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HANDS-ON ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCEis designed for law enforcement personnel,
government agencies and those civilians with a legitimate use for state-of the-art electronic
eavesdropping methods.
This report can be used as a stand-alone guide for modern surveillance methods, but for
best effect should be combined with BOOK 11- HOWTO GET ANYTHING ON ANYBODY,
available from Intelligence Incorporated for $38 postpaid, and/or with HANDS-ON
It is illegal, in the US, to own devices designed primarily for the surreptitious recording of
conversations and in many states and under many circumstances it is A FELONYto record
conversations without the proper consent or court warrants.
The publishers of this book do not suggest that ANYONE break the law. These techniques
are presented for authorized use only. If you are involved in electronic surveillance, consult
an attorney to understand your rights and obligations.
Intelligence Incorporated
2228 S. EI Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
Catalog of books, video tapes and equipment for investigators, $5.00.
--lee lapin
Copyright 1992by Intelligence Incorporated. Reproduction of any of the contents of this book by any
means Is strictly forbidden without the written consent of the publishers.
The first consideration of any surreptitious microphone/transmitter should be
sound attainment. While sound can be transmitted through any elastic substance,
consider how easily you can attain sound in the following situations.
Sound takes the path of least resistance, such as a doorway, duct or open window.
Check for little overlooked air paths ' over, under or around doors. Sometimes you
can find holes in walls, or spaces around pipes and wiring leading to your subject.
Remember even the smallest air path can transmit sound to your microphone.
Sound-as well as electrical signals-travels along the metal surfaces of
electrical conduits, pipes and ducts. You can recover this sound after it has
traveled more than 100 feet in this manner. Water-filled pipes transmit sound
with much less distortion than empty pipes.
Sounds, depending on their frequencies, penetrate floors, ceilings and doors.
After sound energy hits a structure, some reflects from the surface, some is
absorbed and the rest passes on.
If on a job you run into a "soundproof' room, don't be too alarmed, especially if
the soundproofing consists of acoustical tile. Truth is, acoustical tile can
actually reduce a room's sound security. Acoustical tile was made to reduce
sound reverberations in a recording studio. Tile lets walls absorb more sound,
reducing its level in the room. Sound that is absorbed is not lost because energy
cannot be destroyed, only converted. Therefore, acoustical tile may reduce a
room's security by allowing sound to be transmitted through the wall structure
and it is often applied in a hanging configuration allowing space to place
surveillance gear above the tile.
Most microphones will "hear" through acoustical tile quite well, if not simply
punch a small hole with a nail or dentists drill. This same technique works well
with video camera lenses. The tiny hole will usually be lost in the tile's pattern.
Hanging ceilings, common in office buildings
provide adequate space for even large transmit-
ters or video cameras and recorders (left). Even
flat acoustical tile ceilings provide room for co-
vert transmitters.
Distortion and Interference
Sound is distorted when a disruption
changes its normally smooth pattern.
You may encounter distortion that
occurs before the sound is recorded,
during the recording or at playback.
Excessive distortion cuts down your
recovery and understanding of inter-
cepted sound.
When placing the microphone, you
should consider how quickly sound loses
power after leaving its source. Say
your friend is talking to you from 10
feet away. If you then stand 20 feet
apart, the magnitude of his voice
doesn't become one-half as loud-it
cuts to one-fourth. The magnitude of
sound declines according to the inverse
square law. If you quadruple the dis-
tance between you and your friend, the
power of the sound of his voice
drops to one-sixteenth.
In surveillance work we are interested in two kinds of sound: Sounds (usually
voices) we want to hear, and all other unwanted sounds no matter what their
Types of sound interference are countless. Rain, plumbing, air conditioning, fans,
traffic, planes and trains are just some of the problems. When you monitor
someone, just one other person speaking in the near vicinity can cause inter-
Sound waves not only travel from their source, they also are reflected when they hit a
surface. Reflected sounds behave as ifthe surface they hit is their original source, and can
be reflected again.
Sound patterns become very complicated after reflecting and re-reflecting from ceilings,
floors, walls and internal objects.
Reflected sound waves canmerge almost exactlywithsounds arrivingfromthe first source.
Sounds merged like this have an increased sound level and are "in phase."
Sometimes original and reflected sound waves meet so that their decompressions and
compressions neutralize each other. When they merge this way the sounds are "out of
phase." If neutralization is perfect, the effect is called cancellation. Sounds are rarely
totally out of phase, so the nullification effect is usually just called interference.
Test all insertion points to make sure they have no interference. The best way to
accomplish this, as well as to test the transmitter placement is to work with a partner
situated at the Listening Post. By communicating with walkie talkies you can quickly
determine the best spot for placement.
Whether hardwiring, stashing a recorder or placing a transmitter, the prime rule to
rememberis: the closeryouplace the microphone to the people speaking, the more likely your
operation will succeed.
The average male's speaking voice falls between a frequency range of 100 Hz and 8 KHz
and the average female's between 200 Hz and 10KHz. Most speech falls between 600 Hz
and 4 KHz. You can sharply reduce interference without sacrificing clarity and under-
standingby reducingthe power offrequencies between 600 Hz and 4 KHz. Some recording
systems come with filters that limit the band pass to achieve this reduction, automatically
reducing sounds outside of the voice range. Early telephones did this by virtue of their
carbon microphone construction.
Rooms constructed with hard surface walls and containingfiling cabinets, desks and other
such furnishings are known as "hardrooms." Hard rooms reflect sound waves a great deal,
creating a feeling ofloudness despite a lack ofloud sounds.
On the other hand, "soft rooms" are fitted with acoustical tiles, soft. walls, paddedfurniture,
drapes and carpets. Soft rooms absorb sounds and cause a feeling of quiet regardless ofthe
presence ofloud sounds.
Soft rooms pose fewer surveillance problems than do hard rooms. Hard rooms reflect sound
more, causingdistortion. By its construction, a hard room's structure multiplies the effects
of disturbances and interference.
If you have the opportunity, test several spots in the target room to find the one with the
least amount of annoying distortion. Some operatives take a surreptitious photo of the
room on an earlier visit and then pre-plan the actual placement by experience or by
experimentingwith a similar room. This is often possible ifthe target room is a motel room
or apartment with duplicates nearby.
When you select a place for microphone stashing, remember to place it as close as possible
to where the talking will take place. Avoid sites that will cause the microphone to pick up
too many reflected sounds. For instance, placing a microphone in a file cabinet, or metal
wastepaperbasket could add echoes that would make anyreceived speechincomprehensible.
Besides finding a good location to hide the microphone, you must check for and try to
remove any sources of electrical interference. Sources you cannot remove require diligent
placement of both cabling and the actual microphone.
