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Guest Post: Photo and Video Tour of Rádio Nacional da Amazônia

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Martin Butera, who shares the following guest post which was originally published in two parts in the September and October 2019 issue of the British DX Club magazine.

Martin notes that this report was also presented live by Chrissy Brand (EDXC Secretary General – editor responsible for the BDXC newsletter) at the 2019 European DX Council EDXC Conference (September 6 – 9) in Andorra.

In commemoration of its 42nd anniversary, Martin has put together this impressive report with sixty photos and five videos of Radio Nacional da Amazonia. Enjoy:


Visit to Rádio Nacional da Amazônia

Rádio Nacional da Amazônia, the largest complex of medium transmitters and short wave transmitters in Latin America and the fifth most powerful transmitting station in the world.

Report and research by: Martín Butera
Photographs and Video (under study) by: Ligia Katze
Photographs and Video (antenna field) by: Mark Van Marx
English adaptation and correction by: Sudipto Ghose (VU2UT)

Subject index and table of contents

1. Introduction (Brief History of the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia).
2. What is the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia? (Interview with the programme producers of the National Radio da Amazônia, Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges and Solimar Luz) – Photos and Video.
3. Interview with broadcaster Beth Begonha
4. Visit to the Mixing Room with Luciano Maia
5. Brief introduction to the antenna field
6. Antennas
7. Transmission Lines
8. Transmitter room
9. Transmitter monitoring and control room
10. Electrical part
11. Transmitter power supply panel
12. National Radio Brasilia AM 980 Khz
13. Final notes by Martin Butera
14. Acknowledgments
15. Review with information from the authors of this report

1. Brief Introduction to the History of “La Rádio Nacional da Amazônia”.

The Rádio Nacional da Amazônia transmits to more than half of the Brazilian territory in short waves, within the frequency range of 11,780 kHz to 6,180 kHz.

The Rádio Nacional da Amazônia is a popular communication media channel that strengthens the link between Amazonian communities, valuing and spreading the cultural diversity of the region. These functional guidelines are born out of the demands of the Amazonian population for social inclusion.

Inaugurated on September 1, 1977, the station was established by the military government under the so-called National Security Doctrine. The objective was to prevent the Amazonian population from continuing to listen only to the sound of the radios of the communist countries, which escaped censorship, for example: Radio La Habana, from Cuba; Moscow International Radio of the former Soviet Union; Radio Tirana of Albania, among others
Two years before the start of the transmission of the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia, in December 1975, Radiobrás was established as a public company that began to centrally administer all radio and television stations throughout the country of Brazil. Under the command of General Lourival Massa da Costa, with the new station, the agency had the mission of “integrating the Amazon with the rest of the country”, through the medium of radio.

During the reign of the military government, massive human rights violations took place. The military regime crushed press freedom and severely repressed the political opposition. The military government formally adopted nationalism, economic development and anti-communism as official mission. Throughout its existence, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian military dictatorship received logistical and economic assistance from the United States government in what was called the Condor Plan, establishing similar dictatorships within the broader framework of the Cold War.

Beginning in the 1980s, military hegemony entered into crisis due to chronic inflation and the progressive collapse of military regimes in Argentina, Peru and other neighbours in South America. In 1985, the last indirect election was held, disputed only by civilian candidates, and the MDB candidate, Tancredo Neves, won by a wide margin. Neves, however, died before taking office, being replaced by José Sarney.

Sarney assumed the presidency on March 15, 1985, ending the military regime. After his election, he restored civil liberties and scheduled the approval of a new constitution in 1988, restoring the direct election of the president of the republic, and initiating the final transition to democracy.

The dictatorship that began on March 31, 1964, with the coup d’état of democratic president João Goulart, engulfed Brazil into two decades of darkness, which kept five military presidents in power, leaving behind a trail of hundreds of murders. Innumerable people disappeared and so many were tortured, of which there is still no exact figure due to the lack of records.
On June 12, 2008, Radiobrás ceased to exist and all the radio stations that were part of the company, including the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia, came under the control of the Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), which continues to function to this day.

Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), a public company organised as a private corporation, with 51% of its shares owned by the Union, created by Law 11.652 / 2008. The company’s mission is to implement and administer the system of public communication as envisaged in the Federal Constitution in its article 223.

Time passed, the struggles for democracy was started and the broadcaster came to fulfill the strategic objective of dissemination of information in a democratic country, now bringing true messages and correct information to the population of the Amazon, a region that was previously forgotten.

Today, the station is a means to promote and safeguard the rights of the citizen and communication between listeners. “The Rádio Nacional da Amazônia, has managed to change one of the most shameful and sad times in the recent history of Brazil “the military dictatorship”.

Thus, in 2012, with the report on crimes against indigenous peoples in dictatorship, published in August 2012, the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia won the 34th Vladimir Herzog Journalist Award for Amnesty and Human Rights, in the category of Radio. The reports of human rights violations, signs of torture, aggression and deaths that are hard to erase from memories marked the period of the military dictatorship in Brazil. The report was produced by the reporter Maíra Heinen, with the help of sound engineer Marcos Tavares.

The Vladimir Herzog Journalism Prize for Amnesty and Human Rights is a Brazilian journalistic award that is awarded annually to professionals and media that have excelled in the safeguarding democratic values, rights of the citizen and human and social rights, as well as personalities, professionals and media communication that stands out in the defense of these fundamental values.

