land have the best soil conductivity.  Mountains, rocky soil, and coarse sandy soil has the lowest conductivity.  Of course, an AM site must be close to it's intended target audience.  In urban areas considerable signal strength is needed to overcome strong man made noise and interference.  Road access to an AM site is also essential.  Access to reliable commercial power is also a great asset,  Another consideration is the need for a large relatively flat area.  Tower guying and antenna ground systems require an area of at least 300 meters by 300 meters.  These considerations make low lying marshy areas near urban centers desirable.

When selecting FM and relay sites, the primary consideration is line-of-sight transmission paths to the intended receivers.  This generally dictates the selection of high mountain top sites.  Whereas some VHF transmission beyond line of site is possible, reliable reception is only in the line-of-sight path.  Access roads and commercial power are also desirable characteristics but not as essential as for AM sites.  Since low power transmitters can be used for relays and even for limited broadcasting,  the smaller equipment can be packed in and alternative energy sources can be used.  Preliminary selection of FM sites can be made using contour maps and plotting the contours on earth contour graph paper.  Since these maps are not always accurate, it is necessary to visit the perspective sites to visually confirm that a line-of-site path exists.  Test transmissions can also be used to confirm the path.

V.    Cite Lumiere, Cayes

As already discussed,  Cite Lumiere became the first Radio Lumiere operational site.  Initially, this was a good location for programming since potential programmers were already associated with the mission and Cite Lumiere.  The transmitters were also there in the beginning.  It was never a good transmitting site since the tiff rock of the hill top had poor soil conductivity.  Today Cite Lumiere is still a good location for a secondary studio and a repair facility.  It is also a handy location for part-time program producers associated with MEBSH.

VI.    Cote Plage, Port-au-Prince

In order to expand the Radio Lumiere network, a base in Port-au-Prince was essential.  Dave Hartt bought the first piece of property in Port in 1964.  That time in Haitian history was one of great political unrest and uncertainly.  Francois Duvalier was still struggling to maintain control of the country.  Coups were frequent.  Radio broadcasting was a hot potato.  Radio Lumiere was tolerated only because it was totally non-political.  A radio network such as Radio Lumiere planned  would be a highly desirable acquisition for the government.  In that context, the key word in selecting a location was "low profile."  The challenge was to become effective while appearing to barely exist.  Cote Plage was reasonably isolated from Port-au-Prince.  At the time it was a rural setting, not a part of the main city.  Yet it had reasonable access to downtown P-au-P.  Those were the days before traffic congestion on Carrefour road.  A person could travel to downtown in only 20 minutes by tap or in 10 minutes by car or motorcycle.  Believe it or not, I used to run downtown to check the mail box on my way home from the studio for lunch in Deacon.

Initially the Cote Plage studio was a private residence mostly surrounded by open fields with a few other houses.  The property was not walled in and such walls were not really necessary.  It became the residence of the Hartt family.  Radio Lumiere occupied only a small space in the living room.  An FM receiver received the link signal from Cayes and rebroadcast it on a 250 watt Collins transmitter.  The antenna consisted of  60 foot of homemade tower, a center loading coil, and an additional 40 foot of 3" irrigation pipe.  The tower is the same one that still supports receiving antennas near the front of the studio.  A few ground radial were hand dug and extended into neighboring lots.

Over the years, and through a whole series of renovations, the original house was transformed into the studios that we have today.  The rear part of the Cote Plage complex housing the offices, shop, apartment, and classrooms was designed and built about 1972.

For many years now, the Cote Plage location has been less than ideal.  It is in the "down scale" side of town.  Traffic congestion has isolated it from the airport and the upper class sections of town.  This has made it more difficult to use some of the potential volunteer resources that would be available if the studios were located in Deltas or Petionville.  Many times relocation of the studio complex has been discussed.  The tremendous cost of relocation has always ruled against actually making such a move.  The move of Stereo 92 to Petionville has somewhat helped this problem.  At one time, Radio Lumiere also  rented a complex in the center of town.  Offices were established there and studio construction was begun.  The lack of parking in town, the availability of phones in Carrefour, and the cost of maintaining another location eventually forced it's closing.  Today others occupy the office and it is little more than a mail drop for Radio Lumiere.

