Wednesday 25 August, 2010, 04:10 - Pirate/ClandestineBack in October 2009, Wireless Waffle brought to your attention the HF (short-wave) monitoring data produced on a quarterly basis by the ITU. Within these reports were a number of short-wave pirate stations and the original list of stations brought a lot of interest from these stations, both to see who had been 'caught' and to see how close the ITU had gotten to identifying their exact location. Based on the e-mails that were received following the article, it seems like some had hit the nail a little too closely on the head for comfort.
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To see how the ITU were getting along, and who had been spotted more recently, a trawl of the montoring reports from January to June 2010 has been conducted and the results presented below. Those stations whose name is shown in CAPITALS were directly identified by the monitoring station concerned. Those in lower case have been identified using the various on-line blogs that report pirate reception.
|Date||Time (UTC)||Freq (kHz)||Monitoring Station||Location||Station|
|03 Feb 10||0600-0600||4025||Berlin, Germany||UK||Laser Hot Hits|
|23 Feb 10||0000-0630||4025||Tarnok, Hungary||Laser Hot Hits|
|23 Feb 10||1830-2359||4025||Tarnok, Hungary||Laser Hot Hits|
|21 Apr 10||1830-2400||4025||Berlin, Germany||Laser Hot Hits|
|02 May 10||0600-2359||4025||Rambouillet, France||0W10 52N01 (Baldock, UK!)||Laser Hot Hits|
|23 May 10||0000-0630||4015||Tarnok, Hungary||Laser Hot Hits|
|16 May 10||1900-2212||5814.7||Rambouillet, France||0E17 52N45 (King's Lynn, UK)||Radio Telstar South|
|16 May 10||0700-0915||5815||Rambouillet, France||6E11 52N30 (Zwolle, Netherlands)||Orion Radio|
|27 Jun 10||0630-0820||5820||Tarnok, Hungary||Orion Radio|
|11 Apr 10||0854-0908||6203||Vienna, Austria||Radio Scotland International|
|09 Feb 10||1048||6210.2||CCRM, Belgium||Netherlands||MISTI RADIO|
|10 Jan 10||1818-2246||6220||El Casar, Spain||11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy)||Mystery Radio|
|20 Jan 10||1812-2350||6220||El Casar, Spain||11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy)||Mystery Radio|
|30 Jan 10||2002||6220||Baldock, UK||10E0 43N50 (Pisa, Italy)||MYSTERY RADIO|
|28 Feb 10||1100-1137||6220||Vienna, Austria||11E0 44N0 (Prato, Italy)||RADIO MARABU|
|06 Mar 10||1800-2350||6220||El Casar, Spain||11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy)||Mystery Radio|
|21 Mar 10||2012-2355||6220||El Casar, Spain||11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy)||Mystery Radio|
|06 Apr 10||1852-1917||6220||Vienna, Austria||Italy||MYSTERY RADIO|
|10 Apr 10||1900-2359||6220||El Casar, Spain||11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy)||MYSTERY RADIO|
|13 Jun 10||1730-1800||6220||Klagenfurt, Austria||12E0 43N0 (Perugia, Italy)||Mystery Radio|
|14 Jun 10||1700-1900||6220||Rambouillet, France||10E43 43N45 (Prato, Italy)||MISTERY RADIO|
|15 Jun 10||0700-0800||6255||Rambouillet, France||Netherlands||Cool AM|
|19 Jun 10||1530-1645||6374.1||Rambouillet, France||4E13 51N59 (Den Haag, Netherlands)||Radio Baken 16|
|09 Feb 10||0944||6299.2||CCRM, Belgium||RADIO RAINBOW|
|30 Apr 10||1918-2005||6375||Vienna, Austria||Netherlands||Radio Relmus|
|09 Feb 10||0914||6376.6||CCRM, Belgium||Netherlands||RADIO DUTCH WING|
|20 Jun 10||1015-1600||6399.9||Rambouillet, France||1W45 51N21 (Marlborough, UK)||Laser 558 relay|
|11 Mar 10||1815-2200||6870||El Casar, Spain||9E7 45N18 (Milan, Italy)||RADIO PLAYBACK INT|
|11 Apr 10||1500-1700||6959.9||Rambouillet, France||4E39 51N41 (Breda, Netherlands)||Radio Jan Van Gent|
|03 Jan 10||0800||7610||El Casar, Spain||Italy||RADIO AMICA|
|10 Apr 10||0600-2115||7610||Rambouillet, France||12E56 43N55 (Pesaro, Italy)||RADIO AMICA|
|11 Apr 10||0530-0600||7610||Rambouillet, France||12E56 43N55 (Pesaro, Italy)||RADIO AMICA|
|10 Apr 10||1247-1407||7610||Vienna, Austria||11E30 44N30 (Bologna, Italy)||RADIO AMICA|
Please be assured that it is not our intention to name and shame these stations in any way, nor is the Wireless Waffle team opposed to hobby broadcasting (for want of a better word) but we do believe that the stations concerned should be aware that their location may not be as secret as they had hoped.