Electrical humcomes from motors, transformers, SCR dimmers and electrical wires. Many
appliances cause humand noise. Always strive to place your microphone cables away from
these sources of hum. When you must bring microphone cable across electrical wires, do
it at a 90 degree angle to reduce induction. Ifyou still pick up 60 cycle hum from building
wiring or fluorescent lamps, it can usually be notched out after recording.
The best places to conceal a microphone are those above a standing person's eye level or
below a seated person's. People do not often scrutinize these areas. Also take advantage of
any obstructions you can stash a microphone behind.
Even though doors, ceilings, walls and floors are many times hollow, they seem solid and
people imagine them to be free of suspicion. Consider planting microphones inside these
supposedly solid locations. Inside walls has the added advantage of nearby wiring with
which to power your transmitter. Atiny hole can be drilled for the microphone, or existing
holes such as those in electrical sockets can be utilized for sound gathering.
Ceilings offer benefits when concealing microphones. Crawl spaces and attics can give
room inwhich to work, remember sound goes through most acoustic tile so the microphone
Air ducts in commerical buildings offer many advantages to the eavesdropper including large areas for
transmitter placement, sound collection from adjoiningrooms and sometimes even access to "locked" offices
for installation.
can simply be placed on it without the need to drill holes. Outlets, fixtures and ducts are
good places for a microphone, provided there is no acoustical and electrical interference.
The safest method in which to place an area under surveillance (safe with regards to
obtaining the needed sound) is to hardwire it. This entails secreting a miniature micro-
phone in the area ofinterest and then bringing the electrical signal out to your listening
post, or a hidden recorder, by the use of wires.
One method of doing this is to lay fine copper wire (purchased or unwound from a flyback
transformer) around the edge of the floor and out to the LP.
You can easily hide microphone cable with carpeting. Separate the pile down to the carpet
backing, tack cables to the backing with small wire staples, then smooth the pile back to
cover your cable.
Wall-to-wall carpets are usually set in place by being pressedinto small points stickingout
of thin wood strips mounted on the baseboard. Use a pair of pointed pliers to separate the
carpet from the strip. You can lay wire between the wall and the strip; or on the strip,
making sure the sharp points do not puncture the insulation and short out the wires. Then
replace the carpet.
The longer a cable is the more chance there is ofits discovery. You should always maintain
the shortest possible cable run for best results.
It is also possible to utilize in-place wiring for your cable run. The most convenient wires
are usually those conveniently installed by the friendly phone company. Ifthe target room
has a phone, and just one line, the black and yellow wires insthe phone cable are unused
and will carry signals back outside the building where they can be picked off at the
operator's convenience.
Specialized recordings require special equipment to work effectively. Ifyour subject is in
a large room, the level of the recording will vary considerably, making the recording less
than coherent. A compressor/pre amp unit will solve this problem by maintaining a
constant input level to any recorder. Low level sounds, or moderate length cable runs
require the microphone output to be increased to provide enough signal for successful
recording. Apreamplifier that powers andboosts the output ofyour condenser microphone
should be used to compensate for these situations. This will also work quite well for covert
briefcase applications or body (wire) recording.
Professional surveillance experts never use a simple electret mic for hardwire work that
covers any distance. Why? Recording amplifiers and pre amps boost the line noise along
with the signal creating strong audio interference. The cure for hardwire hangups is to
employ a combination microphone and amplifier/driver at the FRONTend ofthe cable that
transmits a high level signal to the recorder. The mic must be phantom powered from the
recorder and include an interface for proper connection impedance. Good line drivers will
be sensitive will work over several thousand feet of unshielded cable ifnecessary and have
the added advantage ofbeingpoweredfrom the LP rather thanfrominside the target room.
A nice selection of mic elements, preamps, compressors and line drivers is sold by:
Intelligence Incorporated
2228 S EI Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
Sometimes you cannot enter the target room or at least you should not enter, because of
potential countermeasures or difficulties in hiding the microphone. Use specialized
microphones outside the target room in these cases.
Atube fastened over the microphone openingexposes its diaphragmto air pressure. Sound
pressure variations travel great distances through the tube, depending on its diameter and
composition. Seal the microphone onto the tube itself, and insert the tube's other end into
any hole that reaches your target.
Hotel or motel, rooms connected to each other often have electrical wall outlets back to
back. Take off the outlet cover on your side for tube access to the target. Telephone,
television antenna or cable TV outlets might also give handy access.
Using a plastic tube lessens the danger of your operation being found by a metal detector.
Your device and wire stay with you in the listening post. It does not matter ifthe tube can
bend or is inflexible, but you should insulate it completely from building vibrations.
Sound waves usually move in a straight line between two points. But sound penetrating
a pinhole in a wall behaves differently. Whatever angle the sound originally comes from,
when it goes through a pinhole it exits behaving as ifit came from the hole. Therefore, you
can place a microphone on the exit side of the pinhole to pick up sounds no matter from
what direction they first came.
Any sounds traveling through the pinhole have less strength than those on the "hot" side
ofthe wall. Make sure you install the microphone with an airtight seal against the pinhole
side of the wall to avoid losing more sound energy. Silicone caulking is good for this
You should seal the microphone at the pinhole also to avoid the barrel effect. This effect
happens when a microphone is situatedin dead spacein a wall. Bouncingwaves in this area
distort sound so it sounds like someone talking into an empty barrel.
Crystal transducers can be attached to a wall next to the target room. Sound waves in the
target room vibrate the wall, and a crystal transducer transforms the mechanical
vibrations into an electrical copy of the target sounds.
Regular ambient sounds in the room vibrate the walls and create problems of extreme
interference, so crystal transducers provide minimal acoustic quality, but it will work
against thin walls and may be your only choice in a "sudden" situation.
Traditional thru wall vibration monitors are gradually being replaced by devices known
as accelerometers. These are verysensitive units usedby engineers to readminute changes
in g forces on a surface. They can also be used to reproduce the tiny changes as sound.
Accelerometers are a viable alternative to vibration microphones.
The best two traditional thru wall mic/amp combinations are made by:
Efftingestr. 19
2000 Hamburg 70
POB 171
Cockeysville, MD 21030
Accelerometers designed for surveillance purposes are sold by:
Freepost NH4756
Cavendish Courtyard
Sallow Road
Corby NN17 IDZ
Army, or I guess the correct term would be NASA surplus, accelerometers are available
1760 Dibble Circle West
Jacksonville, FL 32216
It's also possible to combine hardwires and transmitters. Hardwire the transmitter at the
site to an RF transmitter, which does not have to be at the site. You can then pick up sound
from the target room with your receiver at a remote listening post.
Whatever system you use, it must be comprised of:
1: A microphone of some sort that transforms sound into electrical energy.
