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Racal MA-4073
Programmer

MA-4073 is a portable data transfer device, also known as a programmer, loader or filler, developed and built by Racal Mobilcal Ltd. in Reading (UK). It is used for programming radio frequencies (channels) and cryptographic variables (keys) into certain 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-4073G programmer with standard battery fitted

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. 1

  1. Military variant only.

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
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Racal MA-4073 data transfer device
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Close-up of the alphanumerical LED display
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Battery
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Rechargeable battery
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Connection to the radio
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Zeroize switch
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Zeroizing
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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.
MA-4073C
The image on the right shows the military variant of the MA-4073C, which is housed in a green die-cast metal enclosure. It requires a special battery that is installed behind the display.

To the left of the battery cradle is a 7-pin radio socket and the fuse. To the right of the battery is a switch that can be used for ZEROIZING the device in case of an emergency. This is done by pushing the knob in and turning it clockwise.
  
Racal MA-4073 data transfer device

MA-4073G
The image on the right shows the civil law-enforcement version of the MA-4073G. It is housed in a black die-cast metal enclosure and accepts a standard MA-4516 battery (the same one as used with the MA-1515 handheld radio).

Note that the layout of this variant is slightly different from the one shown above. Apart from accepting a regular MA-4515-compatible battery, the 7-pin radio socket is located at the right. Furthermore, this variant does not have an emergency ZEROIZE facility.

  
Racal MA-4073G programmer with standard battery fitted

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
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Crypto Fill Cable for the PRM-4515 Cougar radio and the MA-4083 fill gun
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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

Compatible devices
Racal MA-4083C fill gun
Racal MA-4778 Cougar DS-102 key fill interface
Racal PRM-4515 Cougar handheld radio
Racal Cougar PRM-4735 body-wearable covert radio with voice encryption
Thales PRM-5120 Cougar covert radio with voice encryption
Digital voice encryptor
Racal PRM-4720A rugged tactical portable VHF-L FM radio
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. May 1990.

  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: Saturday, 18 May 2019 - 08:21 CET.
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