The question of how accurate these measurements are is a good one. The level of concern that seemed to arise from the previous list suggests that they may be relatively good. However, let's take a real example. There are 10 measurements relating to Mystery Radio. Of these, five different locations are logged. The map below shows the position of these loggings.
The distance between the closest of all these measurements is around 20 miles (32 km). It is possible that this is the best resolution that some of the monitoring stations can achieve. At this kind of resolution, a ground-based receiver would be unlikely to hear the transmitter. Ground wave signals would not travel this far, and it is the ground wave signal which is required for a person on the ground to be able to 'home in' on the location of a transmitter.
So should pirate radio stations be concerned about being tracked down as a result of the work of the ITU. From the evidence above, it seems that this data alone is probably insufficient to allow a station's location to be identified in one simple move. However, if you are running one of these stations and the location which is shown is more accurate than those for Mystery Radio - and certainly if its within 5 km at which point a man on the ground would be able to track you down - perhaps it's time to up sticks and find a new site!
Thursday 1 April, 2010, 08:04 - Pirate/ClandestineThere is endless speculation on the internet as to what became of the many pirate radio ships which sailed the seven seas (or the North Sea more specifically) in the bygone era. Wireless Waffle can exclusively reveal the final resting home of one of these infamous nafarious vessels, having been tipped off by a Government source who wishes to remain anonymous. 'Dave Herrish' for want of a better name (and a complete lack of imagination on our part) has informed us that the rigging that adorned the pirate ship 'The Ross Communidel Amigocado' was removed from the hull at a secret military shipyard somewhere on the southern northern Europe coast and transported, piece by piece, to the facilites of Radio Bulgaria where it was re-assembled and used as a mast for their short-wave monitoring station.
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Situated between Varna and Dolni Chiflik the antennas are now used as a high gain array for the purposes of intercepting both civil and military radio traffic. But, twice a year, in what must be one of the most ironic celebrations in Europe, the station is opened to the public whereupon bunting and other maritime flags are fastened and festooned to the antennas and small children are allowed to climb up and pretend to be seafaring pirates.
Unbeknownst to many of these children, the Bulgarian phrase for 'I am a pirate', which is 'Лиц ентура дёка ролаян' transliterates as 'lits entura dyohka rolayan' (try saying it out loud), which is often heard being screeched loudly across the countryside accompanied by the ringing of ships bells. Ding dong!
Friday 1 January, 2010, 00:14 - Pirate/ClandestineRegulars to the pages of Wireless Waffle will realise that we have an inate (or should that be 'inert') fascination with short wave radio. And nothing is more mysterious and intriguing on short wave than the many spy broadcasts which usually take the form of a string of numbers or letters read out in a mechanical fashion by a pre-recorded male or female voice. A bit like the speaking clock for spooks.
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One of the most famous spy stations, the Lincolnshire Poacher (which was allegedly broadcast from Cyprus), ceased transmissions in 2008 and it rumour has it that its sister station, Cherry Ripe (latterly broadcast from Australia) also ceased transmissions towards the end of 2009. Which leaves fans of these funky but furtive broadcasts with a big hole in their social calendar (not that such fans had much of a social calendar to begin with).
