Posts Tagged ‘Russian Woodpecker’

 

https://silentthrill.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/duga-radio/

If you want my original notes on the matter here they are but I am now going to update a little from the fact that in August (2019) I was lucky enough to get to visit the place directly.

If I get my notes in order properly I believe I will try and do a full write up of the day but I am just updating on the Duga because it was one of the big highlights. The Дугá or Duga-2 (or Chernobyl 2 or Russian Woodpecker) is SO big I cannot simply point out it was large… it is enormous and absolutely wonderful to have seen up close, I don’t know how long it will be standing there because you can see the signs of deterioration all over it but whilst it is there and possible to visit I am glad that people can.

So what else did I learn to add to the original information? Well that the structure likely cost more than putting all four of the reactors online at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself.

That the things all over it (pictured below) are known as vibrators, and when the wind did kick up a bit they sort of hummed very slightly. I have pretty good hearing and the sensation of being there and trying to listen was part of the atmosphere.

DugaVibrator.png

Workers would have been able to access the higher parts of the structure by elevator, I don’t think I would want to be on top of that thing on a windy or rainy day. I can’t be sure about health and safety in the former Soviet Union era but I can assure you that I’d be strapping myself to anything I could if I was working up there! I was once subject to a grim report about a death in the North Sea when a rigger failed to do it and my imagination took me straight back to that moment and I shuddered…

DugaElevator.png

There were access ladders originally still on the structure but thanks to irresponsible people climbing up they have been removed. They are on the floor as you can see behind the above photo to stop climbers having any form of easy access. I will say I can imagine people still do try but they clearly don’t think of dropping off the mortal coil if they do as just being near it was enough and I am not even afraid of heights as a general rule.

DugaLadders.png

When the wind gets it the whole thing shudders and shakes, you can hear it move and it’s both wonderful and a little jolting at the same time. The sand around the area might well be covering up the radiation underneath and giving additional support to the thing but if it fell I can’t imagine you would get any time to outrun it… You can see it from so far away even with the forest around it and you can hear it humming due to its size, even without power. I commented on my original post about the fact it would interfere with local radio and now I can understand why, how do you even hide that thing from anyone either?

Well they did have that conversation on the ground in the Ukraine and Moscow when Chernobyl’s nuclear incident happened. It was a secret military installation and they knew that officials coming from outside the Soviet Union may well notice it, did they risk driving people through to the zone and set off the geiger counters and the reality of it OR did they fly them over and pray they didn’t notice? Well in the end officials were flown over, the Chernobyl incident was simply more of a pressing matter than the giant station nearby.

There has been a death at the site in more recent years, in November 2017 (a Facebook post on Geostalkers claim it to have been 27th) a 33 year old man and a father of three died when he fell from the structure. The man was Dmitry Shkinder and he came over to the area from neighbouring country, Belarus. (Belarus is also subjected to having an exclusion zone from the 1986 incident and I shall try to do more on that at some point if I can). It was a cold, wet and windyday and he climbed up 15 foot before falling and meeting his end. “Stalkers” and thrill-seekers are being told to stop going on to the grounds, that stealing scrap metal for recycling is dangerous not to mention the haul may well be radioactive!

“That object has seen no maintenance for three decades. Its rusty, some ladders are loose. On that day it was really wet and cold and there was thick fog,” his friend Roman, who was with Dmitry when he died, told a Belarusian TV station. (Rt.Com)

I absolutely loved this place and visiting. I found it a genuine pleasure to be there and see it for myself and I am glad I was so lucky to get to see it.

I went with SoloEast Travel and they were fantastic. I shall hopefully get to write more about my trip in between my other blogs, and if this interested you I am sure there are plenty of other little dives about my posts you can enjoy.

Here are some links to enjoy too:

http://chornobyl.in.ua/en/chernobyl-2-2.html

https://goo.gl/maps/VqK4wBnCnvCuBwce8

And my video of what I managed to capture!

So its that time! Time to look at communication, specifically an old over-the-horizon radar system called the Duga from the former Soviet Union (Russia/Ukraine for the purposes of this article.) Over The Horizon (OTH) or Beyond The Horizon (BTH) are radar systems for long range use. Most were used in the 1950’s and 1960’s because they were early warning systems, just think about the Cold War and the idea of it being a necessity; the ones I am looking at here are the Duga system but they were used all over the world and still are, if modern reports online are correct. I am no expert so correct me where you can if I get things wrong.

The system operated from July 1976 up until December 1989, there were two deployed in Chernobyl and Chernihiv. Chernobyl is in the Ukraine and Chernihiv is Siberian. They were powerful and appeared without warning, sounding like a repetitive tapping on 10Hz, they became nicknamed by the listeners as the Russian Woodpecker.

They seemed to pop up pretty randomly and could interrupt legitimate broadcasting and all variations of stations. Complaints were sent in about them but I can’t imagine it being easy to prevent them. Some of the radio and television users began including blockers in the circuit to try and filter out interruption.

The first type of Duga was built in the Ukraine and did successfully detect rocket launchers from 2,500 kilometres. With its success they worked on the larger project. The first signal was picked up in 1976 and amatuer radio users gave it the name woodpecker, some people had reported it as early as 1963. Regardless of the date the Russian Woodpecker was traced back to the Soviet Union. The sources were found in Kiev, Minsk, Chernobyl, Gomel and Chernihiv but eventually narrowed down through speculation has been made that there was more than one transmitter. Wireless World, 1977 muses that along with the OTH system the Russians might be trying to utilise radar returns or another source that worked along side it, or around two or more spots.

I wondered if this was plausible or were we just putting more technical knowledge to that in retrospect or are we accepting that NATO might not have been entirely accurate? The NATO name for DUGA-1 is quoted as STEEL YARD, some sources also use STEELWORK. It is officially recorded name may well be different but not disclosed for security purposes.

Some points of interest are that they realised when listening that it was not used as a form of jamming because Moscow and pro-Soviet Stations were also caught by it, so it couldn’t be reliable enough for that. The signal used three repetition rates of 10Hz, 16Hz and 20Hz, but the most common was 10. They used a fairly wide bandwidth, usually 40Khz.

An attempt to stop the signals causing interruptions came along, one of the ways was tor try and use signals at the same pulsing rate, people formed a club called The Russian Woodpecker Hunting Club. The transmissions slowed down in the 1980’s by 1989 they had disappeared. This slow down and eventual end does coincide with the Cold War closing down, the official end being 8th December 1971 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Another factor in the close would be a further advancement in early warning systems, satellite systems are far more advanced and less likely to be affected by adverse weather.

The original Duga system was experimental and it lies outside of the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. It was restored in 2002 after it was badly damaged by fire. As of October 2013 there is a possibility to visit the Ukrainian site via tour operators for Chernobyl who know how to get the correct paperwork.

For those who like modern reference here are some ways the Duga has been imported into modern media.

If, like me, you enjoy games like Metro Last Light or S.T.A.L.K.E.R then you may already know this… Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a heavy feature in S.T.A.L.K.E.R and specifically around the nuclear accident. The Duga array is in Clear Sky after the main campaign game. It is in the fictional city of Limansk-13 you can see it and visit it in game. The ‘Brain Scorcher’, a military installation, is inspired by the idea that Duga-1 was used for mind-control.

Call of Duty:Black Ops the map ‘Grid’ is placed in Pripyat and the array can be seen in game there too.

A documentary by Chad Garcia looks into the Chernobyl disaster and the potential links to the structure. The documentary interviews people directly involved in the building and operation of the installation.