Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The real Bolshoi ballet of antennas

Moscow's secret antennasI am absolutely fascinated by Russians' obsession with radio snooping. That mean that Russia must be bristling with antennas.
Kitty corner from the Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) Metro's Line 3 terminal station Primorskaya, the there is an office building with this Swan Lake of antennas. The location is great - it looks out over the Gulf of Finland

Moscow's triangulation antennas
On Veshnyakovskaya st., bldg. 9, section 2 there is this farm.
You could understand the location of Leningrad tracking antennas. But what foreign traffic :-) is there to monitor in the heartland, in Moscow? Maybe Russians know better - in Butovo they do have one of many tracking stations for monitoring foreign radars(???).
The wind speed-looking device is not for measuring wind speed . The real name for it is HE314A1.

detail of a Russian triangulation antenna
It is BKAS (БКАС), active in the 150-3700 MHz range, vertical polarization.
My fdriends have also reported that the same type of natenna farm is found on the roof of the building at Bolshaya Olenya Street, 15A (55°48'30"N 37°41'26"E), which is the Radio Tracking Center co-located with the Central Design Institute of Communications No. 17, a. k. a. the military unit (В/ч) 25801.

This is most likely a R&S Doppler triangulation antenna, seen on the roof the both buildings is R&S PA055, that has 16 vertical concentric dipoles, and covers the 20-1000 Mhz range.

The second photo also shows this skirt-like antenna between the parabola and the umbrella-shaped antennas. The famous R&S HK014, for receiving omnidirectionally anything in the 80-1600 Mhz range:

Russian sigint antenna

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A GRU dial radio is a typical part of a Soviet (Russian) secret cache

This telephone-dial spy radio found in caches planted by Soviet or modern-day GRU makes for slow but sure and secure communication.
This one is Р-353 "Proton" - the workhorse of GRU's osnaz or KGB's spetznaz. Contains classic Soviet-era tubes, like the famous GU (ГУ) 19. My friends tested the set and found it to produce signals of more than 50 watts. For those who are somewhat familiar with Soviet technology, this set is related to R-350 Orel (or Р-350 "Орел".)

The set is great for transmitting data, especially telegraphy. It contains the typical coder-decoder pair, and a magnetic tape drive. Data transmission is under 1000 baud due to the use of the telephone dial, which ensures precision. Also contained therein are flip-style CW Morse key, comprehensive chart of GRU's and KGB's favorite, alternative, SSB, and other frequencies, discreet night light, even a lanyard with an all-weather pencil. The power supply is ahead of its times (1960's !!!) and challenges modern laptops: it is of the smart type, capable of charging its battery from any outlet and voltage in the 80-240 VAC range, and has an external 12 VDC socket. These rigs are always found packed in thick, well closed plastic bags, and plenty of desiccant packets. They are always ready to transmit. Scary?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Russian cellphone COMINT and antenna porn

On his business trip last month to St. Petersburg, my friend used a digital cellphone scanner that he used to successfully overhear the following conversation between a Russian Navy Warrant Officer and a distant civilian who seemed to be the insider on the Russian Navy ECM technology.

CIVILIAN: "...как лучше подавлять связь по Link-11?"
W. O. " ... возьми ... что-то типа КВ...Р-743 ... у нас на корабле передатчик...к нему УКВ "Утес" или Р-625 с формирователем помехи."

CIVILIAN: "...how to better jam communication on LINK-11?"
W. O. "...take...something like SW...R-743...we have a transmitter on our ship...together with USW "UTES" or R-625 with an interference generator."

Very important systems being mentioned here:
LINK-11 is USN's advanced digital communication system.

R-625 ("Пихта") is a USW station manufactured by the Musson factory in Sevastopol, Crimea, for simplex and duplex TTY/telephone-telegraph communications on naval and merchant ships. It looks like this:

russian spook radio station
UTES is a widely used rig which in its 3rd generation looks like this:
russian ECM rig
Here are the R-625's shipboard antennas - the single on an Akademik Ioffe "scientific" ship (this is the same ship that during 1980's in the name of underwater science killed whales by testing its roaring new Elac deep sonar, ADCP thermal current analyzer, a parametric and Echos multibeam sonar across North Atlantic all the way to Azores[USN Station Lajes]):

r-625 antenna

and the double from a Vishnya-type AGI (SSV).
naval double  rig antenna
Can you put it all together? The Russkies can.