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R-014D   Datchik
Electronic burst encoder - 1975

R-014D, codenamed Datchik (Датчик), is an electronic burst encoder, developed around 1975 in the Soviet Union (USSR). It was used by Soviet Special Forces (SF) during the Cold War in conflict areas like Afghanistan. It allows battlefield commands, in particular coordinates for artillery and air strikes, to be transmitted digitally at high speed, with low chance of discovery by means of radio direction finding. For increased security, the device features advanced error-detection and error-correction. The R-014D was also used as part of the R-142 integrated mobile radio station.

The R-014D is a fully self-contained device. It can be powered by an external 4.8V DC source, such as the TE-20 PSU, but also from the built-in battery pack. The device is connected directly to the morse key input 1 of a transmitter, e.g. the R-130, and transmits data at 75 or 150 bps.

The image on the right shows a typical R-014D. At the front is the keyboard that consists of 16 rubber keys. The dark rectangle at the centre is the lamp panel that is used when entering data. Behind this panel is the battery compartment. The input power supply should never exceed 5V.
  

Like most Russian devices of the era, the front panel of the D-014D is painted hammerite grey. The case however, has the typical Russian military yellow/green colour, indicating stand-alone use of the device in the field. It was used, for example, by the Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz) [1] in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) [2]. According to Steven Zaloga [7], the R-014D was also installed in the Russian BRM tank — the reconnaissance version of the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) — where it was used alongside the R-130 radio set.

Each message can be 62 digits long and consists of a 3-digit address, followed by one or more commands, with a maximum of 59 digits. Quintuple redundant error detection and correction (EDC) is used, based on the Bose-Chaudhuri 2 coding scheme, to provide strong noise immunity [8][9]. The duration of a transmission is 4 to 7 seconds, depending on the selected speed (150 or 75 baud). The R-014D is only suitable for the transmission (TX) of commands. At the recipient's end, an R-014P (Russian: Р-014П) is required to receive, decode and display the information.

The R-014 was first manufactured in 1975 and was in production until ~ the mid-1980s. It was used by the armed forces of the former Soviet Union (USSR) and by the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. The device shown here was delivered to the Hungarian People's Army on 31 January 1980, as indicated by the delivery certificate that was found inside the device's transit case [E]. 3

  1. The digital output of the R-014D is connected in parallel with the morse key input of the transmitter. Depending on the selected transmission mode, it will generated CW or FSK output. Note that the data sent by the R-014D is not morse code, but a proprietary digital format.
  2. Bose-Chaudhuri, or Bose-Chaudhuri-Hocquenghem, commonly known as BCH code, is a cyclic error-correcting code constructed using finite fields. It was invented in 1959 by Alexis Hocquenghem in France, and independently in 1960 by Raj Bose and D.K. Ray-Chaudhuri [9].
  3. On some Hungarian R-014D units, the instruction plate (on the battery compartment lid) is in Hungarian. On the one shown here, it is in Russian.

Raincoat
R-014D with closed lid
R-014D (Datchik)
R-014D control panel (top surface)
Keyboard and lamp panel
Mode switch and power check
Radio and power connectors (caps removed)
Spare fuses
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Raincoat
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R-014D with closed lid
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R-014D (Datchik)
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R-014D control panel (top surface)
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Keyboard and lamp panel
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Mode switch and power check
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Radio and power connectors (caps removed)
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Spare fuses

Operation
Installing and operating the R-014D is pretty straightforward. Power source and transmitter are connected to the sockets at the right. The device is switched on with the black switch at the bottom right marked ПИТАНИЕ. At the bottom left is a 4-position rotary switch marked РЕЖИМ which is used to select the desired mode of operation. The leftmost two positions are used for selecting 75 baud, whilst the rightmost two position select a transmission speed of 150 baud. The settings '1' and '2' are used to select the appropriate interface for the radio station in use.