But all is not lost. Thanks to the Conet project and web designer Kevan Davis fans can now enjoy:
* Number Station Bingo
This excellent game will keep you occupied (but not in the same way as the US forces in Iraq) for literally minutes. If you win, it is customary to shout 'Badabingo, green stick in the green hole' though for security reasons we obviously cannot explain why this is so.
Tuesday 20 October, 2009, 14:29 - Pirate/ClandestineA previous article on Wireless Waffle talked about the chances of a pirate radio station being caught focussing on VHF FM pirates. A later one focussed on short-wave pirates and discussed which frequencies to avoid in order to minimise getting the authorities' collective danders up.
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Over the past 12 months, both Premier Radio (who used 6265 kHz) and Laser Hot Hits (who used 4025 kHz) have had their transmitter sites raided. Bringing together the ethos of the two previous articles, it would make sense that in order for a raid to be worthwhile, even at short-wave, there would have likely been a complaint raised against the station concerned.
So we might, therefore, ask, "Who raised these complaints?" It seems unlikely that major international broadcasters such as the BBC World Service or China Radio International would be at all threatened by pirate operators taking their audience away or causing interference, especially as the frequencies being used by the pirates are not ones being used by an international broadcaster at the time, so there must be another source of complaints.
Across Europe (and indeed the world) there are a series of short-wave (HF) monitoring stations operated by the various national regulatory administrations who produce quarterly reports on their monitoring activities. The purpose of the monitoring and the associated reports is, on the one hand, to check on legitimate users of the HF spectrum, and on the other to identify use which is in contravention to the ITU's rules on spectrum usage. Where an administration identifies contravening transmissions, it can flag these in the reports and, according to the ITU document describing the reports, these will then be forwarded to the administration which is the source of the transmission.
Looking through these reports for the past 12 months (eg from October 2008 to September 2009), there are a number which relate to various short wave pirates. Specifically:
|Date||Time (UTC)||Freq (kHz)||Monitoring Station||Transmitter Location||Station*||Complaint|
|24 Oct 08||1700-2359||4024.57||Rambouillet, France||UK||Laser Hot Hits||Illegal use of frequency|
|25 Oct 08||0000-0600||4024.57||Rambouillet, France||UK||Laser Hot Hits||Illegal use of frequency|
|11 Nov 08||0000-0645||4024.58||Berlin, Germany||UK||Laser Hot Hits||None|
|5 Dec 08||0204-0400||4024.60||Tarnok, Hungary||Not Identified||Laser Hot Hits||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|4 Apr 09||1715-2400||4025.00||Berlin, Germany||UK||Laser Hot Hits||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|7 Nov 08||1837-2359||5800.00||Rambouillet, France||8E54 45N29 (Milan, Italy)||PLAYBACK INTL||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|12 Jul 09||0855-1000||5751.51||Rambouillet, France||1W31 51N15 (Andover, UK)||Best of British Radio||Illegal use of frequency|
|8 Nov 08||0000-0200||5800.00||Rambouillet, France||8E49 45N23 (Milan, Italy)||PLAYBACK INTL||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|10 Nov 08||2020-2100||5800.00||Tarnok, Hungary||Not Identified||Playback International||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|4 Jan 09||1249-1300||5801.00||Vienna, Austria||Italy||MILANO (Playback International)||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|24 Oct 08||2215-0000||5803.00||Baldock, UK||8E7 45N56 (Milan, Italy)||Playback International||None|
|12 Oct 08||0700-0830||5805.03||Tarnok, Hungary||Not Identified||Orion Radio||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|2 Dec 08||1642||6210.00||Baldock, UK||Belgium||RADIO BORDERHUNTER||SW Pirate|
|12 Apr 09||1345||6202.00||Baldock, UK||8E48 50N15 (Frankfurt, Germany)||Crazy Wave Radio||Non-Conformity RR.5|
|15 Feb 09||0949-1120||6219.99||Vienna, Austria||Italy||MYSTERY RADIO||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|15 Feb 09||1356-1429||6219.99||Vienna, Austria||Italy||PLAYBACK||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|12 Apr 09||1815||6220.00||Baldock, UK||10E0 43N50 (Italy)||MYSTERY RADIO||Non-Conformity RR.5|
