|Broadcast area||Russia, Soviet Union (Former)|
|Frequency||4625 kHz Shortwave|
|Format||Repeated buzzing sound|
|Owner||Russian Armed Forces|
|The Pip, The Squeaky Wheel|
First air date
Former call signs
|УВБ-76, МДЖБ, ЖУОЗ, АНВФ|
A short clip of UVB-76's transmission as heard in Southern Finland, 860 km (530 mi) away from the station in 2002.
UVB-76 (Russian: УВБ-76; see other callsigns), also known by the nickname "The Buzzer", is a shortwave radio station that broadcasts on the frequency of 4625 kHz. It broadcasts a short, monotonous buzz tone (help·info), repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute, 24 hours per day. Sometimes, the buzzer signal is interrupted and a voice transmission in Russian takes place. The start date of broadcasting is disputed. However, it was allegedly reported to have started broadcasting in the late 1970s, possibly 1976.
Name and callsigns
The station is commonly known as "The Buzzer" in both English and Russian (Russian: Жужжалка). From the start of broadcasting, the station identified itself as UYB-76 (Russian: УЫБ-76). From at least 1997 to 2010, the station identified itself as UZB-76 (Russian: УЗБ-76). The callsign UVB-76 was never used by the station itself, but is rather a mistranscription of UZB-76. However, the station is still often referred to by that name. In the following years of transmission, the main callsign of the station changed regularly.
|UZB-76 (УЗБ-76)||1997 – 7 September 2010|
|MDZhB (МДЖБ)||7 September 2010 – 28 December 2015|
|ZhUOZ (ЖУОЗ)||28 December 2015 – 1 March 2019|
|ANVF (АНВФ)||1 March 2019 – 30 December 2020|
|NZhTI (НЖТИ)||30 December 2020 – present|
In addition to these main callsigns, The Buzzer also uses other "side callsigns" which are being used less frequently than the main callsign. Whenever the main callsign changes, all previous side callsigns are also discarded. Instead of being limited to one single callsign, any amount of callsigns can be used in a message.
The station transmits using AM with a suppressed lower sideband (USB modulation), but it has also used full double-sideband AM (A3E). The signal consists of a buzzing sound that lasts 1.2 seconds, pausing for 1–1.3 seconds, and repeating 21–34 times per minute. Until November 2010, the buzz tones lasted approximately 0.8 seconds each. One minute before the hour, the repeating tone was previously replaced by a continuous, uninterrupted alternating tone, which continued for one minute until the short repeating buzz resumed, although this stopped occurring in June 2010.
Since the start of broadcasting, The Buzzer broadcast as a repeating two-second pip, changing to a buzzer in the late 1980s/early 1990s. It briefly changed to a higher tone of longer duration (approximately 20 tones per minute) on 16 January 2003, but has since reverted to the previous tone pattern. These buzzes have gotten longer in duration and deeper in pitch over time, and breakdowns have been more frequent, suggesting the possibility of the buzzes being mechanically generated.
A message in the Monolith format always consists of the following parts:
- Callsigns, each of which read out twice in the readout. A callsign always consists of four symbols, each symbol being either a Russian letter or a digit
- Five digit ID groups (amount of items usually follows the amount of callsigns)
- Message blocks, each consisting of one code word and eight digits
Example of a Monolith message sent on The Buzzer with exactly one callsign, one ID group and one message block (most common type):
NZhTI NZhTI 34 511 GOLOSOK 80 17 81 54
Monolith messages can however contain any amount of items from each part:
87OI 87OI A1JZh A1JZh 217O 217O DOTsU DOTsU MSZh7 MSZh7 02 189 44 871 71 132 13 155 27 420 VYMOKAN'Ye 18 97 35 87
87OI 87OI 25 184 GOLOVChATYJ 31 10 33 40 VYeKShA 31 10 33 40
A message in the Uzor format always consists of the following parts:
- Callsigns, each of which read out twice in the readout
- Message blocks, each consisting of one code word and four digits
Example of such a message:
MDZhB MDZhB TsYeNTIM 61 51
Nowadays, Uzor messages are rarely sent on The Buzzer.