2: Cable or connection to the receiver. Hard wired systems are risky, but in cases where the
target site already has wires, consider their use. Use RF links preferentially, because they
give better security by letting you hide from remote with the receiver.
3: Alisteningpost. It needs amplifiers or receivers to convert electrical energyto soundloud
enough for you to understand. Hard-wired systems need an audio amplifier with gain
factor sufficiently high enough for you to hear or record sounds.
Your receiver and transmitter must be compatible in frequency and how theymodulate the
signal. The receiver needs to be able to discriminate from other local RF signals, and
sufficiently sensitive to pick up the lower energy typically emitted by hidden transmitters.
Finally, you need speakers or a set of earphones, which simply reverse the process of a
microphone converting sound waves into electrical energy. For permanent storage, court
appearances or just sharing with friends, use a tape recorder.
You will need to choose between installing a RF or hard-wired system, depending on the
needs of your surveillance operation. The benefits of using an RF system include:
You can conceal a transmitter on your person or in a vehicle. The time you spend dropping
a transmitter in the target area is minimal. No one can trace the transmitter back to you,
and you have greater latitude in choosing your receiving post. Because the transmitter is
a usually a single unit with its own power, you will have fewer installation problems.
The problems of using an RF transmitter include:
You must return to the site to replace batteries if any are used.
Adiscovered or not retrieved unit normally means the loss of expensive equipment. Simple
counter-measure gear can detect most transmitters. Other RF signals, random noise and
intentional jamming can cause interference. Drug dealers and hackers have interfered
with law enforcement transmissions by jamming and a couple of vendors now offer
commercial jamming units.
Frequency Ranges
A surveillance transmitter's frequency usually falls between 20 MHz and 500 MHz.
Commonly available items such as "baby sitters" or "wireless microphones" use the
commercial FM band of 88 MHz to 108 MHz. But ifyou have enough skill and resources,
you can use nearly any RF frequency.
If you are going to use a baby sitter or wireless microphone transmitter, set the
operating frequency a fraction below 88 MHz or a little above 108 MHz by adjusting the
coil. Commercial FM receivers will then have a reduced chance of picking up your
transmission. Endeavor to pick an unused frequency. FCC-allocated frequencies are
publicinformation, so a little researchwill show you the clean areas ofthe spectrumin your
Technical surveillance generally uses three frequency bands. They are low band VHF, 36
to 50 MHz, high band VHF, 150 to 174 MHz; and UHF, 450 to 512 MHz. You tune a
frequency by changing the mixer resonant circuits, RF amplifier and local oscillator at the
same time for best results.
Each frequency band has its own conditions you will want to consider in your choice.
Lowband VHF frequencies do not lose as much power when traveling far. However, they
are verybadat penetratingstructures. LowbandVHF signals suffer skip interference and
have limited area saturation.
Buildings often are made with steel structural members, rods for reinforcement, concrete
and metal panels, all elements that hinder radio waves. Consequently doors and windows
could wind up being the only openings for radio waves in these structures. LowbandVHF
signals have wavelengths of 19 to 33 feet, too long to escape intact from small openings.
Skip interference occurs when long-traveling signals reflect strongly from the ionosphere
back to earth. Area saturationis the condition of a radio signal reflecting and rereflecting.
Low frequencies reflect less, causing dead spots and shadows.
If you need to send signals where land masses block the path, use high band VHF. This
range also penetrates buildings well, but is less successful than lowband VHF for line-of-
sight transmission.
For optimum transmission through an environment filled with metal structures, use the
UHF band.
The higher your signal's frequency, the shorter distance it can travel. High frequencies
possess short wavelengths and vice versa.
For long range transmission, lowband VHF is good, high band VHF medium, and UHF is
bad. To avoid skip interference, the best bets are UHF or high VHF, with
lowVHF faring not so well. Use UHF to achieve the best area saturation, high VHF when
this is of medium concern, and low VHF when it is oflittle concern. When the area poses
a great deal of structural interference, UHF gives your signal the best passage, high VHF
a medium success rate, and low VHF a negligible showing at best.
You can utilize one of two types ofFM transmitters. The cheaper transmitter is one that
is tuned to the operating frequency by an inductance/capacitance integrated circuit. It
exhibits frequency drift often and is called"free running." The free running circuit, usually
a micro miniature device, transmits in various bands but the cheaper units usually live in
the commercial FM band.
The FCC has recently enacted a lawwhich prohibits, or at least restricts, the selling ofFM
transmitters to unlicensed operators. Most of these "hobbyist" units are now required to
be offered in kit form; the logic beingthat a true electronics' hobbyist shouldbe able to build
his own unit.
Several companies have edged around the kit laws by offering their units completely
constructed except for the soldering of one component, usually the microphone element.
The best free running transmitter I have personally found is made by:
Box 607
Bedford Hills, NY 10507
This unit uses surface mounted components, IC chips instead of discrete transistors, is
fairly stable and serves as a dual purpose unit. Ifyou solder the microphone on it works
as an area transmitter ("bug")t ifyou utilize the other two contacts it works as a telephone
Range on this unit is quite goodand it is stable enough that a goodAFCreceiver or scanner
and track any drift and record the signal without constant re-tuning.
THE DECO VT-75 Voice and telephone transmitter unit (right). Solder one component Pre-tuned to the low
end of the broadcast FM band it is tunable up to 130 Mhz with only a screwdriver. Runs on any power source
form 3-12VDC.
(Left.) Cony micro transmitter. Not as stable as the Deco but still a deal for those thirty dollar drop-in
Law enforcement agents and serious surveillance folk will more likely employ the other
type, the crystal-controlled transmitter. Its quartz crystals regulate the exact the
operatingfrequency allowing for little frequency drift. Crystal controlledunits are usually
a bit higher in price butt for the most part, well worth the difference as you will experience
fewer problems with receiving the unit's signal.
A couple of publicly accessible companies offer crystal controlled transmitters and
matching receivers (although a regular receiver or scanner can be used) at prices far less
than those charged by traditional law enforcement manufacturers.
One of the best units I have tested is made by:
(Lorraine Electronics Surveillance)
716 Lea Bridge Rd
Leyton, London E10 6AW
Small, selfpowered, available inbotharea and phone configurations, extremelystable and
can be used with a nice little crystal controlled receiver that is small enough to carry
unobtrusively in a coat pocket.
A RUBY crystal controlled surveillance transmitter and dedicated receiver. Small, sensitive and quite
inexpensive. Ruby units are well designed and preform as advertised, somewhat of a rarity in this field. ..
Another CC unit is made by:
39 Star St
London W2 1QB
The Japanese check in with a dedicated transmitter and mini receiver made by:
Shiba POB 145
Tokyo, Japan
and sold bya number ofJapanese companies. All ofthese units from the Ruby on down are
offered by American suppliers at inflated prices.
