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Shortwave Data Decoding Discussions regarding decoding digital signals on the HF bands, including HFDL, ALE, RTTY, CW, and others.

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Old 08-04-2011, 5:36 AM
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Default Wow the "Slot Machine" is transmitting again!

The XSL or Slot Machine is at it again. I heard that this thing is supposed to be from Japanese military, but it's coming in loud and clear as if it's coming from here in the US, not all the way over from Japan.
The frequency my ICOM PCR1000 is tuned to is 6.2495MHz and mode is USB (at this frequency and mode the center of the signal in question is in the center of my radio's audio bandpass), time is 10:39 UTC.

I've got it on my live sound feed from my computer. To hear it, use VLC player and press ctrl+n and enter this URL (including the http://) :
http://76.104.145.19:12121/output

Last edited by KE7IZL; 08-04-2011 at 5:50 AM.. Reason: corrected URL for live audio stream
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Old 08-04-2011, 4:15 PM
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I just checked back in now (21:15 UTC) and it turns out that the signal isn't there now.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:36 PM
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Sigmira can supposedly decode JSM, but then I'd have to decode Japanese into English........
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Old 08-05-2011, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majoco View Post
Sigmira can supposedly decode JSM, but then I'd have to decode Japanese into English........
Two word. Google Translate.


But yeah, have you yet tried to decode it? If so, did it work? Does it output Romaji, Kanji, or one of the Kanas? Also do you have any idea what modulation technique it uses is? How did the guy who wrote Sigmira figure it out. Isn't it Japanese MILITARY meaning it's ENCRYPTED? How did the guy who wrote that program get his hands on the needed classified documents to find out how to decrypt and decode the signal? Was it in Wikileaks somewhere?
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Old 08-05-2011, 3:21 AM
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I also hear this signal on 8.588150 mhz USB...

Jay
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Old 08-05-2011, 3:42 AM
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Just to let you know, I've stopped streaming for now. Also I won't post specific streaming info in threads about specific digital modes, as I may at any time choose to change the frequency, demodulation, etc that the radio is tuned to. Instead I'll later create a separate thread that explains how to listen to the live stream (so you can hear whatever happens to be on, and I'll also there likely announce what I'm listening to at any given time if I change it, as well as info whenever I start or stop streaming).
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Old 08-05-2011, 9:55 AM
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The Slot Machine, XSL, is never not transmitting as near as I can tell. I run across it on multiple frequencies every time I set down to the radio and every time I have gone looking for it I have found it.

For example, right now (1440 UTC), as I write this, it is on (all frequencies in USB) 8703, 8587.5, 8312.5, 6444.5, 6416.5, and 6249.5 (heavy QRM from BC station on 6250) kHz. I might be able to find a couple of other frequencies if I look around, that was just a quick scan. And the lower freqs are closed for me to Asia right now (I should have read this 2 hours ago ), so all the 3 and 4 MHz freqs it is often found on are quiet. I normally also have it on 4290.5, 4231, 4152.5 kHz and a couple of 3 MHz freqs that I can not find in my notes/log right now.

Also, SIGMIRA does not really decode the Slot Machine. It does convert it to characters, but the data is encrypted (at least it has been every time I have bothered to try) and you do not get "clear text" output.

T!
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Old 08-05-2011, 6:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
The Slot Machine, XSL, is never not transmitting as near as I can tell. I run across it on multiple frequencies every time I set down to the radio and every time I have gone looking for it I have found it.
I meant I stopped streaming not that the XSL stopped transmitting. In case you hadn't been following my last several posts, I had previously been running a live audio stream from my computer, containing whatever my radio was receiving at the time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
Also, SIGMIRA does not really decode the Slot Machine. It does convert it to characters, but the data is encrypted (at least it has been every time I have bothered to try) and you do not get "clear text" output.

