Numbers & oddities: Column 2

editor: Ary Boender

[Back to list]



Beacons ? NO WAY !

A couple of years ago the 'slhfb' or 'Single Letter High Frequency Beacons' could be heard on numerous frequencies throughout the SW spectrum. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many of them disappeared and only a few survived. Some of them are very active, especially station 'P'. For many years the stations have been listed by the 'experts' as 'beacons'. I however, am absolutely convinced that these beacons are in fact channel-markers for Russian naval stations. In the past dxers have noted Soviet naval callsigns

The first time I hade a close encounter with the 'real' station was in December 1990, when I noticed the first RTTY broadcasts on 3807 // 4043 kHz. It started with the 'P' marker, followed by 75bd RTTY, then back to the marker and into 50bd RTTY and back to the marker again. I monitored the frequency for another hour or so and after ca half an hour 'P' stopped and 75bd RTTY began again. The messages were all 5L groups sent in normal Baudot. No other callsign was used, just the letter 'P'. Then on 22-1-1995, I finally had a positive id of channelmarker 'P'. On 3262 kHz at exactly 21.00 UTC channelmarker 'P' started it's transmission: 3 groups of 5 P's followed by 'RMP' (= Navy Kaliningrad), then into the weather forecast for the Baltic area in plain text. All in CW. Then all went silent.

Apart from station P, also L, S, R, C and V are frequently heard. The home of the markers are ports where also Russian naval bases are located. L is located in St Petersburg, S is in Arkhangelsk, C in Moscow, R and V are yet unknown. The now defunct markers 'U' and 'K' were respectively in Odessa and in Petropavlovsk.

The odd thing is that I never heard any RTTY on other 'beacon' frequencies, while C, R, S and V are there for many years. I also don't know anyone else who did hear anything but the markers. So keep you ears open and let me know what you hear.

Frequencies:
Channelmarker 'C': 3564, 4302, 5306, 7039, 8459, 10612, 13636, 17016 kHz
Channelmarker 'L': 3090, 26170 kHz
Channelmarker 'P': 3167, 3208, 3262, 3264, 3290, 3807, 4043 kHz
Channelmarker 'R': 3195, 4326, 7452, 25250 kHz
Channelmarker 'S': 4301, 8485, 10872, 17015.7 kHz
Channelmarker 'V': 3658, 4446, 4576 kHz

As said 'P' is the most active station, also in digital modes:

3208,00 "BEACON" Kaliningrad 'P' CW 23,07 15.02.95 at 23:12 UTC
into high speed CW, marker silent then into RTTY (see below) after RTTY cast, the marker was back again.
3208,00 UNID RTTY-System RTTY 23,15 15.02.95
Synchronization sequence at the beginning, then 50 Baud PSEUDO# bitstream (POL-ARQ synchronization possible, but this is only a coincidence)
3807,00 UNID RTTY-system RTTY 22,15 15.02.95
Same system as on 3208 ! First bits inverted. During the RTTY cast, the marker was not heard, immediately after RTTY ceased, the marker was back as usual.

The 'Russian Man'

The 'Russian Man' numbers stations transmits every morning at 08.00 UTC on 14890 and at 08.20 UTC on 11270 kHz. The format used is as follows: '615 615 615 40577 40577' repeated for 10 minutes, followed by the next message. When they are finished a '00000' message is sent.

On 26-2 at 08.00 UTC, the Russian Man was very busy. I wonder who and where '615' is. This is what I caught: no activity on 11270, only a carrier for a couple of minutes, all messages were on 14890 kHz. It was also the first time that a digital mode was heard.

08.00: 615 40577
08.05: Pause
08.10: 615 11111 40237
08.20: 615 40737
08.30: 615 42967
08.40: Pause
08.50: 615 11111 42607
09.02: into a digital mode for ca 30 secs
09.02: Pause
09.10: 615 11111 42377
09.20: Pause
09.30: 615 11111 43207
09.40: Pause
09.45: 615 11111 00000

Mossad

I received a couple of loggings accompanied with the question about the different callsigns.

4665.00kHz 0417h 23 Feb 95 AM 33333 English Numbers Calling VLB2. Same voice as EE#. Tx continued past 0430

without follow-up "message," just continued call.

The term 'different callsigns' is not exactly correct. The transmissions begin with a network identifier and sometimes a numerical code to indicate the status of the message. Just 'VLB' would mean that messages will follow. VLB1 means 'there is no traffic but a new schedule is being activated', while VLB2 means 'there is no traffic for you, watch the next schedule'.