VII.    Morne Tete Boeuf

Tete Boeuf was selected as the one mountain top that would allow one hop retransmission of VHF signals from Cayes to the mountains behind Port-au-Prince.  There is no other mountain-top that will allow this.  The telephone company and others interested in relaying between Port and Cayes have had to use multiple locations to avoid Tete Boeuf.  The problem with Tete Boeuf is the difficult access.  The only way to get there is by a difficult foot trail.  Only because of the high level of commitment of the Radio Lumiere engineering staff has it been possible for us to continue to use this site.  Other potential users have not been willing to make the sacrifice needed to build installations there.  This has been to our advantage.  Since the peak is pointed, there is little room for other services.  We have so far been saved from competition and interference at this site.

I am not sure if the land at Tete Boeuf is owned or leased.

VIII.   Morne L' Hopital

Morne L'Hopital was the initial relay point near P-au-P.  The site is on the same mountain ridge as Boutillier but several miles west.  It overlooks P-au-P, Carrefour, and Cote Plage.  There is an excellent line-of-sight path from there to Tete Boeuf.  This path extends over the south side of the ridge so that antennas pointed towards Tete Boeuf can be shielded from P-au-P.  Access to this site was by a short (1 hour) foot trail that took off from the quarries which can be seen on the front face of the mountain.  A road to this location (used extensively by dump trucks carrying building materials) comes out near Fort Mercredi and Bolose.  This road also continues on across the face of the mountain and joins the main road at Boutillier.  This section of the road has never been maintained and is often impassable even by jeep.

Equipment at this location included a low power translator which received Tete Boeuf and retransmitted the signal on 92.1 MHz to Cote Plage.  In the other direction, an on-channel repeater amplifier received the 97.9 MHz signal from Cote Plage and relayed it to Tete Boeuf.  Horizontal stacked yagis received the signal on the front face of the mountains.  The transmitting antennas were vertically polarized stacked yagis over the ridge on the back side of the mountain.  Approximately 500 feet of coax cable separated the antennas.  No building was ever built on this site.  Equipment was housed in simple metal boxes.  A small 12 volt windcharger supplied power.  Because of the low current drain of the equipment, a small automotive battery could power one of the units for up to 6 weeks without any charge.  At times dry cell batteries were used for power.  We never owned or leased property at this site.  I believe that we used it by informal agreement of the owner.

Morne L'Hopital was abandoned in 1973 after property was secured at Boutillier and an installation was built there.  Morne L'Hopital was never a good broadcasting site since it doesn't cover Petionville.  Boutillier was superior at the time for both broadcasting and for relay purposes.

Today there is a road and power lines to our old site at Morne L'Hopital.  There has been considerable development of the area with several large houses.  The Adventist Radio station has their FM transmitter site and a school just a few hundred meters east of our old site.  A person can drive there by taking the road near the Boutillier turnoff above Petionville.

I believe that with recent changes,  we should reconsider establishing Morne L'Hopital as a relay site.   Because of the rf congestion, intermodulation, and cross modulation problems at Boutillier, it is no longer a suitable site for weak signal reception.  In addition, interference from the Dominican Republic make it unsuitable for relaying Tete Boeuf.  Delpeche is not much better for this purpose.  The same interference from the DR causes problems.  It also is rapidly developing into an RF jungle.  L'Hopital offers distance as well as natural shielding from both Boutillier and the DR.  It should be an ideal location for relay purposes, especially with road and power access.   This site may become even more important as we may be required to drastically modify our relay network in the future.  I recommend that we put priority on either buying or leasing suitable property while it is still available.  It must be emphasized,  however,  that L'Hopital is not a suitable broadcast site since it doesn't cover Petionville.  It should never be considered as a replacement for Boutillier.