Komanda is the most uncommon type of voice message. Since it has not been heard for years, messages of this type are most likely not being sent on The Buzzer anymore. They consist of a callsign (read out twice), ОБЪЯВЛЕНА КОМАНДА (English: OB'YaVLYeNA KOMANDA), and a following number.
Example of such a message:
MDZhB MDZhB OB'YaVLYeNA KOMANDA 135
Distant conversations and other background noises have frequently been heard behind the buzzer, suggesting that the buzzing tones are not generated internally, but are transmitted from a device placed behind a live and constantly open microphone. Because of the occasional fluctuating pitch of the buzzing tones, it is supposed that the tones are generated by a tonewheel as used in a Hammond organ. It is also possible that a microphone may have been turned on accidentally. One such occasion was on 3 November 2001, when a conversation in Russian was heard:
Я – 143. Не получаю генератор... идёт такая работа от аппаратной. (English: I am 143. Not receiving the generator [oscillator]... that stuff comes from hardware room.)
On 11 November 2010, intermittent phone conversations were transmitted and were recorded by a listener (at 14:00 UTC) for a period of approximately 30 minutes. These conversations are available online, and seem to be in Russian. The phone calls mentioned the "brigade operative officer on duty", the communication codes "Debut", "Nadezhda" (Russian for "hope", both a noun and a female name), "Sudak" (an alternate name for the Zander, and also a town in Crimea) and "Vulkan" (volcano). The buzzing tone can also be heard very faintly in the background of these calls, further suggesting the buzzing is generated externally. The female voice says:
Офицер дежурного узла связи "Дебют", прапорщик Успенская. Получила контрольный звонок от Надежды... поняла. (English: "Officer of the duty station 'Debut', ensign Uspenskaya. Received a test call from Nadezhda... understood.")
In January 2022, various signals with spectrogram-encoded images, visible through a spectrum analyzer, were broadcast on the same frequency. There have also been reports of various songs, airing on the station's frequency, many of which were connected to internet memes such as the 2012 K-pop song "Gangnam Style", a Vice article attributed these broadcasts to pirates hijacking and spamming the frequency. The nationality of the pirates has also come into question by Vice in relation to the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis.
Location and function
This section possibly contains original research. (January 2022)
The purpose of the station has not been confirmed by government or broadcast officials. However, Rimantas Pleikys, a former Minister of Communications and Informatics of the Republic of Lithuania, has written that the purpose of the voice messages is to confirm that operators at receiving stations are alert. Other explanations are that the broadcast is constantly being listened to by military commissariats.
There is speculation published in the Russian Journal of Earth Sciences which describes an observatory measuring changes in the ionosphere by broadcasting a signal at 4625 kHz, the same as the Buzzer.
The most likely purpose is that the voice messages are some sort of Russian/Soviet military communications. The station being a numbers station for intelligence agencies such as the FSB or the former KGB of the Soviet Union is extremely unlikely as messages occur at seemingly random, unpredictable times, while numbers stations use a fixed schedule which changes rarely. In addition to that, the non-changing frequency of 4625 kHz and the low transmitter power are unsuitable for reliable communication from Russia to Europe, where spies would be stationed.[original research?]
The buzzing functions as a "channel marker" used to keep the frequency occupied, thereby making it unattractive for other potential users. The signature sound could be used for tuning to the signal on an old analogue receiver. The modulation is suitable to be detected by an electromechanical frequency detector, similar to a tuning fork. This can be used to activate the squelch on a receiver. Due to the varying emission properties on shortwave bands, using a level-based squelch is unreliable. This also allows a signal loss to be detected, causing an alarm to sound on the receiver.
Another theory, described in a BBC article, states that the tower is connected to the Russian 'Perimeter' missile system, and emits a “Dead Hand” signal that will trigger a nuclear retaliatory response if the signal is interrupted as a result of a nuclear attack against Russia. This theory is also very unlikely, due to The Buzzer stopping / breaking down regularly, potentially triggering the Dead Hand by mistake.