Remington numbers schedule

The CIA is a well know numbers provider. Here's the sked:

times are in UTC , frequencies in kHz

"TYPE" is in the format "XXY" - "XX" ="SS"(SPANISH), "EE"(ENGLISH) "CW"(MORSE CODE), "Y" = (# DIGITS), "*" = (EVERY DAY), "#"= CEASED

TIME FREQ.S DAYS TYPE TIME FREQ.S DAYS TYPE
0000 9074/11532 TWThF SS4 1300 #5090/6840 SuWSa SS4
5090/6840 TTh CW5 10570/13808 W SS4
8418/11532 Sa SS4
0100 6802/9074 T SS4
9074/11532 WThSu SS4 1400 9074/11532 TF SS4
9222/11532 F SS4 8418/10665 Sa SS4
6802/9074/ 5090/6840 WTh EE
11532 Sa SS4 14750/15810 T SS4
0200 4670/5812 MSa SS4 1600 8418/10665 Su SS4
6802/9074 TTh SS4 11532/16450 WTh SS4
5812/8418 F SS4 13808/14750 Th EE
5090/6840 Th EE3/2
1700 15651/16450 MF SS4
0230 6840/9958 * SS4 11532/16450 WTh SS4
0300 4307/4670 MTh SS4 1730 9958/18737 * CW4
9074/11532 TWSu SS4
1800 10665/13452 MTh SS4
0330 6840/11605 * CW4 11532/16450 F SS4
7836/9958/
0400 8418/11532 M SS4 13808 Sa CW4
6802/9222 TF SS4
9222/11532 W SS4 1900 9222/11532 T EE
9074/11532 Th SS4 15810/17693 Sa SS4
5812/6802 Su SS4
2000 4670/6802 SuT SS4
0500 8418/11532 M SS4 11532/16450 M SS4
6802/8418 WSa SS4 11491/16310 TThSa SS4
5812/6802 F SS4 10665/11532 F SS4
#5090/6840 * SS4
0600 4670/6802 MW SS4
#8412/9074 Th SS4 2100 11532/16450 W SS4
#5812/6802 ThF SS4 18621/16450 W SS4
#5090/6840 * SS4
2200 15651/16450 T SS4
0700 5812/6802 T SS4 9074/14421 W SS4
11532/13452 Th SS4
1000 5238/6802 M SS4 #5090/6840 * SS4
5812/6802 T SS4
5238/6802 Th SS4 2300 9074/11532 TTh SS4
15651/16450 F SS4
1030 7725/10324 * SS4
1100 11532/14421 Su SS4
5238/5812 MTh SS4
9074/13452 TF SS4
9074/10665 W SS4

Book tip

Richard Brown sent us a book-tip:

The Sigint Secrets, The Signals Intelligence war, 1900 to Today
author: Nigel West
publisher: William Morrow & Co Inc, New York
ISBN 0-699-07652-1

"It's a history (partial) of the British signals intelligence efforts from the beginning of radio to approx 1986. For an example, the British government, at one time, required ALL cable companies to deliver copies of ALL telegrams to them within a period of 10 days of transmission (information suppressed until Feb 1967 (pg 112)"

A new riddle within a mystery, wrapped in an enigma :-)

There's an unid station on 7639.5, 13967.2 and 20.996.2 kHz who transmits a message every 10 minutes. The transmissions are in Sitor-B (FEC). The odd thing about this station is the kind of messages it broadcasts. They consist of two lines. The first line is always a series of 3 even numbers followed by the time MINUS 8 MINUTES. The time is given in UTC. The second line of each message is always as follows: 2 dashes, 2 vertical dashes, 5Z 5Z TR TR and again 2 dashes.

I captured the following transmissions. These are the first lines:

15.48 UTC: "20 20 20 16 16 16 30 30 30 15H40M58S"
15.58 UTC: "12 12 12 30 30 30 12 12 12 15H50M59S"
16.08 UTC: "30 30 30 10 10 10 30 30 30 16H00M58S"
16.18 UTC: Unreadable
16.28 UTC: "18 18 18 24 24 24 26 26 26 16H20M59S"
16.38 UTC: Unreadable
16.48 UTC: " 8 8 8 14 14 14 22 22 22 16H40M58S"
16.58 UTC: "12 12 12 30 30 30 24 24 24 16H50M59S"
17.08 UTC: " 4 4 4 4 4 4 30 30 30 17H00M59S"
17.18 UTC: " 0 0 0 6 6 6 30 30 30 17H10M58S"

The second line of each message: " --ii 5Z 5Z TR TR -- "

So far no id has been noted.

New numbers station

There is a new numbers station on at 19.00 UTC, Mondays on 6645 kHz AM. The station starts with 3 minutes of Jean-Michel Jarre music, then into 17 5F groups. Then "again, again" and 17 groups repeated, ending with a minute or so of the music. YL's pronunciation is odd with 2=Du and definite roll of the "R"s. The message coding is very peculiar, only certain few numbers in a few of the 17 groups seem to change each week.

As J.M. Jarre is a French musician and '2' in French is 'deux' -very much like 'du'- I wonder... could this be a French station ?

Numbers club

I mentioned the Enigma numbers club in WUN #1. For those who are interested in the European Numbers Information Gathering and Monitoring Association, you may write for more info to

B.R.C.
31 Manor Row
Bradford
West Yorkshire
BD1 4PS
United Kingdom,

or write to e-mail address mikec@praxis.co.uk

>>>>> Thank you Richard Brown, Leif Dehio, Mark Fine, Roland, Ed Deasy, Mike Chace and the Anonymous guys for your input <<<<<

See ya, Ary


---