Fourth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 05:30:15 GMT)

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Morse stations

I have decide to continue with my morse stations column for the time being, even though I only had a limited response to my last months comments. I have been sending in some logs of morse stations to Ary to be shown in the logs section. As you will see there are a large number of them, and hopefully it might persuade some of you to learn the morse code and log some of them.

I have been asked about receiving morse with some of the data decoders that are on the market. I have been carrying out some tests over the past few weeks to see which of them was best. The ones I have tested are the PK232, Code 3, Code 3 Gold, and Hamcomm 3.

I have come to the conclusion that none of them are really up to the mark for this. Possibly because of the on off nature of morse signals. A large majority of numbers stations are either very weak or have QRM on the frequency.

I have tried out these decoders and found it virtually impossible to make any sense out of the majority of those I tried to decode. The PK232 only seems to like very strong signals, and then does not like slow speeds. Another problem is getting the spacing correct, if the morse is a little slow then the decoder prints a space between each letter. Really the best thing for decoding morse are two ears and a brain. As the number of stations on are so many I think it worth while trying to learn the code.

I would suggest that it would be a good start to just learn figures from 0 to 9 and a couple of the signs = which is BT, Dah dit dit dit dah, AR which is Dit dah dit dah dit and the slash sign / which is Dah dit dit dah dit. With those you will be able to copy the majority of them. Not forgetting of course T for short Zero.

I have also been doing some tests with help, as to how many of them are audible in the USA and at the moment it does not seem that there are many that can be heard. M8 is one, I think that comes from Cuba, although I think the ones that we hear in the UK are broadcast from Europe as they are such strong signals. Another one I know was heard and that is M12, normally very strong in the UK. Trouble is that it is not very good for starters as it sends at 30 WPM.

Possibly as we progress through the sunspot cycle things might improve. The time difference does not help as there are a lot on during what is the middle of the night for the USA. I am not sure if they will as conditions in the first week in July have been really bad. I normally receive M1 and M10 with very good signals but they have been almost unreadable this week. One station that I am looking for reports of, particularly those of you in Europe, is the M10 that comes on 5705 at 1000, almost every day. It is slightly different to the usual M10 in that it uses 5 figure IDs and there are no pauses in the Auto sending. I have yet to hear it other than extremely weak, so I wonder if anyone else can hear it and give me some idea of the signal strength from their location. The normal M10 is a very good signal with me.

I am continuing with the profile of some more stations, and then at the end of the column I will give some news of recent happenings.

M13 & M13A

M13 sent in ICW very rarely in MCW Another group constantly changing frequencies and times. Can be found on anywhere between 3.8 and 12 MHz. Can be recognized as it is sent very slowly, about 9 WPM, and the signal is very strong in the UK.Messages are usually about 23 groups but they have been known to send up to 80 groups The message is sent four times in a period of 4 weeks.Has been logged between 1600 and 1000 the next day, on the hour but transmissions at Hour+30 and Hour+ 50 have been noted. A popular time seems to be at 2100 and 2200.

Repeat sequences that have been logged

The sequence is then repeated 2 weeks later with the same message. The next transmission will be 2 weeks later, with a new message on a different frequency. It has also been noted that some only transmit once a month. Now that I have been logging these stations for 1 year, some of them are coming on the same frequency that they were on 1 year ago, so it would seem that they are using a twelve month cycle of frequencies.

Call Preamble Message Repeat Ending
261 R5 189 22 22x5f ID sent x12 189 22 3 long dashes

M13A Format is the same only the ID is sent as 847 847 847 000 R5 Repeat is 4 times

This format can easily be confused with M12. It has become very rare that they use this format, I have only heard it once this year.

See also Newsletter 23.

M14

M14 Modes ICW, MCW, and MCW CC Similar format to M1, machine sent, but ends with 5 zeros.Longer messages than M1.The last group in the message is random and not as M1 Date/Group count. Another group everlasting changing times and frequencies. Variations exist.

See also Newsletter 30.

M16

M16: 8BY Mode ICW. Uses long zeros.

Call IDS
VVV VVV VVV 8BY 8BY 8BY 605/432/679/236

The IDs can be any number up to 12, they can remain the same for several transmissions, or change by having one ID go and leave the rest, such as 432/679/236.IDs are always in the same sequence. Transmission is at each hour+40 for 20 minutes.Up to 3 frequencies in parallel.

My own theory for this group is that it is just a list of IDs that there is a message waiting for and the ID collects the message possibly on another frequency or by other means.

Can also use Q and Z codes

If no IDs sends QRU

Example of ZKY= 142 825 047 ZKY/759
Example of ZCC= 142 047 ZCC 11 18/439 ZCC 10 16/306/146

Frequencies in use are:
7668 10248 12075 12170 12283 14433 14925 14931 18415 20946

See also Newsletter 10.

M17

M17 Mode MCW Constant carrier. Each message sent 3 times each on a different frequency. They do use the same triplets of frequencies for each time slot. Transmissions are Monthly 2 weekly or weekly, on week of each month basis. Either on the Hour, Hour+20 Hour+40 Or Hour+30 Hour+50 Hour+70.

