RW1AI/MM back from South Pole to Russia

Dear Sparks,

OM Mike RW1AI is on board Icebreaker AKADEMIK FEDOROV and since some weeks the ship is sailing from Antarctica to Russia (destination should be St. Petersburg), since few days the signal is becoming very strong, at the moment the vessel is sailing off the northern coast of Brasil. Mike is working as RW1AI/MM and it very easy to work him on 20 and 15 meters bands.

Have a good watch!




43° Parallel activation c/s IQ6SB/p

Following received by OM Domenico Caselli – I6HWD

On May 6, 2017, a group of Italian radio amateurs from Club A.R.I. of San Benedetto del Tronto-AP-Italy, will be active on HF bands (SSB-CW-DIGITAL MODES) for celebrating the birth of the 43° Parallel Association. All QSOs will be confirmed via bureau (or direct SASE) with a special QSL.

GW ES 73



Number Stations

by Radio Officer Sandro VIALE


A numbers station is a radio station that transmits only sequences of numbers through short waves. Due to the intrinsic shortwave features, the origin of these radio transmissions is unknown, as  the meaning and the purpose of the broadcasts themselves.

The format of messages transmitted by the numbers station varies from station to station, and this has allowed fans to rate them and attribute names to them.
The most popular number stations communicate in English, Spanish, German and Russian, but also French and Oriental languages such as Chinese and Korean.
Most often it is a sequence of numbers, but it is not unusual to hear letters or morse code messages, as well as seemingly random noises and tones.
Often such communications are preceded and / or followed by identifiers indicating the beginning and / or the end of the transmission and other more or less known data. For example, some numbers stations start  with the word “Attention” or similar words, while others precede the number sequence from a music.
In some cases, the transmission starts with the number of numeric groups that will contain the actual message, while in other cases these numbers and letters appear without any significance.

The voices that send these code messages are often synthesized, but there are known cases of live microphone communications.
There is even a radio, called “The Swedish Rhapsody,” which uses the voice of a little girl.


An emblematic example of live voice is the number station called “The Buzzer”. Activated since 1982, it has never interrupted the broadcast unless on three occasions and for short periods. However, the actual communications occur very rarely, with the latest communication dating back to 2010, preceded by another in 2006, for a total of 7 communications or little more in 20 years, according to most of the listeners. For the rest of the time, the station is not switched off, but continues to transmit an annoying electronic noise, which is the source of the station name (“The Buzzer”).
The peculiarity of this number station is that messages are transmitted from the voice of a real person speaking trough a  microphone. It seems that during the long periods of silent activity (or it would be better to say noisy) the microphone is always on, so much so that it has heard noises and conversations in the background.
When transmitted, messages consist of a series of personally identifiable names and apparently random numbers, pronounced in Russian.


Old site of BUZZER UVB-76

Another example is the station called “Backward Music Station” because of the noise it transmits, similar to a disc played in the opposite. The apparent signal is similar to a random noise, but in reality this hides a second signal visible through a spectrograph, similar to an encrypted morse code.

The The Conet Project site collects 150 entries of different number stations, which you can hear through the player at the top right of the web page. The site also collects various information about number stations  which I strongly recommend to read.


The most credited theory is that behind the numbers station there are secret government organizations that use the short waves  band to communicate with agents deployed in various parts of the world.
If this theory were true, the use of short waves would be justified by their ability to reach very distant places, in addition to the difficulty of accurately locating the source signal.
The greatest advantage of such an old technology compared to the most modern communication systems such as the Internet and mobile phones is that radio communication does not contain any reference to the recipient of the message, so it is true that anyone can receive and listen to it without any special problems.
Indeed, the most modern and cutting-edge technologies would in itself bring suspicions to the spy that carries these equipment. If we add that the most common media such as cell phones and e-mails are under governments control, even if these messages were never deciphered by enemies, the only way of receiving them could mean the torture or death of the spy. Moreover, internet and cellular phones and similar technologies are not always available in remote places such as forests and desert areas.
On the contrary  a radio broadcast can be captured by any radios, and the undercover agent can receive the communication in a secure way a radio while is in reception cannot be intercepted or it is very difficult to do so. And even if that were true, a public communication, there will be hundreds if not thousands of people who will receive it. How can an enemy government understand which of these individuals are simple curious radio amateurs, and who are the undercover agents to which the encrypted message is addressed?
The fact that the number stations do not  diminish suggests that some of these stations may be run by terrorist groups and traffickers of various kinds.

If in some cases there have been events that have confirmed the presence of secret government agencies behind the numbers station, this fact does not say it is true for all number stations.

