Some reports on ham radio in the Dominican Republic
(most from the early 1990s, one from the 1960s!)

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Article in Spanish on homebrew radios

Greetings from Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic ("The DR" for short), land of sunshine, merengue music and FB ham radio! The Dominican Republic is located on the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola (thus HI ?). We are on the large island between Cuba and Puerto Rico. The country has a population of over seven million and is Spanish speaking. French speaking Haiti occupies the western third of the island. Ham Radio is big in the DR! A drive through Santo Domingo reveals numerous HF Yagis. Radio Club Dominicano (HI8RCD) is the IARU affiliate and has been in operation since 1926. The club sports a complete HF station along with two meter gear and packet equipment. A second club, Union Dominicano de Radio Aficionados, is also very active in Santo Domingo. In the country's second city (Santiago) there is much club activity including the Hotel India DX Association. Dominican Hams are involved in a wide variety of radio operations. HF SSB DXing is the most popular. Geography has blessed the island good DX conditions (we are surrounded by salt water and have abundant solar radiation!) There are approximately one million Dominicans living in the U.S. (mostly in the New York area) and amateurs among this expatriate population maintain schedules with ham friends on the home island. There is a lot of 2 meter FM activity and the packet revolution has also swept through HI land. There is a small group of six meter enthusiasts providing a new country for VHF buffs. Hams here have worked the MIR space station and there is interest in the satellite program. The numbers after the HI prefix indicate geographic region (8 for the capital, 3 for Santiago etc.) The suffix letters are usually based on the ham's initials. Old timers are authorized single letter suffixes. Foreigners operating with Dominican licenses have suffixes that begin with X. The DR has a reciprocal license agreement with the U.S.; hams operating under this agreement work with their home call followed by /HI. ARRL Headquarters has up-to-date information on the fairly simple process for obtaining reciprocal operating permission. While not really in the category of rare DX, an HI call can stir up some pileups on the HF bands (lots of fun for a visiting U.S. ham). Tourism is one of the country's largest industries and we are sure that there are hams among the million or so sun seekers who visit the DR's beautiful beaches every year. While most of the resort areas are quite distant from Santo Domingo, tourists do frequently make it to the capital. If you're coming to Santo Domingo, drop us a line and we'll see if a visit to the club can be arranged. Dominican hams are very friendly to hams from across the sea. HI8RCD currently has members from the U.S. and Japan. Over the years foreigners on assignment in the DR have been very active in the local club.

Bill Meara, N2CQR/HI8

Pericles Perdomo, HI8P, visiting N2CQR/HI8. Pericles loved ham radio and helped me a lot during my time in the DR. (His junkbox provided the wafer switch that saved the HT-37 in the picture.) Pericles was very enthusuastic about amateur satellites - we once succeeded in bouncing signals from one end of Santo Domingo to another via the Russian satellite RS-12. Pericles is now a Silent Key and is greatly missed by his fellow amateurs.


21 December 1993

Notes on Ham Radio in the DR

When I first walked into the Dominican Radio Club several months ago, I was struck by the fact that in its outward appearances, the club was very similar to my first radio club (Crystal Radio Club - W2DMC). There were the piles of old QST magazines, there were the musty old QSL cards, the piles of old radio gear. It was all very familiar. Aside from the different language being spoken, the membership of the club also reminded me of W2DMC - there was the same mix of old timers and enthusiastic youngsters along with a "character" or two to liven up the club house! Above all there was the same friendly spirit, the same willingness to help out a fellow ham that has always been the hallmark of our hobby. While our ham bands every day provide very pleasing evidence of radio's ability to forge international friendship, I think that the face to face experience in a radio club can be even more gratifying. Soon after arrival at the club I found myself sharing experiences with new friends from a foreign country: HI8OMA and I laughed together as we both admitted to waking up our parents after contacting our first ZL! HI8LEZ and HI8RMQ and I howled with laughter when we recounted the difficulties of demonstrating ham radio to non-hams (Murphy stalks the DR also!). Ham radio does have the power to bring people together. Radio Club Dominicano (HI8RCD) has recently gone through a noticeable reinvigoration. In addition to our Tuesday night meetings, the Club sponsors a "Can" (a sort of a party/get-together) every Saturday afternoon. Our newsletter is back in print and a new Yagi tribander is on the roof of the clubhouse. We have an active, informal club net on 146.5 FM simplex. The holiday season brought a very successful and enjoyable Christmas party in our now renovated club house. A party is not a party in the Dominican Republic without high volume merengue music! When your correspondent saw the audio equipment being assembled for the party, he speculated that the gear might allow the club carry out some audio frequency DX! A good time was had by all, with the more animated club members partaking of the merengue music while the more staid amateurs retired to the backyard for some good conversation and fellowship. December also brought a club sponsored foxhunt competition. Here in the DR a fox hunt is a "Caceria de Pichon" which translates as "Hunt for the Young Pigeon." One Saturday, the streets of Santo Domingo were invaded by earnest radio enthusiasts armed with bizarre multi-element two meter Yagis! After some struggle, the pigeons were all captured and the hunters returned to the radio club for an awards ceremony and an afternoon of good fellowship. 1994 promises to be a good year for ham radio in the Dominican Republic. The club plans to offer a Morse code course and we'll be working with a local school interested in adding ham radio to its set of extracurricular activities. We'll also continue to work with a local Boy Scout group. As always, Radio Club Dominicano will continue to be a happy place where hams from all over are welcome. Best of luck in 1994 to all. 73 from HI8!

