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HC-5205   Cryptomatic
Electronic Message Unit

HC-5205 was an Electronic Message Unit (EMU) with built-in encryption, developed by Crypto AG in Zug (Switzerland) around 1988. The device was used for sending secure text-based messages via HF, VHF and UHF radio links. The one shown here is a custom variant of the HC-5200/5250, and was produced especially for the Yugoslav 1 armed forces. It has an adapted keyboard and is compatible with the other members of the Cryptomatic 5000 series, such as the HC-5300/5350.
 
The device measures 22 x 11 x 3.5 cm and is similar in size and operation to other EMU-type devices, like the Nokia Parsa and the TST-3010.

It is connected between the handset and the radio and is powered by a standard 9V block battery that is located in a special compartment at the bottom of the unit. The cryptographic capabilities of the HC-5205 are implemented in software and are controlled by the internal Hitachi HD63B09EP controller, that is mounted on a removable controller board. This way the device was easily adapted for other languages.
  
Hagelin HC-5205 message terminal

The HC-5000 series was the successor to the highly successful Cryptomatic HC-500 series. It offers a newly developed encryption algorithm that provides automatic resynchronisation and full traffic flow security. Two types of cryptographic keys are used: a fixed internal customer-specific structure key (10100) and a separate message key of 2·1028 that can be entered on the keyboard. Keys can also be entered with a KDD-5000 key filler. According to [1] the total variety is 10156.

The Crypto AG/Hagelin HC-5205 and its parent the HC-5200/5250 are rather unknown devices and very little information about them exists in the public domain today (September 2015). Any further information about its use, especially the era in which is was used, a user manual, a brochure, a leaflet, or information about the HC-5000 series in general, would be appreciated.
 
  1. Following the Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was dissoluted into the separate republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia.

HC-5205 with top lid closed Hagelin HC-5205 message terminal Bottom view Connections at the left side Radio connection cable Hagelin logo and buzzer Operating the keyboard Display

 
Controls
The image below shows the control panel of the HC-5205 after opening the protective top lid. 1 The rectangular unit consists of a keypad with 68 rubber buttons, an LCD screen with 2 lines of 40 characters each, and a small buzzer that is located to the right of the LCD and the logo.


The keyboard is divided into three sections. A row of 5 function keys is mounted directly under the LCD screen. They are context-sensitive and their functions will be displayed on the LCD. At the far right are the control keys, with the one in the upper right corner being used to turn it ON. The largest part is taken by the Latin keyboard that has language-specific keys towards the right.

The HC-5205 is connected to the radio via the sockets at the left side. The version shown here is equipped with two NF10 sockets and a conversion cable was supplied to convert them to the 6-pin Clansman standard. The device was connected between the radio and a suitable handset.
 
  1. The hinges and the top lid are not present on the original HC-5200/5250 device. They are likely to be a customer-specific part of the HC-5205.

Connections at the left side Front view Two labels that were originally present above the first two function keys Hagelin logo and buzzer Display Display close-up In operation Special characters on the keyboard

 
Interior
The HC-5205 is housed in a sturdy aluminium die-cast enclosure. The interior can be accessed via the bottom panel that also holds a compartment for the (standard) 9V block battery. After removing 8 screws from the bottom side, the entire bottom panel (with battery) can be removed.
 
The device is extremely well constructed and consists of several high-quality printed circuit boards (PCBs) that are sandwiched together. The bottom PCB is the keyboard and acts as a carrier for the other PCBs. The image on the right shows the analogue board with the audio interfaces.

The diagram below shows how the PCB are stacked inside the unit. At the top right is the power board (PSU) that provides the necessary voltages for the various pieces of electronics. The empty area at the bottom left is normally occupied by the 9V battery compartment.
  
Electronics detail

The PCB at the top left (marked here with a CAG 1 label) is the processor board that contains the (language-dependant) firmware and the encryption algorithm. It is mounted upside down and is provided as a plug-in card that can easily be swapped for another one in case of an update.
 
  1. CAG is probably the abbreviation of Crypto AG, the manufacturer of the unit.

Bottom view Bottom panel removed Interior - bottom view Backup battery Processor board removed Processor board Electronics detail Battery compartment - open

 

 
Compatible machines
  • HC-5200/5250
    Hand-held encrypted message terminal (like the HC-5205)
  • HC-5300/5350
    Portable ciphering terminal (briefcase version)
  • HC-5500
    Desktop variant
  • Workstation (based on Siemens T-1285)
References
  1. Jane's Military Communications, Cryptomatic HC-5200/5250
    Ninth edition, 1988. ISBN 0-7106-0856-X. p. 504.

Further information

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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Sunday, 13 September 2015 - 11:05 CET.
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