The only case certainly concerns the Cuban station “Atencion!”,  so named because the beginning of each communication was preceded by this word. On some occasions the Havana official station interfered with the signal from the above-mentioned station, revealing its location.
In addition, in a process in which U.S. accused the Cubans of espionage, the United States brought to evidence that they had stolen to a Cuban spy the software to decrypt some of the messages transmitted by the Atencion radio which allowed them to get clear communications. The Americans, to try what has just been  said, led to the process some of these sentences, which were decrypted as an example. On the internet, all you can find are the three phrases in English, and there is no mention of the original encrypted message, or whether these phrases were already in English or translated by the Cuban to make them understandable to the jury. As if it were not enough, we talk about a stolen computer that allowed Americans to decipher those messages, but it is not specified whether this computer was brought up as proof to prove the truthfulness of what they claimed. However, there is no access to the official papers of the process, probably the secret cards  contain relevant details, but without being able to consult, we can at least have some doubts about the affidability of this affair.


But how would the Americans decipher the messages from the Cuban station “Atencion!”? If communications are made through ether and can be heard by anyone with equipment of a few tens of euros, how is that the only documented case of a presumed success in decrypting these series of seemingly random numbers?

In fact, the first thing that comes to mind is the lack of security in transmitting encrypted messages that everyone can receive. If it is true that the Americans would be able to decipher the Cuban messages through a key stolen from an enemy spy, if you are taken by enthusiasm, might think of buying a radio that receives short waves, transcribes numbers, and, conversely of the CIA you have no decryption key in your hands, take advantage of the computing power of modern computers to try a brute-force attack through random keys generated by the PC  so that the right key will not come out that will allow you to decode the message.
After all, all encryption systems can be decrypted, you continue to tell yourself, in the worst case you try all the available key combinations until you find the right one. Often then an encrypted message contains suggestions about the decryption key: repeating digits or letters, similar pattern messages, patterns repeated in the various encrypted messages.

Well,  sorry to drop you but the encryption system used by the numbers station is no exception. Nowadays it is the only encryption algorithm that cannot be decrypted, as it was mathematically proof.

Detailed clip about a number station reception well masked before going on the air


Tragedy in Black Sea

Source: Maritime Herald

April 19, 2017

The general cargo ship Geroi Arsenala sank at Kerch Strait in Black Sea. The vessel with 12 crew, including nine Ukrainians, two Russians and one Georgian citizens, disappeared and lost connection at the approach to Kerch strait on 19 nautical miles off Cape Zhelezny Rog in Crimea. MRCC Novorossiysk received the distress signal from the captain of the dry-cargo ship at about 03:54 Moscow time on 19th April. The local authorities immediately initiated search and rescue operation and succeeded to find and rescue one seamen, while another 3 were found dead and 8 seamen are missing. The large scale search and rescue operation was initiated, which engaged five merchant ships, as well as rescue vessel and two Russian helicopters.

“The approximate site of the accident is the village of Yakovenkovo in the Kerch area”, said the Representative of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the Crimea. “The vessels Bishop, Armada Navigator, Barnet, Aigas and Aelos were in the area of the incident and were included into the rescue operation.

The water temperature at the area was 7-8 degrees Celsius and on scene was stormy weather with wind speed of 20 m/s. The exact root cause of the accident is under investigation, but according to preliminary information, the vessel split on two part by the storm and sank, so people had no time to evacuate.

The general cargo ship Geroi Arsenala (IMO: 8727604) has overall length of 114.00 m, moulded beam of 13.00 m and maximum draft of 4.00 m. The deadweight of the vessel is 2,850 DWT and the gross tonnage is 2,584 GRT. The freighter was built in 1980 by Zavody Tazkeho Strojarstva in Komarno, Slovakia. The ship is registered under the flag of Panama and during the accident was en route from Azov to Turkey with cargo of grain. The vessel is owned and operated by Turkish company Gunes Shipping & Trading Company Limited.


Our Past will be Your Future!

by Radio Officer Sergio SARTI

The writing did not die with the Amanuensis after the invention of the Guttemberg typographical machine, all of us good or bad we know how to write, everything depends on how much interest will arouse in generations to come, for example Latin, was not lost through the Latinists, even hieroglyphs, once deciphered by the Rosetta Stele, have allowed us to decipher historical documents far away in time from our civlization. Yes! The morse will have highs and lows, and every time they find it, they will rediscover hot water as often happens. In my opinion the morse will continue to walk on the legs of those radio amateurs who will like to play it, I have passed the witness to them, not to Unesco, we will see ……. I will reiterate that Heritage of  Humanity should be us Radio Officers, you will say but the Amanuensis never became Human Heritage …. surely  because as I said we continue to write .

