Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma
Posted: 04 October 2011 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Oldskool spy stuff…

From a lonely rusted tower in a forest north of Moscow, a mysterious shortwave radio station transmitted day and night. For at least the decade leading up to 1992, it broadcast almost nothing but beeps; after that, it switched to buzzes, generally between 21 and 34 per minute, each lasting roughly a second—a nasally foghorn blaring through a crackly ether. The signal was said to emanate from the grounds of a voyenni gorodok (mini military city) near the village of Povarovo, and very rarely, perhaps once every few weeks, the monotony was broken by a male voice reciting brief sequences of numbers and words, often strings of Russian names: “Anna, Nikolai, Ivan, Tatyana, Roman.” But the balance of the airtime was filled by a steady, almost maddening, series of inexplicable tones.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yeah. Sounds like a variant of a ‘Number Station’, a common spy tactic. Want to get messages to your spies? Don’t want the opposition reading your mail? Just have a shortwave radio broadcasting an endless string of random numbers. The trick is you have your message numbers tucked into a hideous amount of data to try and sift through or decrypt. Tell them ‘Four-thirteen, every Thursday’, they dial in, get their coded message, and go off to do whatever. Signal to noise ratio.

A little less effective these days. Not only are there more robust methods available, but you also have computers that can patiently listen to the numbers, then analyze them for patterns. There’s not a lot that can be done without a code book, but they’ll be able to tell when a message is sent. Then you just look for which of your suspected agents is possibly near a radio at that time…


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Posted: 05 October 2011 03:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I read about this last year. more links at the bottom of wiki.

Posted: 02 November 2011 12:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I used to go searching for those numbers stations on shortwave when I had a lot of time on my hands.  It was usually between 12am to 5 am and there were many that broadcast on a regular schedule and time.  Some were Spanish and some were German. I never heard the Russian ones. The usually started out with a few minutes of a dead carrier - a strong signal with no audio.  Then a voice (female in the case of most of the Spanish ones that I heard) would start to repeat a series of numbers like a 3 digit followed by a 4 digit. After a few minutes of this she would start to read groups of 4 or 5 digits for as long as 15 to 20 minutes. Then she would stop and a few minutes later the carrier signal would stop. I copied a lot of the messages down and found that some would be the same the next week. I thought that the first repeated groups were some kind of message identifier for the main message.  I never figured out what the message might be but it kept me busy for a few months.  I think they are also done in Morse code but I don’t have the patience to be trying to copy and translate that.

The sounds mentioned in the original post may have been some kind of teletype code slowed down or sped up that could be read by a machine…..

Posted: 03 November 2011 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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You want to be careful listening to those! wink



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