Above the MODE selector is another rotary switch, marked КОНТРОЛЬ (kontrol), that is used in combination with the meter above for checking the internal voltages of the device. The lamp panel, located at the center of the device, consists of 12 lamps, marked 0-9, П and K. When entering a message, the lamps indicate which number is pressed. Lamp П indicates that the space key is pressed. When finishing a message (pressing the КЦ key) lamp K should light up.

Keyboard
The keyboard is fully waterproof and consists of 16 keys with rubber key tops. On each key top the corresponding number or letter is embossed. In the dark however, it might be difficult to read the embossed characters, which is why it is shown with white lettering in the drawing below.

The keyboard of the R-014D


Preparing a message
Before a (short) message can be stored in the Datchik, it first has to be converted from letters to numbers, as the device is only capable of storing digits. This was usually done by means of a message substitution table or letter matrix. It is currently unknown which substitution scheme was used for this. If you have any information about this, please contact us.

Sending the message
  • Set the mode switch РЕЖИМ to the correct position
  • Press У followed by the data (numbers 0-9), 62 characters max.
  • Use П to insert spaces wherever necessary (e.g. after each group)
  • Press КЦ to terminate the message (if less than 62 characters are used)
  • Press У followed by ПР to check the input (optional)
  • Press У followed by ПЗ to send a synchronize command
  • Press У followed ПИ to send the message
Setup
By default, the R-014D is used for unidirectional (one-way) transmission of numeric data, such as artillary coordinates for which error-free reception is paramount. In that case, the R-014D is con­nected directly connected to a transmitter, and no confirmation of reception is expected. This unidirectional setup was used in all countries of the former Warsaw Pact.


At the remote end, the R-014P burst receiver is used for decoding and displaying the data. In combination with radio stations R-135, R-137 and R-140, it is possible to create a bidirec­tional (two-way) setup by adding the R-014P to the setup. In this situation, the R-014D is slaved to the R-014P as shown in the diagram below. The 4.8V power supply is also provided by the R-014P.


As far as we know, the burst receiver — R-014P — was a Russia-only device that was not supplied to other Warsaw Pact countries. Photographs of an R-014P would be much appreciated.


Audio sample
German radio amateur Karsten Hansky, was so kind to send us an R-014D sound sample, that he recorded in May 2016 when sending data with his R-014D via an R-143 (Bagulnik) radio set, on 3573 kHz at 75 baud [5]. The sound sample can be played below and can also be downloaded.

Radio sets
The R-014D is suitable for sending burst messages at 75 or 150 baud, via a variety of radio sets. The desired speed and radio set should be selected with the MODE selector (РЕЖИМ) before starting a transmission. The following radio sets are supported [6]:

  1. R-137, R-140
  2. R-129, R-130, R-130-03, R-131, R-135, R-143 (Bagulnik)
R-142 Radio Station
During the Cold War, most countries of the Warsaw Pact used a variety of Russian communication vehicles and radio stations. To allow communication in the vicinity of the vehicle (short range) as well as over greater distances (long range), such radio stations were often equiped with HF, VHF and sometimes even UHF transceivers. They were usually placed inside trucks like the GAZ-66.

A good example of a complete radio station is R-142. It consists of a large metal frame with a variety of transceivers, control panels, intercom systems, amplifiers and switch boxes. It could be used stand-alone as a base station, but was of­ten built inside a shelter mounted on a GAZ-66.

The image on the right shows the interior of the communications shelter. Apart from a collection of HF/VHF radios and audio switch panels, there is room for three secret devices. The first one is the M-125 (Fialka) cipher machine, that is placed in the empty spot right in front of the operator.
  

The second item is T-219 (Yachta), a voice encryption unit, or frequency-domain scrambler, that is installed in a corner behind the operator. The third secret item is R-014D (Datchik). It is in­stalled in front of the operator and is just visible in the bottom right corner of the picture above.

 More about the R-142 radio station




Parts
Wooden transit case
Burst encoder R-014D (Datchik)
Canvas raincoat
Power cable
Radio cable
Batteries
Operational and technical documentation
Spare fuses
Transit case
A complete R-014D kit was supplied in a grey wooden transit case, such as the one shown in the image on the right. It measures 550 × 340 × 320 mm and weights 24 kg including all parts.

