The Circuit Board

Rescuing an obscure board saves Torbeck AM station for 775,000 people


Radio Lumiere began in southern Haiti and one of our major stations has always been the big AM station in the village of Torbeck., near Les Cayes on the southern peninsula.  This station serves and area of over 3/4 of  a million people.  It also has sentimental value as it was the birthplace of our Chief Engineering Technician Peniel.  In addition, his father was the caretaker of the station for many years.

Hurricane Matthew in 2016 destroyed the 250ft tower and all the expensive feedlines and equipment. In addition the hurricane destroyed all the houses in the area, and people had no place to live. This was a real disaster and some people began staying in the tiny transmitter room at the station. With people come food and with food there will be vermin.

We had a huge job to completely engineer and rebuild the fallen tower and at the same time install a new solar system. We sent  complete work team that partnered with others from Germany and in-country in Haiti to get the station rebuilt. With God’s help the project was successful and a new solar system was installed also. But we were still not on the air because we needed new feedline, a new tuning system and to repair the transmitter.

Mark Bell and Dale Long traveled to Haiti to try to get the station back on the air. When repairs to the transmitter began we found the low voltage portion was not working. On investigation we found that the circuit board that controls the low voltage was covered in rat feces. As a result of the aforementioned disaster, some rodents had entered and made a terrible mess. We carefully cleaned this little board and brought it back to the USA. LOTM board member and electronics guru Dave Olson carefully repaired some of the delicate traces and resoldered some components. It worked for a couple weeks---and then it died again! So Dave made the suggestion that we may need to get a custom board made. But first we made another attempt by sending the board back to the USA for repairs and again back to Haiti. But the board still did not work.

By then Dave took the initiative to produce a custom circuit board. He also had to design the layout of the small components. This takes someone with special expertise. One needs to understand a circuit diagram and know the different components. Dave had to learn a new software program to design the layout of the board. This was a huge effort. Then he had to order all the little resistors and other parts while waiting for the board material to arrive.

As soon as it arrived, Dave took his bag of many parts and soldered them carefully on the new circuit board. As you can see in the photo he did a great job. He was able to test the board and it worked correctly, so he immediately packed it up and sent it directly to Haiti. All the ordering and planning and designing and shipping were done by Dave. We are so happy for his efforts while at the same time awaiting a serious medical procedure.

Way to go Dave!

Read more about our Torbeck project here.