Forty-fifth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2002 11:46:09 +0100)

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Other modes

New "Pip" and 3-tone marker

The station first appeared on 24 Dec. on 3226.5 kHz, moved on 25 Dec. to 2232.5, then per 1 Jan. to 2200.5, on 21 Jan. to 3250.5 kHz, on 24 Jan. back to 2200.5, and on 28 Jan. to 2207.5 kHz. A very strong PSK signal probably caused the Pip to return to 2200.5 on 29 Jan.

The time signal sounds like an antique analog clockwork. There is no intelligent data in the time signal. No minute or hour markers, no id, just the second pip. When you listen carefully, you will notice that a number of pips sort of "hesitate". I checked the pip with DCF77 and noticed that it is completely in synch with DCF77. The modulation of both the pip and the 3-tone channel marker underneath is AM.

The signal is good 24 hours a day in Central and Western Europe. The signal strength reported during the afternoon in Holland, Germany, UK, Hungary, Finland and France, indicate that the signal must come from a location not far from here. First df's pointed towards the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece was suggested but the signal is not audible in Greece during day time, so it must be closer to the West. It does not follow propagation conditions from Russia and farther east. Best guess so far is somewhere W.Europe. Reports are most welcome from any part of Europe. Please let me know when you heard it, how strong it was, and if you have df equipment, please tell me what the bearing is from your location.

See also Newsletter 46.

Channel markers

The well known channel markers are all currently active.

See also Newsletter 47 for more about Squeaky Wheel.


Chris writes "I copied XPH last night (20 Dec) on 5388 kHz at 2300z. Is this part of a new sked?"

So far, I haven't seen any other logs, Chris.

Morning sked: 0700 UTC on 14890 kHz, 0710 UTC on 15790 kHz, 0720 UTC on 16290 kHz.

The evening sked is expected to be at 2100 UTC on 7967 kHz, 2120 UTC on 6744 kHz, and 2140 UTC on 5395 kHz.

Unfortunately I have no frequencies for the 2110 skeds.

See also Newsletter 47.


M42 activity in the Americas seems to be low these days. Don Schimmel (hi Don, long time no see!) writes in his "Radio Intrigue" column on DXING.COM <> the following:

"Although I had my receivers set on the frequencies used on the link, there were many schedules I did not hear. I don't know if the schedules were held or if the signals were being obliterated by some severe QRM. On 10 November there were no signals at the 1445 UTC sked but at 1504 the Cuba relay transmitter came up in FSK Morse and sent the ETFNJX TKAGAS sequence over and over. After several minutes of calling, he went down. I did not log any activity until 30 November at about 1404 UTC when I heard a station on 13519 kHz send a string of dits. The signal sounded like the field transmitter. At 1412 Cuba began sending the ETFNJX TKAGAS call-up and continued until about 1418. I left the receivers set up on the FAPSI frequencies of 16218 and 13519 kHz and at 1436 a station on 13519 sent one call-up of WPC and nothing more. This latter transmission may not have been related to the FAPSI link but it sure sounded like the field transmitter."

As Don says, the Cuban relay is still active but Managua is very quiet these days. It goes without saying that reports from the American stations are more than welcome!!!

Moscow has moved its traffic to higher frequencies and it is quite possible that Cuba also abandoned the old frequencies in favour of new higher frequencies.

Bob wrote to Spooks about the apparent demise of the transmissions. As a reaction to Bob's remark, Leif sent the following comments to the list:

"The M42/Fapsi stations are still there and the amount of activity has not dropped. They have however changed their operational habits a little. The automated broadcasts here in Europe have all vanished (identifiers: KUL/RAU/VKX etc.) but the individual point to point links between Moscow and its embassies are still present. I am sure this applies to the one way broadcasts originating from the Cuban relay as well.
If you look at my logs on WUN, you will notice a wide variety of entries ranging around these stations. They may be a bit harder to identify these days, as there has been a shift from Baudot to the 32-tone MFSK mode known to Hoka users as Crowd36 and a narrow band parallel tone PSK modem sounding somewhat like MT63. The traffic however seen on these MFSK (and probably the PSK) circuits is exactly the same as the one noted on the old Baudot links.
You will see the same 11177/11166/11144 preambles followed by the individual link IDs. Even if the mode has changed, the contents are still the same -> 5 letter groups, 5 figure groups and on some links they have offline crypto which is not divided into 5LGs. Additionally they seem to have abandoned some of their old channels, as a result of the high solar activity. I have noticed that the EUR portion of the net has the tendency to use frequencies in the upper portion of the HF spectrum during daytime. So look for them in the 17-21 MHz range during daylight hours."
See also Newsletter 46.

Voice stations | Morse stations | Other modes
Clandestine activity survey | Arabic aero | Moro islamic front
Intelligence news | Al Qaeda training manual | Logs
Index | NS NL Home