2. What is the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia?

Interview with the programme producers of the National Radio da Amazônia, Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges and Solimar Luz) – Photos and Video.


Photo: Martín Butera, while writing the report on National Radio da Amazônia, at the planning stage of the work of going through the studios to visualise the technical part as well as the interviews with different producers and broadcasters.


Photo: Martín Butera and the producers of the Radio Nacional da Amazônia, Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges


Photo: Martín Butera and the producers of the Radio Nacional da Amazônia, Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges

Here is a brief summary of the conversations with the producers Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges and Solimar Luz, about what the National Radio da Amazônia means for them (to find out more the reader can go to the link for the full video interview, conducted in Portuguese language)

Videos by Ligia Katze

The producers mentioned that the programming pattern is almost entirely created by the listeners themselves, due to the close relationship maintained between them and the radio producers and announcers.

The producers impressed upon us that, we must think about the immensity of the peoples that inhabit the Amazon, that until today the radio is used to leave messages to the listeners themselves to their relatives and friends, since in those places the only message that is received is the radio transmission itself and such situation underlines the importance of maintaining the shortwave service.

Photo: Luciano G. Maia, in-charge of public relations of the company EBC, Martín Butera and the producers of the Radio Nacional da Amazônia, Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges and Solimar Luz.

3. Interview with broadcaster Beth Begonha

Presented from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., the program carries the diverse views on education and struggle of the people related to the history and culture of the Amazon.

The listeners participate in the program through feedback via letters that offer suggestions, ask questions and request for songs. There is also regular participation of reporters and interviewees directly from the Amazon region.

The broadcaster Beth Begonha has been conducting the program called “Brazilian Amazon” since 2003. We were able to interview her in a relaxed atmosphere in the studio itself, during the intermissions in the transmissions.

Beth is a very sought-after announcer, since she herself made numerous trips to visit indigenous populations in towns and communities, establishing a strong bond and very beautiful relationship with them.

Through the microphones of the National Radio of the Amazon, Beth Begonha speaks with the awareness of a person who lived and experienced the reality of the Amazon. The program discusses environmental issues and highlights the need to assess the cultural identity of indigenous communities, and of all the people who live on the banks of the great Amazon River.
Graduated in journalism in an Amazonian city, Beth says she has been through adverse conditions and her story serves as a motivation to guide education in the Brazilian Amazon and encourage listeners to return to school. “I studied and completed my university course with great struggle, and I believe that this is also an important element in this endeavour, which has had many beautiful results.”

Beth Begonha tells me “Everything I know about the indigenous people is what I learned from them. When I started the project of the Brazilian Amazon, a program that I present and produce in the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia, I had very clear objectives that we should achieve as a media space : integrate the different peoples that live in the Amazon, with their cultural diversity, specific topics, promoting knowledge and increasing interaction among these populations, this also included indigenous communities, this space has always been designed to be occupied by the Indians, not for someone who speaks for them. ”

Beth Begonha rounds up: “It was not a difficult task, I must confess, for the receptivity of these communities, for their desire and need to be seen and heard. The greatest difficulty was mine, because despite working in communication for many years, even in the Amazon, I had no true knowledge of the Indians. ”

The Beth Begonha program performs unprecedented work, includes indigenous peoples into the production of the program, opening a space that values these Brazilians.
The musical part is not only dedicated to popular and successful Brazilian songs, here the listeners have the opportunity to listen to songs that are produced directly inside the core areas of Amazon.

Beth Begonha’s program has created a bridge of important relationship of other listeners with indigenous peoples, increasing empathy and respect for their culture.

This relationship with the indigenous population led Beth Begonha to produce among others a transmission from outside the studios, it was when I visited the Xingu Indigenous Park in 2007, where he covered the visit of the then Minister of Justice Tarso Genro (Brazilian lawyer, journalist and politician affiliated with Workers’ Party, who is currently the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul).

Beth Begonha’s program not only had the brave idea of transmitting directly from the Amazon rainforest and different indigenous camps in Brazil, it has also transmitted from several meetings and conclaves that dealt with the biodiversity of the Amazon.

One of these transmissions was the transmission that took place from June 18 to 22, 2012 during “Rio + 20”, the biggest environmental event of the last decade.

Photo: Ligia Katze, the photographer accredited, in the studios and Martín Butera, interviewing the broadcaster of the National Radio da Amazônia, Beth Begonha.

Photo: Martín Butera, interviewing the broadcaster of the National Radio da Amazônia, Beth Begonha, next to him is the photographer Ligia Katze.

Photo: Martín Butera, next to the broadcaster of the National Radio da Amazônia, Beth Begonha alongwith the shift operator.

Photo: Martín Butera, next to the main console table of the studio of the National Radio da Amazônia

Below a small fragment on video (Portuguese language) can be seen, about this talk with the announcer of the National Radio of the Amazon “Beth Begonha”.
Videos by Ligia Katze

4. Visiting the mixing room

Together with Mr. Luciano G. Maia, in charge of public relations of the company EBC, I had the opportunity to tour the entire modern facility. Here you can see the impressive mixing consoles of all radio and even television signals.


Photo: general mixing table of the company EBC


Photo: Martín Butera, with the EBC mixing shift operator

Photo: Martín Butera, alongside the modern mixing racks

Video by Ligia Katze:

5. Brief History of the Radio Nacional de Brasilia Park

The Rodeador Park in Brasilia Federal District. It is the largest complex housing medium wave and short wave transmitters in Latin America. It transmits the signals of the National Radio AM of Brasilia and the National Radio of Amazonia for whole of Brazil.

