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

(Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 21:56:19 +0000)

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Morse stations

M16

DGSE related station "8BY" is one of the oldies that is still around.

It uses the following set of frequencies: 7668, 10248, 12075, 14931, 18415, 20946 kHz.

See also Newsletter 89.

M18

4503 kHz throughout the month sending time signals (UTC+4).

See also Newsletter 91.

M21 - Russian Air Defence

The Russian Air Defence is active on 5221.5 kHz (id "0")
  5873.0 kHz (id "0")
  9222.0 kHz (id "0")

 

See also Newsletter 76.

M22

2680, 2800, 4241, 4331, 5159, 6379, 8103, 10046, 12984 kHz used for traffic.

M51

Frequency Period
 
5807 week 27
4896.5 week 27
4885.5 // 5455 week 27
4896 // 4550 week 27
 
6945.5 // 4638.5 week 28
5432.5 // 6933.5 week 28
7390 // 7330 week 28
3240 // 3530 week 28
3612 week 28
5190 // 5907.5 week 28
 
5142 // 4910 week 29
2366 week 29
3784 week 29
 
4910 // 5938 week 30
4935 week 30
5055 week 30

M51 Profile Update

Valeriano Martin was one of the most active M51 monitors in the late 1990's. Unfortunately he hasn't much time for the hobby these days. Fritz has compared M51's current behaviour with Valeriano's M51 profile from 2002.

N&O Nr. 22 of Jan. 2000 offered a profile written by Valeriano Martin, which based on facts gathered in 1999. Valeriano described M51 in detail and reported for the first time that FAV22 is part of M51.

Some years later I tried to compare, whether this very active network still behaves in the same way.

1. Major changes of the network

Actually M51s transmissions did not change very much in the mean time. Important changes are:

2. Preamble and messages

M51 = nr 36 m 12 07:20:34 2004 = txt
   
nr 36 message number starting 01, reset after 90
m first letter of month, (Juin, Juillet ambiguous)
12 day of month
07:20:34 Transmission time in CET/CEST
2004

Yearuch in the mean time. Important changes are:

  • The network is on the air from early Monday morning until early Friday morning (apart from FAV22).
  • A set of 6 pairs of parallel frequencies is used for one week only. Some single frequencies may be operational months later again, but almost never the following week. I did not find the same pair is used again.
  • There are interruptions of the transmission between a few minutes up to say 30 min. In this time none of the other frequencies is used.

The weekly "schedule" shows even more exceptions tha

txt 100 5LG, no repeats, no "first group".

 

FAV22 vvv vvv vvv de FAV22 FAV22 FAV22
  QLH 3881/6825 kHz. vitesses annoncées légèrement supérieure.
leçon 01-1/1 vitesse 480 codé = txt + (Mondays)
leçon 01-1/2 vitesse 480 clair = txt +
leçon 01-1/3 vitesse 480 codé = txt +
leçon 01-1/4 vitesse 480 clair = txt +

 

Lessons 2 to 5 with speeds up to 960 (96 char./min) follow
Tuesday until Friday.
There is a (regular?) transmission on Sunday mornings as well.

3. Frequency range

M51 mostly uses frequencies between 3 and 7 MHz. The lowest observed frequency is 2366 kHz, the highest 18444.5 kHz. The choice of frequencies is such, that the target area - probably France - may not been far away; throughout the year, day or night, similar frequencies are chosen. Certain ranges seem to be spared out:

2850...3025 Aeronautical Mobile
3400...3500 Aeronautical Mobile
4063...4438 Maritime Mobile
5480...5680 Aeronautical Mobile
6200...6765 Maritime Mobile, Aeronautical Mobile

 

M51 does however not make excuses for BC and Radio Amateurs. FAV22 operates on 3881//6825 kHz.

This is a primitive distribution curve frequency vs intercepts 1-1-2003/15-7-2004. One tick = 1 intercept/day/frequency. As you can see the range 4500-5500 kHz is highly popular.

