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Orchidea-2
Wire-line bug detector

Orchidea-2 (Russian: ОРХИДЕЯ-2) 1 is a device for finding covert listening devices (bugs) on wire lines – like the power and telecom networks – developed during the Cold War in the former Soviet Union (USSR). The device features a 40/400 Hz signal generator and has a built-in oscilloscope.

The device was used for finding devices that are connected to a line, have non-linear voltage / current properties, consume more than 100 µA and have a capacity of less than 50,000 pF.

Lines are tested with a 5V or 90V signal from an internal sinewave generator with a frequency of 40 — 70 or 330 — 430 Hz. It requires the line-under-test to be isolated (i.e. power-less). If the device detects a voltage of 100 — 380V, it will turn itself off. The output is presented on a small internal cathode ray tube (CRT) oscilloscope on which a lissajous figure is visible during the test.
  
Orchidea-2 and accessories stored in a regular briefcase

During the test, all known devices are first removed from the line. Any non-linearities will then be visible as disturbances of a (normally smooth) lissajous figure. Such disturbances are typically caused by parasitic devices that are connected to the line, such as a covert listening device (bug) that draws current from the line and/or uses the line for transportation of its intelligence (audio).

Orchidea-2 was developed in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s and was in production for the remainder of the Cold War. It was used by all countries of the former USSR (including Russia) and in most countries of the former Warsaw Pact, including the former DDR (East-Germany) [1].

  1. ОРХИДЕЯ (Ochidea) is the Russian word for orchid.
    It starts with the letter 'O' which was common for Russian countermeasures equipment of the era.

Transport case Orchidea-2 and accessories stored in a regular briefcase Orchidea-2 main unit Main unit seen from the left Imitator (non-linear load for testing) Test cables Multimeter Isolated clamps
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Transport case
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Orchidea-2 and accessories stored in a regular briefcase
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Orchidea-2 main unit
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Main unit seen from the left
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Imitator (non-linear load for testing)
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Test cables
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Multimeter
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Isolated clamps

Features
The diagram below gives an overview of the controls and connections on the body of the main unit. At the rear are connections for the mains power, a direct generator output and the socket for connection to the line-under-test. Also at the rear is a switch for reversing the line polarity.


At the front are the power switch (with red indicator light), the frequency adjustments, the gain control and a switch to select the desired output level. The big red button at the front edge must be pushed to perform a test (i.e. check the line). In order to protect the circuits against excessive voltages, the line-under-test is automatically checked by a build-in test circuit. If a high voltage is detected on the line, the ALARM lamp lights up and the TEST button should not be pressed.

At the front left are three pairs of sockets. Two of these are regular 4 mm banana sockets. They allow an optional load to be connected to the line-under-test. The two white sockets are for connection of the Ц4324 multimeter, allowing it to measure the line voltage and its resistance.

The oscilloscope is built around a small cathode ray tube (CRT) that is visible via a mirror through a small window at the top surface. At the left side of the case are 4 recessed potentiometers for adjustment of the width, height, brightness and contrast of the image on the miniature CRT.
  
Oscilloscope and compensator

The the right of the oscilloscope is the so-called compensator. It allows the device to be matched to the capacity of the line-under-test, and consists of a series of capacitors that are connected in parallel via a set of magnet-operated reed-switches. A vertical slider on top of the device, moves a permanent magnet over the reed switches, thereby increasing or decreasing the total capacity.

Orchidea-2 main unit Main unit seen from the left Top view Oscilloscope and compensator Compensator Red TEST button and alarm lamp Frequency setting, gain setting and output level selection Sockets for connecting a load and for the multimeter
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Orchidea-2 main unit
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Main unit seen from the left
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Top view
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Oscilloscope and compensator
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Compensator
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Red TEST button and alarm lamp
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Frequency setting, gain setting and output level selection
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Sockets for connecting a load and for the multimeter




Parts
Briefcase Main unit Multimeter for checking line voltage Artificial non-linear load for testing Cable for line-under-test Set of cables for connection to the line-under-test Set of isolated clamps Spare parts
Briefcase
Orchidea-2 was usually supplied in a regular 'Samsonite-style' briefcase, together with the ancillaries and spare parts. The device can be operated from within the case and requires only a connection to the AC mains for its operation.

