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R-014D   Datchik
Electronic burst encoder - USSR

R-014D, codenamed Datchik (Датчик), is an electronic burst transmitter, developed in the USSR around 1979. It was used by USSR Special Forces (SF) during the Cold War in conflict areas like Afghanistan. It allows battlefield commands to be transmitted in morse code at very high speed, in order to evade interception and radio direction finding. Because of the importance of the data that was sent, the device provides advanced error-detection and error-correction. The R-014D was also used as part of the R-142 radio station, commonly installed in communications vehicles.

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 transmitter, such as the R-130, and transmits data at 75 or 150 bps.

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.
R-014D (Datchik)

Like most Russian devices of the same era, the front panel of the D-014D is painted hammerite grey. 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 the Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz) [1] in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) [2]. According to Steven Zaloga, the R-014D was also installed in the Russian BRM tank, the reconnaissance version of the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), where it was used alongside the R-130 radio set [7].

Each message can be 62 digits long and consists of a 3-digit address, followed by one or more commands, with a maximum of 59 digits. Quintuple redundant error detection and correction (EDC) is used, based on the Bose-Chaudhuri 1 coding scheme, to provide strong noise immunity [8][9]. The duration of a transmission is 4 to 7 seconds, depending on the selected speed (150 or 75 baud). The R-014D is only suitable for the transmission (TX) of commands. At the recipient's end, an R-014P (Russian: Р-014П) device is required to receive and decode the information.

  1. Bose-Chaudhuri, or Bose-Chaudhuri-Hocquenghem, commonly known as BCH code, is a cyclic error-correcting code constructed using finite fields. It was invented in 1959 by Alexis Hocquenghem in France, and independently in 1960 by Raj Bose and D.K. Ray-Chaudhuri [9].

R-014D with 'raincoat' R-014D with closed lid R-014D (Datchik) Keyboard and lamp panel Mode switch and power check Radio and power connectors (caps removed) Tools and spare fuses stored in the top lid Spare fuses
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R-014D with 'raincoat'
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R-014D with closed lid
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R-014D (Datchik)
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Keyboard and lamp panel
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Mode switch and power check
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Radio and power connectors (caps removed)
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Tools and spare fuses stored in the top lid
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Spare fuses

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.

The keyboard of the R-014D

Preparing a message
Before a (short) message can be stored in the Datchik, it first has to be converted from letters to numbers, as the device is only capable of storing digits. This was usually done by means of a message substitution table or letter matrix. It is currently unknown which substitution scheme was used for this. If you have any information about this, please contact us.

Sending the message
  • 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
Audio sample
German radio amateur Karsten Hansky, was so kind to send us an R-014D sound sample, that he recorded in May 2016 when sending data with his R-014D via an R-143 (Bagulnik) radio set, on 3573 kHz at 75 baud [5]. The sound sample can be played below and can also be downloaded.

Radio sets
The R-014D is suitable for sending burst messages at 75 or 150 baud, via a variety of radio sets. The desired speed and radio set should be selected with the MODE selector (РЕЖИМ) before starting a transmission. The following radio sets are supported [6]:

  1. R-137, R-140
  2. R-129, R-130, R-130-03, R-131, R-135, R-143 (Bagulnik)
R-142 Radio Station
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 the interior of the communications shelter. Apart from a collection of HF/VHF radios and audio switch panels, there is room for three secret devices. The first one is the Fialka (M-125) cipher machine, that is placed in the empty spot right in front of the operator.
R-142 radio station mounted inside a GAZ-66 truck

The second item is Yachta (T-219), a voice encryption unit, or frequency-domain scrambler, that is installed in a corner behind the operator. The third secret item is Datchik (R-014D), that is installed in front of the operator. It is just visible in the bottom right corner of the picture above.

Top view of an R-142 radio set mounted inside a GAZ-66 communications vehicle.

 More about the R-142 radio station

Block diagram
The diagram below shows a greatly simplfied block diagram of the structure of the R-014D. At the left is the keyboard (yellow) that has 16 push-buttons, 10 of which are used for the digits 0-9. The output of the keyboard is converted into a 5-bit digital code by the Encoder. To allow error checking, each digit consists of exactly three '1' bits and two '0' bits. The outout of the encoder is stored in a memory unit with 63 positions (7 x 9). When transmitting, the data is read from the memory unit and converted into a serial data stream by the serialiser (red) and then filtered.