IX.    Boutillier

Boutillier has become the main FM transmitting site for Radio Lumiere in Port.  We have many times referred to it as the Perchoir.  Perchoir was the name of the now defunct restaurant which is located next to our installation.  Boutillier is the name of the region and the more proper name for the installation.

Boutillier is a unique and extremely valuable radio site.  There are only a few acres of property at this location that allow VHF coverage of both P-au-P and Petionville.  No other site is able to do so.  Hence, many stations both for radio broadcasting and communications have moved to this site.  So many transmitters are located there that many problems of rf overload, intermodulation, and cross modulation have developed.  This is a common problem which is also seen at many similar unique sites around the major cities in the US.  Although it is easy to be discouraged by these RBI problems, there are solutions for them that we have not yet used.

Boutillier was not always loaded with antennas.  When I first arrived in Haiti the only antenna there was that of the defunct VHF television station.  At the time, Radio Lumiere was the only station in the country using FM.  The government and foreign embassies were probably the only ones using VHF communications.

Dave Hartt was quick to see the strategic nature of Boutillier for FM broadcasting and started early in the process to try to secure property there.  This was not as easy as it might sound.  Even though the properties there were mostly undeveloped at the time and radio services had not yet seen the value of them, they were still difficult to obtain.  Developers did see the value of these properties for their view potential and were holding on to them.  He spent countless hours tracking down land owners and maintaining periodic contact with them.  It took several years but eventually the effort paid off and we were able to obtain our property there.  I believe that we initially leased it but were later able to purchase it.

Our first installation at Boutillier was built in 1973.  The present building was built  then.  Our first antenna support was a 80 foot long wooden telephone pole which Dave obtained used in P-au-P.  The story of getting it to Boutillier is one which should be told in detail!  After Dave purchased it, he found that no one was willing to transport it up the winding road to the mountain and that no one seemed to have the equipment to install it.  Finally, Mr. Kansky, a friend and garage owner of German decent agreed to the challenge.  He lashed it to his tow truck and took it up the hill in the middle of the night.  While installing it a two inch steel trailer hitch on his truck broke.  The pole came crashing down on his truck and broke it in two.  He repaired it and finished the installation.   In case anyone ever tries to dig it up, there is an incredibly large block of cement under ground which originally supported that pole.  I believe that it is a 10 foot cube.

Our present 120 foot self-supporting tower was installed in 1983.  Other than that, little has changed at this installation since it was first built.

Boutillier is one of our most strategic transmitting sites for FM.  Maintaining our property rights there and our right to use the site for broadcasting should always be a priority.  We have enough property there for limited development such as a small house or studio.

X.    Fort Delpeche

Fort Delpeche was the first site built when Radio Lumiere expanded beyond P-au-P and Cayes.  This 6000 foot mountain peak has line-of-sight contact not only with Port, but also with many sections of the country.  Most of the country can be linked from this site using secondary relays on other mountain tops.

The original installation at Fort Delpeche was built by Dave Hartt, Warren Griffin, and myself in the spring of 1969.  It was the first installation built as Radio Lumiere expanded beyond Cayes and Port-au-Prince.  It was also the first installation that I worked on after coming to Haiti.  I took off time from French language study to be able to help with it.  We built a small tin shack, installed the 1 watt Anderson translator in an old refrigerator, installed a receiving yagi, a 24 volt windcharger, and put up a 60 foot tower to support the transmitting antenna.   At the time the only access to Delpeche was a foot and horse trail that took off from Williamson on highway National 1.  Dave had called for 100 volunteers from the mountain churches to help carry the equipment up the trail.  Less than twenty showed up.  The first night Warren and I slept on sheets of tin at the trail head waiting for more volunteers.  It probably took three days to get everything to the Fort.  The hardest thing to get to the top was the old refrigerator.  The men could find ways  even to carry the 20 foot tower sections and the large batteries, but the refrigerator just seemed impossible.  Eventually even the refrigerator made it to the top.

