Simple code book for open radio comms?

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moab
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Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by moab » Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:02 pm

When I was in the military we had these simple code books. For transmitting sensitive information over open radio comms. It changed every day. And each page was like a simple chart i.e. - A is this, B is this etc. etc.

Can anyone recommend something similar for bug out comms? Something each member of the team could carry. And be able to communicate with each other without giving up locations and other sensitive info? For a variety of reasons I'm having everyone in my family carry a simple GMRS radio with max watts. That run off AA's. So our comms are in the open. Just hoping to have something that we could communicate positions and rally points to each other. In secret if necessary.

I may swap in Baofeng ham handhelds. But I'm unaware of any scrambled tx available on those radios either. And I'd want everyone licensed for those anyways. Which might take some time.
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by woodsghost » Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:52 pm

Transmitting coded messages over radio is illegal, IIRC. That is why civilian encrypted comms are illegal.

Now, if I was on a cell phone I might have some sheets to communicate sensitive information in a disaster or other difficult situation. Something like Sheets A through D. This can also be used to leave writen info for someone else. Maybe you had to leave the house and write a coded message on the wall or door in sharpie.

You have words on one side and words on the other side. The intersection of the words is the message. These could be complicated but are probably better if simple.

Something like Jhon is at 43 and F street. I'm meeting Sandy on Old Dick road, near 110th st. And I saw three guys by the 50 year old Oak.

Translating: 43 on the left and F on top yields "Last ORP."

Old Dick on the right and 110 on top yields "Danger."

Three guys is three guys.

50 on the right hand and Oak on top yields "guns."

So you might be heading back to the last ORP because you are seeing three dangerous guys with guns.

There is no reason for a logical set of words or numbers along the right or top. But keeping message words to a reasonable total, like 16 or 25 is good practice. It makes the laminated cards smaller too.

Just an idea I stole from someone else.

You might also say 3 of us were eating casserole last night and it was delicious. 1 guy got sick, and spend 4 hours pooping.

3: Casserole.
1:Sick.
4:Poop.

Simple message.
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by NT2C » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:00 pm

There's coded, and then there's coded. :wink:

Morse code is allowed, and not very many people besides hams are adept in it.
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by JayceSlayn » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:55 pm

I am not an amateur radio person (yet), but someone who knows the details may be better able to elucidate the exact definition...I believe the restriction to encoded/obfuscated messages refers to messages which there are no common or public codecs for. Morse code is known the world-round, and other types of encodings are allowed for RTTY etc. Codes which you invented, or for which private keys are required are not allowed? This appears to only be a restriction on Part 97 equipment and operation?

Related to that, I've always wondered how some devices (which admittedly operate below certain ERP limits) are allowed to use private-key AES encryption, e.g. XBee modules frequently support configurable FHSS and AES encryption for data packets (https://www.digi.com/products/embedded- ... hz-modules). These can make very reliable and self-healing mesh networks, able to communicate over relatively long distances in a very secure fashion. They are designed for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), but are not hard to get a hold of and learn to program. Other encoded radio transmissions completely bursting all around us are Cellular and WiFi networks.

Returning to your original post:
moab wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:02 pm
When I was in the military we had these simple code books. For transmitting sensitive information over open radio comms. It changed every day. And each page was like a simple chart i.e. - A is this, B is this etc. etc.
This doesn't quite describe a One Time Pad (OTP) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-time_pad), which would instead encrypt every single word/character with a unique modifier, different for every single message. OTP is still one of the most simple and secure encryption schemes available, but the logistics of utilizing it correctly have always been its downfall. If instead you are using a simple substitution cipher over the course of a whole day (within which a great number of communications could be made/intercepted), it would be significantly less secure. Generating a set of OTPs is not hard (any string of sufficiently random numbers works), and the encryption algorithm can be just as simple (e.g. ASCII value + OTP value = code value).
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by moab » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:58 pm

So for sake of a PAW discussion. Let's say you want to encrypt your speech with someone else in the room. There must be simple sheets out there for encrypting.

