Fourth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

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

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Voice Stations

Cuban Atencion Stations (ENIGMA V2)

The Atencion stations are most probably the easiest numbers station to hear in North America. While transmissions have been heard at all hours, the most common times are from 0000-1200Z. Frequencies generally range from 4 - 12 MHz, although higher and lower frequencies have been used in the past.

3060 and 3090 kHz were extremely heavily used frequencies. 6840 kHz was also heavily used, but also by other numbers stations! The Counting Station, The Skylark, and MOSSAD (which still uses the frequency) could all be heard on 6840 kHz, sometimes more than one station was on at the same time!

Transmissions are always in Spanish. Transmissions are often of a poor technical quality, with hum and other noise frequently present. It is also not uncommon to hear other audio mixing into the numbers transmission, usually identified as Radio Havana Cuba, which does give away the transmitting location.

In the past, most transmissions used to repeat at H+30 many kHz up or down in frequency. This is not the case anymore, transmissions always begin on the hour. Well - they're supposed to. The Atencion stations are [in]famous for their technical glitches. It is not uncommon for there to be a few false starts before the transmission finally gets going.

V2 is has a sister morse code station - M8. It transmits messages of 150 groups using cut numbers. (letters used to represent numbers)

These are the formats that have been used by the Atencion Station. Formats 2 and 6 are still in use today, although format 2 is rarely heard. Format 6 replaced format 5 on January 1, 1997. This format always transmits three messages, with each message having 150 groups.

The number of finals heard at the end of the transmission varies, it is always either two or three. To date, no one has come up with a satisfactory explaination for the varying number of finals.

Atencion Station Formats

Format 1: [obsolete]
Atencion 485 31 Repeated for several minutes
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 31 groups
Final Final Used to be "Adios" years ago
Format 2: [still in use, somewhat rare]
Atencion 823 01 Repeated for several minutes
01 45 Repeated for one minute
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 45 groups
Final Final
Format 3: [obsolete]
Atencion 237 01 32 Repeated for several minutes
32 Repeated for one minute
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 32 groups
Final Final
Format 4: [obsolete]
Atencion Repeated three times
643 23 Repeated once
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, in this case 23 groups
Final Final Final
(this format was only observed on live transmissions)
Format 5: [obsolete]
Atencion 65848 Repeated for several minutes
65848 150 Repeated
47383 59393 10322 93984 29494... Message, always 150 groups
Final Final (two or three finals)
Format 6: [still in use, most common format]
Atencion 72302 51782 41592 Repeated,
Messages to 72302 51782 41592 72302 Repeated five times
03832 13983 79833... First message, always 150 groups
51782 Repeated five times
04383 34932 88939... Second message, always 150 groups
41592 Repeated five times
49393 63832 12393... Third message, always 150 groups
final final End of transmission, sometimes three finals

ENIGMA does not presently distinguish between the different formats. (they used to distinguish between two or three finals at the end of the transmission, but I believe this is meaningless). I do believe that the two formats presently in use should be distingished, at least by a letter suffix. Ideally, for continuity, suffixes should be assigned for all six formats that were used, with four marked as inactive or obsolete. Most of the transmissions are of format 6. However, format 2 transmissions are heard. Indeed, if a schedule of transmissions is created, it will be found that a time slot is either format 2 or 6, it does not change from week to week.

Two voices have been noted - one is a younger sounding YL with a higher pitched voice, the other sounds older, with a lower pitch. Some attempts have been made to determine if a given time slot always uses the same voice or not, but more work is needed in this area.