In the  early 80's Jean Verdier built the block building at Delpeche.  Other than that the installation is much as we originally built it except for the installation of newer and additional equipment.  The windcharger originally installed at Delpeche was never a success.  I recall that there were problems with the blades, but more than that it did not seem that there was much real wind energy at the site.  During the late 70's we had solar panels installed at Delpeche.  These are some of the same panels now installed at Montangac.  They never produced enough energy to power the installation.  Despite this, I believe that solar energy is still feasible at Delpeche.  The panels that we used were early commercial panels.  I don't believe that they ever produced the energy that they were expected to produce.  In addition we simply didn't have enough panels to compensate for the amount of cloud cover at the site.  Throughout the history of this site we have always fallen back to the use of engine driven alternators.  Keeping the batteries charged has always been our greatest maintenance headache and the cause for most of our down time.

Delpeche remains an important radio site because it dominates so much of the country.  Recently several other radio services have moved there.  This includes FM broadcast services for Port-au-Prince because of the lack of suitable available sites near Port.  These services may well fail as broadcast facilities unless access to the site can be substantially improved.  For Radio Lumiere it  represents an important link in the network for the foreseeable future.  I believe that a modern and conservatively sized solar array could substantially improve our reliability.  With the reduced security in the country such an array could be a theft target.  It may be that in the near future we will need a resident guardian and maybe even a walled complex.

We own the land at Delpeche and have enough land to expand if we ever need to.

X.    En Haut Garde

En Haut Garde is a mountain top north of Pignon.  We have sometimes referred to it in our writings as Fort Riviere.  In reality the site was not at Fort Riviere but was identified locally as En Haut Garde.  This site was part of the network expansion plan of 1968.  It was considered an essential relay point to get the network signal from Delpeche to the AM site at LaJeune, Pignon.  LaJeune doesn't have a clear line-of-site path to Delpeche.  I built this site in 1969 in co-operation with the Missionary Church.  They researched the site and either purchased or leased property there.  We built an installation which was virtually identical to Delpeche.  This site was also designed to cover Cap Haitian.  A two way FM link between Port and 4VEH in Cap was planned.  The site does provide line-of-site coverage of part of Cap including the 4VEH transmitter site.

This site was decommissioned and disassembled by 1976.  This was despite the fact that it was an excellent site location.  The reasons for this were:  1) The site proved unnecessary for the LaJeune station since it was able to receive adequate signal directly from Delpeche.   2) We never had a suitable translator for the location.  We originally planned to use a translator which I had built.  It never worked well.  3)  We never had an adequate power source.  We tried to use a small gas engine driving an alternator.  This simply wasn't adequate.  4)  The planned two way link with 4VEH didn't materialize.  5)  Maintenance of the site from P-au-P was difficult because of it's remoteness.

En Haut Garde remains a potential expansion site, either for FM broadcasting into Cap or for a communications repeater which would allow live news coverage from the north.  Maintenance could become more feasible with air service now available into Pignon.

XI.  Montagnac

 

Montagnac is unique among our FM relay sites.  This is because it was designed primarily for FM broadcasting rather than for relay purposes.  The Grand Anse area of Haiti has always been a problem area for Radio Lumiere.  The mountainous terrain of the NW section of the southern peninsula make radio coverage difficult.  Jeremie is the only sizable town.  Little power is available and access is difficult.  Despite this, the area is strategic because of the many MEBSH churches in the area.  Because of geography, these churches have always felt somewhat cut off and isolated from the MEBSH mainstream.  This sentiment has been increased by the poor coverage of Radio Lumiere in the area.  The Radio Lumiere AM outlet at Jeremie only partially solved this problem.  It does not cover all of the Grand Anse.  Dame Marie and other surrounding towns still didn't have adequate radio reception.  An AM station at Dame Marie didn't seem feasible.  Studies of the problem in the early 1980's led us to the decision to try to cover the area around Dame Marie by FM.  Montagnac was built to provide Radio Lumiere to Dame Marie and some surrounding areas on FM.  At least one other FM station was planned to give coverage to Les Irois and Anse d' Hainault.  The additional FM outlets have not yet been built.