T!
Even so, how did the guy who wrote Sigmira know what the bit pattern was? (does it use 7 bits or 8? does it have 1 or 2 stop bits? does it send 2-byte integers UNICODE, or 1-byte characters ASCII? which form of Japanese writing does it use for input: Kanji, Romaji, or one of the 2 Kana alphabets?)
See this guy would still have to have TONS of knowledge to figure this out.
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Old 08-05-2011, 8:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7IZL View Post
I meant I stopped streaming not that the XSL stopped transmitting. In case you hadn't been following my last several posts, I had previously been running a live audio stream from my computer, containing whatever my radio was receiving at the time.
My response was to your original post, here:


Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7IZL View Post
The XSL or Slot Machine is at it again. I heard that this thing is supposed to be from Japanese military, but it's coming in loud and clear as if it's coming from here in the US, not all the way over from Japan.
That is why I said “it is never not transmitting as near as I can tell”. Your post above, the one I was responding to, seemed to indicate that you think/thought it is sometimes not on the air.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7IZL View Post
Even so, how did the guy who wrote Sigmira know what the bit pattern was? (does it use 7 bits or 8? does it have 1 or 2 stop bits? does it send 2-byte integers UNICODE, or 1-byte characters ASCII? which form of Japanese writing does it use for input: Kanji, Romaji, or one of the 2 Kana alphabets?)
See this guy would still have to have TONS of knowledge to figure this out.
Analysis of the transmitted waveform (data) could eventually give you the majority of the information you are asking about, but I have no idea how he got the information he has worked with. My simple comment was aimed at the response by majoco, who said “Sigmira can supposedly decode JSM”. Yes, it does decode it but not to clear text, because the data appears to be encrypted.

T!
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Old 08-05-2011, 8:24 PM
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Wonder what software one could use to analyze an unknown digital mode to get the specs from it?
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7IZL View Post
Wonder what software one could use to analyze an unknown digital mode to get the specs from it?
There are a number of starting places. No one suite will do it on its own, but several tools could be combined to get you there in the end.

You might take a look at software along the lines of Krypto500 ( Krypto500 ) and Code300-32 ( HOKA Electronic - The Netherlands - HF Data Decoder and Analyzer ). I have used both, although Code300-32 has been around longer I think I like Krypto500 better. There are others out there, that is just a couple of suggestions that are well documented on the web. Most of the others, such as certain plug-ins for the Textron Systems Overwatch SCOUT software, are less well publicly documented.

T!
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Old 08-06-2011, 1:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Token View Post
There are a number of starting places. No one suite will do it on its own, but several tools could be combined to get you there in the end.

You might take a look at software along the lines of Krypto500 ( Krypto500 ) and Code300-32 ( HOKA Electronic - The Netherlands - HF Data Decoder and Analyzer ). I have used both, although Code300-32 has been around longer I think I like Krypto500 better. There are others out there, that is just a couple of suggestions that are well documented on the web. Most of the others, such as certain plug-ins for the Textron Systems Overwatch SCOUT software, are less well publicly documented.

T!
Hoka's products use software to control an external hardware interface, like a TNC but for receive-only, not a soundcard based software (at least to my understanding). And it's also VERY VERY expensive ($500 for the basic package, which is more than some ham radio tranceivers cost themselves). I'm guessing your other suggestions are of similar price range.
Now I happen to be aware that there is a free competitor to Photoshop, it's called Gimp. Are there any such freeware or opensource (with downloadable compiled binaries available) soundcard based software suggestions you can give that could be use used instead of Hoka, etc?
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Old 08-06-2011, 9:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7IZL View Post
Hoka's products use software to control an external hardware interface, like a TNC but for receive-only, not a soundcard based software (at least to my understanding). And it's also VERY VERY expensive ($500 for the basic package, which is more than some ham radio tranceivers cost themselves). I'm guessing your other suggestions are of similar price range.
Now I happen to be aware that there is a free competitor to Photoshop, it's called Gimp. Are there any such freeware or opensource (with downloadable compiled binaries available) soundcard based software suggestions you can give that could be use used instead of Hoka, etc?
I did not know that ham radio transcievers were any kind of a "gold standard" for price? In that case new ham HF transceivers might be as cheap as $600 USD, but also might run as much as $10,000+ USD. Putting the software right in the range.