The transmitter of the National Radio AM of Brasilia works only during the night, when the signal is transmitted throughout the country. During the day, the Brasilia AM National Radio signal is transmitted from the SIA Transmitter Park, covering only the Federal District and its surroundings. This is due to the difficulty of transmitting a medium-wave signal throughout Brazil during the day.

The visit to the antenna field is absolutely incredible experience; the structure of the park without a shade of doubt is colossal.

From afar, you can already see the imposing towers each 150 meters high.
Everything is perfectly well maintained and a team of very dedicated persons and professionals work round the clock in the field of antennas. These professionals are responsible for upholding and maintaining the quality of the signal.

While there is a great contrast between the modern studios located in the center of Brasilia to the transmitters and the antenna in a field located 34 kilometers away, the transmitters look like more museum pieces. But to be honest I must say that everything works perfectly well, thanks to the dedication of the professionals who maintain these transmitters on a permanent basis.

The antennas that are an elaborate and complex installation, assure the Brazilian government the possibility of having radio coverage to the remotest areas of the country, as well as the possibility of reaching all the five continents.

In the above backdrop, during the year 2018, the “Cabinet of Institutional Segurança da Presidência da República (GSI)”, the “Parque do Rodeador” officially classified the antenna field as vital support infrastructure during critical situations, natural disasters and emergencies, to be used as and when the Brazilian population encounters a situation of collapse in communications.

Installed on March 9, 1979, the areas of antenna field houses four sets of giant antennas, one of which is 142 meters high. The other three sets have higher towers, reach 147 meters and are used for transmitting in short waves (OC). In addition to the vertical antenna used for medium wave transmission, the park has the dipole curtain antenna reinforcement for short wave transmission.

6. Antennas

We were received by Ismar Do Vale Junior, who is the principal telecommunications engineer and the technical manager responsible for the maintenance coordination, of the “Parque do Rodeador” antenna field, we were also received by the Radio and Television Engineer Mr. Manoel Caetano dos Santos and finally we were escorted by a valued guest Orlando Perez Filho “PT2OP”, former Executive Director of LABRE DF (League of Brazilian Lovers of Rádio Emissão).
The antenna field has a set of antennas for the emission of short waves of Rádio Nacional da Amazônia, divided into 4 different antennas referred to as: C1, C2, C3 and C4.

The antennas are suitable for transmission of a maximum power of 300 kW, however it is always operated with half power of 150 kW. Currently such power was reduced to 75 kW, this was due to an event that occurred in March 2017, which we will go into detail of this when we talk about the electrical part.

Videos by Mark Van Marx (Marxos Melzi)

Photo: a satellite image of the antenna field.

Photos by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)


Photo 0014: The engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior displays the map of the antenna layout and discusses in detail one by one, to us.


Photo: Original layout map of the antenna setup of the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia
As mentioned earlier, the set of short-wave “dipoles” of the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia consists of 4 different of antennas, which are called C1, C2, C3 and C4, each of which is fed separately. I will give the details now.

C2 and C3

The antenna installations C2 and C3 have the same structures and dimensions and are operated at frequencies close to 6 MHz. Currently, antenna C2 is used to transmit the signal from the National Radio of the Amazon at 6,185 kHz and the other antenna C3 is on standby and not transmitting.

C1 and C4

The structure and dimensions of antenna installations C1 and C4 are also identical. They are designed so that they can transmit on three frequencies that is on 9, 11 and 15 MHz. However, at present, only the antenna C4 is active, transmitting the signal from the National Radio of the Amazon on the frequency of 11,780 MHz.


Photo: Martín Butera, next to the sign, which prohibits access to the shortwave antenna field entrance, due to the presence of high RF energy.


Photo: from behind, Martín Butera, engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior, Orlando Perez Filho “PT2OP”, former Executive Director of LABRE DF (League of Brazilian Lovers of Rádio Emissão) and Engineer Manoel Caetano dos Santos, beginning the tour of the antenna field Photo: view of different angles of the shortwave antennas and the feeders.


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas


Photo: view of different angles of shortwave antennas

7. Transmission lines

Since each antenna system is fed separately, each of them has its own identical transmission line. In the photographs we can see that they are bifilar lines of the cage type.

Photo : different transmission lines for shortwave antennas leaving the transmitter building.


Photo: different transmission lines of shortwave antennas


Photo: different transmission lines of shortwave antennas


Photo: different transmission lines of shortwave antennas


Photo: different transmission lines of shortwave antennas

8. Transmitter room

A huge corridor, from end to end of the building, houses the shortwave transmitters. There are six in total, where only two of them are currently operational, in the frequency 11,780 kHz and 6,180 kHz.

All transmitters are of Brown Boveri and Cie and of Swiss origin.

The engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior, interrupts the transmission for a few seconds and opened the doors of these true monsters. Thanks to this cut in transmission, I was able to see them from inside, otherwise it would have been impossible, because of the high level of RF radiation from them.

Once inside the transmitters we could see the heart of these beasts, their powerful valves and power modulators that are cooled by a complex water cooling system. They are located on the second floor of the building, near the return hot water tanks, which allows them to have a useful life of approximately 40,000 Hs.