The lid is held in place by four spring-loaded clamps; two at the front and two at the rear. Inside the case are two compartments: one for the radio and the documentation, and one for the cables.
  

Encoder   R-014D
The actual R-014D burst encoder is housed in a watertight enclosure, with a rubber-sealed lid to protect the controls agains water. The lid is held in place with 6 spring-loaded locks: two at the front, two at the rear and one at either side.

The image on the right shows the bare unit, without its protective lid. It is powered by two internal batteries, or by an external 4.8V DC source.
  

Canvas raincoat
When the device was used by Special Forces (SF), for example in conflict areas like Afganistan, it was usually carried inside the canvas 'raincoat' shown in the image on the right.

The canvas coat can be attached to the webbing and has a compartment for stowing the cables. A separate canvas strap was supplied, to allow the device to be carried from the shoulder.
  

Power cable
A short 1.5 metre power cable was supplied with the R-014D. It was used when the device had to be powered externally. It has a 2-pin plug at the device end, and a 5-pin military plug at the other end.

 Wiring of the power socket
  

Radio cable
The R-014D could be connected to most regular transmitters (radio sets) by means of the inter­connection cable shown in the image on the right. Both ends of the cable are fitted with an identical 5-pin plug. The cable is wired 1:1.

Although the cable shown here is marked for use with the R-130M radio, it can be used with most other radios that accept the same connector.

 Wiring of the radio socket

  

Batteries
The device can be powered in two different ways: (1) from an external 4.8V DC power source, or (2) by two internal series-connected 2NKP-20U2 (2НКП-20У2) 2.5V batteries.

When batteries are used, they should be installed in the battery compartment, which is located under the instruction plate at the control panel. It's watertight lid is held in place by 6 bolts.

At present, no image of the batteries is available.
  

Operating instructions
Each R-014D came with a full set of documen­tation, consisting of a passport, operating instructions, a technical description and a full set of circuit diagrams, each bound in a red cover.

Unfortunately, most of the surviving manuals have faded considerably over time, to the point where they are no longer readable. 1 The set shown here is in good condition and is available for download below.

 Download documentation

  

Spare fuses and tools
Inside the top lid are two tools — a screwdriver and a wrench — plus a small bakelite can with three spare fuses. The screwdriver can be used to open the battery compartment. The fuse is also located there. The wrench can be used to mount the battery terminals.

It is advised not to use the screwdriver, as its grip is made of the first generation of plastics that were available in the Soviet Union. These plastics are known to be unstable and may become brittle over time.
  

  1. Manuals printed between 1975 and 1977 appear to be clear and readable. It seems however that the manuals that were delivered in 1979 or later, have all faded significantly, to the point where they are now barely readable.

Transit case with R-014D
Contents of the transit case
R-014D inside transit case
Cables
R-014D with closed lid
Raincoat
R-014D (Datchik)
R-014D control panel (top surface)
Tools and spare fuses stored in the top lid
Spare fuses
Power cable for the R-014D, with protective cap in place
Radio cable for R-014D
Full set of manuals
Two binders with full documentation (1980)
Barely readable pages
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Transit case with R-014D
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Contents of the transit case
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R-014D inside transit case
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Cables
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R-014D with closed lid
B
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Raincoat
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R-014D (Datchik)
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R-014D control panel (top surface)
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Tools and spare fuses stored in the top lid
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Spare fuses
B
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Power cable for the R-014D, with protective cap in place
B
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Radio cable for R-014D
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Full set of manuals
B
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Two binders with full documentation (1980)
B
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Barely readable pages

Block diagram
The diagram below shows a greatly simplfied block diagram of the structure of the R-014D. At the left is the keyboard (yellow) that has 16 push-buttons, 10 of which are used for the digits 0-9. The output of the keyboard is converted into a 5-bit digital code by the Encoder. To allow error checking, each digit consists of exactly three '1' bits and two '0' bits. The output of the encoder is stored in a memory unit with 63 positions (7 x 9). When transmitting, the data is read from the memory unit and converted into a serial data stream by the serialiser (red) and then filtered.