About 1981 Jay and Beth Weaver moved to Dame Marie.  Their purpose for being there was two fold.   They were to be an encouragement to local churches and to develop Radio Lumiere in the area.  The Montagnac site was selected for the first FM outlet in the area.  Property there belonged to Mission par la Foi in Jeremie.  They allowed us to use it.  Jay and I built the installation there about 1983.  The antenna tower is a 120 foot guyed Rohn tower supporting a four bay horizontally polarized transmitting antenna and stacked vertically polarized receiving antennas.  A simple tin shack houses the equipment.  The original solar panels from Delpeche were installed there and were later supplemented by additional panels.   These panels supply most of the needed power, but  there is also a back-up motor-generator.   The site is also equipped with a remote broadcasting receiver and a modulator for local programming from Dame Marie.

In order to make FM broadcasting effective in this area, we had to once again become involved in radio receiver distribution.  At the time there were very few FM receivers in the area.  We purchased AM-FM receivers in bulk and distributed them at a subsidized cost.

XII.  Torbec

 

Torbec is the location of our AM transmitter for the Cayes plain.  Actually, the site is not at the village of Torbec, but further west at a location known as Houk.  Since no one has ever heard of Houk, Torbec serves as a better identifier.

From the beginning of broadcasting,  Dave Hartt sought for a better AM site to replace Cite Lumiere.  He identified the present area as being close to ideal.  The ground was fertile and usually wet providing the needed ground conductivity.  It was close enough to Cayes for primary signal coverage.  Because it was on a section of the St. Jean's peninsula, it provided a partial salt water path to part of the southern coast (such as St. Louis du Sud and Aquin).  Even more important, it provided the lowest terrain for coverage of the  towns from Roche a Bateau to Les Angles along the western coast.   Commercial power was not available at the time, but neither was it available closer to Cayes.  The road access was acceptable.

Selecting the best AM site for Cayes was not as difficult as securing property.  Land owners in the area were not interested in selling.  It took two hurricanes in 1963 and 1964 to finally make the property available.  Radio Lumiere played and important role in warning people and saving lives when these hurricanes hit the south.  This publicity and public service made it possible to ask government officials for help in purchasing land.  They intervened to encourage people to sell us their land.

The first installation at Torbec was made in 1965.  One 240 foot tower was installed and the present transmitter building and power house were built.  The 1 KW transmitter was moved from Cite Lumiere.  An efficient but old Witte diesel electric plant was installed along with a 3000 gallon underground fuel storage tank.  Initially the transmitter building was divided into two rooms, one for the transmitter and one for Hose Misere who became the first operator and care taker.   All of the initial construction was done by Dave Hartt.

A major upgrade of the Torbec facilities took place in 1971 and 1972.  The Torbec location lends itself to a directional antenna since there is no need to transmit to the south into the sea.  Dave had dreamed of such an antenna.  When Robert Jones began consulting for Radio Lumiere in 1970 he brought the expertise and contacts to make possible such an antenna.  Additional land was purchased and a second 250 foot tower constructed south of the original one.  A cardioid antenna pattern concentrates the signal where it is most needed.  A second phase of this upgrade was to increase the transmitted power.  At first a 5 KW transmitter was envisioned.  However,  Dave felt that a 20 KW could be custom built almost as cheaply.  P.K. Myhre was contracted to build this transmitter for us.   This new transmitter required that we remove the wall in the transmitter room and move Hose and his expanded family into an adjacent house which we built for him.  Still another part of this expansion was to bring in commercial power from the town of Cayes.  By this time the town had reliable full-time power.  Extending the lines to Torbec was an expensive project, but more cost effective than installing large diesel plants.

Warren Griffin was the Cayes station engineer at the time and did all of this expansion project.  The antenna tuning and phasing units were custom built in the US by Bob Jones in his garage.  The components used were obtained by Bob as donations from other stations.