The ones I'm talking about are about as simple as what JayceSlayn mentioned. I guess I'll google it.
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by emclean » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:45 am

So for sake of a PAW discussion. Let's say you want to encrypt your speech with someone else in the room. There must be simple sheets out there for encrypting.
talk in slang that your family would understand. such as "we are by the house where Billy's friend who ate the mud pie lived" or "meet me at the place that Sally was caught by the cops parking with her boyfriend"
sure it isn't as secure as encryption, but if you all have lived in an area a while, you have built up experiences that are not generally known.

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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by CrossCut » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:20 am

I put together a system after we moved to the woods and bought our first radios, alphanumeric codes we'd transmit in phone/voice, some of them for specific locations for either where we were at, or where the others should go. Codes kept on laminated index cards. Didn't work well for us, overly complicated, didn't use it often enough to memorize even the most common codes, had to carry the cards to decode the message and encode the reply, and largely unnecessary for us anyway. Thought about it again after upgrading a couple of our HTs and discovering they had built-in DTMF decoders, they display up to the last 5 DTMF tones received. The decoded numbers/letters stay in the display until the radio is turned off, or if the PTT is pushed or entering the menu. If all our radios had that capability I thought it might be useful, an encoded text message basically, and one that stayed on their radio in case they missed the call.

The only 3 "codes" that did survive from the original plan and that we do use on rare occasions still is an innocuous phrase like, "You guys getting hungry yet?", that is really an announcement with its own meaning within our little group. Like "John has a long mustache", but one that doesn't arouse any suspicion.

The other two are just letters of the phonetic alphabet, repeated slowly and loudly 3 times, to indicate generally "come here, there is a problem" (November) or "no problem or urgency here" (Oscar). We only use them when signals are too weak, breaking up, or interference on the channel makes it difficult to get the full message through; it's kind of a combination challenge, a way of letting the other party know your status, and ending the conversation all with one word. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar means "I didn't copy your message, but everything is OK here". The other person responds in kind with either Oscar or November to indicate they heard the message and to communicate their own status back. If one party doesn't respond (or isn't heard by the other), the message is repeated until contact is made. A single word repeated slowly often gets through when a whole sentence can't. In non-PAW real world use for us it's usually to indicate whether I need to stop fishing and come home, or if whatever the spouse was trying to tell me wasn't really that important and it can wait til later. Just our comm plan anyway, maybe you can find something useful in it for your family.

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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by MacWa77ace » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:27 am




NT2C wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:00 pm
There's coded, and then there's coded. :wink:

Morse code is allowed, and not very many people besides hams are adept in it.
Do you have the reference for what is and isn't legal coded transmission? [i don't mean scrambled or encoded]

What about the Q codes. 10 codes, alt languages i.e. windtalkers, etc etc. How does making up your own system become illegal, and how does a law that makes it illegal not infringe on the first amendment? :evil:

It seems to me you could convert the 10 code system or Q code system and then the transmission would sound legit but have a different meaning to those who know the conversion.

Days for hours, hours for minutes, yards for miles, day for night, up for down, west for east.

preset landmark or location identifiers, BOL C, Big Box A, South side small wet.

All in a nice little table. If you use a spreadsheet you could probably create different sort filters to randomly change the meaning of each code and print them out for weeks in advance.
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by NT2C » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:47 am

Mac, I'm on the road and using my phone, so it's not easy for me to cut and paste Federal regs. Perhaps one of the other hams can do that?

The best short answer I can give you is that there are different regulations for each of the services (ham, broadcast, etc.) and that while you're free to say anything you want, your right to transmit it is subject to the regulations of your license. That's a small but important distinction.
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by raptor » Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:43 pm

As mentioned above a simple code of a few phrases is more likely to useful and usable than an elaborate code suing say a one time pad or substitutions.

You hear these all time on PA systems in stores.

"Code blue" or "blue light special"
"Mr Armstrong come to the front desk"
Code red
amber alert

These are but a few but obviously come up with your own that make sense to you and your group.

A final point in a very stressful situation the ability to convey information correctly in plain english is sometime difficult and the info gets muddled.

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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by TacAir » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:18 am

If you want perfectly legal, very low Probability of Intercept (POI) comms buy a pair of these bad boys

Sm-1000 ROWETEL plug and play, a self contained appliance, runs on 12vdc.,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgJjKXw ... sgklQ6fv4l

open source codex, so absolutely legal.

