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Author Topic: Do any forum members want to answer a question for an undergrad paper?  (Read 3048 times)

Offline underthewoods

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I'm writing a paper on the amateur radio community (especially number stations listeners) and was wondering if you guys would answer a question or two. Everyone will be kept anonymous (unless you ask not to be).
What is the best and worst part of listening to number stations and why?
Any answers will be greatly appreciated.


Offline Token

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I'm writing a paper on the amateur radio community (especially number stations listeners) and was wondering if you guys would answer a question or two. Everyone will be kept anonymous (unless you ask not to be).
What is the best and worst part of listening to number stations and why?
Any answers will be greatly appreciated.


You are citing two different communities.

“Amateur radio” specifically is generally accepted as the “ham” community, licensed radio operators who both transmit and receive on a variety of frequencies in many different portions of the radio spectrum, from below 2 MHz to over 300 GHz.

Numbers station listeners are generally part of the “short wave listening” (SWL) community, albeit a portion of the SWL community that concentrates on a specific type of transmission, numbers stations.  Other SWLs may concentrate on military communications, ships at sea, aviation communications, etc, these listeners fall in a subcategory sometimes referred to as “utes”, for the “utility” communications they monitor.  Other SWLs concentrate on short wave broadcast stations (BC), programming from commercial or state run BC stations that are similar to what might be heard on the AM or FM broadcast band. SWLs are not licensed in any way and cannot transmit on the frequencies they monitor.  It is possible for a ham to also be an SWL, but an SWL does not have to be a ham (amateur radio operator).  I am both a ham and an SWL, and while I follow numbers stations I would say I spend more time on utes than numbers.

Also, it might help to know the country you are referring too.  In the USA it is legal to monitor numbers stations, some other nations do not allow this activity.  Some nations consider it not allowed by law/regulation/statue, but do not enforce the policy.

The best and worst part of numbers station listening?  That is going to be a very opinionated response.

For me the best part is the hunt.  I look for and follow numbers stations that other people are not generally listening to.  For years the majority of organized numbers listeners have been based in Europe.  In the US there have been many numbers listeners also, but generally less organized and more “freelance”.  This has resulted in the majority of documented numbers stations being ones that are heard best, most easily, in Europe.

Since most of the European numbers stations are well known I tend to concentrate on the Asian numbers stations.  Stations from Taiwan, the PRC, Vietnam, Korea, and others, but also European numbers stations that might be based out of Asiatic Russia and points further east.

The hunt for numbers involves finding the frequencies, times, and operating habits of the station.  These are going to be variable depending on locations of both transmit and receive locations and the requirements of transferring data to the recipient.  The habits can tell you a lot about what is probably going on.  It is kind of like a puzzle.

But what started me listening to numbers stations (in the 1960’s) was the mystique, particularly at that time in the Cold War.  The mental image of spies and handlers working their tasks for their homeland (whichever side that might be).

For me the worst part is the not knowing.  Yes, you can gather data on where (very generally) the message might be received, where it might be transmitted from, what the uses might be.  But, you can never be sure, and you for sure are never going to read the message.

On the other hand the not knowing, the enigma of it all, is a draw all to itself.  Maybe there is no “worst” point to numbers listening?

T!
Mojave Desert, California, USA
« Last Edit: October 02, 2011, 1903 UTC by Token »
T!
Mojave Desert, California USA

Offline underthewoods

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Many thanks Token for the interesting and helpful reply. If you have the patience, I have one more question: would you say that listening to number stations is a fragmented process? Interpret 'fragmented' in whatever way makes sense to you.

Offline weatherall

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I'm writing a paper on the amateur radio community (especially number stations listeners) and was wondering if you guys would answer a question or two. Everyone will be kept anonymous (unless you ask not to be).
What is the best and worst part of listening to number stations and why?
Any answers will be greatly appreciated.

What Token said, about the distinction between amateur radio and shortwave listening.

I got into shortwave listening because of the possibility of hearing mysterious broadcasts that no one would officially claim or identify.  At first, I searched for these broadcasts without success, then gave up as I got interested in the international shortwave broadcasters (especially those in Cuba, Netherlands, and Taiwan).  I don't listen to the broadcasters in the United States other than WBCQ.  Then, one night, I was fooling around with one of my cheap portable radios and I stumbled upon the signal commonly known as V02a - the "Atencion!" Spanish numbers station believed to come from Cuba.  This renewed my interest in the topic, and I sought out more reliable information on finding these stations.  V02a is still the only numbers station I've received.  I remain interested in the subject, just not very committed right now.

I don't know how to address your "fragmented" question without writing a multi-page essay...
weatherall :: sw/mw/lw radio blog: http://cobaltpet.blogspot.com/

Offline Zoidberg

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"Fragmented" perfectly describes my process of listening for numbers stations.  I mostly lurk on IRC #wunclub for tips.  Folks like Token, Jon-FL and others are a big help.  I've managed to snag a couple of fairly unique numbers stations, including V24 a year or so ago.  But I'm not very methodical about it - even after four years of lurking, I'm still a n00b in the numbers game.  I mostly listen for shortwave pirate radio, and tune around for numbers and utes when nothing else is on.

...would you say that listening to number stations is a fragmented process? Interpret 'fragmented' in whatever way makes sense to you.
That li'l ol' DXer from Texas
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Offline Pigmeat

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I was behind the very early "Bunny Code" transmissions. If they had the "White Rabbit" interval signal,it was yours truly. Send me a PM and I'll tell you the twisted and seemingly unending saga of my borrowed creation.


"How are you,Mr. Smolinski?"  "Al Fansome,check your tire pressure." That was fun stuff.

What my partner in the thing did with it on his own as part of a vendetta was regrettable,but you can't control the actions of others.

Offline underthewoods

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Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to answer. The replies have all been useful and insightful.
If you guys are interested, I'll post when I have my thesis more solidified (it'll be awhile) and if you want you can tell me if it fits or not.
I look forward to anymore responses to the ideas discussed if anyone feels so moved.

 

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