Saturday, June 10, 2006

What is on the band?

I am still fascinated by the strange ‘spy numbers’ I reported about in this weblog. I just went to the website which is running separate articles about the numbers, there is on for the 212-796-0735 number and an other one for the 415-704-0402 number. Still a lot of people are trying to break the code/cipher/key and there is still not a single clue pointing in the right direction. Well actually this not completely accurate, there might be some postings there that are on the right track but as long as we do not have the final conclusion we do not have the faintest idea if someone is tying to solve this mystery in the right way.

As you can see the frequency of postings to those pages is getting down which makes me think people are loosing interest about this as it becomes clear that breaking codes is not as easily as they might have thought. In a previous posting I mentioned that it might be wise to send a e-mail to Bruce Schneier to get his opinion about this. Well it is still my intention and I will send him a mail later this day. To get more people to focus on this I also will send a mail to the people of 'bits of silicon hell' one of my personal favorite podcasts. They are always happy to spend some broadcasting time about strange subjects so it might be that they find this interesting enough to give it some thought and attract some more people to spend some time to this subject.

The 'off the hook' radio show also spend again some air-time to this subject and it was discussed based on a letter from a listener claiming he figured out that this was all a hoax setup by 2600 to promote there hope number six conference . This could be, even do it was denied during the show. Some of the things mentioned in the letter send to ‘off the hook’ where indeed convincing and pointed out to this conclusion. If this would be the case we will find out very soon as hope is starting at 21 July. However I do still have the feeling this has nothing to do with ‘hope number six’.

While on the subject of strange and long number (and letter) strings we can not avoid digging some more into the subject of number stations on the shortwave band. For most of the internet community the phone number mystery is there first encounter with this phenomenon. For shortwave fanatic’s number stations are already common for years and years. Starting during the cold war number stations start to popup and broadcasted strange messages. Even do in most cases denied by the governments some of the stations are identified.

Although it is time-consuming and may require expensive travel to pinpoint the source of a radio transmission in the shortwave band, errors at the transmission site, radio direction-finding, and a knowledge of shortwave radio propagation have provided clues to some number station locations.

For example, the "Atención" station was originally presumed to be from Cuba, as a supposed error allowed Radio Habana Cuba to be carried on the frequency. Whether the frequency of Radio Habana Cuba and the frequency of the "Atención" station merely interfered with each other or whether the operator of the station was listening to the radio and it accidentally ended up on the air is unclear. (Circa 2000-2001, Atención was officially identified as Cuban by the USA.)

Also, a radio magazine article published during the 1980-'90s, described hobbyists using portable radio direction-finding equipment to locate a numbers station in From the outside, they spotted the station's antenna inside a military facility. The station hunter speculated that the antenna's transmitter at the facility was connected by a telephone wire pair to a source of spoken numbers in the Washington, DC area. The author said the Federal Communications Commission would not comment on public inquiries about USA territory numbers stations.

The Lincolnshire Poacher station was identified to be broadcasting from the RAF air force base Akrotiri on Cyprus by Cypriot radio amateurs, and reporter George Georgiou. Some pictures are available online.

When wondering around on the shortwave band a lot of strange stations can popup not number station fanatics not only track number stations but also for example UZB76, a 4625 kHz AM mode radio station in the Moscow area transmitting a buzzing sound around the clock except for minute 59 when it is broadcasting a repeating high-low tone. On a very rare occasion it is transmitting voices transmitting:

"Ya UZB76. Ya UZB76. I am UZB76 180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14 Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Leonid 7 4 2 7 9 9 1 4"

The meaning of this station is still unknown, some shortwave fanatics think it could be time synchronization system to keep Russian launch facilities synchronized, others think it is to keep open the frequency that can be used for emergencies like a upcoming nuclear conflict to communicate with other states if all means of other communication have failed. Some suggest is nothing more than a benchmark radio beacon to benchmark reception for other communication systems.

As you can see the entire band is filled with strange and unknown broadcastings and it is all out there available to grab for every person in possession of the right equipment that you can acquire in every specialized radio equipment store.

No comments: