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Digital Burst Encoder (USSR)

The DKM-S is a digital burst encoder that was developed and build in the USSR (Russia) around 1993, approx. four years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991). It was intended for use in combination with the Severok-K spy radio set, but could also be used stand-alone and with other espionage and Special Forces (SF) radios.

The image on the right shows a typical DKM-S burst encoder as it was supplied with the Severok-K radio station. It is a small fully self-contained device that measures just 7.5 x 3.5 x 13.5 cm and is housed in a lightweight grey hammerite aluminium case. Input is via a 16-button keypad at the front panel and output via the 5-digit 7-segment LED display just above it.

The DKM-S is connected to the transmitter via a 10-way cable that is connected to one of the sockets at the top. The other socket is for connection of a microphone (when available).
DKM-S burst encoder

Both sockets are wired in parallel, so that the DKM-S can be inserted in an existing microphone line. The pinout of the two sockets is identical to the wiring of the microphone socket of the Severok-K radio, allowing a 1-to-1 cable to be used in this case. The text on the body of the DKM-S is not in Russian but in English. This was done for two reasons: (1) to pretend it was a British or US device in case of a capture in a western country and (2) to allow it to be used in and by non-Russian speaking countries (e.g. the former Warsaw-Pact countries, Europe and Cuba).

The DKM-S is powered by a single 9V block battery that is located behind a small lid at the back of the unit. The lid can be shifted aside, giving access to a rather primitive 9V battery holder. The battery is also used for retaining any messages stored in the device's memory when switched off.

DKM-S burst encoder DKM-S burst encoder connected to a radio Closing the battery compartment Placing a standard 9V battery MODE buttons at the left (black) Operating the DKM-S Burst encoder in operation Connections for radio and microphone
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DKM-S burst encoder
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DKM-S burst encoder connected to a radio
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Closing the battery compartment
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Placing a standard 9V battery
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MODE buttons at the left (black)
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Operating the DKM-S
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Burst encoder in operation
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Connections for radio and microphone

Operation of the DKM-S is pretty straightforward and is similar to operating the built-in burst encoder of the R-394KM radio station. The column of black keys at the left is used to select the current MODE of operation. The first key (STO) is used for storing the messages, which are entered in groups of 5 (numerical) digits each. Once stored, a message can be recalled by pressing (RCL). It can then be transmitted by pressing (START). This takes the transmitter 'on air' and sends the message as a short burst, after which the transmitter is turned off again.

In case of an emergency, it is also possible to send messages directly without storing them in memory first and without any knowledge of the morse code alphabet. After pressing the (MAN) button, andy of the yellow keys can be used to send the corresponding number in morse code.

  1. Crypto Museum, Severok-K radio station
    Investigation at Crypto Museum, January 2011.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Saturday 29 December 2012. Last changed: Thursday, 29 June 2017 - 19:22 CET.
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