Videos by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi):

Photos by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)


Photo: The engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior, opens the doors of the TX-01 the imposing shortwave transmitter from Brown Boveri and Cie, of frequency range 11,780 kHz


Photo: Open door of the imposing Brown Boveri and Cie shortwave transmitter


Photo: Image of the shortwave transmitter, Brown Boveri and Cie brand.


Photo: Martin Butera, next to the main shortwave transmitter from Brown Boveri and Cie


Photo: Image of the shortwave transmitter control panel of Brown Boveri and Cie brand.


Photo: TX-02 the imposing Brown Boveri and Cie shortwave transmitter, with a frequency range of 6,180 Khz.


Photo: Martin Butera, next to the powerful valves of the main shortwave transmitter of Brown Boveri and Cie brand.


Photo: Close-up image of the powerful shortwave valves from Brown Boveri and Cie.


Photo: Close-up image 2 of the powerful shortwave valves of Brown Boveri and Cie transmitter.


Photo: Martin Butera in the EBC truck, which were used to tour the site. The reader may have an idea of the immensity of the facility in the countryside.

9. Transmission monitoring and control room

The first thing we visited when entering the site, is the Hall of monitoring and transmission control room, this room houses a huge console where one can monitor the status of transmissions (power parameters and SWR)

There is also a spectacular switching console that allows you to connect any of the two transmitters with any of the antennas with the press of a button. Behind this console one can see different maps with the radiating lobes of the antennas, and the theoretical coverage of emissions from different areas of Brazil and the world.

These two consoles that control the parameters of transmitters and antenna switches are huge and as one can see they are a bit old, but nothing prevents their perfect performance, thanks to the technical maintenance of its dedicated personnel who maintain all the equipment correctly.
One can also see a huge rack with audio processors, modulators and satellite links for the programmes, which arrive from the studios located in Brasilia DF.

Videos by Mark Van Marx

Photos by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)


Photo: Power parameters console and SWR (75 Kw)


Photo: Power parameters console and SWR (75 Kw)


Photo: behind this console one can see different maps with the radiating lobes of the antennas, and the theoretical coverage of emissions from different areas of Brazil and the world.


Photo: Switching console that allows connection to any of the two transmitters with any of the antennas with the press of a button.


Photo: Martin Butera and the engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior next to the huge rack with audio processors, modulators and satellite links for programmes, which arrive from the studios located in Brasilia DF.

10. Electrical part

The entire park of “Parque Rodeador” antennas, always had its own electric power station, in March 2017, a strong thunder strike caused power outages and part of its own electric station was burned, that kept it out of the air for a long time (the shortwave service in 25 meters at 11,780 kHz and in 49 meters at 6,180 kHz as well as medium waves).

This problem led to installation of a large electric generator that feeds some of the power to the facility daily. Fuel is replenished daily to keep it operational.

While writing this report in July 2019, I could already visit the new electrical substation that was under construction, at the facility, to be equipped with the most modern technology.

The accident totally altered the routine and lifestyle of thousands of people living in the Amazon. Even the listeners had begun to develop a plan to raise funds to help repair all the damaged equipment.

Photos by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)

Photo: electric generator, with the ability to power the entire facility.


Photo: another view of the electric generator, with the ability to feed the entire property


Photo: EBC truck, ready to supply the electric generator.

Two kilometers from the centre of the facility, I saw the new under construction captive electrical substation with the most modern technology.


Photo: Watch out for a lot of high voltage


Photo: Martín Butera, next to the equipment of the brand new electrical substation.


Photo: Orlando Perez Filho “PT2OP”, former Executive Director of LABRE DF (League of Brazilian Lovers of Rádio Emissão), engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior, engineer Manoel Caetano dos Santos and Martín Butera, together at the new under construction electrical substation.

11. Transmitter power supply panel

In the following photographs taken by Mark Van Marx, one can see the power supply part of the transmitters of the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia. There is also image of a large transformer that powers all the equipment.

Video by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)

Photos by Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)


Foto: Power panel


Photo: Entrance to the electrical power supply facility of transmitters


Photo: Martín Butera, playing with the RF. Please do not do this at home!

12. Rádio Nacional Brasília 980 kHz AM

Two kilometers away, the medium wave transmitter (OM) building is located within the short-wave antenna park.

The transmitter room is very similar to that of shortwave transmitter rooms. There are racks with satellite link receivers, audio processors and audio modulators of the signal that arrives from the studios situated in the capital. The signals are mixed before passing through the transmitter.

Also, apart from the Brown Boveri transmitters of 300 kW maximum power, for the medium wave (OM) signal, a modern transmitter from the famous American company Harris Broadcast is now being used, with an average power of 230 kW.

The transmitter of the National Radio AM of Brasilia works only during the night, when the signal is transmitted throughout the country. During the day, the Brasilia AM National Radio signal is transmitted from the SIA Transmitter Park, covering only the Federal District and its surroundings. This is due to the difficulty of transmitting a medium-wave signal throughout Brazil during the day.

The antenna, a monopole for the frequency of 980 KHz, has a height of 120 meters. Unlike the triangular towers that are normally found in this type of radios, it has a square shape and each side measures 1.20 m. This configuration makes the tower a really very robust structure.
Another interesting detail is that at the base of the tower there are 180 pieces of buried copper radials spaced at 360 degrees around the tower which form the ground plane of the antenna.

