Radio Intrigue with Don Schimmel


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Report #009 03/01/2000

FAPSI STATUS REPORT - The FAPSI Americas Network as it formerly existed is drying up. The only known remaining stations are WFO/MIG with their twice daily skeds Mon-Fri and KRN for the once a week sked on Thursdays. The KRN skeds are now always QRU. I wonder what claused the change in status for the KRN facility whereby that location no longer receives traffic yet in past years it was a regular recipient of a fair amount? WFO/MIG however handle a large amount of traffic. In fact, the volume of messages passed on that link just seems to be inappropriate for a Russian Diplomatic facility at the alleged location of Managua, Nicaragua. A recent special propagation study, conducted jointly with Jacques d'Avignon, covered four months of network transmissions and raised some doubts about that location because the study showed a Washington, DC location as a very possible alternate candidate. It is interesting that the WFO/MIG link has always been a two-way operation when all the other links had the appearance of blind broadcast skeds? The stations now missing from the network are believed to have undergone an equipment change to the CROWD36 mode. It makes sense that there would also be frequency and sked time changes.

ETFNJX TKAGAS CALLING SEQUENCE - On Thursday 24 Feb at 1718 on 17416 kHz, the relay station ion Cuba sent the calling sequence in FSK Morse followed by T T I M repeated several times. This procedure was identical to the same sequences observed on Thursday 23 Dec 1999 at 1718 on 17417 kHz. In all the years I have monitored the network, these were the only times that I saw the T T I M addition to the calling sequence. On the Feb date the calling ceased at 1724 and I looked for Cuba to see if he was sending the calling sequence on another frequency but if he did, I did not find him. In the past when the calling sequence was transmitted it usually resulted in traffic being passed shortly thereafter. But in the Feb incident, the Thursday 1735 sked for KRN was sent and ended with QRU SK. At 1739 Cuba repeated the KRN sked on the secondary freq of 14432 kHz and again ended with QRU SK and off at 1744. If the earlier ETFNJX TKAGAS calling did signify there was traffic for KRN, where and when was it passed?

WFO/MIG FREQUENCY USE - This link utilized several frequency changes during their skeds this month. On 8 Feb Cuba moved from 14455 to 15699 kHz at 2154 and then at 2220 shifted to 16216 kHz. On 10 Feb Cuba was asked to QSY to 16218 which he did and completed the message on that freq. On 11 Feb WFO shifted at 2201 from 13423 to 13438 kHz. And on 15 Feb Cuba went from 14455 to 16216 kHz at 1516.

UNIDENTIFIED FAPSI ACTIVITY - Test transmission have often taken place on 14785 kHz. From the strong signal I have to believe this was the transmitter in Cuba. Long sequences of 64s were sent in RTTY 75/500 followed by FSK Morse and the ETFNJX calling sequences. The carrier would be left on the air for long periods of time followed by more RTTY, FSK Morse, a change to 50/500 RTTY, back to 75/500 RTTY and then off. The most recent testing occurred on 14 Feb. On 28 Feb at about 1945, RTTY 75/500 was observed on 14786 kHz with 5L groups. This evidently was a two-way contact because the sending station would periodically stop and back up in the text to repeat a portion. As I started to tune around hoping to catch the other end, the sending station finished the message and sent TKS GB SK at 1950. I wish IO had tuned into that freq a little sooner because IO might have intercepted the preamble and would then have known which link it was.

MORE DETAILS RE U/I FAPSI ACTIVITY - On 29 Feb I hoped to catch the same activity I had heard on 28 Feb so I had one of my receivers set up with 14786 kHz. At 1955 I heard a very brief FSK Morse signal of just a few characters. I tuned down a bit to be able to read the keying but the station stopped and started sending in RTTY 75/500. While touching up the RTTY signal I missed the message preamble so I still do not know what link this is... It is a two-way contact because Cuba frequently stopped and backed up in the text to repeat groups. During an extremely long message I tuned through several bands hoping to hear the out-station but no luck. I will continued to check this target often and hopefully will be able to determine the calls used and the link number.

FEBRUARY LOGGINGS in kHz order with comments and UTC date/time.
6769 YL/EE in USB with 3-2F groups. Down with "End" at 29/2040
10345 Cuban cut numbers in auto Morse. Tuesday sked. 01/1103
12096 RTTY 77/864 with high volume of encrypted transmissions. 11/1457
12184 This is Cuban cut nbrs but this is not the correct freq. The signal is splattering throughout the band at just about every 50 kHz and at various audio levels. 02/1136
13375 Portion of Lincolnshire Poacher tune followed by YL/EE (British accent) calling 94689. After several sequences of tune/calling, lgoes into 200 group msg of 5 figure groups. This is MI6 UK. 25/1905
17049 4XZ (Israel Navy) in auto Morse w/5L grps at 28/2033. Later on same freq, auto Morse w/5F grps. First number of each group is either 3 or 4. This is believed to be weather code. 28/2213
18422 CLP8 (Cuban Embassy, Conakry, Guinea Bissau) DE CLP1 (MinRex, Havana, Cuba) w/opr chatter in FSK CW. 14/1512

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2000 Don Schimmel.