Electronic burst encoder - USSR
The R-014D is a fully electronic burst transmitter,
developed in the USSR
around 1979. It was used during the Cold War by Special Forces (SF) in
conflict areas such as Afganistan, and allowed pre-coded numerical messages
to be transmitted at high speed.
The device was sometimes used in communications
vehicles, often as part of an R-142 radio station.
It is also known as Datchik.
The R-014D is a fully self-contained device. It can be powered
by an external 4.8V DC source, such as the TE-20 PSU,
but also from the built-in battery pack. The device is
connected directly to the morse key input of a radio station
(e.g. R-142) and transmits its data at 75 or 150 baud.
The image on the right shows a typical R-014D. At the front
is the keyboard that consists of 16 rubber keys. The dark
rectangle at the centre is the lamp panel that is used when
entering data. Behind this panel is the battery compartment.
The input power supply should never exceed 5V.
Despite the size and weight of the Datchik, the device can
store just 62 characters in its internal memory. This means
that messages can never be longer that 62 characters. Although
this might seem a serious limitation, in practice it was sufficient
for pre-coded messages, for which often a simple matrix table
was used. An example of such a Slidex-style message table is
Like most Russian devices of the same era, the front panel of
the D-014D is painted in grey hammerite. The case however, has
the typical Russian military yellow/green colour, indicating
that the device was also used stand-alone in the field. It was
used, for example, by Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz )
in Afganistan during the Soviet war in Afganistan (1979-1989) .
Installing and operating the R-014D is pretty straightforward.
Power source and transmitter are connected to the sockets at
the right. The device is switched on with the black switch at
the bottom right marked ПИТАНИЕ. At the bottom left
is a 4-position rotary switch marked РЕЖИМ which is
used to select the desired mode of operation. The leftmost two
positions are used for selecting 75 baud, whilst the rightmost
two position select a transmission speed of 150 baud.
The settings '1' and '2' are used to select the appropriate
interface for the radio station in use.
Above the MODE selector is another rotary switch,
marked КОНТРОЛЬ (kontrol), that is used
in combination with the meter above for checking the internal
voltages of the device.
The lamp panel, located at the center of the device, consists
of 12 lamps, marked 0-9, П and K.
When entering a message, the lamps indicate which number
is pressed. Lamp П indicates that the space key is
pressed. When finishing a message (pressing the КЦ
key) lamp K should light up.
The keyboard is fully waterproof and consists of 16 keys
with rubber key tops. On each key top the corresponding
number or letter is embossed. In the dark however, it might be
difficult to read the embossed characters, which is why
it is shown with white lettering in the drawing below.
- Set the mode switch РЕЖИМ to the correct position
- Press У followed by the data (numbers 0-9), 62 characters max.
- Use П to insert spaces wherever necessary (e.g. after each group)
- Press КЦ to terminate the message (if less than 62 characters are used)
- Press У + ПР to check the input (optional)
- Press У + ПЗ to send a synchronize command
- Press У + ПИ to send the message
As the Datchik can hold just 62 characters in its internal memory,
it was necessary to simplify any messages and use a so-called
message table to replace frequently used words and phrases
by numbers. Such tables generally consisted of 100 cells, divided
over 10 rows and 10 columns.
Each cell contained a number, a letter, a word and/or a phrase.
Along the sides of the table, the rows and columns were numbered
(0-9) in a random order as per daily security instructions.
The image on the right shows an example of such a message table
that was issued by the East-German Army (NVA) during the Cold War.
It was used in combination with the R-014D.
The table was called Parolen und Gesprächstabellen
(expressions and conversation table).
Various tables were used (commonly indicated as 'series')
and commands were provided to switch from one table to another
from within the message.
When creating a message, the operator wrote down the row
and column number of the selected cells. Once the message
was complete, it was intered into the Datchik and transmitted
at hight speed (75 or 150 baud).
At the receiving end, the operator would simply lookup the
original text from the individual row and column numbers.
This system of using a message table to convert text into
a series of numbers or letters is similar to the well-known
Slidex system that was used by the British Armed forces
and by others. It was invented during WWII, around 1943, more or less
simultaneously by the British and the Russians.
Systems like these are not very safe, but are generally
sufficient for short-term tactical messages.
During the Cold War, most countries of the Warsaw Pact used a
variety of Russian communication vehicles and radio stations.
To allow communication in the vicinity of the vehicle (short
range) as well as over greater distances (long range), such
radio stations were often equiped with HF, VHF and sometimes
even UHF transceivers. They were commonly built inside trucks
like the GAZ-66.