The original number one tower became badly rusted and was replaced by a used Windcharger (angle iron style) tower about 1980.  Warren Griffin also installed this replacement tower.  The operators  original house was replaced by a block building about 1982.  The original 1 KW transmitter served as a back-up transmitter until it was replaced by a newer RCA in 1992.

XIII.  Menelas

 

Menelas, our Port-au-Prince AM broadcasting site, has frequently been called "the tide flat" because of it's physical location.  The site was selected by Dave Hartt about the time that he moved to Port in 1964.  Initially a large tract of essentially worthless salt flat property was leased from the Haitian government.  Later the government deeded the property to Radio Lumiere.  At the time there were no other antennas in the area.  In fact the only other vertical broadcasting antenna in Port was that of Radio Commerce on route National 1.  Dave selected the site because of it's excellent ground conductivity, proximity to P-au-P, and salt water path to many towns along the Bay of Port-au-Prince.  Initially there was neither a road or power lines to the site.  Dave built about a mile of road to the site.  Later on power lines were extended the same distance.

The first installation at Menelas was built about 1967.  It included our present antenna, transmitter building, and power house.  The first power source was a small 3 KW Witte diesel which ran the 250 watt Collins (1940 vintage) transmitter which first operated at Cote Plage.  Improvements were made in 1968 by installing additional ground wires and a larger power plant.  A new 1 KW Mission Engineering (P.K. Myhre) transmitter was installed in 1969.  The 5 KW Mission Engineering transmitter was installed soon afterward.  Power lines were extended to the site at the same time.  Dave Hartt was the primary engineer building this site.  Warren Griffin and I helped with some of the work.

In November 1987 the transmitters and other equipment in the transmitter building were destroyed during a time of political violence.  Political enemies fire bombed the transmitter building at night.  The installation remained off the air until June 1988.  Leon Amstutz and Lynn Becker purchased and refurbished a used RCA transmitter.  The other needed equipment was purchased.  During June 1988 I, my son Jeremy, and electrician Ed Williams rebuilt the installation.  That same year a new 5 KW Continental transmitter was purchased, but it's installation wasn't completed until 1991.  Throughout the years various standby power plants have been used at Menelas.  The present Allis Chalmers power plant has been operating there since about 1980.

XIV.  La Jeune,  Pignon

 

Initial planning for the LaJeune AM site  goes back to at least 1965.  During my first visit to Haiti I  traveled with Mr. and Mrs. Hartt to Cap Haitian and returned through the Central Plateau.  We spent the night with Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Mollett directors of the Missionary Church in Haiti.  Dave talked to them about the possibility of developing a network station at LaJeune to serve the Central Plateau area.  There was definite interest.  Later a co-operative agreement between Radio Lumiere and the Missionary Church was formalized.  Authorization to build this station as well as those in the Artibonite and at Jeremie was not secured until mission leaders met with President Francois Duvalier at the end of 1968.

The LaJeune station was constructed during 1969.  I was assigned as the project engineer, but most of the physical work was done by the Missionary Church missionaries.  They installed the tower, and built the buildings.  I installed the transmitter and put it on the air.  The equipment today is not much different than when originally installed.

The primary reason for locating at LaJeune was the presence of the Missionary Church personnel with their willingness to co-operate.  They already were operating diesel generators with enough excess capacity to run the transmitter.  The site is rather central to the Plateau giving good signal strength to many locations.  Ground conductivity isn't excellent, but is about as good as anyplace in the Central Plateau.

XV.  Carrefour Paye,  Artibonite

 

An AM station to cover the Artibonite valley was one of those authorized in 1968.  Finding suitable property was a difficult problem.  Dave spent many hours traveling the Artibonite area and searching for property.  Because the land is so rich for raising rice, no one was willing to sell.  He finally was able to secure the present property about 1971.  The property where the antenna is now located was purchased by Radio Lumiere.  The property under the buildings near the road is land that has been leased.