Think carefully about how much RF power, you need to use. While more power increases
transmission range, it also renders your operation more vulnerable to eavesdropping on
your eavesdropping and countermeasures. Always use the minimum amount of power
necessary to get the job done.
Ifyou only need to transmit sounds from one room to another nearby room or vehicle, you
can probably get by with a subminiature unit powered from hearing aid batteries. Do not
use such a device when transmitting for hundreds of feet, or penetrating commercial
buildings, despite advertising claims ofviabilityfor more than1,000 feet. Itjust ain't true
Atransmitter's range has to do with the degree ofRF power as well as the efficiency ofthe
antenna. Range, efficiency and optimal power usage decline with any design change ofthe
antenna affecting its tuned length.
Subminiature devices modified to fit inside cigarette packs, ash trays and shoe heels have
insufficiently long antennas. Their range is quite limited, compared to what it would be if
their antennas were of proper length.
You run a risk of being easily detected when using cheap commercial "wireless micro-
phones" because of the frequency range they transmit and the amount of spurious signals
called harmonics they produce.
If you feel there is absolutely no danger of someone looking for the unit, or tuning across
it accidental while operating an FM receiver in the vicinity, you can use of these devices
in a pinch, but remember anyone listening to a nearby radio may run across the signal or
the traditional feedback howl when the transmitter is operating nearby.
Pick what kind of device you require based on the power needed to receive its signals, and
how much time it takes to install the unit and your budget for the job.
Determine preciselyhowmuchpower youneed, because the less RF power emitted, the less
chance of detection. Balance power needs with simplicity of installation. Ifyou know you
have little access time, use a transmitter with its own power source and integral antenna.
The time you save in simply dropping the device under a chair outweighs the drawback of
radiating excess RF power.
The best method is to still conduct an effective audio surveillance by correctly installing
a modern crystal controlled transmitter along with a proper antenna. Arange of at least
one mile can be achieved with careful planning and the use of a sensitive receiver at the
listening post.
Acarelessly placed unit, i.e., tossed underneath the file cabinet or buried in a planter, will
simply not overcome its poor placement to convey the necessary intelligence.
Part ofthe problemis a somethingknown as the "cocktail partyeffect"; this happens when
a microphone is not located at the center of the target conversation and only transmits an
unintelligible babble instead of coherent information.
At a party, your ear canselectivelyfocus on only one conversationandfilter out background
chatter. The microphone you hide behind a painting or in the ceiling is not so blessed and
will pick up and transmit all noise at the same level.
This makes it difficult at the listening post to make sense of any the babble. To avoid this
effect, try to anticipate where your targeted conversation will take place and center the
microphone there.
Another thingyou shouldconsider whenplacingthe microphoneis howquicklysoundloses
power after leaving its source. Say your friend is talking to you from 10 feet away. Ifyou
then stand 20feet apart, the magnitude ofhis voice doesn't become one-halfas loud-it cuts
to one-fourth. The magnitude of sound declines according to the inverse square law. Ifyou
quadruple the distance between you and your friend, the power of the sound of his voice
drops to one-sixteenth.
Opportunities for transmitter placement in this room would include: an AC transmitter in the lamp base,
a battery unit behind the board over the top ofthe curtains, behind the painting on the wall, under the chest
of drawers, (horizontal antenna polarization, limited range) under the chair (difficult audio pickup,
horizontal antennaplacement, behindthe headboard ofthebed, hungin drapery or behindblinds on window,
in upholstery of ottoman (difficult-limited range), behind bookshelf, vertical antenna down side.
Closeup of headboard installation (left). Note vertical antenna placement, large parallel battery pack,
microphone near center of conversation. On right is a long term in-wall unit. The transmitter is wired via
a voltage reducing transformer to the hot side of the switch (so the switch win not affect its operation) and
the microphone is glued over a pinhole in the wan. Back the mic with silicone caulking or foam rubber.
Consider snuggling when you choose an operating frequency. Set the operating frequency
of your transmitter near the operating frequency of a nearby, high powered FM station.
Commercial FM receivers normally lock on a strong signal and will ignore yours making
the chance of discovery a bit less.
Some programmable receivers will reduce the nearby station's strengthto more easily pick
up your signal. Anyone performing a countermeasures sweep with a cheap RF receiver or
field strength type meter will be hard pressed to discover your snuggling signal.
Another good idea is to use a carrier current transmitter instead of an RF unit. Carrier
current transmitters broadcast alongtelephone or ACelectrical lines. They throwlittle RF
into free pace because the operating frequency is between 50 KHz and 250 KHz, the very
low frequency (VLF) area of the spectrum.
You can conceal carrier current transmitters anywhere along AC power lines near your
target. Hide them in appliances, wall power sockets or lamps, for example.
The low frequency and negligible radiated power of carrier current transmitters are less
easily detected by countermeasures receivers than transmissions broadcast through
space. Battery problems disappear because energy comes from AC lines.
The "stock" carrier current transmitter-receiver combo is the Radio Shack Wireless
Intercom. This unit will transmit room conversation over the wiring in a building or
between buildings where the electrical wiring does not pass through a power company
Carrier current units are cheap, effective, do not require batteries and are hard to find.
One way to get around the problem of range vs. power in covert operations is to use a
repeater. This principle has been used by hamradio operators for years in order to get long
range from a handheld transceiver, the concept is now utilizedin surveillance applications.
Arepeater is a unit that picks up the lowlevel signal of your original transmitter and then
feeds it to a more powerful transmitter operating on another frequency. Most small
repeaters utilize a walkie talkie for the second transmitter. Good repeaters do not tum on
the second transmitter until audio is received from the covert unit.
The electrical wiring in large buildings can be used to effectively secret one or more carrier current
devices in different offices, even on different floors. Radio Shack wireless intercoms work as well as their
more expensive law enforcement cousins. Be sure each installation is on a different frequency for simul-
taneous monitoring.
-'--1: :
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1171 ... -....
0-+1 T I DIOOI
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Three examples of successful electronic surveillance applications. The top is a hardwired job where the
target room is miked and a cable is run to the listening post and then to a recorder and a speaker.
Second is an example of a combination hardwire and RF operation. The target room is miked, wired and
the signal is carried to a more convenient location for the transmitter. the signal is then broadcast to the
actual listening post.
The bottom example illustrates the use of a repeater - a low powered bug is placed on site, the signal is
directed to a nearby repeater site which contains directional antennas. a receiver tuned to the bug's
frequency, the repeater and a transmitter of between 2-50 watts. The "new" signal is then broadcast to the
listening post.