Photos by Mark Van Marx


Photo: Martín Butera, in front of the plaque that commemorates the foundation of the AM transmission building of the National Radio Brasília on 980 kHz AM.


Photo: Martín Butera, standing next to the Harris brand AM Broadcast transmitter.


Photo: Harris brand AM Broadcast transmitter safety notice.


Photo: Martín Butera, Engineer Ismar Do Vale Junior, Orlando Perez Filho “PT2OP”, former Executive Director of LABRE DF (League of Brazilian Lovers of Rádio Emissão) and Engineer Manoel Caetano dos Santos, together at the 120 Mts high tower, of National Radio Brasília on 980 kHz AM.

13. Final notes by Martin Butera

Personally, it was a pleasant surprise for me to find such an imposing infrastructure in South America, along with the super technology studios of the highest level, giant antenna fields, all this being managed by a responsible company like the EBC, which understands the importance of investment and professionalism as regards to Brazilian public communication.
I believe that Brazilian society needs to continue its efforts in discovering the indigenous peoples. The role of the Rádio Nacional da Amazônia is very essential in that task.

14. Acknowledgments by Martín Butera

I want to thank all those who supported me and collaborated to make this report, to my team of photographer and videographer – Ligia Katze (dear wife) and Mark Van Marx (friend of the soul).

Anne Evers and Luciano Maia Luciano G. Maia (Coordination of Public and Financial Relations
Executive Communication of Comunicação -Diretoria Geral EBC – Empresa Brasil de Comunicação.

To the producers of the National Radio da Amazônia, Luciana Couto, Taiana Borges and Solimar Luz.

To the broadcaster of the National Radio of the Amazon, Beth Begonha.

To the engineers Ismar Do Vale Junior and engineer Manoel Caetano dos Santos.

To Orlando Perez Filho “PT2OP”, former Executive Director of LABRE DF (League of Brazilian Lovers of Rádio Emissão), for honoring us with his accompaniment to the antenna field.

To my editor in chief, dear Chrissy Brand, for giving me the opportunity to work in South America, as a journalist for the BDXC. Chrissy brand is European DX Council Secretary-General – BDXC Communication (http://bdxc.org.uk/).

To the dear friend and listener from India, Sudipta Ghose (VU2UT) for his adaptation to English and correction, member of the Indian DX club International (www.idxci.in).

To my friend Ivan Dias da Silva Júnior, director of the Regional DX – Sorocaba-Sao Paulo- Brazil, who collaborates in the Portuguese translations and publishes this material in the form of a micro book, for the club he directs (https://ivandias.wordpress.com/).

To my friend, the Argentine radio listener Daniel Camporini, for writing a special prologue for this report (included in the Spanish version).

Finally my friend Thomas Witherspoon, director the SWLing Post, for publishing this report and collaborating in this way to the world of radio listening.

15. Review with information from the authors of this report

About the author

Martin is an Amateur Radio operator with more than 29 years of experience, and has participated in DXpeditions throughout South America, with the Argentine radio callsign LU9EFO and Brazilian callsign PT2ZDX.

Martin collaborates and writes for the British Dx Club newsletter.

Martín is the founder of the Brazilian CREW Radio Listeners’, called 15 point 61 (15.61). Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasilia DF, capital of Brazil.

Martín Butera is a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina) www.radioatomika.com.ar

Foto: Mark Van Marx (Marcos Melzi)

Photographer. Photography teacher, Travel and Culture photographer. Independent photojournalist, AFP agency collaborator, Nikon Ambassador, Member of Getty Images Support Media.

He is an enthusiastic shortwave listener since 1997. Free band Radio operator who takes part in DXpeditions since 1998. A licensed amateur radio operator of Argentino LU3DU (extra class).

Foto: Lígia Katze

The journalist educated at the UCB (Universidade Católica de Brasília), a professional photographer at Canon College Brasilia DF, Ligia is the wife of Martín Butera and accompanies her husband on his radio travels around the world.


About the The British DX Club

Martin Butera is a contributing journalist for “Communication” magazine of the prestigious The British DX Club. We congratulate Martín Butera for this interesting report.
If you would like to be a member of the Briitish DX Club, you can find information here http://bdxc.org.uk/apply.html

Report made, and visit to Rádio Nacional da Amazônia in March 2019 (in radio studios), June 2019 (in antenna field), report completed and published in SWLing Post on October 20, 2019.

Please contact Martin at the following email address: martin_butera@yahoo.com.ar


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Site shares story of the BBC’s wartime reporting

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge, who shares the following note following our recent series of posts about WWII radio:

The, nearly, full story of the BBC’s wartime reporting can be found here. Yes, I hope another interesting read both for your good self and the readers of The SWLing Post:

http://www.orbem.co.uk/repwar/wr_action.htm

What an excellent read! Thank you for sharing this link, Kris!

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People Are No Longer Dependent On Radio (really?!)

Credit: St. Louis Public Radio via RadioINK.com

As the regular readers know, this site is not purely and entirely shortwave radio-centric … we enjoy all radio.

I don’t think we’ve mentioned this web site before, but I recently ran across this article on RadioINK:

People are no longer dependent on radio.

That’s what St. Louis Public Radio contends with the launch of its new podcast, The Gateway, another short (7-15 minutes), daily news podcast. Here’s what they had to say about the new show

Being a radio buff – or shall I say an ALL radio buff – I cannot fully comprehend that “people are no longer dependent on radio”. But I do acknowledge that technology has allowed us to manage our time better. And having a local podcast of news does appeal to many (yes, I suppose even to me at times).