Bill Meara N2CQR/HI8


My friend Oscar, HI8OMA.  This is a recent (2007) picture of him in his Santo Domingo radio room.

Greetings from Santo Domingo! I have no central theme for this dispatch - just some "odds and ends" from HI8: When I got back into ham radio last year, I decided to earn my spurs and do some building. I wondered about how I would be able to find parts in Santo Domingo. I soon discovered that finding components here can challenging and fun. There is only one Radio Shack outlet in Santo Domingo and it is very lightly stocked, so a ham engaged in rig building has to learn where the real "electronic parts markets" are. There is one street here with seven or eight electronics shops. Very little is thrown away, so the shops in Santo Domingo's "electronics district" are full of used components salvaged from broken stereos, T.V.s etc. When a choke or transformer burns out, there are several small businesses standing by to rewind it. Of course, the most important source for spare parts here is the collective junk box of our radio club's membership. This source is particularly important for those of us running older gear. Imagine being in a foreign country and trying to come up with switch wafer FS1 for an ailing HT-37... or the IF filter for an HQ- 100! With the help of my fellow hams, I was able to find both these parts in short order right here in Santo Domingo!

A U.S. ham operating from HI8 soon finds himself standing astride the gap that divides two different worlds - with one foot in each! You never stop being an "N2," but you learn a bit about how ham radio looks from HI8! Apropos of my "odds and ends" theme, I thought I'd use this column to offer a few observations on the use of the Spanish language in ham radio. Non-Spanish speaking hams probably perceive Spanish language radio transmissions as a lot of indecipherable high-speed chatter. Those of us who do understand the language know that amidst that chatter one can find the full range of radio conversations: the good, the bad, and the ugly! On the bad and ugly side, you'll hear lots of talk that seems to have little to do with our hobby and more to do with efforts to reduce telephone bills. On the good side you'll hear many, many QSO's in keeping with the highest traditions of ham radio. Spanish is a very graceful, courtly language that allows for elegant expressions of friendship. Non-Spanish speaking hams would probably be surprised by what they could hear if they could program their computers to translate QSO's from the Hispanic world! Instead of the "Old Man" used by English speaking hams, the Spanish speaking world seems to go with a simple "Amigo" i.e. "Buenos Dias Amigo Bill!" The very warm fraternal "Hermano" (brother) is frequently used in a sincere manner - even during first contacts! I think English speaking hams would find Spanish language QSO's very florid, filled with lengthy expressions of best wishes and kind remarks about the other ham's country. I find that hams from Spanish speaking countries really appreciate it if a U.S. ham makes the effort to use Spanish. Put yourself in the other guy's shoes: imagine having to do most of your QSO's in a difficult foreign language! You can almost hear the happiness on the other end when you make the switch into Espanol. This works even in CW (where Hermano and Amigo are also used as described above). The Hispanic world is famous for its tolerance of foreigners who butcher the language. By all means, pull out that High School Spanish and incorporate it into your operations! While on the subject of Spanish language ham radio, I think mention of a real jewel of a magazine is in order. I'm referring to the Spanish language version of CQ magazine. Far from a simple translation of the English language CQ, most of the the Spanish version of the magazine is written by hams from Spain. It is my favorite ham radio magazine. The technical articles are excellent and cover a very broad range of ham activity, but for me the most attractive feature of the magazine is the very classy way in which it captures the friendly, fraternal mystique of our hobby. Its a real shame that it is not translated into English! Before I go, here is one radio related tourist note. One of the newest attractions of Santo Domingo is the beautiful Faro a Colon, or Columbus light house. Completed in 1992 and inaugurated during the commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of Columbus's arrival, the memorial houses the remains of Christopher Columbus. The enormous cross-shaped building projects a powerful beam of light into the skies over Santo Domingo. When the clouds are configured right, the sign of the cross hovers over the city. It is very beautiful. While the project was completed in 1992, I was amazed to find (in our club house) HI8 QSL cards from the 1930's bearing images of the structure. Dominican hams of sixty years ago had seen the sketches for the planned memorial and had incorporated them into their QSL designs. I guess it's not surprising that hams would have been intrigued by a structure that sends a beam into the heavens! 73 from HI8!

While a ham from the U.S. will find many things about operating in HI8 very familiar, radio work here does present some special challenges. As in many places around the world, black outs are very frequent and even when the power company is supplying juice, it frequently drops to 100 volts. As a result, almost all hams here have their own "emergency power sources" at the ready. Automobile batteries are used to power many rigs. Many Dominican hams have installed their own large power generators in small, sound resistant buildings in the backyards. When the power goes out you can hear the generators in the neighborhood being fired up. If you momentarily lose an HI station during a QSO, he is probably switching to emergency power. A few enterprising hams have gone solar.


Fred Lau, K3ZO, was in the Dominican Republic as a young American diplomat in the mid 1960s.  He recently wrote an article about his ham radio adventures in that country.  It was first published in the newsletter of the Potomac Valley Amateur Radio Club.    Fred has given me permission to post it here.