A repeater needs to be small, portable, lightweight, very reliable, easily hidden, and
capable of generating a high enough RF power transmission from its own power supply
long enough to cover any operation.
Repeaters are often stashed in cars which can be parked within range of the covert
transmitter. They will then re-broadcast the signal several miles to a permanent listening
post armed with a sensitive receiver, or in a pinch, another walkie talkie on the same
Your repeater's receiver section shouldbe sensitive enough to pick up and pass along weak
signals and be sufficiently selective to perform in an area crowded with many other
In order for you to keep your listening post far enough away from the target area to avoid
attracting attention, yet close enough to do the job, the repeater's transmitter needs to
provide sufficient RF power. This set up allows you to use a very lowpowered bug and yet
located the LP a safe distance away.
Pay attention also to your power output, because despite picking a clean frequency,
commercial receivers sometimes use a signal seeking tuner that would lock onto your
repeater ifit sends out a high power RF signal.
A very nice repeater (for law enforcement use) is sold by:
1300 Boyd Road
Street, MD 21154
The SWS PRT-1 is designed to work with an ICOM walkie-talkie. It draws its power from the radio to whi:
it is attached and extends the range oflow powered surveillance devices or two way radios. The RPI'-1 Cl
be body worn, carried in a briefcase or placed in above a drop ceiling for quick plant applications.
It is also possible to construct your own repeater, or have one made for you, from a set
plans produced by:
POB 5264
Augusta, GA 30906
or use a ham radio/commercial repeater from:
19840 Hamilton Ave
Torrance, CA90502
To perform successful transmitter surveillance, you need available audio, proper conceal-
ment and strong RF signal paths. Your first job is to ascertain the conversation's center,
inorder to pick up goodaudio. Ifthe target is in a car youmerelyneed to learnwho is sitting
in what seat to do the job. When you wear a body transmitter, the center of conversation
will automatically be three feet in front of you.
After you pinpoint the center of conversation, figure out potential sources of interference,
locate the microphone as close to the center of conversation and as far from interference
spots as possible.
What length oftime you can spendinthe target room, and other factors will determine how
you install a transmitter. Your transmitter might be a disposable unit that you drop in a
potted plant or trashcan, or it might be a sophisticatedunit that needs more time on target
for installation.
The transmitter might have a standard flexible wire antenna or a high gain type for
extended range. Position either type of antenna vertically so the waves can radiate in all
directions. or better yet. point a directional antenna directly at your LP ifyou know where
that will be located. Remember it's always wise to check out the signal path by talking to
your partner at the LP as you position the transmitter.
Metal objects just a few inches from the antenna. or large metal structures like desks or
filing cabinets within two wavelengths of the transmitting antenna will attack the wave
pattern. usually to the detriment of the transmission so avoid them if possible.
If you install a transmitter with a regular antenna in a car, your operating range will be
sharply restricted by the metal body ofthe vehicle. Position the antenna outside the car by
using an antenna diplexer that allows the use of the existing radio antenna. An antenna
diplexer will still allow normal use of the car's radio.
Acoustically speaking, the best place to locate the microphone in a car is along a line
between the windshield's top center and the center of the roof. From this position you can
detect sound from any seat and avoid noise from gears, stereo speakers, windows, vents
and the floor. You need skill in upholstery to remove the ceiling fabric, install microphone
extension cord, and replace the fabric so no suspicions are aroused.
Whenever possible, use the auto's electrical power supply for your transmitter. Employ a
voltage regulator to maintain a rock solid 9 VDC from the car's 12 to 13.5 VDC system.
Transmitters that work attached to a live body (usually called"wires" or "bodywires") are
animportant piece ofsurveillance gear because they canbe used by an agent, or on a snitch
and provide a movable feast ofaudio that bothfollowsthe target and can warn ofsituations
that may become dangerous to the wearer.
Normal surveillance transmitters are not usually suitable for body wiring; free running
units will have their frequency affected by the person's inherent capacitance, the mics are
not designed for thejob, clothingnoise will mask out conversation and they are usually too
weak in power to do the job effectively.
Law enforcement body transmitters are sold by a number of people including:
3-1 Inc.
POB 904
Punta Gorda, FL 33951
emx Inc.
POB 195039
Winter Springs, FL 32719
It is also possible to use a civilian (much less expensive) counterpart; the wireless film or
video microphone. Do not utilize a cheap non-crystal controlled special here because you
will lose contact just at the exact moment the target says, "okay here's howwe'll dothe job,
I get the gun crackle, hiss...
I personally guarantee it.
Instead use a unit from:
6701 Bay Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
The Nady is crystal controlled, works on VHF frequencies, is available with a matching
crystal controlled mini receiver with both earphone and audio out or an AC powered
receiver with built in bar graph to indicate the audio and signal strength.
The transmitter is in the under $200 range and gives an honest range of 500 or so feet
depending on terrain and buildings involved. The mic is on a separate cord and must be
positioned correctly. Pick up range is not great as this unit is designed to transmit the
wearer's voice only,so the target must be fairly close in order to pickup both sides of the
All wires should be mounted with the transmitter, microphone and antenna secured your
body with surgical tape or elastic bandages. You can wear a transmitter with an RF output
of one-halfwatt or less close to your skin with little fear ofthat unpleasant smell ofburning
Unless the antenna was made for people use, separate it from the skin by 1/8" for the best
signal radiation. Use thin sheets offoamrubber as a buffer. Alsoit is a wise idea to separate
the transmitter from your skin with at least one piece of tape.
Transmitters are never completely efficient in converting their power into RF so take my
advice and protect yourself from heat injury by wearing at least one layer of insulation
between the transmitter and your skin. Remember this piece of advice 'specially when
using units of higher power. Moleskin can be used as an effective buffer layer.
Your body will affect the RF radiation pattern, reducing the effective range of any worn
The radiation pattern is not the same in all directions from the wearer. Waves propagate
forward from the antenna, centered at 320 degrees when you wear the antenna vertically,
left of center on your chest. Waves lose power moving toward your back because your body
absorbs part of the signal.
Separate the antennas from microphone cable as best as you can to avoid interference.
Position the antenna vertically for maximum range. For maximum wave propagation you
should stand and not fold your arms across your chest as that will disturb the radiation
pattern. If the wearer sits down, the signal will be reduced to a slight degree.
One ofthe major problems with a body wire is that the wearer tends to be nervous, but this
feeling will fade in time. Because you are not used to wearing a bug, it is natural to feel
people can see its shape and know what it is. Ifyou have placedit carefully, this is not true,
others are not aware of the transmitter just because you are.
As agent in place, your job is to shut up and listen so that sound recordings can be made
from the signals. Refrain from adding "uh huhs" or small talk. Do not lean against metal
structures such as filing cabinets and desks which can absorb or disrupt your transmitter's
radiation. Train yourself to limit body movements and disruptive sounds.
