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"Numbers Stations"


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The term "numbers station" recently came to my attention, and I was wondering if anyone might have any further information, ideas and/or opinions on this rather mysterious subject of coded radio transmissions.

For those who haven't heard of numbers stations, they are: "shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin that broadcast streams of numbers (usually in groups of five), letters (using a phonetic alphabet), or words.  The voices that can be heard on these stations are often mysterious: mechanically generated; spoken in a wide variety of languages; usually female, but sometimes male or those of children. Numbers stations appear and disappear continuously, although some stick to regular schedules, and their overall activity has increased slightly since the early 1990s.
It is not known publicly with certainty where these signals originate or what purpose they serve. It has been speculated that these stations operate as a simple and foolproof method for government agencies to communicate with spies "in the field"." (Wikipedia)

If anyone has any further knowledge of this topic, please post your thoughts. Thanks.  :skull:
Sounds something out of that TV Series "Lost".

Sounds something out of that TV Series "Lost".
I've been a DXL for a while now. Numbers have been around for years. Very Mysterious, and the idea that they were transmitting to sleeper agents in North America was always the accepted reason for them. They used to be only on straight frequencies, but switched to USB and LSB a couple of decades ago.

There used to be a cuban station very strong which overpowerd VOA with numbers  every now and again. Some pirate numbers stations were tracked down to ships just inside international waters. Some from the south pacific too. Maybe Chinese sleepers... Really cool conspiracy theory stuff here.

Check here: http://www.dxing.com/numbers.htm

My rig is quite old - A Kenwood R5000 with some Dipoles and Slopers. A more sophisticated rig could get 'em from all over. Fax via shortwave is cool too - some of the pictures are just weird!

pronto said:
Fax via shortwave is cool too - some of the pictures are just weird!

Not to jack the thread or anything, but do you mean a fax that is sent by shortwave as a data signal?  
So some of these data signals are transmitted non-encrypted? Okay, back to the Number Stations. We DF'd a few of these in the 80's at sea facing south Vancouver Island and a then a couple directly across the straights into Washington. I suspected, and this is pure speculation on my part, they were partially related to boomer activity. Nothing to base that on, other than geography. Something to chew on, anyway.

I should add the stations went up and off line very quickly, and not all tx's were short wave.
Yup - sounds like boomers. Not that I would know this, but some rigs can be modified to go over 30Mhz up to the "fireman frequencies"... Not that I'VE ever seen such a modification kit!!!  :o

As well you can re-crystal to get lower than 100KHz, and I've heard some weird $hit at really low freqs that I've always suspected boomers. Same as you heard up, broadcast, and gone!

Pronto: So you must have heard of the "Lincolnshire Poacher", then. Have you ever tuned into it?
Hmm - the crack or the DF? I thought that the crck challenge was never met - never tuned into it, just read about it in exchanged notes, etc. Did you catch it?
Gotta head out for a couple of seconds, but I did talk to someone once who claimed that he caught an identical set of numbers, formats and freqs here in Canada, and he swears in the US. Can anyone say "****** ********"?


Pronto: Never tuned into it. Just downloaded MP3 and WAV samples from this site:  http://www.simonmason.karoo.net/page14.html.
They say its an MI6 signal being transmitted from the RAF Base in Akiroti, Cyprus. Who knows?  Judging from fact that they're using an old English folk tune (electronically rendered) as a "call-sign" and the British-accented female voice, it probably is British. Whoever it is has a weird sense of humour!

LOL, you carnivore you!!!

Yeah - I know, but I suspect there's larger problems than that!

Sask HCAO said:
They say its an MI6 signal being transmitted from the RAF Base in Akiroti, Cyprus.
Not to be picky...  ;) but the RAF comms station in Cyprus is in fact on top of Mount Olympus, in Cyprus's Troodos mountains. Mount Olympus is Cyprus's highest mountain, from which you can see the entire island on a clear day.

Sorry about the intrusion, back to topic now...  8)
According to this source: http://home.luna.nl/~ary/lp.htm , the site of transmission for the Lincolnshire Poacher (as well as numerous other sigs) is the 12 Signals Unit of the RAF, just next to the village of Akiroti, Cyprus. This website has images of the broadcasting facilities, and they appear to be located at a very low elevation (if not at sea level!). The salt water surrounding the transmitter is said to greatly increase the range of the shortwave signal being broadcasted.
I myself have never been there.
Interesting... didn't remember this kind of comms installation in Akrotiri. I did visit the station on Mount Olympus in 1992 though, and it did "belong" to RAF Akrotiri. The station had it's own garrison, PMQs etc... a beautiful place near the village of Troodos.
"One might think that these espionage activities should have wound down considerably since the official "end of the cold war", but nothing could be further from the truth. Numbers Stations (and by inference, spies) are as busy as ever, with many new and bizarre stations appearing since the fall of the Berlin wall." (The Conet Project)
For anyone who is interested in learning more about this topic, go to: http://www.irdial.com/conet.htm.
I suspect a great number of strange broadcasts may be non-espionage in nature.
There are alot of ham operators and ham operated repeaters around the world
and some have their own proprietary methods of communication or identification.
Not everyone follows RF transmission rules and the technos often send
data and video encoded on RF carriers.  Many hams calibrate and tune transmitters
off standard frequencies in short bursts to verify modulation, frequency, and
spectrum characteristics.  LF, MF, HF, and VHF communications are not just
limited to one group.  RF propagation around the world is heavily influenced
by a number of things making LF, MF, and HF communications hit and miss
depending.  Sat comms, cell phones, land lines can be just as effective.  If you
listen to various broadcasts, there is alot of garbage and speculative comms
on the air-waves.