It’s a very short article – three paragraphs – but I challenge the readers to comment: are you no longer dependent on radio? Okay – that’s a loaded question to this audience – just look at this post within the past 24-hours! But we’d also like to know: is there anything in your area, like this article describes of St. Louis Public Radio, where your local stations are turning to podcasts or other means to reach and/or expand their target audience?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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An aircraft hijacking story with “a shortwave twist”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who writes:

[A] great aircraft hijacking story with a shortwave twist….

Read the full article from NK News on the link below–the shortwave twists are here in two interesting paragraphs…

“Two fight attendants from the YS-11 eventually emerged as announcers on the “Voice of the National Salvation,” a North Korean propaganda radio station targeting South Korean audiences.”

“The station claimed to be a voice of the alleged South Korean underground Juche resistance, and thus it badly needed broadcasters who were capable of speaking polished, Seoul-style Korean.”

Take to the skies: North Korea’s role in the mysterious hijacking of KAL YS-11 | NK News – North Korea News

https://www.nknews.org/2019/03/take-to-the-skies-north-koreas-role-in-the-mysterious-hijacking-of-kal-ys-11/

Thank you, Mark. I was not aware of this story. It was too bad for those flight attendants that they had a skill the North Korea propaganda machine needed.

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Radio Travel: A complete SDR station for superb portable DXing

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Don Moore–author of  Following Ghosts in Northern Peru–for the following guest post:


One of my favorite DXing locations was this little cottage at the El Rancho Hotel just outside San Ramon, on the edge of the Amazon jungle in Peru. At $18/night, including breakfast, the hotel was a bargain, and there was plenty of room for my delta loop.

A Guide To Vagabond DXing

By Don Moore

Ever since I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras in the early 1980s, Latin America has been my primary focus for both DXing and traveling. So when I retired in 2017, my main goal was to begin taking long annual trips . . . and I do mean long. From October 2017 to May 2018, I traveled through Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia visiting about fifty different towns and cities. This year, I’m on a five-month trip through southern South America. In Latin America you can get just about anywhere cheaply and easily by bus, so that’s how I get around. It’s also a great way to meet people and to see the countryside. But luggage can become a burden, so I limit myself to a single mid-sized wheeled suitcase and a large knapsack. And that means that my mobile DX shack has to be very carefully planned.

Your plans may not include multi-month odysseys like mine, but I think my experiences will help you prepare to DX on your next trip, wherever it might be. Of course, what makes a good mobile DX shack depends on what your DX interests are. I consider myself a station collector, in that I want to make loggings of lots of new and different stations and to build up an understanding of radio broadcasting in different regions. So on my travels I concentrate on the medium wave broadcast band and longwave beacons, with maybe little bit of shortwave utility DX. (There’s not much on shortwave broadcast that I can’t also hear at home.)

Take the DX Home With You

For years my standard DX travel gear was a Sony ICF-2010, a cassette recorder, and an old Radio West ferrite loop antenna. But listening time was always limited since it was a vacation. There were other activities on the agenda and I was generally too tired to get up early for DXing. I always went home with some interesting loggings and audio recordings, but once I left for home the DXing was done.

SDRs have changed all that and now my first rule of travel DX now is take the DX home. The best souvenir of a trip is the hundreds of hours of DXing that I take home with me. In a 2016 trip to central Colombia, I made about 300 MB of recordings of the medium wave band. While listening to them later I logged over 400 stations from twenty countries (and I still have about half the files to go through). I never would have even gotten close to that many stations listening on my Sony like an ‘old-fashioned’ DXer, hi!

Lately, I’ve been accumulating SDR files much faster than I could possibly go through them, so it’s a fair question to ask what the point is. When will I ever listen to them all? Like most DXers, I’m not fortunate enough to live in a perfect DX location. When conditions are mediocre, I’d rather spend my DXing time going through some more interesting SDR files.  And, I know I’ll have lots of good DX waiting for me years from now when I’m no longer able to travel the way that I do now. For me, SDR recordings make much better souvenirs that some cheap tourist trinkets that will gather dust on a shelf. It doesn’t matter whether your travels take you to a nearby park or to a distant continent. SDRs can preserve the DXing experience for years to come.

My Mobile DX Shack

This is my typical DXing setup with the Afedri. The rooftoop terrace at the Hotel Rosa Ermila ($10/night) in Cascas, Peru was the most elegant place I’ve ever DXed from, but reception was only average with the PA0RDT dangling from the railing.

The centerpiece of any DX shack is the receiver. On my 2017-18 trip, I had an Afredri SDR-Net with an SDRPlay RSP1 as a backup, but this year I replaced the Afedri with an Elad FDM-2. Together, my two SDRs are smaller than all but the smallest portable receivers. Of course I also need a laptop, but I’m going to take one anyway. An important consideration in selecting a travel SDR is to get something that is powered off the laptop’s USB connection so that it is easy to DX totally off battery power if line noise becomes an issue.

The other vital component of DXing is the antenna. A good on-the-road antenna for SDR DXing has to be small, easy to erect, broadband, and versatile. That sounds like a lot to ask, but the perfect DX travel antennas do exist.