In choosing the Artibonite station site, it was desired to find a location midway between Gonaives and Saint Marc so that both major cities could be covered as well as the rest of the valley.  Irrigated land was desired to provide optimal ground conductivity.  A site near the main road was desired, but not essential.  Commercial power was not a consideration at the time since none was available in the area.  Another consideration was that line-of-site view of Delpeche was needed to make unnecessary another relay station.  Areas close to Saint Marc are shadowed from Delpeche.

The Artibonite installation was built during the summer of 1972.  I was the project engineer but was helped by Jean Verdier and summer workers Jim Hendershot and Dan Nelson.  The antenna base and anchors had to be built in an irrigated field with standing water.  The antenna consisted of 160 feet of Easy Way tower which was removed from Cite Lumiere.  To this was added 40 feet of home made tower made to match the Easy Way.  The installation had a full 120 ground radial which were hand dug.  Dave Hartt was chief engineer at this time and probably supervised the building construction and maybe the ground system installation.  The transmitter installed there was a used RCA which had been secured for us by Bob Jones.  It was retuned and refurbished at Cote Plage by John Gertzman and summer workers under Dave's direction.

The Artibonite station began operation in Nov. 1972 but developed some problems.  Due to the shortage of engineers after John Gertzman left, these problems were not resolved and regular operation begun until April 1973.  Commercial power became available and was installed about 1979.  The concrete tuning unit house was built by Jean Verdier sometime during the 1980's

XVI.  Jeremie

 

The Jeremie AM outlet was Radio Lumiere's "no budget" station.  There was considerable pressure from MEBSH leadership to provide better radio coverage for the Grand Anse.  Yet, there was not any location available that offered the desired characteristics for an effective AM station.  There were very few funds available to build a station there.

The site was chosen almost by default.  Mission par la Foi owned the property and was willing for us to use it without cost.  By 1972 reliable commercial power was available at the site. It was a poor AM site, but few better sites existed.  A site along the Grand Anse river or in the sea would have been better, but prohibitively expense for construction.  We therefore committed to build the best station that we could within our budget constrains.

The station was build under Dave Hartt's direction, but with several people becoming involved in the work.  The 500 watt transmitter was designed by Dave and built by summer workers from LeTourneau College during the summer of 1972.  It was built in the cabinet of one of our old shortwave transmitters and almost entirely from used parts, some of which came from the old shortwave transmitters.  Several homemade tower sections were already at Jeremie from Dave's earlier experimental station there.  He had additional sections fabricated from water pipe to give a total height of 120 feet.  An abbreviated ground system was hand dug using whatever copper we could salvage.  Originally the transmitter was housed in one of the Par la Foi houses.  The station was meant only to be a stop gap measure.

I remember riding on the ship to Jeremie to watch over our equipment.  That was an experience.  I also remember helping to install part of the ground system.  One of the interesting aspects of this installation is the base insulator.  We didn't have a base insulator or the money to buy one.  Dave had one turned out of dry hardwood.  When we first applied power the reactance was so high that the wood began to boil out sap and moisture.  I think that the problem was resolved by increasing the top loading of the antenna.  Amazingly enough, that wooden insulator is still functioning more than 20 years later.  I don't know when Jeremie went on the air but it must have been late in 1972 or early in 1973.  The only major change in the Jeremie installation was the construction of the transmitter building.  This was built by Warren Griffin, but I don't recall the time frame.

XVII.  Stereo 92

 

Radio Lumiere has always attempted to provide some programming for the more sophisticated audience.  Almost from the beginning there have been a few English programs.  In the mid 70's the decision was made to establish a separate program service for this audience.  Stereo 92 signed on the air November 1976.  Initially broadcasting was from CR3 at Cote Plage.  Later, about 1979 or 1980 an automation system was added.  The present site in Petionville was secured in 1984, but due to the lack of engineering resources, didn't become operational until about 1989.

XVIII.  Local Studios

 

In the early 1980's the creation of local programming studios for each transmitting site was seen as a method of increasing our effectiveness.  These were simple studios designed to provide local color and programming interest during limited hours while obtaining most of the programming from the network.  Local studios have been built at LaJeune, Hinche, Artibonite, Dame Marie, and Cayes (downtown).