Cost? About $200 each a pair is needed.
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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by emclean » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:08 am

MacWa77ace wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:27 am
Do you have the reference for what is and isn't legal coded transmission? [i don't mean scrambled or encoded]
that would be 47 CFR 97.113 - Prohibited Transmissions
§ 97.113 Prohibited transmissions.

(a) No amateur station shall transmit:

(1) Communications specifically prohibited elsewhere in this part;

(2) Communications for hire or for material compensation, direct or indirect, paid or promised, except as otherwise provided in these rules;

(3) Communications in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer, with the following exceptions:

(i) A station licensee or station control operator may participate on behalf of an employer in an emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill, limited to the duration and scope of such test or drill, and operational testing immediately prior to such test or drill. Tests or drills that are not government-sponsored are limited to a total time of one hour per week; except that no more than twice in any calendar year, they may be conducted for a period not to exceed 72 hours.

(ii) An amateur operator may notify other amateur operators of the availability for sale or trade of apparatus normally used in an amateur station, provided that such activity is not conducted on a regular basis.

(iii) A control operator may accept compensation as an incident of a teaching position during periods of time when an amateur station is used by that teacher as a part of classroom instruction at an educational institution.

(iv) The control operator of a club station may accept compensation for the periods of time when the station is transmitting telegraphy practice or information bulletins, provided that the station transmits such telegraphy practice and bulletins for at least 40 hours per week; schedules operations on at least six amateur service MF and HF bands using reasonable measures to maximize coverage; where the schedule of normal operating times and frequencies is published at least 30 days in advance of the actual transmissions; and where the control operator does not accept any direct or indirect compensation for any other service as a control operator.

(4) Music using a phone emission except as specifically provided elsewhere in this section; communications intended to facilitate a criminal act; messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except as otherwise provided herein; obscene or indecent words or language; or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification.

(5) Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services.

(b) An amateur station shall not engage in any form of broadcasting, nor may an amateur station transmit one-way communications except as specifically provided in these rules; nor shall an amateur station engage in any activity related to program production or news gathering for broadcasting purposes, except that communications directly related to the immediate safety of human life or the protection of property may be provided by amateur stations to broadcasters for dissemination to the public where no other means of communication is reasonably available before or at the time of the event.

(c) No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations, and communications, including incidental music, originating on United States Government frequencies between a manned spacecraft and its associated Earth stations. Prior approval for manned spacecraft communications retransmissions must be obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Such retransmissions must be for the exclusive use of amateur radio operators. Propagation, weather forecasts, and manned spacecraft communications retransmissions may not be conducted on a regular basis, but only occasionally, as an incident of normal amateur radio communications.

(d) No amateur station, except an auxiliary, repeater, or space station, may automatically retransmit the radio signals of other amateur station.

If you would like to read through all the laws governing armature radio here is a link
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/part-97
What about the Q codes. 10 codes, alt languages i.e. windtalkers, etc etc. How does making up your own system become illegal, and how does a law that makes it illegal not infringe on the first amendment?
windtalkers were serving in the military, and did not fall under the FCC for their transmissions.
Q codes, 10 codes, and foreign languages are not illegal cause they are published.
both Q codes and 10 codes were to make transmissions shorter. in the case of Q codes they were sending 3 letters by Morse code, for a common question or response.

the important thing to remember is that is it LAW not LOGIC.

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Re: Simple code book for open radio comms?

Post by emclean » Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:29 am

moab wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:02 pm
Can anyone recommend something similar for bug out comms? Something each member of the team could carry. And be able to communicate with each other without giving up locations and other sensitive info? For a variety of reasons I'm having everyone in my family carry a simple GMRS radio with max watts. That run off AA's. So our comms are in the open. Just hoping to have something that we could communicate positions and rally points to each other. In secret if necessary.
you might look at goTenna, it allows you to use your cell phone for texting with the phones wifi, and sending the text over the MURS frequencies. I am not going to pretend that I know much of anything about it other than it exists. but it would give you the secure communication you are looking for.
https://gotennamesh.com/?_ga=2.17728694 ... 1574342341

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