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DS-101 →
DS-102   EKMS 608
Common fill device interface · CFDI

DS-102 is the oldest interface standard for electronic transfer devices, or fill units, developed and endorsed by the US National Security Agency. It was first introduced on the American STU-II secure telephone, and has since found its way to many radios and encryption devices from a wide variety of manufacturers. Although DS-102 has been superceeded by DS-101, many devices are still backwards compatible with DS-102, making it arguably the most popular KEY FILL interface.

DS-102 is used on many popular FILL devices, such as the KYK-13 and KOI-18. The DS-102 interface standard is described in the EKMS-608 standard. Although the details of this standard used to be freely available on the internet in the early 2000s, this is no longer the case today.

From surviving documents however, we know that the maximum key length is limited to 128 bits — consisting of 120 data-bits and an 8-bit checksum — on most key transfer devices, for example on the KYK-13, the KSP-1 and the UP-2001, which were among the most popular ones.

Note that Key Tape Readers, like the KOI-18 and KLL-1 do not have this limitation. As they do not have an internal memory to hold the key, but merely a data serialiser, they can handle keys of any length, simply by using a longer tape. Furthermore, they are not aware of any checksums that are part of the data on the tape (e.g. the last 8 bits). They only perform a simple parity check on the data words on the tape and convert it to a serial data stream. There are no start and end markers.

It is also known that a synchronous data protocol is used – with separate DATA and CLOCK lines – of which the CLOCK signal is generated by the fill device. This allows manually operated devices, like KOI-18 and KLL-1 to generate their own clock, based on the sprocket holes in the key tape.

DS-102 fill units on this website
AN/KOI-18 Key Tape Reader
AN/KYK-13 Key Transfer Device
ECCM Fill Device (Frequency Hopping tables)
Key fill device
Philips DS-102 compatible key loader
ANT/Siemens/R&S DS-102 key tape reader
ANT/Siemens/R&S DS-102 key transfer device
Racal MA-4778 Cougar DS-102 key filler
AN/CYZ-10 Data Transfer Device
Thales DTD-II - Data Transfer Device 2
DS-102 compatible devices on this website
KG-40 and KG-40A Link 11 encryption device
KG-81 digital high-speed trunk encryption device
KG-84 digital line encryptor for telex signals
KY-57 (VINSON) Wide-band Voice and Data Encryption Unit
Narrow-band Voice and Data Terminal
Secure Telephone Unit
KY-68 Digital Secure Telephone
KIV-7, embeddable KG-84 COMSEC module
BID/250 (Lamberton) SAVILLE-based voice encryption unit for Clansman DMU
Replacement for the BID/250 and other (obsolete) cryptographic units
KG-40A Replenishment
Spendex-40 secure telephone for voice, fax and computer
Spendex 50 (DBT), military secure crypto phone
BVO-M (Mucolex compatible) Trunk Encryption Device
BVO-T (KG-81 compatible) Trunk Encryption Device
Aroflex II cipher machine, also known as PDLX-6141 or T-1285CA
Ecolex 20
The Siemens T-1285CA (Aroflex) cipher machine
Elcrovox 1/4D narrow band voice and data terminal (STU-II compatible)
Key length
Although the DS-102 standard does not impose a limit on the length of cryptographic keys that can be transferred with a device, most FILL devices can store and transfer keys with a maximum length of 128-bits. This limit is probably related to early voice encryption devices that use the SAVILLE encryption algorithm, such as the US VINSON (KY-57) and the UK Lamberton (BID/250).

With such devices, the key consists of 120 key-bits and an 8-bit checksum. With SAVILLE, only the first 120 bits are used as crypto variables, whilst the last 8 bits are used to check whether the first 120 bits are valid. This is done by calculating an 8-bit Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC-8) from the first 120 bits, using a non-standard NSA-determined polynomial function.

The image on the right shows a KYK-13 fill unit, attached to the FILL socket on the front panel of a Philips Spendex 40 crypto phone, developed in the early 1980s as an alternative to the STU-II.

With other devices, the 8-bit CRC is sometimes used as part of the key as well. This is particularly the case with devices that use the NSA's WALBURN encryption algorithm, such as the KG-81 trunk encryption device (TED) and the Philips BVO-T; a TED-compatible encryption device for ZODIAC.

Although with most DS-102 compatible FILL devices the maximum key length is limited to 128 bits, this is not the case for tape-based transfer units like the KOI-18 and the KLL-1.

With these devices, the key length is determined by the length of the 8-level punched paper tape that is fed through its reader. The image on the right shows the handheld KLL-1 made by ANT in Germany, and marketed by ANT, Siemens, Bosch, Telefunken and Rohde & Schwarz. The KLL-1 is basically a functional clone of the NSA's KOI-18 unit, which was often in short supply at the time.

A similar principle was used by cipher machines that were capably of loading the cryptographic keys through a built-in paper tape reader, such as the Philips Aroflex and STK's RACE (KL-51).

SAVILLE secret key structure

For connection between the FILL unit, and a radio or encryption device, most devices used a standard U-229 connector. In many cases, this connector is shared with the audio functions of a military radio, for example for the connection of a handset. This connector has 5 or 6 spring-loaded contacts, and is available in a male and female variant, as shown in the diagram below.

Although each variant has its own specific type number, they are often referred to as U-229/U, or simply U-229, after the female 5-pin cable part. The table below shows the pinout of this connector for the DS-102 standard. On encryption devices this connector is commonly used exclusively for the FILL function, but on radio sets it is often shared with the audio functions.

Pin DS-102 Description
A GND Ground (common wire)
B - Not used
C ACK FILL request acknowlegment
D DATA Fill data into radio or crypto device
E CLK Fill clock into radio or crypto device
F - Not used (missing from some devices)

 More about the U-229 connector

  • Name
  • Standard
    EKMS-608, STANAG 5063
  • Creator
  • Interface
    Single-ended, RS232-like
  • Logic
    Negative ('0' = 0V, '1' = -6V)
  • Type
  • Baudrate
    Variable (determined by fill device)
  • Handshake
  • Key length
    Variable (typically 128 bits) 1
  • Checksum
  1. Unlimited for tape-based fill devices.

DS-102 compatible fill devices
  1. CSESD-11
    Communications Security Equipment System Document for Fill Devices

    NSA, date unknown. Unclassified parts only. #CM303091/B.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 11 February 2018. Last changed: Saturday, 11 May 2024 - 07:15 CET.
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