2000 - 2500 kHz : o
2500 - 3000 kHz : oo
3000 - 3500 kHz : ooooo
3500 - 4000 kHz : oooooooooooooo
4000 - 4500 kHz : oooo
4500 - 5000 kHz : oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
5000 - 5500 kHz : ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
5500 - 6000 kHz : ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
6000 - 6500 kHz : oooooooo
6500 - 7000 kHz : ooooooooooooo
7000 - 7500 kHz : oooooooooooooooooo
7500 - 8000 kHz : none
8000 - 8500 kHz : ooooo
10000 - 11000 kHz : ooo
    14800 kHz : o

4. Schedule

First loggings of M51 have been made 1996.

M51 uses 6 pairs of frequencies/week, which all are used daily. I am not sure, if this is always the case. A pair may be spaced a few kHz or as much as 5 MHz. They are changed randomly. Sometimes a certain sequence is followed, sometimes not. The operation time may vary between 30 min and 8 or more hours. Favourite times for frequency changes are h+5, h+25 or h+55 (or any other), but never exactly on the hour/half hour. Frequencies change without prior notice and in between the characters, just to continue on the new frequency.

FAV22 is on the air Mon to Fri at about 0830z-0900z and 1130z-1200z (repetition) and Sunday.

The following sked of week 04/28 is an example. Observation time is limited for obvious reasons, but it is a fact M51 is on the air during the night too.

UTC Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
0600 A B A C  
  A B A C  
0700 A B A C  
  A A A C  
0800 B A C F  
  FAV FAV FAV FAV FAV
0900 FAV FAV FAV FAV FAV
1000   B F E  
    B F E  
1100   B F E  
  FAV FAV FAV FAV FAV
1200 FAV FAV FAV FAV FAV
1300 C D B A  
  C D B A  
1400 C D B A  
  F D B B  
1500 F C D D  
  E C C D  
1600 E F C D  
  E F C D  
1700 E F C D  
  E F C D  
1800 E F C D  
  E F C D  
1900 E F C D  
  E F C D  
2000 E F C D  
  E F C D  

 

Frequencies: A 3240 // 3530
  B 3612 // ?
C 4638.5 // 6945.5
D 5190 // 5907.5
E 5432.5 // 6933.5
F 7330 // 7390
FAV 3881 // 6825

5. Properties of M51

The keying of M51 is particular, because the dashes are too long compared to the dots a0nd pauses. Automatic reception is not possible with low cost SW controlled decoders. One of the two frequencies in use is constantly impaired by a hissing hum. I cannot remember, when that started.

6. M51 and FAV22

Monitoring M51 soon reveals that any irregularities in the transmissions are connected with FAV22. M51 stops its transmission 10 to 20 min before FAV22's Morse lessons. A few minutes later some M51 characters quite often can be heard on 6825 kHz. Or M51 stops too early and is back after some minutes to send a few 5LGs until it is switched off again. M51 and FAV22 both use "VA", "=" is not sent as one character. The Morse lessons sometimes last 25, sometimes around 35 minutes. M51 is inactive for around 75 minutes. As Valeriano reported, the flow of messages continue in this time; it is unlikely, they are sent on another, never discovered, frequency.

7. What is the purpose of M51?

Personally I doubt M51 does provide information for anybody. In this case the text is meaningless and is not meant to be copied. Maybe the French Army folks are supposed to do the same as we do: try to find all the frequencies and report the preambles for verification.
(Fritz, in my opinion M51 is just another training station. -Ary-)

Faulty reports of preambles, which have not been sent during the mute periods, can be recognised instantly. Transmission times vary deliberately. During the night frequencies change not as often as during office hours. Frequency "A" can be identified by the background hum. And to impede auto-reception the rhythm has been modified.

See also Newsletter 91.

M62

Frequency: 3485 kHz.

1.7 - 10.7 : B3ET B3ET B3ET = RNJ5 RNJ5 RNJ5 + QSA 0/1
11.7 - 20.7 : J7XD J7XD J7XD = D3QK D3QK D3QK + QSA 0/1
21.7 - 31.7 : QR2U QR2U QR2U = KP6F KP6F KP6F + QSA 0/1

 

See also Newsletter 89.

M82

The North Korean station was observed on 4700 kHz with "VVV JVG DE BML QSA3 QSA? QTC 732 QTC NR 71259 12t8t5".

See also Newsletter 119.

M89

Because it was very quiet on the numbers front this month, I had the time to study my M89 notes from the past few years. The review covers everything that I know of this network.

Although not confirmed (yet) it is believed that this is a Chinese naval network. Extensive direction finding activities have pinpointed the transmitter sites near Guangzhou, Qingdao and the Dalian/Lushan areas. Qingdao is the HQ of China's North Sea Fleet, while Lushan is another major base of the North Sea Fleet and Dalian is one of the largest training facilities of the navy. Guangzhou is one of the largest bases of the South Sea Fleet.

L9CC, NH8T, 2SLC seem to originate from the Dalian/Lushan area; 4XML from Qingdao and L4FC from Guanghzou. Recently new bearings were taken from a 4XML transmission, this time on 10822 kHz. It appeared that this transmission was coming from from central China, approximately 3836N 10700E. It is likely from either Lanzhou or Xi'an, a different location than the one used for the 8 MHz transmissions, at least at the time when the bearings were taken earlier this year. It is however quite possible that all callsigns are being transmitted via all stations.

Callup Frequencies
V ABYZ ABYZ ABYZ DE 6PXJ 6PXJ 3340, 3440, 4567, 4575, 5600, 6780, 6785 kHz.
V BFR7 BFR7 BFR7 DE 4XML 4XML 3378.5, 3380, 5645, 5756, 8189.5, 8303, 8308, 8455, 8457, 8257, 10822 kHz.
V BJCC BJCC BJCC DE 3SA 3SA 16664 kHz.
V CP17 CP17 CP17 DE L9CC L9CC 3456, 3527, 3533, 3536.5, 3540, 3542, 3543.5, 3545, 3547.5, 3549, 3550, 3552, 3553, 3554, 3556, 3561, 3564, 3646, 3673.5, 5402, 5423, 7000, 7034, 7038.8, 7041, 7044, 7045.5, 7047, 7049, 7050, 7051, 7053, 7055, 7056.4, 7058, 7060, 7063, 7066, 7068.5, 7072.8, 7076, 7079, 7088, 7092.6, 7100, 9266.5, 9436.9 kHz.
  (This is the most active one. It uses many freqs in the 3 and 7 MHz bands. Strangely enough, I have never seen a report of a transmission > 9 MHz.)
V DKLO DKLO DKLO DE SDKL SDKL 6458 kHz.
V FXP4 FXP4 FXP4 DE YZL6 YZL6 5795, 9185, 10711 kHz.
V GM1W GM1W GM1W DE B7UA B7UA 4415 kHz.
V GM2Z GM2Z GM2Z DE PNW9 PNW9 4824, 4831, 5628.5, 5629.3, 5631, 5633.5, 6992, 6981.5, 7623 kHz.
V GUGM GUGM GUGM DE Z702 Z702 8808 kHz.
V HNR2 HNR2 HNR2 DE CN9R CN9R 9071 kHz.
V IBEH IBEH IBEH DE L4FC L4FC 4762, 4769, 4771.5. 6501, 6505.5, 7620 9343.5 kHz
V JS4X JS4X JS4X DE 6DUO 6DUO 5520, 5241, 6982, 9071.5 kHz.
V LA5H LA5H LA5H DE NH8T NH8T 4832, 4874, 5382, 5386, 5410.5, 5412, 5756, 5874, 6507, 7300, 7310, 7313, 8038, 8042 kHz.
V MW3D MW3D MW3D DE 2SLC 2SLC 3330, 4435.4, 4440, 5580, 7074 kHz.
V ONMT ONMT ONMT DE B9VW B9VW 5719.0 kHz.
V RXP7 RXP7 RXP7 DE CZT2 CZT2 7778, 8650, 10860 kHz.
v TW9C TW9C TW9C DE A2NK A2NK 5795 kHz.
V U8OV U8OV U8OV DE 1RMK 1RMK 3570 kHz.
V YELM YELM YELM DE FC1T FC1T ???

and finally an odd one, probably a test (vvv CQ msg):
V CQMSG CQMSG CQMSG DE CQMSG CQMSG on 3639, 4146 kHz.

See also Newsletter 76.

MX

Who has not heard them? During at least 35 years many of you have reported the various channel markers and cluster beacons from the former Soviet Union and later from the separate countries. I have read many speculations about these "mysterious" single-letter-beacons. What are they? Who is using them? Believe it or not but I even read an article that stated that the beacons were intended as homing beacons for extra terrestrials. Yes, really!!! Others state that they are being used by vessels on Russia's rivers. I'm not sure what they meant by that. One of the best was the one about the "buzzer". The author says that the buzzer is in fact the safety transmitter of the Tsjernobil nuclear power plant. When the buzzer stops, you really should panic because that would mean that a melt down is about to happen. Well, the power plant was switched off many years ago and the buzzer is still there. :-)

I am not sure if all frequencies are still being used. Except for the historic beacons all the stations were heard during the past two years on the listed frequencies, some of them only a couple of times. Stations like "P" and "V" are using a whole bunch of frequencies but only few of them are regularly used.

Channel markers:

"C" Moscow:
  4302, 5306, 10308, 10612, 13636 kHz.
User : Russian navy.
 
"D" Odessa:
  6550 kHz.
User : Russian/CIS navy.
 
"F" Gdynia (unconfirmed; I am waiting for the final df results)
  2842.8, 3798.5, 4315, 4555.85 kHz.
User : probably the Polish navy. The markers have been active during Polish naval exercises.
 
"F" Vladivistok:    
  20127 kHz.    
User : Russian navy.
 
"K" Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy:
  5920 kHz.    
User : Russian navy.
 
"L" Tirana:
  3336.2, 4091.5, 6672.4, 8183 kHz.
the latter two are harmonics. The marker has not been heard since late June.
User : unknown.
 
"P" Kaliningrad:
  3208, 3262, 3291, 3322, 3649, 3699.5, 3772, 3807, 3837, 4031, 4043, 4051, 4210, 4476, 4605, 4828, 4848, 4899, 5111, 5860, 5982, 6203, 8492, 16204 kHz.
Usually on two parallel frequencies.
User : Russian navy.
 
"R" Ustinov:
  3195, 4325.8, 4558, 4828, 5154, 5465.8, 6390, 7452, 7550 kHz.
User : Russian Strategic Missile Troops.
 
"S" Arkhangelsk:
  4301 kHz.
User : Russian navy.
 
"V" Khiva:
  3175, 3317, 3534, 3658, 4446, 4498.5, 4575, 4646, 4878, 5340, 5342, 7002, 7038.8 (harmonic?), 7630, 13539, 15064.7, 21070.6, 25250 kHz.
3658 kHz is the main frequency. The others are irregular.
User : Major relay facility mainly used by the Russian/CIS navy.
 
"I" 3814.8, 9090, 9188.5 kHz.
  Heard on respectively 6 and 16-1-2004.
Probably not a letter but a 2-dots marker.
 
"T" 6934.0 kHz.
  Unid. Probably not a letter but single dash marker.

 

Several markers do not transmit letters but an odd sound, hence their nicknames.

"Yelper" Unid location in Russia: 3650 kHz. Not heard since 2001.
 