K3ZO Dominican Stories
By Fred Lau, K3ZO

I. HI8XAL on 160

My first overseas assignment in the Foreign Service was the Dominican Republic.  I shipped my Hallicrafters SR-150 transceiver there and a National NCL2000 amplifier.

I arrived in the summer of 1964 and after getting settledI eventually got around to going over to the Dominican Department of Telecommunications to apply for an Amateur Radio license.  Since there were already several Americans on the air there I didn't expect to have any problems, but luck was not with me. 

It seems that the Director General of the Foreign Ministry, Pedro Purcell, HI8PP, had just returned from visiting his son in Baltimore and had been unable to get the FCC to give him permission to operate while he was there.  So the minute he returned home he ordered the Telecommunications Department to immediately cease issuing Dominican licenses to Americans.  Guess who was the first American to apply for a Dominican license after his order came down?!!

The Goldwater bill allowing foreigners to operate in the USA under reciprocal operating permits had just been passed, but there had not as yet been any reciprocal operating agreements negotiated with other countries. The Dominicans had been granting licenses to Americans on a courtesy basis.  HI8PP put an end to that.  The Americans already licensed, however, could stay on the air. 

Vic Clark, W4KFC got me the text of the Goldwater law and the sample text suggested by the State Department for the agreement.  Howard Shoemake, HI8XHS, an American missionary, had many friends in high places in the Dominican Government so he passed the text to them informally and they approved the American-suggested text without so much as changing a comma.  

So that left the ball in the court of the American Embassy.  The responsibility fell on the shoulders of the Economic Attache.  He was typical of a type of bureaucrat that I came to learn was all too common in the Foreign Service: he didn't want to be the first to do anything.  At that time no other government had signed a reciprocal agreement with the USA and he was afraid to be the first to try to get one to do so.  

It so happened that HI8XHS was also handling a weekly phone patch from the American Ambassador to his aged mother in Atlanta.  When Howard learned that the Economic Attache was holding back on negotiating the agreement, he informed the Ambassador in language as strong as a missionary would allow himself to use that if his Economic Attache didn't get off his behind and get cracking on negotiating an agreement, there would be no more phone patches to Atlanta!

In those days you couldn't just pick up the phone and call overseas.  There were no satellites, few undersea cables, and most international calls were handled on short wave.  In the Dominican Republic you put yourself on a list with the operator and when the circuit was available you were called back. It might take several days for this to happen.   

Meanwhile I met Wilson Rodriguez, HI8WSR and he permitted me to operate his station using his call. He also took me around to the Radio Club Dominicano and introduced me to the hams there, and I joined the club and spent a lot of time with the members, including the aforementioned HI8PP. 

Christmastime came and the Telecommunications Department asked me to come over.  I was informed that hereinafter I was permitted to set up a station at my residence and was assigned the personal call sign HI8XAL.  They emphasized that I was not being issued a license, but only a letter of permission. Apparently unnamed Dominican hams had urged the Telecommunications Department to give me this Christmas present and had guaranteed that I would abide by the regulations, using their own licenses as collateral, as it were. 

So I proceeded to set up my station.  There was just enough room for an 80-meter dipole just above the roof of my house. 

The minute I had arrived in the Dominican Republic I began receiving letters from Stu Perry, W1BB imploring me to get on 160 meters.  The top band world needed the Dominican Republic badly.  Actually Carlos Fatule, HI7CAF had operated some CW on 160 meters, working a few people, but since the Dominican regulations did not include 160 meters as a ham band, there was some doubt as to the validity of the contacts, which in any event had been few and far between.

So the first order of business was to get official permission to work 160 meters.  I wrote a letter to the Telecommunications Department asking special permission to operate 160 meters on an experimental basis in order to investigate radio propagation on that band, and promised to give them a full written report on the results of my experiments there.  They responded with a letter granting the permission, but instead of permitting the frequency range 1800 to 2000 Kc., the letter read "1800 AND 2000 Kc."  For those of you who know Spanish, it's the difference between "1800 a 2000" which is what I wanted and "1800 y 2000" which is the way their letter read. I decided to operate on the basis that their secretary had made a typo, typing "y" where she meant to type "a", and operated accordingly.

Meanwhile there had been progress on the reciprocal agreement front.  Costa Rica had signed the first such agreement under the Goldwater law, so our Economic Attache, who had relatives in Costa Rica in any event, flew over there to talk with the people at our Embassy there about how they had done it.  No doubt a little pressure from a phone-patchless Ambassador had something to do with the trip.  The Attache returned and in a few weeks we had signed the second agreement to be signed under the Goldwater bill.

So now I had permission to get on 160 but my SR-150 didn't have that band, so I ordered a used Viking Ranger from Harrison Radio in New York.  There were daily flights between New York and Santo Domingo -- indeed, the Dominicans jokingly refer to New York as the "second-largest Dominican city in the world" because there are more Dominicans in New York City than in any city in the Dominican Republic except for Santo Domingo -- so there was no problem getting the rig to me in a hurry. 

