I read this account Pavel posted on the Spooks reflector and asked if he would share his story on the SWLing Post. He kindly agreed.
“Inspired by a recent thread about a vintage number station, I searched my old tapes (I really [have a] LOT of them, hundreds of reels, mostly with music, but sometimes with other interesting things) and finally found a short snippet of a German number station transmission. There is neither a start nor end of the transmission, just a few 5-digit groups. It was recorded sometime between 1977 – 1980, at my cottage near Ceska Lipa, Czech Republic (but it was Czechoslovak Socialistic Republic [then]).
Reception was made on a Czechoslovak tube receiver “Barcarola” on a shortwave band with classic AM (of course this receiver was not capable of SSB or any other advanced modes) using a random wire (about 10 m) antenna.
A recording was made on the B400 Czechoslovak tape recorder using a Scotch 220 magnetic tape (exactly the one which is in the picture), speed 9.53 cm/s. Import to the digital domain was performed using the Audacity open source sound recording and processing software, without any artificial filtering or other DSP techniques.
As you can hear, it was perfect, clear readability:
I know that because the recording is incomplete, it has just a low value as such, but maybe it can at least demonstrate, which kind of equipment was obvious at this time and that it was possible to use it for activities like SW listening and number station (at least the strong ones) monitoring.
I’m curious whether somebody will identify the station.
What really amazes me is the fidelity of Pavel’s recording. Though the transmitter might have been relatively local, there is certainly something to be said for analog equipment–both Pavel’s Barcarola receiver and his B400 recorder.
I actually collect and maintain more tube receivers than solid state. While their sensitivity and selectivity isn’t always on par with modern receivers, their warm audio fidelity makes up for it.
If you can identify Pavel’s numbers station recording, please comment.