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Information about UVB-76 (Wiki)

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 a short, monotonous buzz tone, repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute, for 24 hours per day. The station has been observed since around 1982. In rare occasions, the buzzer signal is interrupted and a voice transmission in Russian takes place. Only three such events have been noted.

There is much speculation; however, the actual purpose of this station remains unknown.


Normal transmission

The station transmits a buzzing sound that lasts 0.8 seconds, pausing for 1–1.3 seconds, and repeating 21–34 times per minute. 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. Between 07:00 and 07:50 GMT the station transmits using lower power, when transmitter maintenance apparently takes place.

The Buzzer has apparently been broadcasting since at least 1982 as a repeating two-second pip, changing to a buzzer in early 1990. 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.

Malfunctions

Frequently, 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, or that a microphone may have been turned on accidentally. One such occasion was on November 3, 2001, when a conversation in Russian was heard: "Я — 143. Не получаю генератор." "Идёт такая работа от аппаратной." ("I'm 143rd. I don't receive the oscillator (generator)." "That's what the operating room is sending." or "Those are the orders from operations.")

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." The same message was repeated 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."
  • A third voice message was broadcast on February 21, 2006 at 7:57 GMT. 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." These names are found in some Russian spelling alphabets, similar to the NATO phonetic alphabet

Equipment

The station uses Molniya-2M (PKM-15) and Molniya-3 (PKM-20) transmitters and a Viaz-M2 backup transmitter. The transmitter power is approximately 10 kW and backup power is 2.5 kW, which is used from 7:00 to 7.50 UTC. The antenna model is a horizontal dipole VGDSh (Nadenenko), height approximately 20 metres (66 ft).

Location and function

The station's transmitter is located at Povarovo, Russia (56°4′58″N 37°5′22″E / 56.08278°N 37.08944°E / 56.08278; 37.08944), which is about halfway between Zelenograd and Solnechnogorsk and 40 kilometres (25 mi) 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." This is unconfirmed, and unlikely considering 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, 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, 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, possibly for the Dead Hand system.

As of January 17, 2010 at the latest many available map viewing services that provide satellite imagery have the UVB-76 station darkened or removed entirely. Of interest to note is the fact that seemingly unrelated buildings in close proximity are also blacked out.