There are two other Russian stations that follow a similar format, nicknamed "The Pip" and "The Squeaky Wheel". Like the Buzzer, these stations transmit a signature sound that is repeated constantly, but is occasionally interrupted to relay coded voice messages.
The former transmitter was located near Povarovo, Russia, at which is about halfway between Zelenograd and Solnechnogorsk and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northwest of Moscow, near the village of Lozhki. The location and callsign were unknown until the first known voice broadcast of 1997. In September 2010, the station's transmitter was moved to the nearby city of Saint Petersburg, near the village of Kerro Massiv. This may have been due to a reorganization of the Russian military. Prior to 9 August 2015, the station is not transmitted from the Kerro Massiv transmitter site ("Irtysh") anymore, possibly due to a reorganization of the Russian military for the particular area which may cause the frequency to be used only in the Moscow Military District. At present, The Buzzer appears to be broadcast only from the 69th Communication Hub in Naro Fominsk, Moscow. In 2011, a group of urban explorers claimed to have explored the buildings at Povarovo to find an abandoned military base and, in it, a radio log record confirming the operation of a transmitter at 4625 kHz.[better source needed]
Besides the main callsign, there have been transmissions containing different callsigns such as:
- LNR4 (Russian: ЛНР4)
- 87OI (Russian: 87ОИ)
- VM62 (Russian: ВМ62)
- A1JZh (Russian: А1ЙЖ)
- MSZh7 (Russian: МСЖ7)
- OMP4 (Russian: ОМП4)
- 7U8T (Russian: 7У8Т)
- VLHN (Russian: ВЛХН)
- 217O (Russian: 217О)
- ANVF (Russian: АНВФ)
- VZhCH (Russian: ВЖЦХ)
- LNRCh (Russian: ЛНРЧ)
- VShchCH (Russian: ВЩЦХ)
- 34ShchK (Russian: 34ЩК)
- YeDGShch (Russian: ЕДГЩ)
- 58Shch1 (Russian: 58Щ1)
- LNR4 (Russian: ЛНР4)
- 5Ye27 (Russian: 5Е27)
- M4Z2 (Russian: М7З2)
- 'M4T (Russian: ЬМ4Т)
- 5PTsB (Russian: 5ПЦБ)
- LNTM (Russian: ЛНТМ)
- ZhD9S (Russian: ЖД9С)
- 28YA (Russian: 28ЫА)
- KhIZhJ (Russian: ХИЖЙ)
- 53AJ (Russian: 53АЙ)
- AMVS (Russian: АМВС)
- V'TD (Russian: ВЬТД)
- YeIYJ (Russian: ЕИЫЙ)
- "The Buzzer". October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "The Buzzer › Priyom.org". priyom.org. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
- Savodnik, Peter (27 September 2011). "Inside the Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma". Wired. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- McLellan, Allison (November 2019). "Decoding Numbers Stations". QST. American Radio Relay League. 103 (11): 70–73 – via ProQuest.
Perhaps the best-known is the Russian UVB-76, a misheard version of its first call sign, UZB-76. Transmitting on 4625 kHz, it was first noticed around the 1970s, earning the nickname 'the Buzzer' because of its 24-hour droning hum.
- "The Buzzer Primer" (PDF). Priyom.org. 25 March 2012. p. 1.
- Harris, Shane (6 March 2016). "The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode". The Daily Beast. The Newsweek–Daily Beast Company – via ProQuest.
For most of its existence, which has been traced back to an original airdate in 1976, it has transmitted a short, high-pitched buzz, every few seconds.
- Gorvett, Zaria (15 July 2020). "The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run". BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- UVB-76 MDZhB [24.12.1997] [21:58 UTC] (180 08 BROMAL 74 27 99 14), archived from the original on 17 December 2021, retrieved 20 October 2021
- "UVB-76 MDZhB [23.08.2010] [13:35] (93 882 NAIMINA 74 14 35 74)". 5 July 2014. Archived from the original on 17 December 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- Boender, Ary (January 2002). "Oddities". ENIGMA 2000 Newsletter – Issue 8. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "Russian HF Beacons". 24 December 2000. Archived from the original on 7 September 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "UVB". Youtube. 2 August 1976. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
- Boender, Ary (1995). "Numbers & oddities: Column 1". Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- "El misterio de las emisiones de radio secretas". ABC (in Spanish). 26 August 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- Turnbull, Alex (21 July 2009). ""The Buzzer" (UVB-76)". Googlesightseeing.com. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- The Buzzer/UVB-76(4625Khz) February 3, 2021 15:25UTC Voice message, archived from the original on 17 December 2021, retrieved 20 October 2021
- UVB-76/The Buzzer(4625Khz) 11th December 2019 Message #10 9:51UTC, archived from the original on 17 December 2021, retrieved 20 October 2021
- The Buzzer/UVB-76(4625Khz) Feb. 6th 2020 12:16UTC Voice message #6, archived from the original on 17 December 2021, retrieved 20 October 2021
- UVB-76 MDZhB [26.01.2015] [05:59] (CENTIM 61 51), archived from the original on 17 December 2021, retrieved 20 October 2021
- UVB-76 MDZhB [25.01.2013] [02:58] (OB'YaVLENA KOMANDA 135), archived from the original on 17 December 2021, retrieved 20 October 2021
- "Mysteriózní rádio už 30 let vysílá záhadný signál a teď i tajnou šifru", Technet.cz, August 27, 2010 (English)
- "The Unexplained Signals Of Russian Station UVB-76". Gizmodo Australia. 18 July 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- "UVB-76 MDZhB [02.09.2010] Swan Lake". YouTube. UVB-76 Activity Channel. Archived from the original on 17 December 2021.
- "UVB-76 2010-11-11 14.00 UTC". Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- "Translation by a Reddit user". Retrieved 3 August 2014.
- "Recording of the phone calls on UVB76". Soundcloud. 11 November 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "The Buzzer has changed sound?". reddit.
- "UVB-76 (The Buzzer) appears to be sending out a RTTY-like signal right now. Anyone care to decode it?". reddit.
- "UVB76 with RTTY". Archived from the original on 17 December 2021. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- JuEdWa (12 January 2022). Possible pirate on top of UVB-76 The Buzzer! - January / 11 / 2022 (RARE!). Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- Rose, Janus; Cox, Joseph (20 January 2022). "Pirates Spammed an Infamous Soviet Short-wave Radio Station with Memes". www.vice.com. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
- mussyu226 (16 January 2022). UVB-76でカンナムスタイル流れてて笑うwww. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
- "Single letter markers – posts from the SPOOKS and WUN listservers". 2000. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2008.
- Pleikys, Rimantas (1998). Jamming. Vilnius, Lithuania: Rimantas Pleikys.
- "Военная "Жужжалка" на частоте 4625 кГц. "Buzzer" UVB-76. – Страница 4". Radioscanner.ru. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Information-measuring complex and database of mid-latitude Borok Geophysical Observatory". 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
- Geere, Duncan (August 2010). "Mysterious Russian 'Buzzer' radio broadcast changes". WIRED.CO.UK. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
- "El misterioso zumbido de la estación de radio UVB-76" [The mysterious buzz of the UVB-76 radio station]. El Reservado (in Spanish). January 24, 2011. Archived from the original on January 27, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
- wasd. "kwasd's blog " Небольшой фотоотчет с УВБ-76 ("The Buzzer", "Жужжалка")". Blog.kwasd.ru. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Sample Buzzer Logbook" (PDF). 22 September 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to UVB-76.|
- History and Info on The Buzzer
- NPR's Lost and Found Sound, 2000-05-26: The Shortwave Numbers Mystery
- UVB76 at the Global Frequency Database
- UVB-76 Temporary Internet Relay – Live Internet Streaming site, 900 km NW from station.
- UVB-76 Activity Updates
- Wired.co.uk 2011 article
Live stream from WebSDR