The people in the Embassy who interfaced with the Customs Department couldn't find my little rig amongst all the packages there, but fortunately HI8WSR's father-in-law worked in the customs department so I was permitted to go into the customs building myself and knowing what to look for I found it without too much trouble. 

There was a Hammarlund HQ-180 in my Embassy office which was used to monitor the Voice of America so I was able to borrow it to use as a 160 meter receiver.  I found that my 80 meter dipole would work to some extent by shorting the feedline together, plugging it into the center pin of the rig's coax connector, and working against a good ground.  Since my residence was only a block from the sea, it wasn't hard to get a good ground.

The target date was the CQWW 160 meter contest in January, 1965.  I came on two days before the contest and worked the following stations: W2FYT W1BB/1 W2UWD W8FGB and W4KFC.  The reports I received ranged from 239 to 459 except for Vic who of course was getting me 569 -- no surprise there.  During the contest itself I worked the following: 6Y5XG K4QAY W8JIN W3GQF VP3CZ K4RIN W4WHK W5FIX W2EQS VE1ZZ W2IU K2GNC K2DGT W1AQE K4DKJ W4BVV W3AJS W1WY and VP2AV in that order.  Generally it took a lot of work to get them to hear me.  But the Dominican Republic was indeed legally on 160, finally. 

I decided that as a part of my 160 meter experiments I should attempt to "borrow" a decent antenna, for a
few hours at least.  My principal job at the Embassy was to interface with broadcasters, so I knew many of
them quite well.  One of them was Ellis Perez, HI8EPG who owned Radio Station HIAT, Radio Universal. 

I asked Ellis whether, since his station signed off at midnight, I could use the antenna at his transmitter
site to operate on 160 meters.  His assigned frequency was 650 Kc. and I thought the antenna system might work OK at 1800.  Ellis replied that if it was OK with his Chief Engineer, it was OK with him.

The Chief Engineer turned out to be Hector Cambero, HI8HC.  So on Saturday night February 20, 1965, Hector and I drove out to the HIAT transmitter site, my Viking Ranger and the office's HQ-180 in tow plus a couple of bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label which I had picked up at the Embassy commissary for Hector.  Midnight came and as soon as the final notes of the Dominican national anthem faded into the distance Hector removed the coax from the 10 KW RCA BC transmitter and handed it to me.  I had put the HQ-180 on the station's assigned frequency and when I saw WSM in Nashville pinning the S meter I thought we might have a chance to do business.  Of course I had alerted W1BB to the experiment so the 160 meter grapevine was presumably informed.

No sooner was the first CQ transmitted than I was called by W2GGL at 0520 GMT, followed by W9HUZ VE2UQ W2FBA W3GQF W1TX W1BB/1 W2UWD W2IU W2EQS W1BHQ VO1FB WA8IJI W3AJS VE2LI K8HBR/8 K1OOV W8GDQ W5FIX K5JVF W0NWX K8CRJ W3BUR K8RRH and WA1CAG in that order.  We shut down at 0738 GMT, considering the test a great success.  Most reports I received were in the 569-589 range, a considerable improvement from what I was able to get at home, and I gave almost everyone a solid 599 in the days when people habitually gave honest reports. 

By the way, it didn't hurt at all that I came to know HI8HC this way.  A few months later Hector was named Director General of the Telecommunications Department!  Not long after that I finally received a piece of paper from them which I had been waiting for for a long time -- a real honest-to-goodness Dominican Republic ham license document with my call HI8XAL in bold print.

II. More Dominican Republic Stories

In the course of my 53 years as a ham I have had the experience of using knowledge I had acquired, without realizing it, just by being an active ham and keeping my ears open.   I did not consider myself a techical person, having flunked the theory part of the Extra Class exam twice before I finally passed it.  My degree is in Political Science.  But technical knowledge I had picked up just by being an active ham suddenly came in quite handy when emergency situations presented themselves.

This happened a few times during my first foreign service overseas tour in the Dominican Republic, 1964-1967, where I was licensed as HI8XAL. 

Before joining the Foreign Service I had spent a lot of time operating contests at the impressively-equipped station of Butch Greve, W9EWC, and we developed quite a close friendship in the process.  Thus once I got on the air as HI8XAL, we QSOed frequently.  This was not hard because Butch maintained a daily schedule with Empty Wessels, ZS6KD.  His beam heading when working South Africa
was not that far off of me, so when I had a chance I would often call Butch after he finished with ZS6KD.

So it was on Saturday, April 24, 1965.  I had been talking with Butch for about half an hour when I heard a sudden burst of machine-gun fire which seemed not too far away.  Since I was the American Embassy's Duty Officer that weekend, it was also my job to try to find out what was going on.  As I'm sure some of you
know, smaller U. S. Embassies designate, on a rotating basis, officers who serve as the first contact point for the public during the weekend, so that the other Embassy officers can enjoy their weekends with their families unless something comes up which requires their presence in the Embassy. 

As duty officer I had spent Saturday morning at the Embassy reading incoming cables from the State Department in Washington and reading the local newspapers. If it appeared that there was a need for urgent handling of some matter, at my discretion I would call the responsible officer on the telephone and inform him of the situation.  He would then either direct me to take a particular action or come to the Embassy himself to work on the problem.  That particular Saturday morning things had been very quiet so I went home for lunch and after lunch I worked Butch. 