Sorry, you do not understand how these softwares work, Hoka Code300-32, the product I quoted, does indeed work via sound card input. It does have the ability to control a receiver via a serial port, but does not require any external interface other than the sound card input. The newest versions also work with SDRs, such as the Microtelecom Perseus, but it is using those SDRs as the receiver, not for any other purpose. Pretty much the same things can be said for Krypto500, except it can work with (but does not require) the RFSpace family of SDRs, instead of the Perseus.

Yes, it is slightly expensive, as are all of the serious competitors in the field. They are expensive because there is quite a bit of work involved in bring one of these programs to maturity, and there is a pretty small market that will purchase them. It is a niche market.

No, there are no low-end shareware like software, or opensource of any kind, that can do what these suites do. There are bits and pieces that can do parts of what these softwares do. Want to get a waterfall display and take measurements? The options are several, Spectragram, SpecLab, etc. Want to take part of the signal apart at a deeper level? Something like Signals Analyzer might be the thing for you, not free but not horribly expensive either. Want to decode a bunch of modes like the expensive programs do? Maybe Sigmira, MultiPSK, FLDigi, etc, will help. And still all of these little packages will not equal what the dedicated, specialized, yes professional, signal analyzing softwares can do.

T!
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Old 08-06-2011, 7:42 PM
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I'm not set-up for decoding record-mode circuits yet, but is there a good reason for believing the XSL stuff is the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, instead of a Japanese Fishing fleet?
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:09 PM
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Any freeware (or opensource-ware) that will decode rare modes like Piccolo, GW Dataplex (aka GW Pactor), G-Tor, Clover, Clover2000, Coquelet, VFT (voice frequency telegraphy), etc?

How about freeware (or opensource-ware) that will allow you to decode new or "mystery" modes by allowing user selectable modulation type (FSK, PSK, MFSK, MSK, some combination of some of these, etc; and all parameters for such modulations), user selectable bit patterns (different numbers of start, stop, data, and parity bits, or bits used in other checksums/hashes, etc), user defined alphabets (not all digital transmissions use ASCII based text), and a whole lot more that ultimately allows you to make a user defined decoder for transmissions of unknown digital modes.
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:39 PM
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I think the feds have all that stuff...
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Old 08-11-2011, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooligan View Post
I'm not set-up for decoding record-mode circuits yet, but is there a good reason for believing the XSL stuff is the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, instead of a Japanese Fishing fleet?
Hooligan, I have not seen anything conclusive that proves it is the Japanese Navy (JMSDF). But several fairly good indicators convince me that it is probably JMSDF vs Fishing fleet stuff.

The most convincing single item might be that when the Slot Machine first showed up it appeared on frequencies that were known to have supported JMSDF 8 tone modems. And the 8 tone modems were not seen again after the Slot Machine showed up on those frequencies.


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I think the feds have all that stuff...
Yeah, but they would not be free or open source as he is asking for

T!
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Old 08-11-2011, 1:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KE7IZL View Post
Wonder what software one could use to analyze an unknown digital mode to get the specs from it?
If you can demodulate the signal into a bitstream, it can be analysed just like any other binary file.
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Old 08-12-2011, 7:48 PM
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I know both the Hoka and Wavecom software contain bit stream analysis tools, and there's another one that unfortunately decided to close their doors to the hobby market - SkySweeper. They had such a module in their professional series of software. All of these are rather costly, though.

Once again, doing a little hunting in the Yahoo forums on digital signals such as the UDXF and this one - while focused on amateur digital modes, you might turn up some additional information not easily found elsewhere on other modes...

digitalradio : Amateur Radio Digital Mode Discussion

Google search, huh? BAH!! :.>>

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Old 08-12-2011, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka3jjz View Post
I know both the Hoka and Wavecom software contain bit stream analysis tools, and there's another one that unfortunately decided to close their doors to the hobby market - SkySweeper. They had such a module in their professional series of software. All of these are rather costly, though.
I found out how to get it at a more reasonable price *cough*torrent*cough*
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