 I would like to tell you something I believe in, that is: “our work is temporarily suspended!” I do not agree very much with  our motto (but this is only my tought) “OUR PAST IS OUR FUTURE, OUR WAY IS TO RADIOMEN” I would only write “OUR PAST WILL BE YOUR FUTURE” And why? Because someday there will be other ships that will float other oceans ….. ships and spaceships, the movie “Alien” precludes the times, where the spacecraft “Nostromo” coming from Vega  and directed to the Earth receives a distress call, and the first onboard that computer awakens up from hibernation is the Telecommunications Officer ….. it says nothing? Okay my mind gallops, but not so much. Go free Alfredo, our work is not dead, after us there will be others, ships and the oceans will never  cease to humanity, even more immense, infinite so the Radio, or whatever comes next, will never disappear, and where there will be a Radio there will be a Radioman. To publish? I leave to your discretion, if you think it is appropriate, for me it is fine, on my side I enjoy writing  and sharing with others.

73 SU Sergio I5JSR


International Marconi Day 2017

Dear Sparks,

our Friend Joe I2AZ sent an e-mail remembering one of the Great Radio Event of the year:

Source: http://gx4crc.com/gb4imd/

International Marconi Day celebrates the huge part Guglielmo Marconi played in the invention of radio.

International Marconi Day (IMD) is a 24 hour amateur radio event that is held annually to celebrate the birth of Marconi on 25 April 1874. The event is usually held on the Saturday closest to Marconi’s birthday and in 2017 it will be held on 22nd April.

Period of Operation on 22nd April 2017

0000 UTC  to 2359 UTC

The purpose of the day is for amateur radio enthusiasts around the world to make contact with historic Marconi sites using communication techniques similar to those used by Marconi himself.

Registered Stations MUST operate from a site which has a connection with Marconi.

To register your station for International Marconi Day 2017 please contact us using the email address below.

Please note you do NOT need to register just to claim the award, registration is for official stations only.

Any stations wishing to participate must be registered by Friday midnight. If You try to register after this time unfortunately we will not be able to register you.

Any stations worked that are not on the list will not count towards the award.


For the current list of confirmed stations for 2017 click below

confirmed stations 2017

Below is a list of Confirmed International Marconi Day Stations for 2017

Station Callsign Location
GB4IMD Cornwall, UK (organisers)
IY1MR Rapallo, Genova, Italy
IY1SP La Spezia, Italy
IY4FGM Villa Griffone, Sasso Marconi, Bologna, Italy
IY5PIS Coltano, Pisa, Italy
IY6GM Monte Dei Cappuccini, Ancona, Italy
IY7M Molo San Cataldo, Bari, Italy
IY0GA Capo Figari, Golfo Aranci, Sardinia Island, Italy
IY0IMD Forte Michelangelo, Civitavecchia, Roma, Italy
IY0ORP Rocca Di Papa, Roma, Italy
IY0TC Torre Chiaruccia, Santa Marinella, Roma, Italy
GB1BM Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrrey
IQ7YU Casamassima BA, Italy
II0GM Rome, Italy
GB2GM Poldhu, Cornwall
W1AA/MSC Marconi 1901, MSC, Shore Station, USA
PA6IMD Netherlands
GB0CMS Caister Marconi Station, Norfolk, UK
WA3BAT Philadelphia Museum Ship, Philadelphia, USA
KM1CC Marconi Cape Cod RC, USA
GB5FHC Fraserburgh, Scotland
OE17M Austria
K3IMD Hartstown, Pennsylvania, USA
GB0YAM Yorkshire Air Museum, York, UK
VP8VPC Stanley, Falkland Islands
GX0MWT Chelmsford ARS, Essex, UK
GB2NH Marconi Radio Station Site, East Sussex, UK
GB4MBP Marconi Bass Point, Cornwall, UK
GB8MD Telford & District ARS, Gwynedd, Wales
EI0MAR Martello Tower, Dublin
GB0MGY Harlow RS, Essex, UK
G2NM Amberley Museum, West Sussex, UK
K2M Binghamton, New York, USA
IY7GMB ARS Bari, BA01 Stazione Marconiana Molo San Cataldo
GB0IMD Weston Super Mare RS, Brean Down, UK
GB4MHS Museum of History & Science, Oxford, UK
GB4GM Dragon ARC, North Wales
EI6YXQ Marconi Radio Station, Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry Ireland
GB5LT Luttrells Tower, Hampshire, UK
VK2IMD Hornsby & District ARC, Hornsby, NSW, Australia
IY1TTM Marconi tower, Sestri Levante, Italy
GB2M Lochboisdale, Isle of South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
GB4MDI Barry ARS, Lavernock Point, South Wales
EI11WAW Carndonagh, Malin Head, Co. Donegal, Ireland
VE1IMD Glace Bay, Canada
DA0IMD Borkum Island, Germany
CW1GM Radiogrupo Sur, Uruguay
WA1WCC Chatham, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, USA
GB0WMD Isle of Wight RS, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
GB2BYF Claeddau ARS, Pembroke Docks, SW Wales
GB2OWM Orkney Wireless Museum, Scotland
EI0IMD The Mizen Head Signal Station, North Cork Radio Group
EI1IMD Brow Head, West Cork, Ireland
M0RSE Bedford, UK
G2LO Empire Transmitter Building, Daventry, UK
GB0MPB South Dorset RS, Portland Bill
W2RC/IMD Radio Central ARC, Rocky Point, New York
I4CDH/IMD Bologna, Italy
K2WPM Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Canada
EI5IMD Marconi House, Crookhaven, Co. Cork
K3S Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
K2TV Marconiville, Long Island, New York, USA
K6KPH Martine Radio Historical Society, Bolinas, CA USA
MW0JHC Queen’s Park, Holyhead, UK
TF3IMD Hofdi House, Reykjavik, Iceland
9H1MRC Marconi Radio Club, Malta

Video of GB0CMS from Caister Lifeboat Station for International Marconi Day 2014





New Morse Paddle from Saint Petersburg…RA1AOM “handmade”

Dear Sparks,

our friend and colleague Valery PAVLOV – RA1AOM has produced a new paddle. The first key to the new design of the Indian granite is ready. All adjustments are on the rear of the block bearings. The contact pads are made of beryllium bronze,Nickel plated. The lower substrate is made of stainless steel.For any kind of informations you can write directly to Valery: ra1aom@mail.ru

Valery many thanks for your kind surprise.







Special MRD station – Boulogne-sur-Mer Radio c/s FFB

Dear Sparks,

durning coming MRD R/O Yvon – F8KIH & crew  will be active with callsign F8KIH the callsign of Club Station of Boulogne sur Mer Radio (RADIO CLUB A.S.P.R ALPRECH LE PORTEL 62480 France).

The station was installed at the top of the cliff to the south of Boulogne, in the commune of Le Portel. She was facing offshore The installations were very similar to those installed at Le Conquet. The station provided the commercial radio service in BLU and VHF on the coasts of the Channel as far as Cherbourg. Also closed are all VHF relays that were directly remote controlled by the coast.

Below a video clip about fishery activity of Boulogne fishing fleet, in the clip an Oceanic Trawler will leave Boulogne for a fishing campaign in the North Sea and few moments in the radio room with Sparks busy in his traffic related to the activity of the vessel Klondyke


MRD Crew

http www coastalradio org uk ukstations portishead port5

Special MRD station – Portishead Radio c/s GKA

Photo above source: www.coastalradio.org.uk

Dear Sparks,

thanks to our colleague Radio Officer Tony Butler-Roskilly we will have on the air during the coming MRD the special c/s GB0GKA

Portishead Radio (callsign GKA) was a radio station in England that provided worldwide maritime communications and long-range aeronautical communications from 1928 until 2000. It was the world’s largest and busiest radiotelephony station. In 1974, there were 154 radio operators who handled over 20 million words per year.

In 1998, British Telecom Maritime Radio Services announced its planned closure of Portishead Radio. The long-range services (HF bands 3-30 MHz) ceased at midnight on 31 August 1999. The short-range VHF maritime band (156-174 MHz) services closed at 12:00 on Sunday 30 April 2000, and the medium-range services (MF maritime band 1.6-3.0 MHz) services at 12:00 on Friday 30 June. The station closed in April 2000.

In September 2004, Sedgemoor District Council adopted a local development plan that included the site of Portishead Radio for future housing development. In October 2007, planning permission for a development of 190 houses and flats on the site was granted, and shortly afterwards the old radio station buildings were demolished There is no commemoration of the vital work which was carried out by this radio station in difficult times for the worlds maritime community. A small memorial was promised by the developers but has never been provided. A sad and anonymous end to a vital communications asset, now gone and so easily forgotten.

Thanks to Tony we can celebrate the Great work done by GKA in the Golden Age of Maritime Radiocommunications awaiting for the memorial…


MRD crew



I feel sure that the five of us – Alfredo, Guiliano, Olivier, David and Rolf – can really celebrate MRD or as it started TEN YEARS ago this year as International Maritime Radio Day. For such an event to have taken place and grown to its present position in the amateur radio calender annually for 10 years is a tribute to all the ex Radio Officers and Marconists that have taken part.

I do not know if any of us really thought that MRD would become the truly international event where we can demonstrate our expertise and professionalism on the air, perhaps even occasionally confusing other amateurs with QSA/QRK!

I am so pleased that our initial contact has resulted in MRD and I will be at my Portishead Radio Console to celebrate our tenth anniversary.

The five of us who startd MRD wish all who take part this year a very enjoyable day.

David G3PLE

Alfredo IK6IJF, Guiliano I1SAF, Olivier F6DGU and Rolf DL9CM