On hearing the machine-gun fire I told Butch that something had come up and immediately went QRT.  The Dominican Republic's National Palace, the seat of government, was not far from my residence and I quickly determined that the firing was coming from the vicinity of that building.  I immediately drove to the Embassy, prepared to call the Political Counselor to tell him what I had seen and heard.  But when I got to the Embassy the place was already a beehive of activity as the Political Counselor and the Military Attache had already been called by their local contacts who told them what was going on.  They were busy calling around to people they knew and filing reports by cable to Washington.  It appeared that there had been a split in the Dominican military, with one group of officers having captured the National Palace in an effort to bring back a former President who had been a victim of a coup d'etat, while elements of the military who had carried out the coup d'etat were trying to recapture the National Palace.

Being a very junior officer there was not really a lot for me to do so I returned home.  By that time the level of hostilities had escalated and P-51s from the Dominican Air Force were diving in and strafing the National Palace. >From the roof of my house it was a fascinating show to watch, but of course in the back of my mind I realized that the situation was deadly serious. The rebel officers had also taken control of a couple of local radio and TV stations and were making dramatic announcements, interspersed with martial music. I regret to this day that I didn't take the trouble to tape-record these broadcasts as it would be great history to have them to listen to today. 

The Embassy was caught flat-footed as the Ambassador was away on vacation andthe Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), who with his wife had astonished the local high society by such things as holding dinners which began at midnight, was in charge. But when it became urgent for him to exert leadership at the Embassy he was utterly incapable of doing so and in effect had a nervous breakdown.  As the city gradually spun out of control all the DCM's wife could worry about was what would happen to the animals at the Zoo. 
So the Military Attache, no stranger to command, took charge.  The Ambassador was located in the USA and began his trip to return but given the situation it took a while for him to get there.  Meanwhile there was a lot to do and every officer pitched in to contribute according to his or her special capabilities and knowledge. 

I had shipped my air-cooled Chevrolet Corvair, the same car I drove to Washington from my home state of Wisconsin when I first went to work for the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), to the Dominican Republic.  Fortunately, just prior to my leaving Wisconsin, John Koster, W9DDD had spent a whole day installing my Hallicrafters SR-150 in my car and a home-brew whip on the back bumper, using an Air Dux coil, usually meant for use in tank circuits of linear amplifiers, as a loading coil with taps so I could resonate it on any frequency I chose between 3.5 and 21.4 MHz.  For use on 10 meters the coil was bypassed altogether.  The antenna was designed and built by Larry Jacobson, then K9ANJ, now K5LJ. 

It wasn't long before the Peace Corps Director asked me whether I could operate on a frequency of approximately 7600 KHz.  I answered that I thought I could,but since my transceiver was ham-band only, I would need to make an adjustment to the VFO first.  I also advised him that I could operate the radio in my car if necessary. 

Having been given the frequency and the tactical call signs to listen for,  I returned to my house, where fortunately I had installed a Hammarlund HQ-180 which belonged to my office.  My office was at the American Library, right downtown in an area now controlled by the rebels, so had the HQ-180 been there I might not have been able to get to it.  Occasionally it became good foresight to borrow office equipment for one's personal use! 

I first used it to find the tactical net around 7600 and then, with the SR-150 switched to the 40 meter position, fiddled with the slugs on top of the SR-150VFO housing until I heard myself come in on the frequency in question.  I put the SR-150 in the car and went back to the Embassy.

It turned out that the U. S. Government had decided to intervene in the Dominican revolt, having become alarmed at some of the talk on the rebel radio and TV stations, which appeared to show that Fidel Castro might have been involved in fomenting the revolt.  The tactical net I was now a part of, my call sign being "Shade Tree One", was a net of the U. S. Naval fleet now steaming to the vicinity of the Dominican Republic.  My first attempt at checking in was successful, and from that point onward I was fully occupied for several days.

I parked my Corvair beside the Embassy, not far from the front door.  The headquarters of the National Police was a block away from the Embassy and the two sides fought for control of that building, so bullets from the firefight over there regularly whistled through the trees above my head.

In order not to run down the battery in my car I had to keep the engine running. In the hot climate of Santo Domingo, this wasn't so good for my air-cooled engine since I was stationary the whole time.  Every evening about six o'clock I raced the engine with the accelerator to clean it out and watched the clouds of black smoke come out of the exhaust pipe. 

The Ambassador had meanwhile returned to post and three or four times a day he would come out of the Embassy to my car and talk to the Admiral of the Fleet, ducking down as he walked to stay below the line of fire from the hostilities in the next block.  The only other way he could communicate with the Admiral was to send a teletype message to Washington, which would then be relayed to the Canal Zone and thence to the fleet.  So my car-installed radio was the only way for him to have instantaneous contact with the Admiral.  I understand that not long afterwards the State Department ordered that every U. S. Embassy and Consulate in the world have a Collins KWM-2A on site. 

I labored this way for several days until the Marines were able to offload an armed personnel carrier bristling with communications gear and drive it to the Embassy grounds.  Surprisingly when they tried to contact the fleet they couldn't be heard, so my SR-150 did duty for a couple more days while they figured out what was wrong with the APC.  At least I had a crew of marines to operate my radio now so all I had to do was keep it running!

