Radio Station UVB-76

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Coordinates: 56°04′58″N 37°05′22″E / 56.08278°N 37.08944°E / 56.08278; 37.08944

Satellite photo of UVB-76 transmitter in Povarovo, Russia.

UVB-76 is the callsign of a shortwave radio station that usually broadcasts on the frequency 4625 kHz (AM full carrier). It's known among radio listeners by the nickname The Buzzer. It features one of the most unusual, mysterious, and widely discussed broadcast contents on the shortwave dial: a short, monotonous (E-natural) buzz tone, repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute (sample sound), for 23 hours and 10 minutes per day (transmitter maintenance apparently takes place between 7:00 and 7:50 GMT).[1] One minute before the hour, the repeating tone is replaced by a continuous tone, which continues for one minute until the short repeating buzz resumes.[citation needed] In rare occasions the buzzer signal is interrupted and a voice transmission in Russian takes place. Only three such events have been auditioned. There is much speculation; however, the actual purpose of this station remains unknown.


[edit] Normal Transmission

The Buzzer has apparently been broadcasting since at least the early 1980s (possibly as early as 1973) as a repeating two-second pip, changing to a buzzer in early 1990.[2][3] It briefly changed to a higher tone of longer duration (approximately 20 tones per minute) on January 16, 2003, although it has since reverted to the previous tone pattern.[citation needed]

Frequently, as in the sound sample above, distant conversations and other background noises can be heard behind the buzzer suggesting that the buzzing device is behind a live and constantly open microphone, rather than a recording or automated sound being fed through playback equipment.

[edit] Voice Messages

Voice messages from UVB-76 are very rare. Only three such messages have been intercepted in its 20-plus-year history:

  • At 21:58 GMT on December 24, 1997, the buzzing abruptly stopped to be replaced by a short series of beeps, and a male voice speaking Russian announced: "Ya — UVB-76. 18008. BROMAL: Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 742, 799, 14."[4] The message was repeated verbatim several times before the beep sequence repeated and the buzzer resumed.
  • A similar voice message was broadcast on September 12, 2002, but with extreme distortion (possibly as a result of the source being too close to the microphone head) that rendered comprehension very difficult. This second voice broadcast has been partially translated as "UVB-76, UVB-76. 62691 Izafet 3693 8270."
  • The third voice message (and, as of January 2007, the latest one) was broadcast on February 21, 2006 at 7:57 GMT. (recording of the third voice transmission) Again, the speaking voice was highly distorted, but the message's content translates as: "75-59-75-59. 39-52-53-58. 5-5-2-5. Konstantin-1-9-0-9-0-8-9-8-Tatiana-Oksana-Anna-Elena-Pavel-Schuka. Konstantin 8-4. 9-7-5-5-9-Tatiana. Anna Larisa Uliyana-9-4-1-4-3-4-8."[1] These names are found in some Russian spelling alphabets, similar to the NATO phonetic alphabet.[5]

[edit] Location and Function

The station's transmitter is located at Povarovo, Russia (N/37°05'22” E (56.08 N/37.08 E)), which is about halfway between Zelenograd and Solnechnogorsk and 40 km northwest of Moscow, near the village of Lozhki. The location and callsign were unknown until the first voice broadcast of 1997.

Its purpose is unknown. One website claims the station is meant to "Transmit orders to the military units and recruitment centers of the Moscow military district" [2]. This is unconfirmed, and unlikely since the station transmitted the simple buzz tone for at least 15 years before any words or numbers were broadcast. Because of the nature of the broadcast and the fact that its transmitter location is rumored to be a communications hub of the General Staff of the army [3], UVB-76 is widely believed to be used to transmit encoded messages to spies, as is generally assumed for the many numbers stations that populate shortwave frequencies. Transmitter sites for some numbers stations have been triangulated to military and/or intelligence installations in several countries[citation needed], although no nation's government will confirm or deny the existence of the stations or their purpose. Another possibility is that the constant transmission of its characteristic sound is supposed to signal the availability, operation or alertness of some kind of installation, a kind of dead man's switch of a military or other installation.

[edit] Transmitter

The station uses Molniya-2M (PKM-15) Molniya-3 (PKM-20) transmitters and a Viaz-M2 backup transmitter. The antenna model is a Horizontal dipole VGDSh h ≈ 20 m.[6]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Radio Station UVB-76. Accessed 29 August 2008
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ary Boender. Numbers & oddities: Column 1.
  4. ^ Posts from the SPOOKS and WUN listservers. Accessed 29 August 2008
  5. ^ Phonetic alphabets Accessed 29 August 2008
  6. ^

[edit] External links

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