Some recently used frequencies by the Cuban Stations

3292 3410 3444 3926 4017 4020 4027 4174 4328 4479 4601 4610 5087 5118 5135 5407 5415 5417 5420 5470 5682 5760 5762 5762 5771 5800 5810 5900 5903 6228 6293 6768 6778 6787 6797 6800 6825 6854 6856 6867 6872 6888 6890 6892 6920 6933 6935 6942 6953 6983 6995 7425 7435 7480 7482 7520 7525 7580 7648 7682 7726 7743 7755 7845 7860 7887 7890 8010 8018 8066 8126 8136 8150 8165 8186 8240 8380 8790 8873 8980 8992 9120 9140 9237 9251 9255 9330 9925 10125 10180 10270 10345 10510 10713 10865 11125 11215 11468 12144 13373 13419 14180 14736 14770 14825 17425 17520 18035 18434 20316 21865

In the past, a CW "ID" was often heard at the beginning of a transmission. It was "DE ? HI" which, 'translated' from CW into English, means 'Origin unknown, ha ha'. If someone has an older recording of such a CW ID, I would greatly appreciate getting a copy.

More on V2 can also be found in Newsletter 8.

The Lincolnshire Poacher (E3)

by Simon Mason, revised by Ary Boender

One of the most famous numbers stations is E3, nicknamed 'the Lincolnshire Poacher', after it's interval signal. The station is believed to be operated by British intelligence (MI6) and beamed into Iraq and Iran from Cyprus, or possibly other British facilities in the Middle East and England. The Poacher is subject to jamming from Iraq and/or Iran.

Here is an updated version of Simon Mason's station profile, followed by the transmission schedules, courtesy of the ENIGMA group. -Ary-


On the hour the interval signal is played twelve times, followed by a five figure header read ten times by a woman. This is repeated for ten minutes. After that, six tones are transmitted followed by exactly 200 five figure groups. At 45 minutes past the hour the interval signal is sent once again and then the station stays silent until the start of the next hour.

The woman has a distinct British accent. As noted before, these transmissions are always jammed by warble jammers which are extremely powerful and effective and have followed the station around during its frequency changes.

The tune used is a very old English folk song called "The Lincolnshire Poacher". The county of Lincolnshire is in eastern England, just south of the river Humber and is mainly flat agricultural country. The tune itself dates from around 1776 but might belong to an even earlier time. It is the most famous of all English county songs and is not only the signature tune for Radio Lincolnshire, its rousing chorus has been sung wherever "Yellow Bellies" (Lincolnshire folk) have travelled. Here are the lyrics of the song:

''When I was a bound apprentice in famous Lincolnshire Full well I served my master for more than seven year. Till I took up with poaching, as you shall quickly hear:

Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

As me and my companions were setting of a snare 'twas there we seed a gamekeeper- for him we did not care, For we can wrestle and fight my boys, and jump o'er everywhere.

Oh, 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

As me and my companions were setting four or five And taking on him up again, we caught the hare alive We caught the hare alive, my boys, and through the woods did steer:

Oh 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

Bad luck to every magistrate that lives in Lincolnshire. Success to every poacher that wants to sell a hare Bad luck to every gamekeeper that will not sell his deer.

Oh 'tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.''

The choice of a folk song is interesting. Another numbers station used a folk song of Romania. Perhaps they are intended to instil a patriotic feeling in the people concerned?

When I first heard this station on 21 December, 1988 it was using 6485 and 5422 in parallel from 1700-2200. The warblers then discovered it and it then moved to 5422/5756 in March, 1990. After a while it moved again, this time to 8464. Eventually it settled on these five frequencies: 14487/15682 anytime between 0500-1800 and 7887/8464/9251 anytime between 1500-2200 UTC.

There was a brief flirtation with 6959 for awhile but this has ended. Many additional transmissions outside these times have been noted, for example at 0300 it was on 6959/7887/9251 and also at 0500 on 7887/8464/9521. There have also been many tests.

Some errors have been noted, the most common being when the transmissions change frequency at 1800. Prior to 1800 14487/15682 are used and sometimes the 1800-1845 transmission begins on these two frequencies by mistake. The jammers then start up on 14487/15682, ready to block the message. At about 1803 someone realises the evening schedule is in operation and switches to 7887/8464/9251. The warblers are then "woo-wooing" away on 14487/15682 until they wake up and move to the other frequencies.