The serialiser (i.e. the red block in the above diagram) converts the 5-bit data words into a serial data stream, whilst adding some level of redundancy to it, probably to allow for error-checking and error-correction. The 5 data bits are loaded into the first positions of a 14-stage linear feedback shift register (LFSR 1) and will eventually appear unaltered at the output of that shift register, with new bits (derived from the current data) being fed in from the left. The output of LFSR 1 is added (XOR) with the output from LFSR 2, with has 7 stages (i.e. half te size of LFSR 1).

The 5-bit codes for the digits 0-9 all have exactly three '1' bits and two '0' bits. The codes for the space and the end of message characters, each have exactly one '1' bit and four '0' bits. The table below shows the encoding for each character (note that the device uses negative logic).

Character bit 1 bit 2 bit 3 bit 4 bit 5 Remark '1' bits
0 0 1 1 1 0   3
1 1 0 1 1 0   3
2 0 0 1 1 1   3
3 0 1 0 1 1   3
4 1 0 0 1 1   3
5 1 0 1 0 1   3
6 1 1 0 0 1   3
7 1 1 0 1 0   3
8 1 1 1 0 0   3
9 0 1 1 0 1   3
Space 0 0 1 0 0 Пробел (ПР) 1
End 0 0 0 1 0 Конец (КЦ) 1
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 battery compartment. The rest is for the PCBs.
R-014D removed from its case

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.

The PCBs inside the R-014D

Battery compartment Fuse R014D interior R-014D removed from its case Browsing the PCBs like the pages of a book Folding out the PCBs
Close-up of some transistors 120 kHz Crystal
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Battery compartment
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R014D interior
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R-014D removed from its case
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Browsing the PCBs like the pages of a book
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Folding out the PCBs
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Close-up of some transistors
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120 kHz Crystal

Technical specifications
  • 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)
The diagram below shows the pinout of the output connector on the front panel of the R-014D, when looking into the socket from the front of the device. The diameter of the connector is approx. 25 mm.

  1. Relay contact (1)
  2. Signal out
  3. Relay contact (2)
  4. Ground (and shield)
Power for the R-014D is usually derived from the power supply unit that comes with the radio, and is typically 4.8V. Alternatively, the unit can be powered by internal batteries that should be fitted below the large lid on the control panel. Any any case the source should not exceed 5V. Below is the pinout of the power connected, when looking into the socket. It has a thick pin and a thin one. The thin one is connected to ground. The thick one to the + terminal of the battery.

  1. Ground (0V)
  2. 4.8V
  1. Datchik R-014D Technical Documentation, part 1
    2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian).

  2. Datchik R-014D Technical Description, part 2
    2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian).

  3. Datchik R-014D, Operating Instructions
    2.016.005. Part 2. 1975 (Russian).

  4. Datchik R-014D, Commissioning
    2.016.005. 1980 (Russian). 1

  5. Datchik R-014D, Delivery form, serial number 008776
    2.016.500 - Part 3. Printed 1975. Issued 1 January 1980.

  6. Geber R-014-D / Datchik, Instruktion zur Inbetriebsnahme
    German translation of 2.016.005 I and II, version 1-1967. 2

  7. Kurzinstruktion der Bedienung des Gebers
    Short operating instructions (German). 2
  1. Obtained by Jim Meyer, 10 February 1996 [3].
  2. Kindly dontated by anonymous contributor [4].

  1. Wikipedia, Spetsnaz
    Russian Special Forces. Retrieved October 2013.

  2. Wikipedia, Soviet-Afghan War
    Retrieved October 2013.

  3. Helmut 'Jim' Meyer, HS0ZHK, My way to Ham - Radio and beyond
    Website QRZ.COM. Personal correspondence. Retrieved June 2008.

  4. Anonymous contributor, Original R-014D documentation, 1975
    Received June 2008.

  5. Karsten Hansky, R-014D sound sample
    Recorded with R-143 (Bagulnik). Received May 2016.

  6. Jörg Drobick, Datschik Funk Schnelltelegraphie mit Verschleierung
    Website Der SAS- und Chiffrierdienst (SCD). Retrieved May 2016.

  7. Steven J. Zaloga, BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1967-94
    June 2013. ISBN 9781472804556. p. 74.

  8. Russianarms.SU, Technical literature
    Website. Retrieved May 2016.

  9. Wikipedia, BCH code
    Retrieved May 2016.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 22 February 2010. Last changed: Saturday, 01 July 2017 - 12:12 CET.
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