For compactness and ease of use, nothing can surpass the PA0RDT mini-whip. How good is it? That’s what I used to log over 400 medium wave stations in Colombia in 2016. I just attached the unit to my coax and threw it about three meters up into a short tree. The antenna works best when mounted away from nearby structures, but sometimes I’ve gotten decent results placing the PA0RDT on balconies and windowsills of tall buildings. It’s mostly a matter of luck as to how bad the local noise levels in the building are and how much the building itself may block signals. Using a short support, such as a broom or a hiking pole, it may be possible to mount the unit a meter or so away from the building.

While it’s best to mount the PA0RDT away from obstructions, the antenna might give good results anywhere, even on the neighbor’s roof. (Just make sure it’s not likely to get stuck. Pulling the unit out of a stubborn papaya tree is no joke.)

The biggest drawback of the PA0RDT for serious MW and LW DXing is that it is non-directional. For a directional antenna, a Wellbrook loop is great if you’re traveling by car, but that one-meter diameter aluminum loop doesn’t fit in my suitcase. Fortunately, a few years ago Guy Atkins and Brett Saylor told me about an alternative: buy a Wellbrook ALA-100LN unit and attach it to a large homemade wire loop. Now my travel kit includes two nine-meter lengths and one eighteen-meter length of #18 stranded copper wire. The wires can be spliced together for loops of 9, 18, 27, or 36 meters circumference, according to what fits in a location. Erection of a wire loop is easy enough with a suitable tree branch. I just throw the wire over the branch and then form it into delta (with the bottom running just above the ground) using two tent stakes and some short cord to hold the corners. The ALA-100LN unit goes in the bottom center.

Items that go in my suitcase, left to right: tent stakes and wire for the Wellbrook loop, a small box with more adapters, another battery box, 50 foot coax, 12 foot coax, and my hiking pole. The pole doubles as a support for the PA0RDT sometimes.

The loop doesn’t have to be in a delta; that’s just often the easiest to erect. I’ve successfully used squares, rectangles, trapezoids, oblong diamonds, and right angle triangles. Any balanced shape with the ALA-100LN in the bottom center should be bi-directional in a figure-eight pattern. Non-balanced shapes will work equally well but with unpredictable directionality. Just keep the wire in a single plane and place the ALA-100LN unit someplace along the bottom.

Both the PA0RDT and the Wellbrook require a 12V power supply. The North American version of the Wellbrook comes with an excellent noise-free 110V power supply, but that’s of no use in 220V countries and also I want to be able to DX totally off battery power when necessary. Fortunately both antennas use the same size power connector, so I carry three eight-cell AA battery packs for remote power.

Contents of the DX box, clockwise from upper left: the two pieces of the Wellbrook ALA-100LN, the two pieces of the PA0RDT mini-whip, two 8xAA battery boxes and a set of batteries, USB and coax cables, a passive 4-way antenna splitter, battery tester, various adapters and cup hooks (for securing wires), 4TB hard drive, the SDRPlay RSP1, the Elad FDM-2, and more short patch cords.

My mobile DX shack is rounded out with everything that is needed to connect the parts together. I have at least four of every adapter and patchcord, since I know they won’t be easy to replace on the road. For lead-ins, I have 12-foot and 50-foot lengths of lightweight coax with BNC connectors. I also have a few F-to-BNC adapters so I could buy some standard TV coax if needed. A 4 TB hard drive provides plenty of space the SDR recordings I plan to make. (Before leaving, I fill it with videos that I can delete after I watch them or when I need space.) For DX references, I download various station lists online so that I have them available even if I don’t have an Internet connection. It’s also important to keep those lists with the SDR files from the trip so that if I’m listening to the files years from now I’ll have references which were current at the time.

Airport Security

A common concern for traveling DXers is getting through airport security. When I went to Colombia in 2016, I wrapped my DX gear in clothing for protection and then stuffed everything into my backpack. Security didn’t like what they saw and I had to empty the bag so that every single item could be examined and swabbed for explosive residue. The TSA lady was very nice about it, but I wanted to minimize the chance of that happening again.

At an office supply store I found a plastic storage box that fits inside the main pocket of my backpack. My SDRs, antenna components, and hard drive get wrapped in bubble wrap and all placed together in the box along with small cables, adapters, etc. Larger items – the wire, coax, and stakes for the loop – get packed in my checked bag.

The DX Box packed and ready to go.

At the airport, I slide the box out of my backpack, place it into a cloth shopping bag, and then send it through the X-Ray machine on its own so that the agent can get a close look at the contents. So far in about a dozen security checks in the USA, Peru, and Mexico, the box of gear hasn’t caused so much as a pause on the conveyor belt. And, if the box would get pulled for a closer look, at least I won’t have to empty the entire backpack again.

Most of my equipment fits in this plastic box which slides into my backpack.

Where to DX

A mobile DX shack isn’t worth anything without a suitable place to DX from. Hotels may work if you have a balcony where you can put a small antenna, but more likely than not there’ll be problems with RF noise. The best hotels are ones that are a collection of cottages or bungalows or that otherwise have an open yard-like space for an antenna. My favorite place to find possible DXing sites is on AirBnB. It’s often easy to find AirBnBs that are on the edge of town or even in the countryside with lots of space. Of course, since I don’t have a car, I need to make sure I can get there using public transportation.

While visiting Huanchaco, Peru with DX friends Karl Forth and John Fisher, we had a beach-front apartment with an adjoining rooftop terrace. We had excellent results with an oblong loop and the ALA-100LN on the terrace.