Once I was freed from communications duty I was asked to participate in a planning meeting chaired by Gen. Bruce Palmer, the commander of U. S. forces in the operation.  He and his staff were concerned that the rebels controlled a government broadcasting network that had radio stations all around the country. They were worried that the revolution, thus far confined only to the city of Santo Domingo, might be spread to the whole country in this way. Because it was my job to interface with the country's broadcasters, I was aware that the network in question used a mountaintop FM relay to feed those stations around the country.  I pinpointed its location on a map for him and not long after that a helicopter-borne team was dispatched to remove certain components from the FM relay transmitter, disabling it.     

By then those of us working for the U. S. Information Service (USIS) had set up a command post at the house of my boss, the USIS Chief, because he had a roomy place as one of the most senior Embassy officers and its location was well away from the area of hostilities.  USIA Washington had dispatched a few people to augment our small staff and we all worked, ate and slept at my boss's house.  

I was told that we would be installing a small broadcast transmitter at the house and was asked to recommend a clear frequency so that it could be heard clearly throughout the Santo Domingo area both day and night.  I returned to my house in order to retrieve the office's HQ-180 as I needed it to carry out that assignment.  Much to my horror I discovered that my house was now inside the rebel zone, but only by half a block.  So I parked my car just outside the zone and walked in.  There was a rebel policeman manning a checkpoint for cars transiting between the two zones, but I pretended not to see him and he pretended not to see me as I carried the bulky HQ-180 past him to my car.  

Once installed at my boss' house, the HQ-180 helped me determine that 1060 Kc. appeared to be the clearest night-time frequency on the standard broadcast band, so that was where it was decided to put our transmitter. A U. S. Army  crew installed an antenna in the trees in a vacant lot next to the house and a 1 KW Gates transmitter arrived. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw fellow PVRC member Ray Aylor, W3DVO walk into the compound with his suitcase.  Ray, a Voice of America engineer who had designed a lot of medium wave antennas for VOA relay stations around the world, had been dispatched to get the broadcast transmitter set up and operating.  Pretty soon it was on the air. 

Another one of my duties was to scan the broadcast bands, both AM and FM, to detect any rebel broadcasts that we didn't already know about.  Since the presence of the broadcast transmitter in the compound made the AM band somewhat difficult to monitor, I spent most of my time with the office's Zenith Transoceanic tuning the FM band.  I heard what appeared to be a strident rebel agitator at several points on the FM dial.  Putting two and two together I realized that what I was hearing was the result of overloading from the AM transmitter in the house.  I had never bothered to listen directly on 1060 because since the station was "friendly"  there was no reason to monitor it. 

I went to the fellow from Washington who had been sent down to run our operation and he confirmed that our transmitter was being used by another U. S. Government agency to pretend to be controlled by a rebel faction which was unhappy with the way the rebel leadership was running the insurgency.  The idea was to try to drive a wedge between rebel leaders.  Indeed the real rebel radio soon began to denounce the broadcasts as not coming from the legitimate insurgents.

Once Ray had the transmitter up and running he was assigned other duties.  Since I spoke fluent Spanish and knew something about radio I was assigned to accompany him.  Our first job was to take a Collins R-390 provided by another U.S. Government agency and set it up at an operating local broadcast transmitter so that the Voice of America's Spanish-language service, which had been extended to 24-hours-per-day as a result of the crisis, could be retransmitted in the standard AM broadcast band using a local transmitter. 

Almost all of the Santo Domingo broadcast transmitters were located on the east side of the Ozama River which bordered downtown Santo Domingo.  We had to use a street which had become the dividing line between the rebel zone and the loyalist zone to get there, and since we were using a U. S. Army truck
manned by a squad of riflemen we occasionally drew a bit of small-arms fire.  For years afterward Ray regaled visitors to his home with tales about how he had been shot at during his TDY in Santo Domingo.  But what bothered Ray more than the shooting was having to work inside stuffy transmitter buildings in the tropical heat.  "Shot at and missed; shit at and hit" was the way Ray put it in his typically unvarnished language. 

The first transmitter we had arrived at was the site of Radio Station HIAS, Onda Musical, on 1150 Kc.  The first thing the national police did when there was a revolt or coup d'etat brewing was to go around to all the privately-owned broadcast transmitters and impound their crystals, putting them off the air. The only station remaining on the air was the official government station. Unfortunately this time the rebels controlled the government station. 

Ray had brought a bunch of crystals with him from Washington but one for 1150 was not among them. He had one for a nearby frequency and was preparing to rejigger the tank circuit of the homebrew 5 KW transmitter to resonate on that frequency.  Meanwhile I was explaining in Spanish to the caretaker of the transmitter site what we were doing.  He urged me to talk to the station's owner, who I knew, first, and got him on the telephone. The owner told me to go into his workshop where I would find a big jar of nuts and bolts.  I should thrust my hand all the way down to the bottom of the jar where I would find a crystal for 1150 Kc.  Sure enough, there it was!  So we plugged it into the transmitter and fired it up.   Then we offloaded the R-390 and tuned in the Voice of America Spanish service on about 11 Mc. and fed the audio to the local transmitter. Presto!  The VOA was broadcasting loud and clear from right inside the city of Santo Domingo.