Inside the briefcase are several compartments made from molded polystyrene that has been painted black. The largest compartment at the center holds the actual Orchidea-2 main unit. The other compartments are for the multimeter, the cables, the clamps and the imitator unit.
  
Transport case

Main unit
This is the actual Orchidea-2 test device. It can be placed on a desktop, but can also be used from within the briefcase. It has a fixed cable connection for the mains power at the rear left.

The line-under-test should be connected to the socket at the rear right, using a supplied cable. The multimeter can be connected to the sockets at the front left, along with an optional load. The red button should be pressed to perform a test.
  
Orchidea-2 main unit

Multimeter   Ц4324
A standard Russian Ц4324 multimeter was supplied with the set. It was stored in the front left compartment of the briefcase and could be connected directly to the line-under-test via the terminals at the front left of the Orchidea-2.

The meter can be used to measure any voltages and the resistive load on the line. It was supplied with two test wires and a warranty card.
  
Multimeter

Imitator
To check a proper operation of the device, a simple imitator, or simulator, was supplied. It is a small black block with two screw terminals by which it can be connected to the line.

Inside the block is a resistor with a diode in series. When connected to the line, the diode causes a non-linear behaviour of the current.
  
Imitator (non-linear load for testing)

Line-under-test
The line-inder-test should be connected to the 4-pin socket at the rear right, using the cable shown in the image on the right. At the end of the cable are two screw terminals that can be fitted to the supplied crocodile clamps or to the contact pins supplied in the spares box (ZIP).   
Cable for testing a power line

Cables
Two universal test cables are supplied with the set. Each cable has a screw terminal at either end, that can be fitted to a crocodile clamp or to one of the contact pins from the spares kit.   
Test cables

Clamps
Orchidea-2 was supplied with six isolated crocodile clamps of the type shown in the image on the right. The clamps can be fitted to the end of a test cable or to the line-under-test cable.

Each clamp has a crocodile beak at the end, which can be opened by pinching the two rigs along the shaft together.
  
Isolated clamps

Spares   ZIP
Each Orchidea-2 came with a set of spare parts and accessories that were stored in a small black bakelite box marked ЗИП (ZIP). In Russian, ZIP means Запасные части И Принадлежности (spare parts and accessories).

Inside the box are fuses, spare light bulbs and a variety of pins to fit the local mains wall socket and the banana sockets on the device.
  
Spare parts nicely organised inside the ZIP box

Cable for testing a power line Test cables Isolated clamps Isolated clamp Close-up of a clamp Clamp fitted to a test cable Removable pin and test cable Removable pin fitted to a test cable
Spare parts box (ZIP) Close with a screw at the front Spare parts box (open) Spare parts nicely organised inside the ZIP box Close-up of the spare parts Miniature filament lamps Multimeter
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Cable for testing a power line
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Test cables
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Isolated clamps
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Isolated clamp
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Close-up of a clamp
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Clamp fitted to a test cable
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Removable pin and test cable
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Removable pin fitted to a test cable
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Spare parts box (ZIP)
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Close with a screw at the front
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Spare parts box (open)
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Spare parts nicely organised inside the ZIP box
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Close-up of the spare parts
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Miniature filament lamps
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Multimeter

Block diagram
The diagram below shows the main building blocks of the Orchidea-2. At the left is the sinewave generator that can be adjusted freely between 40 and 70 Hz, or between 330 and 430 Hz. The signal is then amplified in several stages until it is strong enough to be applied to the line-under-test at the right. The protection circuit switches the device off when it detects power on the line.

Orchidea-2 block diagram

The power amplifier (PA) has a balanced transformer in its output circuit as shown in the diagram below. The upper branch (1) of this transformer is connected to the line-under-test. The lower branch (2) is used for compensation of the line capacity. A resistor is connected in series with the common (GND). The voltage over this resistor is proportional to the current that flows in the line.