Additional "civilian" body mics are available from:
Cavendish Courtyard
Sallow Road
Corby, England NN17 lDZ
The NADY video professional video mic doubles as a body wire. Shown with both the portable and AC
powered receivers.
Electronic devices used in investigative applications should be flexible in implementation
and operation. More than 70%of the failures of electronic investigation devices are caused
by mishandling of the batteries.
If you reverse the polarity of the batteries, you can cause extreme damage to delicate
components. Insufficiently charged batteries cause feeble transmission or poor reception.
Spent batteries allowed to remain in their holder can leak corrosive acid that will destroy
the transmitter.
Batteries contain stored energy. Chemical reactions inside the batteryconvert to electrical
energy used for our devices. A"battery" is a one or more cells, or basic units. Abattery has
a terminal and insulation if one cell, or more terminals and insulation if composed of
multiple cells.
Abattery's capacity is defined by its current output measured over a set amount of time,
rated in ampere/hours (AIH) or milliampere!hours (mAIH). Battery capacity is rated in
terms of optimum drain rate.
You should compare the manufacturer's recommended drain rate with the needs of your
unit to estimate the useful operatingtime. Batterycapacitymight be 2,450 mAIHwith the
drain rate being 245 mAJh, giving you ten hours of power. Ifyour unit has a higher drain
rate, the battery will not be merely drained more quickly, but also less efficiently. For this
battery, you will not be able to draw 735 mAJh for 3.3 hours-that rate will deplete the
battery in fewer than 3 hours.
Battery Types
CZbatteries are unsuitable for investigative operations. Their open circuit voltage is 1.5
volts, but their nominal voltage ranges from under halfthat to 1.2volts. The discharge rate
reduces drastically early on, and the batteries are prone to leaking.
Alkaline batteries have a long shelf life, operate well under low temperatures, produce
aboutten times the output time of their carbon-zinc cousins and have a fairly stable
discharge rate.
Alkaline open circuit voltage is 1.5 volts and nominal voltage of about 1.2 volts.
Mercurybatteries are a goodchoiceexcept under extremetemperature conditions, because
they lose power quickly under 50 degrees F. Their discharge rate is fairly stable even under
heavy drainage.
Open circuit voltage is 1.4 volts and nominal voltage is around 1.3 volts.
Use silver-oxide batteries only to power devices with lowdrainage rates, such as Cony type
RF transmitters or active antennas. They have a very stable discharge rate. The open
circuit voltage is 1.6 volts, nominal voltage is 1.5 volts.
Lithium batteries are usually a good selection because they can operate at temperatures
from-40 degrees F to +165 degrees F with a stable discharge rate. Their open circuit voltage
is 3 volts and nominal voltage is 2.8 volts.
You can use and recharge nickel-cadmiumbatteries literally hundreds of times. They are
well-suited for powering units with high drainage rates because their internal resistance
is verylowand the discharge rate is stable. As long as the batteryis fully charged, the open
circuit voltage will be 1.4 volts while the nominal is 1.3 volts.
Nieads suffer from a weakness known as "memory". If you partially discharge a nicad
several times in a row it may acquire a memory and only hold a partial charge. If you use
nicads discharge themcompletely at least once a month. Alsonote manycommercial nicads
are rated above their actual operating voltage. Most 9-volt nicads are, in reality, on 7.2
volts, which will result in reduced range when used in a transmitter.
Check your nieads with a digital YOMor purchase those clearly marked at a true 9 volts.
Radio Shack, among others, sells a "true" 9 volt nicad battery.
You can connect any similar batteries in parallel to boost their capacity or their ability to
drain current. Ifyou addbatteries inparallel, you can elevate their time on target and drain
Divide the current drain of your unit by the number of batteries you use to learn the
working drain rate for each battery. The drain rate for each battery declines, and the
operating life increases as you stack batteries in a parallel configuration.
Make sure you connect the batteries with the correct polarity. If you accidentally reverse
one batteryin a stack, a short circuit results. The rate ofcurrent flowthrough the miswired
battery is restricted only by the batteries' internal resistance and that of series inter-
connections. The resulting high current flowgenerates too much heat for and could cause
an explosion.
The agent should stay clear ofbackground music, not foldher arms, stand next to large metal objects, or talk
- -
Conceal the transmitter utilizing the naturallay of the land. Insulate the unit and the antenna with foam '
rubber or ACE bandages. Extend the antenna fully and position the microphone close to the center of the
You can customize voltage and operating life by connecting batteries in series/parallel
combinations. Sometimes you will need batteries with a longer than standard operating
life. Whip up a battery pack that will satisfy the particular requirements.
Consider the following limitations required operating time, target area temperature, the
equipment's voltage needs and current drain, the battery's capacity and voltage rating,
and concealment parameters.
Ifyou find a battery with the needed voltage rating, just keep adding batteries in parallel
until you reach the proper operating time.
An example: Youhave a 250 mWtransmitter needing9VDCand drains 85 rnA.Youshould
use an alkaline 9 volt batterybecause it has a current capacity of 500 rnA, it will power the
unit for more than five hours (500 mA/85 rna).
Connect batteries in parallel to gain higher capacity or connect them in series to reach a
higher voltage. Use batteries ofthe same chemical makeup because different kinds deviate
markedly from one another and will generally mess up your entire stacking scheme.
Youcanget almost anydesiredvoltage byplacingbatteries in series. The voltage of a series
battery pack is obtained by multiplying the number of batteries by their voltage. Four
batteries in series, each with 9 volts, will give you a battery pack of 36 volts.
Parallel battery stacking for longer operating time at the same voltage.
A general rule of thumb is for transmitters, use alkaline or lithium batteries because of
their large capacity and long drainage rates. Use nickel-cadmiumbatteries for operations
that need rechargeable cells. However, rechargeable batteries will limit operating time
when compared to alkaline, mercury or lithium cells.
In general Lithium cells are the best choices but cost several times more than their
Always verify that you have inserted fresh batteries with correct polarity, then check the
unit's operation.
You might have to use ACpower ifthe transmitter will operate for a lengthy period in one
site. You can easily install a power regulator which adapts DC-powered units to take
current from110VAC/60 Hz lines. Radio Shacksells a universal regulator that works quite
well in these applications.
Your choice ofreceivers is by no means anyless important than your choice oftransmitters.
The usual selection is: A. To use a receiver designed to receive the exact transmitter you
are using; this is especiallytrue ina crystal controlled system. Receivers that tune only one
channel tend to be more sensitive (giving you longer range) than do tunablereceivers. B.
