The airwaves are frocked with all sorts of unknown goodies for an adventurous ham to listen in on. Number stations are purported to use one time code cipher keys printed on rice paper, or anything that can be easily concealed and destroyed. The ciphers are used to de-crypt the coded messages broadcast by the number stations. Each message is unique in it’s coding, hence the code cannot be broken without it’s cipher. This technology dates back to the world wars when the Allied forces used number stations to communicate with rebellious French forces and spies which had infiltrated the Nazi empire. In turn, Germany developed the infamous Enigma machine, invented in 1923, to communicate with the Wolf Pack at sea. The enigma code, as it was termed, was unbreakable until the machine was captured by Allied forces during World War 2.
Number stations are still on the air today. Some broadcasting in RTTY, some in high speed and regular CW, and many still use the infamous eerie sounding voices and music.
Still, some entities are well known and yet still a mystery! Armed forces of the world regularly communicate on HF bands with secret codes. They could be ordering a covert strike deep in enemy territory… or perhaps they’re ordering more paper for the copier. Surely, many hams out there have the answers to those mysteries and are bound to protect the secrets, but it’s a lot of fun to listen and imagine. Check out 8992 some evening and listen in on the USAF transmitting on the HFGCS (High Frequency Global Communications System) to Skyking (airborn command center) or any of the various stations who also regularly transmit back in reply.
A full list of stations can be found on Priyom.org as well as audio samples and background information. It’s a bit of fun to imagine what must be contained in those messages while you listen!
You can also tune around from a remote SDR by clicking HERE
The sounds of the Lincolnshire Poacher (No longer on the air)
How the infamous Enigma machine works!