One popular radio station was the R-142. It consisted of a
large metal frame with a variety of transceivers, control
panels, intercom systems, amplifiers and switch boxes. It
could be used stand-alone as a base station, but was often
built inside a shelter mounted on a GAZ-66.
The image on the right shows a typical GAZ-66 truck with a
communications shelter on its back, as seen from the rear.
The open door at the right is the entrance to the radio
shack. Inside this compartment is the R-142 radio station
with a number of secret devices as discussed below.
The open door at the rear is the entrance to the commander's
cabin. Inside this compartment is a table with chairs at
both sides. The commander can operate the radio set in the
other room from a remote control set mounted above this table.
To the left of the door is a power generator.
Two foldable window antennas are mounted at the roof of
the shelter. They are used for HF communication. A retractable
mast with the VHF antennas is mounted behind the door of the
radio shack. Furthermore, a selection of rod antennas and
wire antennas can be mounted to the shelter. Some can be
used whilst driving.
The image on the right shows a typical R-142 radio station
at it was built inside a GAZ-66 communications vehicle.
Various radio sets are visible in this picture. The sloped
device at the bottom center is the operator's control panel.
The empty space to the left of the control panel is reserved
for the M-125 (Fialka)
cipher machine. To the right of the
control panel, the R-014D is just visible. It is shown here
with its top cover present.
The radio station can be controlled from four different
places: from within the radio shack, from the commander's
cabin (twice) and finally from the driver's seat (even whilst driving).
Frequencies and cryptographic
keys can only be controlled from the radio shack.
The image above shows a block diagram of the R-142 radio
station as it was mounted inside the GAZ-66. Click the image
to view the block diagram in full resolution.
The R-142 radio station had space for three secret devices
that are highlighted in yellow in the drawing above:
the M-125 wheel-based cipher
the T-219 voice encryption device (Jachta)
and the R-014D burst transmitter (Datchik)
described on this page.
The latter is at the top of the diagram. It is connected
to the R-130 HF transceiver. The 4.8V voltage is supplied
by the existing TE-20 PSU.
The image above shows the position of the various components
inside the GAZ-66 truck. The blue-coloured section is the
R-142 radio set. The various pink-coloured units are the
remote control panels. Note that the command post has two
control panels plus a recording device.
Compared to other burst encoders of the same era, the
R-014D is rather large and heavy. It was the first fully
electronic burst encoder developed by the former USSR
and it shows the state-of-technology in Russia in 1975.
In this respect, one should bare in mind that western
technology wasn't available to the Russians at the time.
Heavy use is made of first generation of Russian ICs.
The unit can be opened by loosening the 12 bolts at the edges
of the front panel. Note that two of these bolts might be
sealed with black or red wax. If the wax is still present,
the case has not been opened after the device was released.
Once the bolts have been loosened, the entire interior can
be extracted from the case by lifting the front panel.
Despite the fact that the R-014D can hold only 62 characters
in its memory, it contains a surprisingly large number of parts.
About one-third of the volume is taken by the
The rest is for the PCBs.
The circuitry is build around a large number of first-generation
Russian Integrated Circuits (ICs) that are spread over 12
small PCBs. The PCBs are all mounted in a six-layer hinged
assembly. Despite its complexity, the R-014D is very service-friendly.
After removing the 8 long bolts that hold the PCBs together,
the stack of boards can be
'browsed' like the pages of a book.
- Power supply: 4.8V DC +10/-15%
- Power consumption: 1.5A (receive), 2.1A (transmit) at 4.8V DC
- Memory: 62 characters
- Clock speed: 120 kHz
- Output amplitude: 5V (into 1KOhm), 10V (into 5 KOhm)
- Wikipedia, Spetsnaz
Russian Special Forces. Retrieved October 2013.
- Wikipedia, Soviet war in Afganistan
Retrieved October 2013.
- Datchik R-014D Technical Documentation, part 1
2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian).
- Datchik R-014D Technical Description, part 2
2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian).
- Datchik R-014D, Operating Instructions
2.016.005. Part 2. 1975 (Russian).
- Datchik R-014D, Delivery form, serial number 008776
2.016.500 - Part 3. Printed 1975. Issued 1 January 1980.
Any links shown in red are currently unavailable.
If you like this website, why not make a donation?|
© Copyright 2009-2013, Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons. Last changed: Wednesday, 29 January 2014 - 11:39 CET