As I’ve stated in the past, I’m fascinated by the use of radio communications by governments for espionage and wartime use. When I came across this little nugget, I couldn’t resist. What a joy it will be for those of us that can’t quite make it over to visit Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park (really hard to resist using “BP” for this one…..) has been trying to do this for quite some time. Dwindling funds, repairs needed for the site have just made this one of those “round to it” projects. Many documents are too fragile to handle at this time and will take awhile to get posted online, but it will indeed make for a fascinating online resource.
I’ve had the pleasure of actually getting my hands on real, wartime Enigma machine and it was REALLY NEAT!!! You can read about it, but there is nothing like actually using one to get you even more interested in this topic. Professor Tom Perera gives a number of great discussions at the New England ARRL Division convention in Boxboro Mass (I spoke to Tom at Dayton and he said there may not be a presentation this year). His site is a HUGE wealth of information on this topic (and CW keys). If you ever get the chance to hear him give a presentation – JUMP ON IT!!!!
As mentioned previously, since I was a kid (long before being a radio amateur) I’ve been fascinated by numbers stations. Every now and then I go on a search online to find more sites to satisfy my curiosities – there’s tons of ‘em out there.
This time, let me take you to the URL of Simon Mason, but he has a disclaimer about the material on his site:
The information presented in this section is for entertainment purposes only and does not disclose any information not already in the public domain. No assassination attempts are required! Thank you.
Rather tongue and cheek, but…… one can never be too sure!
His site looks rather old, but don’t let that discourage you – there is a TON of stuff here (and it’s updated). Not only are there plenty of pages devoted to various numbers stations, but a plethora of videos and radio shows devoted to the subject.
Simon has written a small book that is freely downloadable on his website called “Secret Signals: A Euronumbers Mystery” (available in HTML and MS Word format).
I can go on and on about the site, but just go check it out! If you like this sort of thing, you’ll be there for hours!
Even this old radio can listen in on those spooky numbers stations!
I’ve been fascinated by these numbers stations ever since I was a teenager and got my first glimpse of world band radio. It took me about a decade later to realize that there are large amounts of resources published on the phenomenon (in pulp, but later in on the web).
These sounds are all over the bands and still used today. I just watched an episode of the British show “Spooks” (MI-5 here in the states) where they were using numbers broadcasts and books in in a “write once” manner. You may also recognize some sounds from the film “Vanilla Sky”. They can invoke a weird, spooky mood.
I’m about to post a few links here that will get you started learning and listening to this weird stuff. Before the web, it took me about a decade to learn a lot about numbers stations. Talk about the beauty of the web.
Let’s see what Wikipedia has on the subject:
Numbers stations (or number stations) are shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast artificially generated voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a spelling alphabet), tunes or Morse code. They are in a wide variety of languages and the voices are usually women’s, though sometimes men’s or children’s voices are used.
Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are used to send messages to spies. This usage has not been publicly acknowledged by any government that may operate a numbers station, but in one case, Cuban numbers station espionage has been publicly prosecuted in a United States federal court.
Next, there is a PBS segment that gives a good introduction to numbers statins and the Conet project (which I’m giving you a link to later one). This is from the program “All Things Considered”. I admit, I don’t listen to NPR as much anymore (too much bias in politics for my taste/persuasion). But, this program is really neat. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4167689 this link is for a short, 7 minute intro to numbers stations.
Here is what the Lincolnshire Poacher sounds like:
Try to get that tune out of your head. I think that is the/a UK military march.
This guy did a presentation at a ham radio club, he has A LOT of book references.
This should get you started on your journey. Many of these numbers stations are still out there and running. You don’t need an elaborate radio (though one that has sideband capability would be good). Enjoy and if you find any good sites, please post them in the comments below.