The key to selecting a DX location is to examine all the photos very carefully. Is there open space for the antennas? Are there trees or other potential supports? Is there a gazebo, terrace, or other space that could be used for DXing? Google satellite view and Google street view can be very helpful in scouting out a location (And it’s surprising how much of South America is now on Google Street View.)  And, I always look for possible noise sources. One place I almost rented in Colombia turned out to have high voltage power lines running next door when I found it on Street View.

I always tell the hotel staff or AirBnB host what I’m doing so that they understand why the gringo has wires running around. And I make sure not to put my antennas or coax anywhere that might interfere with the employees or other guests. Most of the time I’m able to erect the antenna near my room and run the lead-in into my room through a window. Then I can leave my laptop running all night to make scheduled SDR recordings. That’s the Holy Grail of DXing – catching the overnight DX while you sleep. But if my room turns out to have too much RF noise (as has been the case a few times), then I head out to the gazebo or terrace to DX using battery power.  That does mean I have to stay up late or get up early since I can’t leave the laptop outside on its own. But, some of the best DX that I’ve had has come from running off full battery power in gazebos.

My delta loop had plenty of space at the Posada de Sauce ($25/night with breakfast) in the jungle near Tarapoto, Peru. The lodge was totally powered by solar panels and was one of the quietest places I’ve ever DXed from.

Antenna security is another consideration. At one place I stayed I wasn’t comfortable leaving my expensive antenna components unattended outside all night. And then there was what happened on my first trip to Colombia in 2010. I knew that a place I would be staying at for two nights had an open field right behind it, so on that trip I took 500 feet of thin insulated wire for a mini beverage-on-the-ground. DXing was great the first night but terrible the second. When I went out the next morning to wind up the wire I learned why. The worker who had been weed-wacking the hotel gardens the previous day had also done the field, and in doing so he had cut my wire in three places. He had, however, very nicely tied the wires back together.

Share the DX

DXing off battery power in the gazebo in the Mauro Hilton Hostel in the mountains above Manizales, Colombia. The antenna was the PA0RDT thrown in a tree. I had great DX with the loop from my room, but I came here to enjoy the views one evening.

Finally, if you take an SDR on a trip and get some good DX, make a selection of your files available for download. Other DXers will enjoy hearing what the band sounds like somewhere else. Several dozen of my files from Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia are available for download in a shared Google Drive folder. If you see something you want, be sure to download it now. The winter DX season is just starting here in deep South America and in the coming weeks I’ll be replacing some of those older files with ones made in Argentina and maybe in Uruguay and southern Brazil. I’ve found a lot of places to stay that look to be perfect for a vagabond DXer.

Links

For fun, here are some of the better places I DXed from in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The key thing to look for is an open place for the antennas:


Don, thank you so much for sharing your travel DXing expertise. This article is absolutely brilliant and so informative for anyone who wishes to make SDR field recordings. I love how carefully you’ve curated and distilled your portable setup and have given priority to having antennas for all occasions. I also think carrying spare parts and, especially, a spare SDR makes a lot of sense.

Post Readers:  As we mentioned in a previous post, Don is an author and has recently published “Following Ghosts in Northern Peru: In the Footsteps of 19th Century Travelers on the old Moyobamba Route” which is available in Kindle and print formats via Amazon.

Purchasing through this Amazon link supports both the author and the SWLing Post.

Click here to check out other guest posts by Don Moore.


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CNN Travel features the abandoned Duga Radar site near Chernobyl

(Source: CNN Travel via Heath Hall)

(CNN) — The peaceful untouched forest north of Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, is a perfect spot to enjoy the outdoors — save for one fact.

It contains the radiation-contaminated Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, established in 1986 after the world’s worst nuclear disaster sent a wave of radiation fallout across Europe.

Since 2011 it’s been a major draw for adventurous tourists, but the forests here conceal another legacy of the Cold War, with a far more sinister and mysterious reputation.

The Duga radar.

Though once a closely guarded secret, this immense structure can be seen for miles around, rearing up through the mist over the horizon — a surreal sight.

From a distance, it appears to be a gigantic wall. On close inspection, it’s an enormous, dilapidated structure made up of hundreds of huge antennas and turbines.

The Duga radar (which translates as “The Arc”) was once one of the most powerful military facilities in the Soviet Union’s communist empire.

It still stands a towering 150 meters (492 feet) high and stretches almost 700 meters in length. But, left to rot in the radioactive winds of Chernobyl, it’s now in a sad state of industrial decay.

Anyone exploring the undergrowth at its feet will stumble upon neglected vehicles, steel barrels, broken electronic devices and metallic rubbish, the remainders of the hasty evacuation shortly after the nuclear disaster.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article and explore the photo gallery at CNN Travel.

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Target Jim Creek: is an Obscure Washington State Naval Radio Facility in Russia’s Nuclear Crosshairs?

A new article in the Seattle Times newspaper discusses a large VLF radio facility that many people even in nearby Seattle, WA are not aware of:

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/obscure-snohomish-county-navy-radio-station-named-as-top-russian-target/

This story reminds me of my 1960s childhood, growing up with a father who worked on the USA’s Minuteman ICBM missile defense program. This Cold War era missile system was a cousin to the submarine-based nuclear weapons. The Jim Creek transmitter was–and still is–a vital communications link to U.S. subs stationed worldwide.

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

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