Sunday, October 22, 2006

Shortwave "Numbers" stations, and a meet up with Dieter.

Apart from Radio Amateurs and dedicated Shortwave listeners, I doubt that many people ever tune around the short wave radio bands any more; it used to be a popular hobby amongst many technically minded people around the world; in an age before the Internet it was a great way to hear what was happening around the planet. You might think that short wave (properly known as H.F for High Frequency) wireless was a dead duck then. Not a bit of it, as survivors of the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina discovered. When power is out, satellite uplinks dead, and mobile phone networks knocked out, the one reliable means of communication is radio. Many Radio Amateurs regularly volunteer their services to assist in providing expertise to the emergency services in the event of a disaster. They form part of a global organisation called RAYNET

Anyway, where is all this leading? Well, I was tuning around on the H.F bands this afternoon and picked up a secret numbers radio station; something I had not heard for a while. Numbers stations are run by various countries' intelligence services to communicate to their secret agents (yes - it does still go on, even in the online age). Watch the video report below for a simple explanation of the whole phenomenon.

On another note, Ian and I met up with Dieter (over from Australia on a short visit) and Allen, along with Allen's brother last night; Allen provided the transportation in the form of his Citroen XM (the "other" car - too many of us for the Maserati, though the Citroen was quite zippy enough, even with five bulky blokes in it; he and his brother had ripped out the original basic interior and replaced it with a full set of electric heated leather seats from a top of the line model - a few hundred quid from Ebay. Bargain!) We ended up at the Polly Clean Stairs in Bexleyheath; a nice pub serving Fullers London Pride and Courage Best, though not a patch on its' neighbour, the famous and multiple award winning Robin Hood and Little John around the corner in Lion Road.

In case you were wondering, the photo at the top of this posting is of the Icom IC 7800 amateur radio transceiver - in car terms it would be a Ferrari (and in hard cash it costs around £7,000, depending on specifications) - each one is hand built; I don't think I will be getting one in my Christmas hamper somehow. Click on the photograph for a more detailed view.


  1. Mmmh, fascinating re. the number stations....

  2. There are 10 groups of people who understand number stations:

    Those that do and those that don't...

  3. You SURE you ain't paid by the Robin Hood & Little John??

    Was a good night, very nice pub, bit "locally" if you know what I mean but definitly like a nice country pub.
    I spoke to the Landlord as we left & told him that it was the first pub I ever went in when i was about 6 (with may parents obviously! one of my earliest memories) and he was a little old chap and very nicly he asked me how old I was now and said how nice it was to have me back and not to leave it so long between visits. Reads abit corney but he was being genuine and it caught me off guard, I was quite flattered!

    One thing I learnt Saturday night was wearing a new shirt with flaired open cuff's when your not used to it is something to be careful of when using the toilet!
    Took me ages to wash/dry my snecking sleeve...

    It was great to see Deiter and although we only had afew hours it was a great night except I decided to read abit of the new Pratchett novel when I got in and tiiiiime slipped away then sudenly it was 3:30am!

  4. Click on my name for a pant-wettingly funny cartoon...well I like it!