Lincolnshire Poacher Schedule (E3)
(Schedule courtesy ENIGMA group)
UTC MON TUE WED
10 H 16084 15682 14487 D 16084 15682 14487 H 16084 15682 14487
11 D 16084 15682 14487 H 16084 15682 14487 D 16084 15682 14487
12 F 16084 15682 14487 F 16084 15682 14487 F 16084 15682 14487
13 I 16084 15682 14487 I 16084 15682 14487 I 16084 15682 14487
14 B 14487 12603 10426 C 16084 14487 11545 D 16084 15682 14487
15 A 15682 13375 11545 B 10426 8464 7755 C 16084 14487 11545
16 H 13375 12603 11545 A 15682 13375 11545 B 10426 7755 6485
17 G 11545 8464 6959 H 13375 12603 11545 A 16475 14487 12603
18 F 12603 9251 7337 G 9251 6959 5746 H 11545 9251 6959
19 E 12603 9251 7337 I 11545 9251 6959 G 8464 6485 5746
20 I 11545 9251 6959 F 12603 9251 7337 I 11545 9251 6959
21 D 11545 9251 6959 E 12603 9251 7337 F 12603 9251 7337
22 C 11545 10426 6959 D 11545 9251 6959 E 12603 9251 7337
UTC THU FRI SAT
10 D 16084 15682 l4487 H 16084 15682 14487 H 16084 15682 14487
11 H 16084 15682 14487 D 16084 15682 14487 D 16084 15682 14487
12 F 16084 15682 14487 F 16084 15682 14487 F 16084 15682 14487
13 I 16084 15682 14487 I 16084 15682 14487 I 16084 15682 14487
14 E 16084 15682 14487 F 16084 15682 14487 G 14487 11545 10426
15 D 13375 12603 11545 E 13375 12603 11545 F 13375 12603 11545
16 C 14487 12603 8464 D 13375 12603 11545 E 13375 12603 11545
17 B 8464 6485 5422 C 16084 13375 11545 D 13375 12603 11545
18 A 16475 14487 12603 B 8464 6485 5422 C 16084 13375 11545
19 I 11545 9251 6959 A 15682 13375 11545 B 8464 6485 5422
20 H 11545 9251 6959 I 11545 9251 6959 A 11545 6900 6900
21 G 9251 6959 5746 H 11545 9251 6959 I 11545 9251 6959
22 F 12603 9251 7337 G 9251 6959 5746 H 11545 9251 6959
UTC SUN
10 D 16084 15682 14487
11 H 16084 15682 14487
12 F 16084 15682 14487
13 I 16084 15682 14487
14 A 16084 15682 14487
15 H 13375 12603 11545
16 G 11545 10426 8464
17 F 13375 12603 11545
18 E 12603 9251 7337
19 I 11545 9251 6959
20 D 11545 9251 6959
21 C 9251 6959 5746
22 B 8464 6485 5422
See also Newsletter 21for complete E3 and E4 lyrics, and Newsletter 28 for updated information on E3.

Cherry Ripe (E4)

E4 aka 'Cherry Ripe', also uses an old folk song as interval signal. The station is a sister station of the 'Lincolnshire Poacher' and is also believed to be operated by MI6.

On the hour the interval signal (Cherry Ripe) is played twelve times, followed by a five figure header read ten times by a woman. This is repeated for ten minutes. After that, six tones are transmitted plus exactly 200 five figure groups. At 45 minutes past the hour the interval signal is sent once again and then the station stays silent until the start of the next hour.

The transmissions originate most probably from a site in the Far East. Guam is a possibility.

Cherry Ripe schedule (E4)

(Schedule courtesy Simon Denneen)

UTC Frequencies UTC Frequencies
00.00 15624/19884/22108 01.00 15624/19884/21866
10.00 10452/15624/17499 11.00 9263/13866/14469
12.00 8320/12056/13866 13.00 7484/11570/13866
22.00 9263/12056/15624 23.00 17499/20474/23461
Updated data in Newsletter 5

Russian Man (S7) Schedule

05.00 UTC 8167 kHz AM
05.20 UTC 9367 kHz AM
05.40 UTC 11167 kHz AM
See also Newsletter 30.

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