Encoder
Each of the 12 buttons on the keyboard, generates a 5-bit digital code of which 4 bits are used for the character (i.e. the pressed button) and one bit for (odd) parity. The latter allows for error checking in later stages, such as the memory and the serialiser.

The 5-bit codes for the digits 0-9 all have exactly three '1' bits and two '0' bits. The codes for the space and the end of message characters, each have exactly one '1' bit and four '0' bits. The table below shows the encoding for each character (note that the device uses negative logic).

Character bit 1 bit 2 bit 3 bit 4 bit 5 Remark '1' bits
0 0 1 1 1 0   3
1 1 0 1 1 0   3
2 0 0 1 1 1   3
3 0 1 0 1 1   3
4 1 0 0 1 1   3
5 1 0 1 0 1   3
6 1 1 0 0 1   3
7 1 1 0 1 0   3
8 1 1 1 0 0   3
9 0 1 1 0 1   3
Space 0 0 1 0 0 Пробел (ПР) 1
End 0 0 0 1 0 Конец (КЦ) 1
  parity  
Memory
Messages are stored in a set of three non-volatile core memory devices. Reading a bit is destruc­tive, which is why a re­fresh circuit is present. It ensures that each time a data word is read, it is written back. When the device is switched off, the message is held in memory for a long time, even if no power is present. This is not a desired feature but rather a propertly of core memory.

Each of the three memory blocks contains three core memory banks, each of which is organised as a 8 × 6 matrix. In the R-014D it is used however as a 7 × 5 matrix (one row and one column are unused). This is done as the data is stored in 5-bit format. The fifth bit is the (odd) parity bit.


The diagram above shows how the memory is addressed. At the top is the bank selector, which allows one of the 9 available banks to be selected. At the bottom is the address selector, which consists of 7 lines. This means that a total of 9 × 7 = 63 words is available, which is suitable for 3 address words, 59 data words and one terminator (End). At the left is the input data word, of which all 5 bytes are written simultaneously during a write cycle. The output is at the right.

In the circuit diagrams, the bank (column) selector and the address (row) selector are designated коммутатор (commutator). They contain a series of pulse transformers that allow a pulse to be passed through the cores in forward or reverse direction. This is necessary, as the polarity of the magnetic field – held by the hysteresis loop property – represents the logic '0' or '1' state [12].

Reading is done by forcing all bits of a word to '0', whilst observing the state of separate sense wires that are also woven through the cores. Only when the state changes from '1' to '0', a pulse will be induced on the corresponding sense line. After reading, the contents of the addressed word will be '00000', which is why additional circuitry is present to rewrite the word (refresh).

Serialiser
The serialiser (i.e. the red block in the block diagram) converts the 5-bit data words from the memory into a serial data stream, whilst adding some level of redundancy to it. This is done to enable error-checking and error-correction. The diagram below shows the construction of the serialiser, which uses the Bose-Chaudhuri 2 coding scheme to provide strong noise immunity [8][9]. The memory, which delivers the 5-bit data words to the serialiser, is shown at the top left.




The 5 data bits are loaded into the first positions of a 14-stage linear feedback shift register (LFSR 1) and will eventually appear unaltered at the output of that shift register, with new bits (derived from the current data) being fed in from the left. The output of LFSR 1 is added (XOR) with the output from LFSR 2, with has 7 stages (i.e. half te size of LFSR 1). The diagram also shows the initial state of the LFSR2 register on startup: 1010110.




Interior
Compared to other burst encoders of the same era, the R-014D is rather large and heavy. It was the first fully electronic burst encoder developed by the former USSR and it shows the state-of-technology in Russia in 1975. In this respect, one should bare in mind that western technology wasn't available to the Russians at the time. Heavy use is made of first generation of Russian ICs.