XVIV.  Other Locations

 

Throughout the years other locations have been considered for the expansion of Radio Lumiere.  Dave Hartt had always dreamed and planned for AM outlets in Jacmel and Port-de-Paix.  He never obtained licenses for these stations, nor did he obtain authorization from mission officials for the expansion.  I remember traveling to Port-de-Paix about 1969 with Dave to survey potential sites.  He had hoped to interest UFM in a cooperative project such as the one with the Missionary Church.  They had some interest, but never approved the idea formally.  I remember that we hiked to a mountain top to see if it was a suitable relay point for signals from Delpeche.  I don't remember the location or the exact results, but I think that it was favorable.  For Jacmel he had hoped to cooperation with Baptist Mid-Missions, but nothing ever developed.  In retrospect I think that further expansion was slowed by the shear volume of effort needed to maintain the expanded network.

Additional expansion in the Grand Anse was planned during the early 1980's.  After Montagnac was built, there were plans to build another FM outlet which would cover Les Irois and Anse d'Hainault.  A suitable mountain was located and I believe that property was also purchased.  We were also doing serious negotiations with the Methodist Church at Jeremie to lease property from them outside of Jeremie (Chateau).  This would have provided an excellent FM site and an improved AM site.  These plans for the Grand Anse expansion were tabled by the exit of most of our experienced engineers (including myself) during the mid 1980's.

Plans for a two way radio link to Cap Haitian in cooperation with 4VEH likewise never materialized.

XX.  Future

 

There remain many possibilities for the future of Radio Lumiere.  All of the proposed expansion plans outlined in the last section are still potentially possible.  Engineering data for some of these plans is still in the engineering file and still may be applicable.  The future could also include such technologies as using satellites for our relay links.  Only our Lord knows the future.  We must be constantly looking to Him for wisdom and for the best solutions.

XXI.  Engineering Personnel

 

The technical aspects of Radio Lumiere have been made possible by a great many engineers and technicians each making a contribution.  Each one was different with varied gifts and abilities.  Each made a contribution but in a different way.  Radio Lumiere became a reality only because of the vision and tireless work of Dave Hartt.  None of the other engineers involved have had the same abilities.  I could not do the work that Dave did, yet I believe that I made an important contribution by refining our installations, documenting them, and building systems for their maintenance.  Warren Griffin set the record for endurance (20 years) and set the standards for not resting if a station was off the air.   Rob Weir has held the network together against incredible odds while developing a corps of national engineers.  I would not have had the patience to do what he has done.  Each engineer has had a significant impact.  As a tribute,

I will list those that I can remember.  Surely I have omitted some, especially among those who served only a short term.

Dave Hartt (Erma)                                 1957 to 1973

Ralph Smith                                         early 60's

Jim Huckaby (Dottie)                             1967-1969

Lynn Becker (Judy)                               1967-1970

Warren Griffin (Betty)                            1968-1987

Jerry Miel (Shirley)                               1965, 1966, 1968-1984

Steven Andrews                                   summer 1969

Jerry Frost (Karen)                               1974-1978

Barry Timmons (Jean)                          1974-1977

Ken Giring (Ellie)                                 1976-1978

John Gertzman                                   1971-1973

Robert (Pete) Adams                          1973-1975

Jean Verdier                                       1970-1984

Jim Hendershot                                   summer 1972

Dan Nelson (Joyce)                             1972, 1977-1983

John Poysti                                          summer 75, summer 77

Leon Amstutz (Anne)                            summer 73, 1980-1984

Ray Long (Tereasa)                              1973, 1974, 1979-1981

Jay Weaver (Beth)                                1973, 1974, 1979-1987

Rob Weir (Janet)                                  1978-

David Sawatski (Marcia)                       1987-1992

Scott Enserink                                    1988-1990

Bernard Rene                                      1980-1984

Thomas Keppler (Petra)                       1991

Micheal Fuchshuber (Beate)                1993-

Franck Doristil

David Dorsainville

Killick Aristide

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Radio Lumière
 
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