Click for homepage
TM-109   PS-006
Ballpoint bug

TM-109 was a subminiature covert listening device (bug) disguised as a ballpoint, supplied in the early 1970s by TMS in Köln (Germany) and, under different names, by several spy and security shops in Europe, including the PSS Spy Shop in Amsterdam (Netherlands), where it was known as PS-006. As the device was illegal, it was generally sold 'under the counter' and at airports, clearly marked 'for export only'. During the Cold War it was known by the MfS (Stasi) as TRM-109 [B]. 1

The PS-006 ballpoint bug consists of a simple free-running FM transmitter that operates at a frequency between 70 and 92 MHz. It is powered by two small button-type batteries (3V) and has a bandwidth of approx. 150 kHz. A standard (analogue) FM receiver (87-108 MHz) was used for reception. The transmitter is small enough not to disturb normal operation of the pen; it can be used for normal writing as well.

The version shown here was built for the special 130-150 MHz range, for which a professional communications intercept receiver was needed.
  
Two button-type batteries (3V) are used to power the ballpoint bug

As the transmitter is free-running (i.e. not crystal-based) it is rather sensitive to the so-called hand-effect. As a result, the frequency may vary when the device is carried close to the body. Luckly, the FM band was not as populated with commercial stations in the 1980s as it is today, making it relatively easy to 'follow' the drifting transmitter on a domestic receiver.

A small wire, hidden inside the pen, acts as the antenna. Due to the limited voltage (3V) and the way the bug is constructed, the operational range is limited to approximately 30 metres. The intercepting party (the receiver) therefore had to be at close proximity, e.g. in an adjacent room.

  1. Note that this product was sold by many spy & sucurity shops, under different model numbers.

Box with ballpoint bug (not the red label indicating a special frequency range)
Ballpoint bug packed with 2 button-type batteries inside a box
Close-up of ballpoint bug and batteries
Dismounted ballpoint bug
Dismounted ballpoint bug
Two button-type batteries (3V) are used to power the ballpoint bug
Using the ballpoint bug as a real pen
Close-up of the tip of the pen
A
×
A
1 / 8
Box with ballpoint bug (not the red label indicating a special frequency range)
A
2 / 8
Ballpoint bug packed with 2 button-type batteries inside a box
A
3 / 8
Close-up of ballpoint bug and batteries
A
4 / 8
Dismounted ballpoint bug
A
5 / 8
Dismounted ballpoint bug
A
6 / 8
Two button-type batteries (3V) are used to power the ballpoint bug
A
7 / 8
Using the ballpoint bug as a real pen
A
8 / 8
Close-up of the tip of the pen

Documentation
  1. TMS 'electronics' catalogue
    Date unknown, but probably early 1972/73. 1

  2. Drahtloses FM-Subminiatur-Mikrofon TRM 109
    MfS, HA-III, Nr. 10592, page A1.6. 2
  1. Document kindly supplied by Detlev Vreisleben [2].
  2. Document obtained from BStU [3].

References
  1. Spy Shop Amsterdam, PSS-006, ballpoint transmitter
    Instruction leaflet (Dutch). Date unknown. Spy-Shop cat.nr. PS-006.

  2. Detlev Vreisleben, TMS electronic catalogue
    Received May 2019.

  3. Bundesbeauftragte für die Stasi-Unterlagen (BStU) 1
    Federal Commissioner for the Stasi-Records.
  1. Full name: Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (DDR) — Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) — officially abbreviated to BStU.

Further information
Any links shown in red are currently unavailable. If you like the information on this website, why not make a donation?
Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 29 April 2013. Last changed: Thursday, 13 June 2019 - 05:48 CET.
Click for homepage