By: Martin Butera
PT2ZDX / LU9EFO
Photographs: Ligia Katze
Sebastiao has already lost count of how much equipment he has accumulated in his house, which now only serves to store the millions of transmitters that are scattered throughout all the rooms of the house.
When I found out that Sebastiao had a lot of radio equipment, I thought only of a messy collection, but deceive me, there are thousands of equipment.
I traveled about 200 kilometers from my QTH, to see with my own eyes and experience this story in the first person.
Sebastiao lives in a neighborhood called Jardim América, in the city of Goiânia, capital of the state of Goiás, in the west-central zone of the country of Brazil.
Upon entering his house, I felt as if I was in the North American series “Hoarders”, I was literally walking on a carpet of radios, there are many transmitters scattered on the floor, it is easy to feel that when you step, you can hear how they go breaking some pieces, which seemed a real shame, because I could see that not all the equipment was old or in such bad condition.
They are messy mountains of transmitters accumulated in more than 5 rooms, with the naked eye I could see antennas, power supplies, cables, radars, repeaters, amplifiers, signal meters, handheld radios, the list is endless.
The accumulation is so much that he has no more space on his desk where I sometimes repair equipment, something that caught my attention, while I was talking to him, on his leg he had a transmitter to which he was changing or soldering an electronic part and he had it that way on his leg, because he had no other space to support it.
It was logical to ask myself: What makes a person keep so many things?
This question led me to seriously reflect on this issue and write about it, to the extent that our radio hobby can sometimes lead us down paths that are not always healthy.
Here I present the story of Sebastiao Alves Carvelo (PP2OE), known in the Brazilian ham radio environment by the name of “Tião Garrucha”
Sebastiao or Tião Garrucha, as his friends call him, is a Ham Radio Operator, who worked as an electronic technician for more than 40 years, at one time amassed a fortune as director and founder of the Telecon Brasil company.
He and his company were a benchmark, at one time he became the most sought-after technician, the most famous, the only one who claimed to provide communications service in rural and inhospitable areas of the giant territory of Brazil, between the 80s and 90s, where Cell phone communication did not exist and links were crucial to develop connectivity between industries, factories, fields and businesses throughout Brazil.
After those golden years, when work began to decrease, Sebastiao may have begun to enter a depression without noticing it and dedicate himself exclusively to the hobby, in a more obsessive way, filling his shack with many useless equipment, when shack was small he continued placing more radios in another room, then in another, then in the kitchen, even in the bathroom I could see transmitters and so it was that there is no more room for anything else in Sebastiao’s house, other than radio equipment.
Compulsive hoarding or disposophobia
Compulsive hoarding or disposophobia (phobia to dispose of things), consists of the unlimited acquisition or collection of objects of little or no use, these are often left in the trash by other people.
Some people may not have a critical sense of the abnormality of their attitude, but nevertheless, their behavior is often distressing to other people, such as family members, neighbors, and friends.
The compulsive hoarder often loses control when it comes to organizing and selecting objects and their free time is also restricted to carry out other activities.
Differences between compulsive accumulator and collector
There is a clear separation between the compulsive hoarder and the collector
Even if the collector shares himself in a way that is very obsessed with acquiring objects for his collection, in this case transmitters and radio objects, the collector tends to organize objects in a rational way, sensibly respecting space, values and practical possibilities of acquisition.
On the other hand, the compulsive accumulator is unable to organize his life space and often loses self-control to acquire or dispose of things.
Surely when you are reading this article, you will be asking yourself the same question as me: Does it have treatment?
Although compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that began to be studied not many years ago, it is known that it is something that has always been present in a person’s life, some cumulative personality traits are common in this disorder and may have existed since the beginning.
At an opportune moment, the disease breaks out, either after the death of a family member, financial difficulties, personal or professional conflicts, in short, after a more traumatic life experience.
The question: Does it have treatment?
What I was able to find out, as I mentioned before this disorder has only been detected in recent years, studies on the treatment are still beginning. But it is already possible to advance with cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a method that helps the patient to regain life habits considered normal.
“Hoarders” the TV series
Hoarders is an American reality series that debuted on the cable television channel A&E Networks, also a version of Hoarders is available in other countries through netflix.com.
The Emmy-nominated and Critics Choice Television Award-winning series “Hoarders” explores the world of extreme hoarding and offers an in-depth look at the real-life stories of people directly affected by compulsive hoarding. Viewers are introduced to people from across the country as a team of experts tries to help clean up their massive treasures and help prepare these folks for future success.
In Japan I think everyone already knows Marie Kondo, with her Netflix series, without a doubt she is like the happy version of “Hoarders”.
Most people have heard of Marie Kondo; Her last name has even become a verb (‘I made Kondo in my closet today!’). But in case you didn’t know, Marie Kondo is a professional Japanese organizer known for encouraging her clients to stick with only “joy-awakening” items.
Her best-selling book of hers, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” remained on the list of best-selling books in recent years around the world.