As we were about to leave we were stopped by a roving patrol of Dominican Air Force soldiers commanded by none other than Maximo Fiallo, HI8MF who I knew from the Radio Club Dominicano.  The principal air base of the Dominican Air Force was not far from the Santo Domingo broadcast transmitter zone.  HI8MF was a talented engineer, and since the loyalist side did not have control of the government station, he had commandeered the transmitter site of HIAT, Radio Universal, and was running an Air Force broadcast operation from there.  While we were nominally on the same side of the war, I don't think Maximo particularly appreciated our mucking around in "his" territory, but after we explained  what we had done he let us continue without protest.

Ray's next assignment was to try to figure out how to jam the rebel radio station. The rebels had commandeered the 10 KW broadcast transmitter of HISD, 620 Kc., principal station of the government's Radio Santo Domingo network.  We arrived at the transmitter site of HIAW, Radio Guarachita on 690 Kc., with the idea of trying to retune the 10 KW RCA transmitter there to operate on 620 Kc and thus jam the HISD signal.  Ray worked for several hours retuning the transmitter's tank circuit and the antenna tuner at the base of the tower to 620 Kc. and succeeded.  We then discussed how we should carry out the jamming operation. We could either zero-beat the HISD signal and feed an audio tone to the HIAW transmitter, or we could offset the signal putting a beat-note against the HISD carrier.  Ray was concerned that should the latter method be used, listeners could slope-detect the HISD signal on the opposite side from where we had placed the carrier and pretty much nullify the jamming.  So we fired up an audio signal generator that Ray had brought along and set the tone to modulate about 15%.

When we got back to the USIS headquarters we were delighted to observe that the jamming was quite effective.  But our joy was short-lived.  It turned out that the HIAW modulation transformer couldn't stand the steady 15% load in the tropical heat and blew up.  Several months later I drove a USIS van to the local
air force base and an RCA modulation transformer was offloaded from a USAF plane and was quietly unloaded in the yard of the house of the owner of HIAW without comment. "Your tax money at work."

Meanwhile after they had time and knew what they needed, the U. S. military had brought in their own transmitter which was hooked up to the antenna of a local station and our own local "Voz de la Zona de Seguridad" was on the air on 1000 Kc with VOA Spanish-speaking announcers flown down from Washington to man the station.  This gave the U. S. propaganda effort the capability of tailoring the programming to local conditions rather than simply repeating the Washington-based programming which, by the way, was tailored for the entire Hemisphere and not just for the Dominican Republic.

The military also brought in a "transportable" transmitter with its own antenna system which was used to jam HISD with a series of squeaks and squawks that were truly distracting to the ordinary listener. 

The Voice of America had also dispatched its own bilingual Spanish/English reporter, Harry Caicedo to cover the story of the attempted revolution and file reports back to Washington.  By this time the story had attracted the world press and the line to file stories at the overburdened local telegraph office was always a mile long.  Harry was complaining that he spent more time standing in line at the telegraph office than he did running around town getting news to write about. So Ray and I got the idea that maybe we could put Amateur Radio to work to help Harry out. 

We got the Army antenna crew to make a 20 meter dipole for us and put it up in the trees, and fired up the SR-150 on 20 meter CW.  It wasn't long before we managed to find someone in the Washington area and we got them to call Vic Clark, W4KFC to get on the air.  We asked Vic to get in touch with the VOA Newsroom and see if we could set up a schedule to have 14085 KHz manned by PVRC members at certain times so that we could file Harry's press dispatches by CW. Vic set it up and besides himself I remember that Dick Young, W3PZW did yeoman service in the operation.  So thanks to ham radio Harry Caicedo became the only foreign correspondent who didn't have to stand in line at the telegraph office. The frequency of 14085 was selected because in those days there was no digital stuff up at that end of the CW band, and though the CW band was a lot more crowded than it is these days, that end of the band was not very busy.

Ray's TDY term came to an end and he went back to Washington, to be replaced by VOA Engineer Larry Mennitt, W4IVF.  All along we had been puzzled at why the in-house transmitter on 1060 didn't seem to have the signal around town that would have been expected, so Larry was tasked to look at it.  What he found was that Ray had resonated the transmitter on the second harmonic, so all along we had been putting out a terrific signal on 2120 where nobody was listening to it.  No wonder the rebels hadn't been complaining all that much about the station!  

Eventually the two sides in the war negotiated a settlement and a non-politician who got along with everybody, Hector Garcia-Godoy was chosen to lead a caretaker government until new elections could be held.  The day came for Dr. Garcia-Godoy to take office and he wanted to address the nation that evening.  Naturally he expected to be heard all around the country so we had to get the mountaintop relay transmitter up and running again. 

Fortunately this time I was included in the party that helicoptered up to the mountain to put the relay station back on the air.  The party was led by a Signal Corps Master Sergeant whose W4 call I unfortunately didn't make a note of. The group was busily installing the required parts back into the FM transmitter when someone said: "Oh no! I forgot to bring the IF crystal for the receiver." There was no time to get the helicopter back to Santo Domingo and then back up on the mountain again in time for the President's address to the nation. What to do?

