Friday, 2 January 2015

UVB-76 - The Buzzer

The Buzzer

Current Buzzer Site
MDZhB, UVB-76 The Buzzer Transmission Site
Name: The Buzzer („Жужжалка”)
Callsign: MDZhB
Former Names: UVB-76, UZB-76
Country of Origin: Russia
Voice Summary: Male/Female live voice
Frequency: 4625 kHz
Mode: AM with suppressed LSB, voice messages can be in USB, or LSB
Counterpart Stations: The Squeaky Wheel, The Pip

Station Summary

This Station was first spotted in the late 70's and is known for its constant buzzing (1.25s buzzing, then 1.85s pause). The buzzing tone acts as a channel marker to keep the frequency always in use for emergencies, and it can also be used for propagation measurements. The Buzzer used to have the ENIGMA ID S28 although it is not a numbers station and also had the Noise ID XB.[1]
During the years of activity the callsign has been changed. It was known first as UVB-76 although incorrectly as it was UZB-76 (УЗБ-76) as noted in recordings.[8] In 2010 it changed its callsign to MDZhB (МДЖБ).
The sound of the buzzer today has changed much since it was first discovered.  At one point The Buzzer used to change to a continuous buzz one minute before the hour, and until November 2010, The Buzzer's tone lasted longer (about 0.8 seconds).

The station works as a communications center within the Western Military District that sends messages to corresponding military units and their outposts.  The buzzer transmits continuously through the day, however due to the propagation issues in Western Europe and especially in Northern America, it is problematic to receive during daylight time.
To see a detailed description of how this station changed over time, see this video from the series "From The Conet Project to Today".  "UVB-76 The Buzzer Report" is a good informative article that includes messages and transcriptions from 2014.

Voice Messages
Sometimes the marker drops and a live voice message is read. The usual voice message format is [Callsign] 58 151 [Codeword] 39 51 65 78 The callsign and the Codeword is spelled out in Russian phonetic alphabet.
The specific format that the buzzer sends messages in is known in Russian military terminology as the monolyth (монолит) messages. They are scrambled messages sent live between the radio communication headquarters and subordinate military unit. The purpose for these messages varies between testing the readiness of the unit, training, issuing warning messages and call for mobilization.
In theory the codebook lies in a sealed envelope in a special safe with instructions. For different communication centers have different callsigns, codes and instructions for each military branch. The Russian intelligence agencies FSB, GRU and SVR don’t use such a system, instead it uses only numbers.
See this page for recorded samples, includes primary formats and special messages.
Monolyths are constantly changing, the same monolyth could mean a different thing over time. It’s not a coded message but an order for instance the BROMAL – first recorded message could mean either full combat readiness or full withdrawal.
Messages with more than one codeword are sometimes observed and messages with no end numbers after the codeword are rarely spotted.  There has been observations of radio operator sending message incorrectly and then says “sboj” (error) that proves the message is read live.


Current Location
It's known, judged by radio observation that at least two transmitter sites exist. One is confirmed to be at 60°18'40.1"N 30°16'40.5"E where It sends radio relay and phone lines directly from Moscow via St. Petersburg's command hub on Palace Square.

The other is claimed to be located at Naro-Fominsk, Moscow district at 55°25'35"N 36°42'33"E where the 69th communications center is located,[3] that serves as the main staff headquarters of the Western Military district in Moscow.

The Buzzer site in St. Petersburg
The Buzzer Site (different view)
Possible second buzzer site
Someone walking into The Buzzer site
Main Control Building
Larger view with the gate in sight
The Russian Military Districts

Former Location

The first known location of UZB-76 was Povarovo in the Moscow district at 56°5′0″N 37°6′37″E [3] However, since 2010 the site has been abandoned possibly due to the 2010 Russian military reform that combined the Leningrad military district and the Moscow military district into one Western military district.  A sample logbook left behind during the move shows the daily work schedule of the UVB-76 station in 2005. [Radio Scanner...]
1.)        "ENIGMA Control List." ENIGMA Control List 25 (n.d.): 25. ENIGMA 2000. The European
                     Numbers Information Gathering & Monitoring Association, Feb. 2011.
                     Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

2.)        Geere, Duncan. "Mysterious Russian 'Buzzer' Radio Broadcast Changes (Wired UK)."
                     Wired UK. Condé Nast UK, 25 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

3.)        G, Maris. "UVB-76 The Buzzer 2014 New Facts and Discoveries." Shortwave Radio World.
                     N.p., 1 July 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

4.)        Handler, Stephen (December 2013). "Is Russia’s Buzzer a Doorbell to Doomsday?". Popular
(CQ Communications, Inc) 32 (4): 31–33. Web.

5.)        Savodnik, Peter. "Enigma: The Mystery of Russia's UVB-76 Radio Transmissions Explored
                     (Wired UK)." Wired UK. Condé Nast UK, 8 Oct. 11. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

6.)        Savodnik, Peter. "Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma." Wired. Conde Nast Digital,
                     27 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.

7.)        "The Buzzer." ENIGMA Newsletter 5 (1993): 25 - 26. Print.
8.)        "Things That Go Buzz In The Night." ENIGMA Newsletter 15 (July 1998): 34-35. Print.
For More Info
From The Conet Project to Today
Wikipedia: UVB-76
UVB-76 The Buzzer Report 2014