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Racal MA-4073
Programmer

The Racal MA-4073 is a portable data transfer device, also known as a programmer or loader, developed and built by Racal Mobilcal Ltd. in Reading (UK). It is used for programming radio frequencies (channels) and cryptographic variables (keys) into some Racal military radio sets, such as the PRM-4720 tactical VHF/FM radio set, and Cougar radios like the military PRM-4515 and the PRM-4735 covert radio. The MA-4073 is also used to fill the smaller MA-4083 fill gun.

The unit is housed in a ruggedized die-cast aluminium enclosure with a grip at the front. On top of the device is a tilted surface that holds the 16-character alphanumerical LED display and a keypad with 24 rubber buttons. The unit is powered by a removable rechargeable battery that is installed in a slot behind the display.

The MA-4073 is connected to a compatible radio by means of a so-called fill cable that is attached to the 7-pin 105 socket to the left of the battery. Note that differently wired fill cables are required for different types of radios and standards.
  
Racal MA-4073 data transfer device

Radio frequencies (channels) and cryptographic keys can be stored in the internal CMOS memory of the MA-4073 for as long as the battery charge lasts. In case of an emergency, the stored information can be purged instantly by turning the ZEROIZE button to the right of the battery.

Racal MA-4073 data transfer device Close-up of the alphanumerical LED display Battery Rechargeable battery Connection to the radio Zeroize switch Zeroizing MA-4073 programmer and MA-4083 fill gun
Versions
Different versions of the MA-4073 exist, each of which is identified by a single letter suffix to the model number, for example: MA-4073C. Note that different versions have to be used for different encryption modules. Using the 'wrong' version, allows the frequencies to be programmed, but not the cryptographic keys. Always check the documentation of the radio before trying to load the keys. In most cases, a single letter suffix to the radio model tells you which programmer to use.

  • MA-4073C
    This version should be used with radios or encryption units that have a part number with the suffix 'S'. Such radios are typically equipped with a green MA-4437 crypto module.

  • MA-4073G
    This version should be used with radios or encryption units that have a part number with the suffix 'U', for example PRM-4515H3TCU. Such radios are typically equipped with a red MA-4487 crypto module.
Data types
The MA-4073 can store the following data in its internal memory:

  • 30 Transmit frequencies
  • 30 Receive frequencies
  • 4 Cryptographic keys
The transmit and receive frequencies can all be in the range 0 - 999.999 MHz, but the actual frequencies that are stored must be suitable for the radio to which they are uploaded:

  • PRM-4515L, SRM-4523L
    VHF-L band transceiver, 68-88 MHz, 10 channels.

  • PRM-4515N, SRM-4523N
    VHF-L band transceiver, 68-88 MHz, 10 channels.
    The Tone ON/OFF is not available with this radio.

  • PRM-4515H, SRM-4523H
    VHF-H band transceiver, 132-174 MHz, 10 channels.
    Individual radios operate in a 20 MHz band segment.

  • PRM-4515U, SRM-4523U
    UHF band transceiver, 380-470 MHz, 10 channels.
    Individual radios operate in a 20 MHz band segment.

  • PRM-4735L
    Covert VHF-L band transceiver, 76-86 MHz, 8 channels.

  • PRM-4735HA
    Covert VHF-H band transceiver, 138-156 MHz, 8 channels.

  • PRM-4735HB
    Covert VHF-H band transceiver, 156-174 MHz, 8 channels.

  • BCC-584D
    30 channels.
The 4 cryptographic keys, or key variables, or keys, each consist of 36 digits in the range 0-7. The keys can be entered manually or can be generated randomly by the MA-4073C.

Crypto Fill Cable for the PRM-4515 Cougar radio and the MA-4083 fill gun ST-792658 Crypto Fill Cable for the PRM-4735 covert radio
MA-4083 fill gun
Most of the devices listed above can also be programmed by means of the much smaller MA-4083 fill gun. Apart from a single ZEROIZE button, this unit has no controls and needs to be filled before use by the MA-4073. Once filled, it can be used to transfer the data to other radios.

Note that the MA-4083 fill gun can only be used to transfer channel frequency data or crypto keys, but not both at the same time.

Note also that, for transferring crypto keys, the suffix of the fill gun's model number has to match the suffix of the model number of the programmer (e.g. use MA-4073C to fill an MA-4083C). Channel frequencies can be transferred with any model.

 MA-4083 Fill Gun
  
Loading data from the programming into the fill gun

Help required
At present we are looking for the operator's manual of the MA-4073, plus one or more fill cables. If you have any of these available, please contact us.

Compatible devices
Documentation
  1. Racal, MA 4073C leaflet
    Date unknown. Retrieved May 2014 [1].

  2. Racal Radio Ltd., MA 4073C and MA 4073G Programmer, User Handbook
    Ref. RH 8224. Issue 3. Date unknown.

  3. Racal-Tacticom Ltd. Programmer MA 4073C, Technical Manual
    Ref. TH 8225. Issue 3. November 1990.

  4. Thales Land & Joint Systems, MA-4073G Programmer, Technical Manual
    A3031/TME-02. May 2000.
References
  1. Dave McKay (G1JWG), Racal Cougar and Cougarnet Radio System
    Retrieved May 2014.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 17 May 2015. Last changed: Tuesday, 26 January 2016 - 21:03 CET.
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