|9 May 09||1855-1921||6220.00||Vienna, Austria||Italy||MYSTERY RADIO||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|11 Jul 09||1935-2300||6220.00||El Casar, Egypt||11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy)||Mystery Radio||None|
|31 Jul 09||0000-0030||6220.00||Klagenfurt, Austria||Pisa, Italy||Mystery Radio||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|6 Jan 09||0105||6240.00||Baldock, UK||Netherlands||UNDERGROUND RADIO||Illicit|
|17 Feb 09||1654||6240.00||Baldock, UK||Netherlands||UNDERGROUND RADIO||Illicit|
|5 Jun 09||2340||6420.25||Baldock, UK||4E46 51N38 (Breda, Netherlands)||Casanova or Dutchwing?||Pirate Station|
|7 Feb 09||1657||6870.00||Baldock, UK||12E20 42N41 (Terni, Italy)||Playback International||Non-Conformity RR.5|
|30 Apr 09||1639||6870.00||Baldock, UK||12E20 42N41 (Terni, Italy)||Playback International||Non-Conformity RR.5|
|8 Feb 09||0857-0933||6870.00||Vienna, Austria||9E38 45N41 (Bergamo, Italy)||PLAYBACK||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|22 Mar 09||0956-1429||6870.00||Vienna, Austria||Italy||PLAYBACK||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|3 May 09||0845-0940||6870.00||Vienna, Austria||Italy||PLAYBACK||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|4 July 09||2001-2017||6870.00||Vienna, Austria||Italy||PLAYBACK||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|12 Jul 09||0430-2200||6870.00||Tarnok, Hungary||USA (!)||PLAYBACK INT. RADIO||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|14 Feb 09||1425-1443||6878.00||Vienna, Austria||Italy||PLAYBACK||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|21 Feb 09||0700-2040||6880.00||Rambouillet, France||9E54 44N42 (Genova, Italy)||Playback International||Illegal use of frequency|
|22 Feb 09||0630-0700||6880.00||Rambouillet, France||11E33 44N21 (Bologna, Italy)||Playback International||Illegal use of frequency|
|4 Oct 08||2000-2100||6925.00||Rambouillet, France||20E32 39N4 (Greece)||Spider Radio||Illegal use of frequency|
|26 Jul 09||0000-1700||7550.00||Tarnok, Hungary||Italy||Radio Amica||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|29 Aug 09||0620-0700||7550.00||El Casar, Egypt||Italy||Radio Amica||None|
|29 Aug 09||0600-0630||7550.00||Klagenfurt, Austria||Italy||Radio Amica||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
|18 Feb 09||1218-1220||9385.00||CRMO, South Korea||Ireland||LASER HOT HITS||Illegal use of frequency|
|19 Feb 09||1606-1607||9385.00||CRMO, South Korea||Not Identified||Laser Hot Hits||Illegal use of frequency|
|28 Feb 09||1130-1300||9385.00||Tarnok, Hungary||Not Identified||Laser Hot Hits||Broadcast in non broadcast band|
* Where the station was identified in the monitoring report, it is shown in CAPITALS.
Where no name was given, it has been identified and added in by searching through various on-line logs from the date concerned.
In addition to the above there are one or two other unidentified broadcasts on typical pirate frequencies (eg 6447 kHz on 21 August 2009) but there does not seem to be any indication of who they might be (nor do logs help with this).
Clearly there has been a lot of monitoring of Laser Hot Hits going on by various administrations (Laser may be impressed that they were heard in South Korea!) Similarly Mystery Radio and Playback International have also been heavily monitored though the grid references given for their locations seems to vary quite a lot. These stations operate over long periods, usually at weekends but outside these times too, so it is perhaps not surprising that they have been 'caught'. A more interesting question might be why other stations have been monitored. Was it a chance happening by the administration concerned, or are the frequencies they are using of particular interest to that country?
There are many more questions that these logs raise: How many 'complaints' are necessary before action is taken? Are the locations produced sufficiently accurate to find the transmitters or are other methods necessary? Do the various monitoring stations co-operate to improve the accuracy of locations? Is there a competition between stations and administrations to show how 'bad' their neighbours are being (eg UK complaining about France and France complaining about UK). And perhaps, most importantly, how come Mystery and Playback are still on air?!