Orchidea-2 output transformer

The voltage over the ground resistor (R) is applied to the X amplifier that drives the horizontal deflection of the oscilloscope. It represents the current in the line (i). The voltage from the top branch of the transformer is applied to the Y amplifier that drives the oscilloscope's vertical deflection. It represents the sinewave voltage that is applied to the line (u). With a resistive load (RL), the current (i) and the voltage (u) will have the same shape, albeit with a different phase.

Proper sinewave (left) and distorted sinewave (right)

This situation is shown in diagram (A) above. If the load is non-linear however – for example as a result of the diodes in a device's rectifier circuit – the current will show discontinuities (1) or may even be asymmetric (2). This situation is shown in diagram (B). When displayed on an oscilloscope screen, these non-linear effects will be visible as disturbances of the (otherwise) perfect curve.

Perfect lissajous figure (left) and examples of distortion (right)

The left example shows the relation between voltage and current on a perfect (clean) line. Due to the phase difference between voltage and current, we will see an ellipsis or sometimes a circle with a perfectly smooth curve. Such a curve is generally known as a Lissajous figure or Bowditch curve [2]. The other two examples show the effect of different non-linear behaviour on the line.


Interior
Despite the simplicity of its basic operation, Orchidea-2 is a complex device that contains a lot of electronic circuits. Its interior can be accessed by removing the top and bottom case shells, each of which is held in place by four screws. There are also removable panels at the front and rear.

All internal parts are held together by a strong aluminium chassis. At the top are the complete building blocks such as the mains transformer, the oscilloscope units, the output transformer and the compensator. The latter contains an array of capacitors and reed-switches, operated by a permanent magnet attached to a slider.

At the bottom are the power supply unit (PSU) and the various amplifiers. Towards the front of the device is a black metal cooling block with two power transistors that are part of the final amplifier (PA) that drives the output transformer.
  
Interior - bottom side

The device is very well built, in a way that is typical for the era and the place (USSR). All PCBs and parts are protected by a strong conformal coating, with the transistors all mounted upside down and glued to the PCB. Although this seems old-fashioned — especially when compared to similar Western equipment of the era — it is very robust, reliable and shock-proof. Most building blocks are connected by means of thin pink teflon wiring. Although the manufacturer of the device is still unknown, judging from the build-quality and the wiring, we assume it was made in Ukraine.

Interior Interior - bottom side Front panel removed Mains transformer Oscilloscope electronics Oscilloscope adjustments Oscilloscope, compensator and output transformer Output transformer
Power supply unit (PSU) Electronic circuits at the bottom side Electronic circuits PCB with wiring to the controls and connections at the rear Power transistors of the PA Detail Transistor details Transistor detail
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Interior
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Interior - bottom side
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Front panel removed
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Mains transformer
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Oscilloscope electronics
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Oscilloscope adjustments
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Oscilloscope, compensator and output transformer
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Output transformer
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Power supply unit (PSU)
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Electronic circuits at the bottom side
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Electronic circuits
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PCB with wiring to the controls and connections at the rear
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Power transistors of the PA
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Detail
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Transistor details
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Transistor detail

Specifications
  • Suitable for
    power lines, cable TV, telephone lines, etc.
  • Mains voltage
    110, 115, 127, 220 or 240V AC ±10% @ 0 — 60 Hz
  • Power
    < 20 Watts
  • Temperature
    5°C — 40°C (storage -50°C — +60°C
  • Humidity
    ≤ 95% @ 30°C
  • MTBF
    ≥ 500 hours
Applications
  • Test for any voltage on a line
  • Finding active power consumers
  • Finding devices, connected to the line, with non-linear voltage/current properties.
Parts
Documentation
  1. 'ORCHIDEE-2' System zur Netzmessung, Technische Beschreibung and Arbeitsanleitung
    Line measurement system, technical description and operating instructions (German).
    Date unknown. 22 pages. 1
  1. Document kindly supply by Detlev Vreisleben [1].

References
  1. Detlev Vreisleben, Orchidea-2, technical description and operating instructions
    Personal correspondence, April - May 2018.

  2. Wikipedia, Lissajous curve
    Retrieved August 2018.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 15 July 2018. Last changed: Saturday, 08 September 2018 - 16:59 CET.
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