Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

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CoolBreeze
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Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by CoolBreeze » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:23 am

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.

The amplitude and pitch of the buzzing sometimes shifted, and the intervals between tones would fluctuate. Every hour, on the hour, the station would buzz twice, quickly. None of the upheavals that had enveloped Russia in the last decade of the cold war and the first two decades of the post-cold-war era had ever kept UVB-76, as the station’s call sign ran, from its inscrutable purpose. During that time, its broadcast came to transfix a small cadre of shortwave radio enthusiasts, who tuned in and documented nearly every signal it transmitted. Although the Buzzer (as they nicknamed it) had always been an unknown quantity, it was also a reassuring constant, droning on with a dark, metronome-like regularity.

But on June 5, 2010, the buzzing ceased. No announcements, no explanations. Only silence.

The following day, the broadcast resumed as if nothing had happened. For the rest of June and July, UVB-76 behaved more or less as it always had. There were some short-lived perturbations—including bits of what sounded like Morse code—but nothing dramatic. In mid-August, the buzzing stopped again. It resumed, stopped again, started again.

Then on August 25, at 10:13 am, UVB-76 went entirely haywire. First there was silence, then a series of knocks and shuffles that made it sound like someone was in the room. Before this day, all the beeping, buzzing, codes, and numbers had hinted at an evil force hovering on the airwaves. Now it seemed as though the wizard were suddenly about to reveal himself. For the first week of September, transmission was interrupted frequently, usually with what sounded like recorded snippets of “Dance of the Little Swans” from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

On the evening of September 7, something more dramatic—one listener even called it “existential”—transpired. At 8:48 pm Moscow time, a male voice issued a new call sign, “Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris,” indicating that the station was now to be called MDZhB. This was followed by one of UVB-76’s (or MDZhB’s) typically nebulous messages: “04 979 D-R-E-N-D-O-U-T” followed by a longer series of numbers, then “T-R-E-N-E-R-S-K-I-Y” and yet more numbers.

Just a few years before, such a remarkable development on a shortwave station would have been noted by only a tiny group of hobbyists. But starting the previous June—after the first, mysterious outage—a feed of UVB-76 had been made available online ( UVB-76.net ), cobbled together by an Estonian tech entrepreneur named Andrus Aaslaid, who has been enthralled by shortwave radio since the first grade. “Shortwave was an early form of the Internet,” says Aaslaid, who goes by the nickname Laid. “You dial in, and you never know what you’re going to listen to.” During one 24-hour period at the height of the Buzzer’s freak-out in August 2010, more than 41,000 people listened to Aaslaid’s feed; within months, tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, were visiting from the US, Russia, Britain, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Japan, Croatia, and elsewhere. By opening up UVB-76 to an online audience, Aaslaid had managed to take shortwave radio—one of the most niche hobbies imaginable—and rejuvenate it for the 21st century.

More....

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/09/ff_uvb76/
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by genlock » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:29 pm

n preparation for Operation Overlord, the BBC had signaled to the French Resistance that the opening lines of the 1866 Verlaine poem "Chanson d'Automne" were to indicate the start of D-Day operations. The first three lines of the poem, "Les sanglots longs / des violons / de l'automne" ("Long sobs of autumn violins"), meant that Operation Overlord was to start within two weeks. These lines were broadcast on 1 June 1944. The next set of lines, "Blessent mon coeur / d'une langueur / monotone" ("wound my heart with a monotonous languor"), meant that it would start within 48 hours and that the resistance should begin sabotage operations especially on the French railroad system; these lines were broadcast on 5 June at 23:15.
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by Cameron » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:17 pm

94ZhT are the new call letters as of last month. It broadcasts on 4625 kHz - lower-sideband. The antenna is less impressive than the, "Russian Woodpecker" OTH missile warning system.
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by CoolBreeze » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:38 pm

I like this guys comments on that "Wired" page:

Radio does not rely on an infrastructure. Good luck with your satellites, Internet, and cell phones in a real war. Google KX1 Elecraft. I have built tranceivers the size of altoids tins, powered by AA batteries, that can operate effectively over thousands of miles using CW. Try that with your text messaging on a stand alone system. Two QRP (a few watts) radios will still form a link after any kind of solar, nuclear, or political event. As long as there is an atmosphere, a radio can communicate if the operator has any skills.

http://www.elecraft.com/KX1/KX1.htm
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by lastone » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:38 pm

CoolBreeze wrote:I like this guys comments on that "Wired" page:

Radio does not rely on an infrastructure. Good luck with your satellites, Internet, and cell phones in a real war. Google KX1 Elecraft. I have built tranceivers the size of altoids tins, powered by AA batteries, that can operate effectively over thousands of miles using CW. Try that with your text messaging on a stand alone system. Two QRP (a few watts) radios will still form a link after any kind of solar, nuclear, or political event. As long as there is an atmosphere, a radio can communicate if the operator has any skills.

http://www.elecraft.com/KX1/KX1.htm

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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by genlock » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:44 pm

It is hard for the DJ to convey his personality on CW.
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by SHADOW » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:02 am

CoolBreeze... I have known you for years, since you missed the Piedmont crash at the Charleston Airport in August, 1968, area fireman, to both appearances on "Oprah", and I just checked your real name on the FCC Amateur license website, and I can not find a callsign for you. Are you a licensed amateur? The kit that you promote on your website, although it is QRP, (very low power) requires a license to transmit. Your post
I have built tranceivers the size of altoids tins, powered by AA batteries, that can operate effectively over thousands of miles using CW.
Licensed amateurs have done this from kits for many years.

Everything you stated is true, but do you really have an amateur license and know CW? Just curious.

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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by rfhertz » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:22 pm

Uhhh... read Coolbreeze's post carefully. He never claimed to have built them.

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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by genlock » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:27 pm

Maybe he just wished he knew someone smart enough to build and operate one.
dit-dit-dit-dit dit-dit. qrs cw.
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by SHADOW » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:15 pm

You are right.... I did misread the post and thought Coolbreeze built the transceiver.
Uhhh... read Coolbreeze's post carefully. He never claimed to have built them.
I sincerely apologize to Coolbreeeze for the misunderstanding I created. In the future I will carefully read posts such as that one. Anyone with knowledge can build them, but to transmit requires a FCC license. Sorry, Breeze.

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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by oldtvman2 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:09 am

I have built and operated transmitters and receivers, but not qrp. and I can still copy code. code will get through when other signals will not. new amateurs (hams) do not learn code anymore and do not know how to build or even tune a transmitter. I have been a ham longer than most of you have been born. got my first ham ticket in 1953.
Last edited by oldtvman2 on Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by Waveguide » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:02 am

Funny,...... I got my first birth certificate in 1953 .........
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then you are part of the problem........

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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by Ace Purple » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:15 am

CoolBreeze wrote: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.”
Reading that reminded me of the radio tower in Lost broadcasting the distress message (in French) and numbers (in English).
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Re: Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Post by Scott Reppert » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:58 am

oldtvman2 wrote:...got my first ham ticket in 1953.
My grandmother had a ticket and won a ham at the 1973 Walkersville School carnival.

On the serious side, this somehow reminded me of the "Preacher" that had a show on a Philadelphia station some while back and was giving out instructions to his "people" via references in Scripture and verse numbers. He was doing well until some listener got wise and realized that there was no Ezekiel 48:36.

Aside from all of that, this is one of the BEST posts that I have ever read on this board. Thank you, CoolBreeze!!!
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