The unit can be opened by loosening the 12 bolts at the edges of the front panel. Note that two of these bolts might be sealed with black or red wax. If the wax is still present, the case has not been opened after the device was released.

Once the bolts have been loosened, the entire interior can be extracted from the case by lifting the front panel. Despite the fact that the R-014D can hold only 62 characters in its memory, it contains a surprisingly large number of parts. About one-third of the volume is taken by the battery compartment. The rest is for the PCBs.
  

The circuitry is build around a large number of first-generation Russian Integrated Circuits (ICs) that are spread over 12 small PCBs. The PCBs are all mounted in a six-layer hinged assembly. Despite its complexity, the R-014D is very service-friendly. After removing the 8 long bolts that hold the PCBs together, the stack of boards can be 'browsed' like the pages of a book.

The square metal hybrids that are visible in the image above, are general-purpose logic devices of the 201-series, based on RTL tech­nology [10] and made by the Exiton factory (Экситон) in Pavlovski Posad (Moscow District, Russia) [11].

The messages are stored in a set of non-volatile memory devices that are located on the second PCB, complete with write, read and refresh cir­cuits. Such memory devices consist of a series of minia­ture circular ferro-magnetic cores, each of which can hold 1 bit of information by using the hysteresis loop properties of the ferrite material.
  

Reading a bit is destructive, which is why a re­fresh circuit is present. It ensures that each time a data word is read, it is written back. When the device is switched off, the message is held in memory for a very long time, even if no power is present.

Battery compartment
Fuse
R014D interior
R-014D removed from its case
Browsing the PCBs like the pages of a book
Interior with 2nd PCB folded out
Folding out the PCBs
R-014D on its side - interior
Interior with first PCB folded out
Close-up of some transistors
Bakelite units with 'Ya1' enscription
Miniature transformers
Non-volatile memory
Power circuits
More memory drivers
120 kHz Crystal
C
×
C
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Battery compartment
C
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Fuse
C
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R014D interior
C
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R-014D removed from its case
C
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Browsing the PCBs like the pages of a book
C
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Interior with 2nd PCB folded out
C
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Folding out the PCBs
C
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R-014D on its side - interior
C
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Interior with first PCB folded out
C
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Close-up of some transistors
C
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Bakelite units with 'Ya1' enscription
C
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Miniature transformers
C
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Non-volatile memory
C
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Power circuits
C
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More memory drivers
C
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120 kHz Crystal

Checklist
Below is a translation of the original checklist that was supplied with each R-014D. It shows which items were suplied, how many of each, and in which compartment of the wooden transit case they were stowed. Thanks to Jerry McCarthy for the translation [13].

Inventory and layout of
transit box 4.161.030

# Description Qty Bay Document No.
1 Datchik R-014D without batteries and cover 1 1 2.016.015
2 Set of operational documents 1 1 PO 2.016.005F
3 Set of spare parts for operation 1 1, 2 PO 2.016.005ZI
4 Bag 1 1 4.165.000
5 Strap for bag 1 2 5.834.015
6 Bag with cable 1 1 8.870.026
7 Case for batteries 1 2 8.840.000
8 Battery accumulator type 2 NKP 2a U2 2 2  
  Completed OTK 132
Connections
Radio
The diagram below shows the pinout of the output connector on the front panel of the R-014D, when looking into the socket from the front of the device. The diameter of the connector is approx. 25 mm. In most cases, a 1:1 cable was used for connection to the transmitter.

  1. Relay contact (1)
  2. Signal out
  3. -
  4. Relay contact (2)
  5. Ground (and shield)
Power
Power for the R-014D is usually derived from the power supply unit that comes with the radio, and is typically 4.8V. Alternatively, the unit can be powered by internal batteries that should be fitted below the large lid on the control panel. In any case the source should not exceed 5V. Below is the pinout of the power connector when looking into the socket. It has a thick and a thin pin. The thin one is connected to ground. The thick one goes to the + terminal of the battery.