This time a Political Science graduate who had fooled around with ham radio came to the rescue.  I thought that if we could somehow generate a signal around 10.7 Mc. and feed it into the receiver's crystal socket we might be able to get around the lack of the crystal.  I noticed that next door to the FM transmitter site was a telephone company relay site and there was an engineer on duty there. So we went over and asked him if he had a signal generator.  He said yes and we asked to borrow it.  He wasn't about to say no to a squad of rifle-toting soldiers. It even came with its own dolly so we wheeled it over to the FM transmitter, plugged its output cable into the receiver's crystal socket, rocked the signal generator's VFO around 10.7 Mc. and lo and behold! the signal from the Santo Domingo FM transmitter came in loud and clear.  So we locked everything down and flew back to Santo Domingo, mission accomplished.  The signal generator actually held the frequency for two more days until the government network's own staff could drive up the mountain and install the missing crystal. 

The kicker of this story is that the Chief Engineer of the rebel radio station which we had spent so much time and effort trying to jam turned out to be none other than Hector Cambero, HI8HC who had been the one who had earlier accompanied me to the HIAT transmitter when I did my 160 meter experiment.  For
his efforts he was named Director General of the Telecommunications Department, the office that issued ham radio licenses, because the political settlement dictated that people from both of the warring sides would divide up the political appointments to government departments. 

Hector and I had many a laugh over drinks comparing our electronic war efforts during the preceding months.  Though he gently chided me for interfering in his country's internal affairs, he was the one who finally saw to it that I was issued an honest-to-goodness Dominican Republic Amateur Radio license.

Oh yes, I kept track of the two R-390 receivers that we had installed at local broadcast transmitters and when they were no longer needed I took them to my QTH; by then I had rented a nice place out in the country and put up a couple of towers with a 40 meter beam and a 10-15-20 meter 4 element quad.  When it came time for my tour in the Dominican Republic to end I attempted to return the receivers back to their parent Agency, only to learn that the property records for those two receivers had been destroyed, so that officially at least, these two receivers "didn't exist."

I didn't feel right about keeping them for myself, however, so Hector's monitoring department at the Telecommunciations office suddenly received a Collins general coverage receiver from the "U. S. aid program,"  while the other one went as a reward to a radio station which had used a lot of our canned VOA programming. They used it to receive broadcasts on short wave from their sports announcer when they dispatched him to New York to cover New York Yankees games live.       

III. Memories of HI8LC

In commenting on my earlier story  K3SWZ mentioned HI8LC.  Since Luis, HI8LC was a regular in all the contests for several years, I thought the rest of you might be interested in his story:

Luis was a very good friend.  I have been in that upstairs shack with the walls plastered with all those obscure certificates on several occasions.   Luis was a half-brother of Caamano, the leader of the revolution I have been writing about, so, although he performed competently and loyally during the revolution, he lost his job as Chief of Communications for the Dominican Navy because of who his
relatives were.  The Embassy later took him aboard as an electronics technician.

Some time after my sojourn in the Dominican Republic, while I was working in Argentina, I was visited by Tony Pita, XE1CCP, who was on the Executive Committee of Region 2 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).  Tony said that the Radio Club Dominicano regularly paid its dues but otherwise never communicated with IARU.  Was there anybody in the club, he asked, who he could contact so that they could find out what was going on there.  I recommended he contact Luis. 

That led to Luis himself becoming a member of the Executive Committee of IARU Region 2.  He served competently in that position for several years.  New leadership in the RCD, however, worked to undercut Luis because he was also the RCD QSL Bureau Manager.  In that capacity he had regularly distributed QSLs for members of the rival national society, the Union Dominicana de Radioaficionados (UDRA) to UDRA as a goodwill gesture.  The new RCD leadership wanted him to stop doing this so that people would have to join the RCD in order to get their QSLs.  The RCD leadership felt this would increase their membership and income.  I felt bad about this because I was the one who had convinced Luis to do his best to get bureau QSLs to their destinees no matter who they were, since it has always been my position that QSLs belong to the destinee and are never the property of any intermediary, be it a post office or a radio club.

Luis refused to change the way he ran the bureau.  So the RCD leadership had the lock changed on P. O. Box 1157 so Luis' key didn't work.  That was no problem for Luis; he had friends at the post office so they just handed him whatever was in the box.  That led the RCD leadership to wage war on Luis.  They notified the President of IARU Region 2 that  RCD no longer supported him as their representative on the Executive Committee.  That caused a showdown at the IARU Region 2 Conference in Orlando in 1989.  Coincidentally I was at that conference because I was about to begin my job as Editor of IARU Region 2 News.

Several of Luis' friends paid their way to Orlando to plead his case and they begged me to do what I could to save his job, but since they were not a part of the official RCD delegation, and since Mexico, which had not had a seat on the Executive Committee for several years wanted to get back on, Luis' situation was hopeless.  He returned to Santo Domingo a bitter and broken man and died not long afterwards of a broken heart.    I felt terrible about the situation. 

At that time there were hundreds of HI's on the air.  Where are they now?  In my mind by taking that action the RCD leadership did its best to kill ham radio in the DR.

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