"Pip" Rostov-Volgograd area, Russia: 3756, 5448 kHz. User: Russian Strategic Missile Troops.
 
"Squeaky Wheel" Russia: 3815, 3828.9, 5461.5 kHz. Note that 3828.9 kHz is the only active frequency nowadays.
 
"Buzzer" Vlasikha (Odintsovo-10), Moscow region, Russia. 4625 kHz. In the period before 1990 this station transmitted a pip. The buzzer was introduced in early 1990. The "buzzer" is around since at least 1973.
  User: Russian Strategic Missile Troops.

Cluster beacons:

"D", "P", "S" and "C" are located in Europe while "F", "K", "M" and currently inactive "A" are located in the Asian part of Russia. The cluster beacons are being used as propagation beacons and are not always active. Particularly the European beacons are often switched off.

They are only switched on during exercises or real naval actions. To give you an example: several European beacons were switched on when the Kursk was being salvaged.

The beacons are clustered around center frequencies. The current center frequencies are: 3595, 4558, 5154, 7039, 8495, 10872, 13528, 16332 and 20048 kHz. Each beacon has its own slot. The European beacons operate on frequencies below the center frequency, while the Asian beacons operate above the center frequency. Moscow always operates on the center frequency.

Cluster beacon slots:

.7 "D" Odessa
.8 "P" Kaliningrad
.9 "S" Arkhangelsk
.0 "C" Moscow
.1 ? possibly "A" (hasn't been active for quite a while)
.2 "F" Vladivostok
.3 "K" Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy
.4 "M" Magadan

 

Example of a cluster:

"D" 8494.7
"P" 8494.8
"S" 8494.9
"C" 8495.0
? 8495.1
"F" 8495.2
"K" 8495.3
"M" 8495.4

 

Note: the Asian beacons apparently need to be calibrated as they often transmit odd strings like AAINNM, TEEEEE, MMMAMA, AAINNM, MMMAMA, etc.

Sometimes dots become dashes or part of the morse code disappears so that an other letter is transmitted. Examples: T, E, U, TA, UA. The Magadan beacon ("M") has been drifting during the past months. Spurious transmissions of the various Asian beacons have been heard on 7000 kHz ("F" and "K"), while "K" has been heard on 7078 kHz. A malfunctioning "P" beacon transmitted "HP" recently on 4558 kHz.

Historic beacons/markers

During the Cold War a number of other beacons and channel markers have been around. I am sure that this list is not complete. Additions are most welcome.

Frequency callsign location
  Ch (---.) unid location
  Yu (..--) Kizyl Orda, Russia
3043.0 OB unid location, Russia
3070.0 X unid location. Not from the Czech Rep.
3088.0 L Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia (Soviet navy marker)
3090.0 L Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia (Soviet navy marker)
3092.0 L Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia (Soviet navy marker)
3415.0 A unid location
3415.0 OB unid location, Russia
3533.0 W Cuba (Soviet navy beacon)
3564.0 C Moscow (Soviet navy marker)
5308.0 O Moscow, Russia (Soviet navy beacon)
5308.5 L Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia (Soviet navy marker)
5309.5 Z Mukachevo, Ukraine (Soviet navy beacon)
5922.0 X Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Rep.)
6802.5 J unid location
6803.5 G unid location
7383.0 N unid location
7395.0 U Kholmsk and other locations. Jammer related.
8682.0 M Magadan, Russia (Soviet navy beacon)
8698.0 B Arkhangelsk, Russia (Soviet navy beacon)
9001.6 Y unid location
9111.0 W unid location in Europe. Definitely not Cuba
9160.0 Ya (.-.-) unid location
9322.0 X Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Rep.)
12149.5 I unid location
13527.0 Y unid location
20126.5 EO or J unid location. Heard during a couple of weeks in 2002
26170.0 L Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia (Soviet navy marker)
See also Newsletter 76.

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