  1. Ground (0V)
  2. +4.8V
Technical specifications
  • Device
    Burst encoder
  • Purpose
    Transmission of artillery coordinates
  • Model
    R-014D (Р-014Д)
  • Codename
    Datchik (Датчик)
  • Country
    Soviet Union (USSR)
  • Year
    1975
  • Users
    USSR, WP, Spetsnaz
  • Memory
    62 characters 1
  • Speed
    75, 150 baud
  • Burst
    4 (150 baud) or 7 (150 baud) seconds
  • Accuracy
    ±1%
  • Clock
    120 kHz
  • Stability
    5 × 10-1
  • Output
    5V (into 1KOhm), 10V (into 5 KOhm)
  • Warmup
    2 minutes
  • Power
    4.8V DC +10/-15%
  • Battery
    2 × 2NKP-20U2 (2НКП-20У2) @ 2.5V
  • Internal
    +4V, -6.3V, -20V
  • Consumption
    1.5A (standby), 2.1A (transmit) at 4.8V DC
  • Temperature
    -50°C to +50°C
  • Dimensions
    351 × 251 × 168 mm
  • Weight
    14.5 kg
  1. 3 address characters and 59 message characters.

Modes
  1. low: 0-0.15V
    high: ≥ 5V into 1kΩ
  2. low: 0-0.5V
    high: 10V ±2.5V into 5kΩ
Compatible radio sets
Surviving serial numbers
  • 7326
    1977
    Crypto Museum
  • 8120
    1979~
    Private collector Germany
  • 8140
    1979~
    Crypto Museum
  • 8423
    1979~
    Privte collector Austria
  • 8776
    1980
    Crypto Museum
Documentation
  1. Datchik R-014D, Operating Instructions
    2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian). 1
     1980 version

  2. Datchik R-014D Technical Description
    2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian). 1

  3. Datchik R-014D Circuit Diagrams
    2.016.005. 1 August 1975 (Russian). 1

  4. Datchik R-014D, Delivery Form, serial number 007404
    2.016.005. Printed 1975. Issued 31 October 1977. 1

  5. Datchik R-014D, Delivery Certificate, serial number 008776
    Issued 1 January 1980.

  6. Datchik R-014D, Checklist
    4.161.030. Undated. 1

  7. Geber R-014-D / Datchik, Instruktion zur Inbetriebsnahme
    German translation of 2.016.005 I and II, version 1-67. 1

  8. Kurzinstruktion der Bedienung des Gebers
    Short operating instructions (German). 1
  1. Kindly dontated by anonymous contributor [4].

References
  1. Wikipedia, Spetsnaz
    Russian Special Forces. Retrieved October 2013.

  2. Wikipedia, Soviet-Afghan War
    Retrieved October 2013.

  3. Helmut 'Jim' Meyer (HS0ZHK), My way to Ham - Radio and beyond
    Website QRZ.COM. Personal correspondence. Retrieved June 2008.

  4. Anonymous contributor, Original R-014D documentation, 1975
    Received June 2008.

  5. Karsten Hansky, R-014D sound sample
    Recorded with R-143 (Bagulnik). Received May 2016.

  6. Jörg Drobick, Datschik Funk Schnelltelegraphie mit Verschleierung
    Website Der SAS- und Chiffrierdienst (SCD). Retrieved May 2016.

  7. Steven J. Zaloga, BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1967-94
    June 2013. ISBN 9781472804556. p. 74.

  8. Russianarms.SU, Technical literature
    Website. Retrieved May 2016.

  9. Wikipedia, BCH code
    Retrieved May 2016.

  10. Wikipedia, Resistor-transistor logic
    Visited 4 January 2024.

  11. Wikipedia, Soviet integrated circuit designation
    Visited 4 January 2024.

  12. Wikipedia, Magnetic-core memory
    Visited 4 January 2024.

  13. Jerry McCarthy, Checklist translation
    25 January 2024.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 22 February 2010. Last changed: Monday, 19 February 2024 - 17:51 CET.
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