Mainly on during the evening but have been heard at other times of the day. Changes times with the season, 1 hour later in Winter

Call Preamble Message Ending
70832 R4 5 Seconds Dots 29 29 29x5f VA

First 2 figures of header are schedule numbers.

Frequencies used:
3410 3910 4270 4460 4740 5235 5695 5865 6290 6675 6935 7425 7790 8070 9050 9245 10470

Other skeds are

Monday 2030 4740/4460/4270
Tuesday 1900 4460/4740/4270
Wednesday 0800 7425/6675/5865
Wednesday 1600 5865/4740/4270
Wednesday 1900 3410/3910/4740
Thursday 2030 3410/3910/4740
See also Newsletter 19.

M20

M20 Part of the M3 Family.

Sends a varying amount of Vs then = = 000

Has been known to send VVV = = 000 and up to 5 minutes of Vs

Uses same frequencies as M3

Morse stations round-up

Here is the news of what is happening on the bands.

M1: Continues with its normal skeds, will be ID 025 until the end of August. It used to have a regular message length of 40 groups, but for the past few months this has dropped down to 32 to 37 Groups. Now in July it is back sending longer messages now up to 44 groups. As you may know it never repeats these messages.

There are some changes going on as it did not have the end of month special transmissions in June, 1997 June was the same. On Tuesday 7 July and Thursday 9 July it missed the 2000 transmission on 4905. It has been known to miss the 2000 sked, but I think this has only happened once before.

M1B: Skeds at present are as follows although they are liable to change.

Listed as Time/Frequency/ID

Monday 1718 5220 719 2010 5812 729
Tuesday 1723 6283 382
Wednesday 1510 5473 745 1718 5220 719
Thursday 1503 6823 168 1723 6283 382 2032 5750 931
Friday 2102 5750 871
Saturday 1605 5350 053 1855 5777 127

It is very rare for M1B to have problems, but on Thursday 7 July the 1723 transmission on 6283 started breaking up at the end. The 2032 transmission on 5737 was entirely broken. The interesting thing is that M1 at 1800 had a perfect transmission, so it looks like M1 and M1B have separate transmitters. There are probably other skeds and any reports of those would be appreciated.

M3: Still plenty of activity from 0630 to 1400. A lot of the IDs never receive a message. The afternoon sked at 1630 on 7256 and the Saturday morning at 0800 on 9272 are still running.

M4: Only on now the second week of each month, On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 0957 on 7250, 1157 on 8188, 1257 on 5748. Sends the same message all the week.

M7: A very difficult one to catch as it only has a call up of 1 minute and has no particular sked. Tends to come up at Hour plus 20 and hour plus 50. Uses M10 frequencies

M10: Still plenty of activity. One I would like reports of is on at 1000 each morning on 5705. It is never a very good signal in the UK, but I think it is on every morning. I first logged it a year ago. It uses 5 figure IDs usually 4 with short messages.

M12: Still continues to send the same message on every Sunday. Changes frequency each month. I have recently been finding some of these on in the mornings, 0630 onwards using similar frequencies to V7 and XPH.

M13: Still as elusive as always. Trouble is that it can appear anywhere, I found one under a broadcast station. I have found one way to find them is to look back in my old logs as they use the same frequency on a yearly basis.

M23: Has recently returned to 6999 at 1000, used to be a regular frequency but has not been there for several months. Still on at 1500 on 7795, repeating messages that started in April.

M24: Still difficult to find as it is everlasting changing frequencies and times. As M13 does come on same frequencies as a year ago. Logged one at 1920 on Thursday 9 July on 9260. One of the very fast ones, 40 WPM

M29: On each day at 1700 and 1900, sends the same message for a week starting on Monday. The same groups are often repeated several times in the message and also appear week after week.

M51: Still sending endless streams of 100 5 letter messages. It broke its own record recently,was on for over 5 and a half hours. Has been noted on for over 13 hours in one week.

M53: On most evenings, but usually a very poor signal in the UK. Another one I would like some reports of to get some idea where it may be. Is on most evenings at 2000 on 8231

Hope you have found this interesting, perhaps some of you seeing the amount of stations active, might be persuaded to have a go at learning morse.


Thanks Guy, excellent stuff as always. Like many of you I am not a skilled morse listener. After Guy sent me his article, I decided to browse the web for a morse trainer. The amount of morse software is incredible, varying from very basic to very advanced software, free programs, shareware and commercial. A large number of programs can be found on the Funet FTP site:
HOST = ftp.funet.fi
User id = anonymous
DIR = pub/ham/morse

I have tried some 15 different morse programs and one of my favorites is NuMorse 1.40. A nifty shareware program for Windows. Here a brief description:

NuMorse 1.40 Morse Code trainer for Windows 3.1+ Shareware; registration $29.00
Options: Code via sound card /PC speaker/Code oscillator/Semaphore window. Code source is random generator/text file/QSO generator. Select characters + weighting. Set code speed/timing or let program adjust speed. Farnsworth code/prosigns supported. FCC type tests+QSOs generated. Drill mode, monitor progress/correct error using voice phonetics. +Much more.

You can retrieve NuMorse 1.40 from the Funet FTP site.

BTW, have a look at the pub/.../utility directory as well. Lots of good stuff on Funet! -Ary-


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