In the Portuguese language here in Brazil, the series is called “Ordem na Casa com Marie Kondo”.
The cleaning guru teaches the concept of Shinto, which is based on ordering and transforming your home into “a sacred space, a point of power filled with pure energy.”
According to Marie Kondo, the main thing that people get wrong when ordering is that they focus on what they are unraveling, not what they are staying with.
She advises people who are organizing their objects to ask themselves a question, “Does it bring me joy?”
If yes, you must keep that object. But if not, it’s time to thank the object for its service and let it go. Kondo says that following these methods will lead to greater happiness.
In search of lost treasures
In search of some treasure, amidst so much accumulation, amidst a beautiful: ART-13, this piece of equipment was a radio transmitter manufactured by Collins Radio that found widespread use during and after WWII on military aircraft.
The Russians made almost exact copies of the AN / ART-13 transmitter (called RSB-70 and R-807) for use in their military aircraft. It is believed that they obtained AN / ART-13 units from battle-damaged B-29 bombers that landed in Russia during WWII.
Although in the United States it is common to find this type of transmitter, here in Brazil it is more difficult to see them, it may not be a valuable piece of equipment talking about money for some collector, but it is a transmitter that is worth its history.
Walking through the maze of accumulated equipment, I found a very interesting and exclusive transmitter, a KLM 2700, with digital frequency marking. This equipment had a true VFO at the time.
Its frequency range: it went from 143-149 MHz and operated in all modes (FM / N, FM / W, USB, LSB, CW and AM).
Marketed in the United States under the KLM label, but originally manufactured in Japan by FDK (Fukuyama Denki Kogyo).
This transmitter had a strange feature, it incorporated a 10M Oscar satellite converter that could be used to receive the Russian satellites in 10M, something novel and strange for the time.
It was probably the best of its kind when it was first introduced in the late ’70s.
A real treasure, found among the great radio accumulation of colleague Sebastiao Alves Carvelo (PP2OE).
Another treasure that I found among the millions of equipment was a radio ERC 110 backpack radio, although a radio backpack is not so rare, this is it, because it is made in Brazil, something that is not very common in the manufacture of military transmitters in South America. In general, armies are supplied with American and Japanese transmitters.
ERC-110 was a portable, short-range device that operated in modulated frequency, FM, and allowed two-way telephone communication.
It operated in a low frequency range between 30.00 to 52.95 MHz and in a range of 53.00 to 75.95 MHz, with 920 channels spaced at 50 kHz.
It was manufactured by “Telefunken do Brasil SA”, based on the design of the American AN / PRC-77 from RCA.
Ask for help !!
Despite having an obvious problem with the organization of his radio broadcasts, colleague colleague Sebastiao Alves Carvelo (PP2OE), is still an excellent person and I was well received in his house.
It is difficult to try to help in some situations, I never imagined that this pathology could be present in our hobby.
Generally, compulsive hoarders show some of the following signs:
- Difficulty throwing objects away, even when they are of no use;
- Difficulty organizing your belongings;
- Accumulate objects in all places of the house;
- Being overly afraid of being left without an object;
- Feeling that they cannot throw an object away, as they may need it in the future;
- Find new objects, even if they have several of the same.
If you have any of these characteristics, it is time to ask a professional for help.
Final conclusion by Martin Butera
Hoarding is not only on television, it is a real disease, which is often present in our radio hobby community.
People who are compulsive hoarders also become more isolated, especially in the more severe cases like that of our colleague Sebastiao, as they feel ashamed of their own situation and the appearance of their house. For this reason, these people are more likely to develop other psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, for example.
Finally I would like to leave a reflection, how many times do we talk about how important it is to promote and recommend amateur radio for future generations, with the intention that our hobby continues to be valid, let’s be honest many times they are just words and in practice we do very little.
One way to start may be that after reading this article you decide to reduce the size of your shack, donating that equipment that you never use and is only accumulated in your shack can be a good way to start.
Get in touch with your nearest radio club, I’m sure they will have a good program to reuse that equipment that you no longer use and that way it can help other people start the hobby.
This article is completed with a short interview in Portuguese by Martin Butera PT2ZDX – LU9EFO with colleague Sebastiao Alves Carvelo (PP2OE), you can see it at the following link:
About the Author
Martín Butera has been a Radio Amateur since 1992 with the Argentine callsign LU9EFO and the Brazilian PT2ZDX.
Martín is a Radio Amateur with more than 30 years of experience, and has participated in DX expeditions throughout South and Central America.
Martin collaborates, writes and compiles information for various radio bulletins and magazines that cover the topic of world radio, his articles are published in several languages.
Martin is the founder in Brazil of the CREW called 15 point 61 (15.61), now called only 61 sixty-one, dedicated to DX expeditions of BCL, radio listening.
Martín Butera is a journalist, documentary maker and was a founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina) https://radioatomika.com.ar
He currently lives in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, with his wife.