An reOM type tunable, full spectrumstationaryreceiver. These units have a very sensitive
front end, cover the frequency of any transmitter you may wish to employ and have an
adjustable bandwidth which you can narrow or widen for better intelligibility. The
drawbacks with this type of unit include size and 120 VACpower requirements. C. Afull
coverage scanner, such as an ACE. Although usually not quite as sensitive as their non-
portable cousins, modern scanners are good enough for most surveillance work.
Scanners also have adjustable bandwidths, positive channel lock-on and are completely
portable. I suggest you try using a scanner with your best transmitter before purchasing
a more expensive matching receiver.
Any receiver must match your transmitter in operating frequency, modulation mode and
bandwidth. If you use a wideband receiver with a narrowband transmitter, heavy noise
will result. Ifyou use a narrowband receiver witha widebandtransmitter, heavydistortion
will occur.
You should cut or collapse/tune the antenna of the receiver to the carrier frequency of the
transmitter so it is more sensitive to that frequency than others in the spectrum.
Remember that all frequency signals in free space will register on your antenna.
Antennas output the extremely faint signals they receive to the RF amplifier input. The
RF amplifier is tuned to boost the frequency of the transmitter more than any other
frequency registering on the antenna. Undesired signals well away from the correct signal
will not be boosted in the amplifier. IF amplifier circuitry, explained below, rejects
frequencies very close to the correct signal.
In most receivers the local oscillator generates an RF signal 21.4 MHz below or above the
incoming frequency and mixes themtogether to create a new signal. Incoming RF carrier
at 170 MHz mixes with the local oscillator signal at 148.4 MHz will make a new signal at
21.4 MHz that modulates with the carrier's audio portion. Ifyou change the local oscillator
to 153.6 MHz, you would receive a carrier signal of175 because it makes the needed 21.4
The mixer circuitry generates an intermediate frequency (IF) of 21.4 MHz by combining
the RF carrier from the RF amplifier output with the local oscillator output. IF amplifier
circuitryoperates at 21.4 MHz alone and rejects or reduce the power ofany other frequency.
This important section performs the majority of gain and selection for the receiver.
Good receivers will often use narrow band IF amplifiers allowing only 5 KHz deviation or
less from the 21.4 MHz central frequency. Modulation of this range gives good speech
reproduction and automatically reduces background noise. Narrowband pass allows your
receiver to choose between signals with extremelyclose frequencies. As you would expect,
higher priced receivers tend to offer tighter band pass.
Output from the IF circuitry couples with the limiter's input. The limiter removes
amplitude variations, or noise, from the IF signal. FM receivers are better than AM
receivers because of the noise-reducing quality of the limiter.
The limiter's output goes to the demodulator, which detects the audio portion and couples
it to the AF amplifier. The amplitude section amplifies the weak audio signal from the
demodulator until it is loud enough to drive a speaker, earphones, or a tape recorder.
Your receiver andtransmitter must be compatibleinmodulation, frequency andbandwidth
or the surveillance system will not work.
Remember the receiver must exactly match frequencies or you will have no signal, and if
the bandwidths are not the same you will encounter clipped, not understandable audio.
FM units reduce noise better as the input signal power rises. You can express noise
reduction, referred to as quieting, as a ratio of RF input in microvolts to a quieting ratio
in decibels (db). For example, your FM receiver could have a rating of 0.25 microvolts for
20 db quieting. With such a device, RF signal at the antenna boosted from 0 to 0.25
microvolts will cause background noise to decrease by a ratio ofl00 to 1, usually expressed
as being minus 20 db.
Receiver Size
In the perfect surveillance situation you would not care about the size of your surveillance
receiver, but in real life you sometimes need a miniaturized unit to conceal on your body
or in your briefcase. Small size does not have to mean low sensitivity, but it might mean
you will be unable to tune the receiver. Some pocket units have tuning controls for a few
set frequencies. Your audio output will generally go to earphones or directly to a tape
Ruby Electronics sells a nice, quite sensitive pocket receiver for use with their transmit-
ters, as do a number oflaw enforcement suppliers and a Japanese company or two.
Vibrations and shock can damage radio receivers. Protect the units by transporting them
with care in a proper carrying case when you travel between temporary listening posts.
For a movinglisteningpost, use a vibrationtestedreceiver, adaptedfor 12 VDCauto power.
Increase range by mounting the antenna outside the vehicle and using a gain antenna if
possible. In some "sensitive" neighborhoods a gain antenna may give an impression you
don't wish to convey, but most people will see it only as another car phone antenna.
Use receivers with the best sensitivity and selectivityratings. Look for sensitivityto be one
microvolt or less, with 0.5 to 0.1 available in ICOM type receivers. Sensitivity changes a
bit across bands in multiband units.
Law enforcement folks generally use VHF for surveillance. Selectivity here is rated in
terms of narrow band (plus or minus 5 KHz) usage. An example of good selectivity is a
bandwidth of -3 dB of plus or minus 7 KHz.
Some receivers can tune a manyfrequencies or bands offrequencies. Lawenforcement and
top civilian model surveillance receivers employ crystal controlled switchingto select only
one frequency.
Areceiver is said to be selective when it can pick out one signal and reject all others. The
. receiver tunes to one frequency and reduces the power any incoming frequency not
selected. The RF spectrum is clogged in big cities, with assigned frequencies very close
together. Your receiver will operate under such conditions only ifit is highly selective, say
-90 db, plus or minus 25 KHz. Your receiver will reject signals 25 KHz removed from its
selected frequency.
Sometimes stations broadcast on frequencies that your receiver's selectivity should reject,
but still cause interference, known as "spurious response." The manufacturer makes the
circuitry attenuate spurious responses and lists them. Spurious signals will have to be
more than 80,000 times as strong as the receiver's selected signal before they can interfere
with reception. Spurious responses are specified as more than 75 db below rated sensitiv-
Frequency stabilityis stated along with temperature tolerance. Crystal controlled receiv-
ers can be specified at 0.0005% (plus or minus 5 ppm), with a range of -30 degrees Cto +60
degrees C. Areceiver rated at 0.0005% will not drift more than 5 Hz for every MHz. Pocket
receivers should be rated at plus or minus 0.0020, with a range of 0 degrees to 60 degrees
C. Regular receivers should be plus or minus 0.0010, with a range of0 degrees to 55 degrees
Stability is an extremely important consideration if you are using a cheaper, non crystal
controlled transmitter, less important but still a valid statistic in CC units.
How stable a tunable receiver is depends on the range ofits Automatic Frequency Control
(AFC) circuitry. AFC range is usually plus or minus 80 KHz when released, plus or minus
50 KHz when locked. Areceiver with AFC locks onto any powerful signal plus or minus 50
KHz of the correct signal and will not lose the signal unless it drifts at least plus or minus
80 KHz. Most scanners will accomplish this, giving themthe opportunityto "track"drifting
If you plan on monitoring the reception full time, you can always adjust the receiver to
compensate for drift, but if you use a dead LP the equipment must be accurate enough to
lock on and stay there.
If your receiver is not equipped AFC, it is limited by its built-in frequency stability. This
ratingis connected to what temperature extremes it canoperate under. An example of good
stability for receiver tuned to the 150 MHz band is plus or minus 50 KHz with a
temperature range of 0 degrees to 40 degrees C.
Pocket receivers with earphones draw perhaps 300 mW of power and can operate for at
least 22 hours, while a big receiver with speakers will eat up at least 3 watts.
THE LISTENINGPOST· Placing the Receiver
The Listening Post is where the actual surveillance takes place. Most LP's are equipped
with a receiver, antenna, recorder, speaker, earphones, walkie talkie for communicating
with outside agents, possibly a filter set up, back up receiver, etc. Carrying a mini receiver
in your pocket with Walkman headphones running to your ear constitutes one type ofLP,
but better results can be obtained by judicious planning.
An LP can be monitored by an agent manning the place 24 hours a day (which usually
entails renting an apartment or motel room near the transmission site), may be mobile (a
van is the best choice here) or may be totally automatic and stashed in the trunk of a car
or other accessible site. An automatic LP must have an antenna, a receiver, a recorder and
some method ofturning the recorder on and offas not to waste tape when there is no audio
present. Some recorders can have their variable VOX(voice operated relay) adjusted as to
work only when a certain level of audio comes from the receiver but it is a better bet to
employ a unit designed to do just this.
1238 Highway 160-B
POB 589
Bayfield, CO 81122
Sells a very inexpensive interface that will start the recorder only when audio appears on
the receiver or scanner. This allows the agent to employ a fairly cheap scanner, good
antenna, Capri starter and a recorder in order to put a target area under 24 hour
Another unit designed for scanner/recorder unaided recording is available from:
202 Tully
Prospect Heights, IL 60070
The BMI NiteLogger automatically records conversations from a scanner or receiver. It can he adjusted to
disregard hum and distortion and functions with any tape recorder with remote capability. Under $75 for
the main component of an automatic LP.
As we will see in a moment, the correct long play recorder can capture hours and hours of
room or phone conversation without a service call.
A brand new concept is now available from a couple of Japanese suppliers. This unit
consists of an antenna and a receiver combined with a recorder and starter in one package,
usually tuned to one of their transmitter frequencies. A nice set up for "instant" surveil-
lance - place the transmitter, turn on the receiver unit and you're up and running.
Available from:
This offers an inexpensive, ready-to-bug system that can be purchased off the shelf.
Well, the shelfis in Japan, mind you that's what the mail is for, right?
Often you can dramatically boost transmission range by increasing the height from which
you broadcast or receive, or by transmitting over a large area of water. Ifhowever, height
does not improve your signal, by all means experiment with decreased elevation.
Always make note of potential interference sources. Stay away from high-voltage sources
such as neon signs, power substations or medical centers whose instruments give off
diathermy or X-rays.
Consider also the interference problems posed by elevators, steel reinforcements or
structures withreflective metal skins- semi-trailers, for example. Write down or drawthe
locations ofinterfering structures that can be moved, and correlate their movements with
any changes you detect in interference.
Place receivers with non-detachable antennas inhot spots for signals at the same time look
for and note some alternate hot spot sites in case your receiver experiences loss or
degradation of signal because of changes in the environment.
Basically the idea is that you must place the receiver in a strong signal area. Point your
receiving antenna accordingly if the transmissions come from a directional antenna.
Locate your antenna in the highest possible site ifit can be detached from the receiver. If
you need to be prepared to receive through different antennas, couple themto the unit with
a coaxial switch. Orient the antennas and match their impedance to the receiver.
A good technique for monitoring and recording audio broadcast by RF transmitters is to
use portable receiving/recording kits. Make sure the systems are portable, so you can
employ them at any listening post.
Akit is usually set into a small briefcase with a cassette tape recorder. The unit turns on
whenever it picks up a signal from the receiver, so you can let it operate without
supervision. Power comes from batteries, hopefully AC-rechargeable, it should have a
built-in antenna, receiver and transmitter. You can get, or make, a kit customized for any
Law enforcement "kits" from many suppliers including emx, AID, etc. Civilian kits from:
POB 1937
Point Roberts, WA 98281
Antennas are the most often overlooked and undervalued component of a surveillance
operation, yet they can make the difference between a successful bugging and a tape full
of noise.
Transmitting antennas are harder to modify because of the necessity of covert operation.
Receiving antennas can, and should, be "fine tuned" to provide maximum signal.
Let's look at some factors affecting antenna selection, including gain, bandwidth, physical
size, directivityand polarization, and howthey match up with different kinds of antennas,
namely yagi, slotted array, corner reflectors, helical, skirted dipoles and collinear skirted
This sectionis designed to give you an overview 80 you will be able to pick the right antenna
for any surveillance job.
These elements apply to both transmitting and receiving antennas:
Gain is the ratio of input power divided into output power, expressed by a ratio or in
Amplifiers are active and take power from a source and increase it. Antennas are passive,
made from tubes, plates and metal rods. We get antenna gain by redirecting its power
toward one route and adding power taken from another route.
Antenna gainis a measure derived from comparingthe antenna to anisotropic (equal from
all directions, no gain) antenna, with the resulting gain figure measured in dEL
Radiation from a real antenna cannot have the same intensity in every angle. Real
antennas can have gain in one or more directions, and loss in others when you compare
them to isotropics.
The gain of a regular half wave dipole is 2.5 dBL You get gain by rechanneling power
perpendicular to the antenna's line. Energy does not radiate from the antenna's tips.
To boost gain at a particular frequency, increase the antenna's length or size. The bigger
the antenna, the more RF power it can capture. Frequencyaffects howlarge your antenna
needs to be. The size of antennas with the same gain working at 400 MHz and 800 MHz
will vary greatly.
Most antennas mounted on miniature transmitters utilize quarter wavelength elements
made from wire or perhaps a dipole fashioned from two elements both about one quarter
wavelength. The constricted space containing the antenna requires alterations in the
elements' length so they electricallymatch the selected frequency. The alterations reduce
the element's length compared to their theoretical length, to correct for being in a limited
To choose the best antenna lengthin feet, divide the number 234by the frequency inMHz.
Consider how directional your antenna is, because you get gain by rechanneling energy
across the antenna. When your receiver is moving, say in a car, the transmitter needs to
broadcast a signal omnidirectionally in the horizontal plane, because the transmitter and
receiver are separatedby a changing angle. When the receiver and transmitter stayin one
place, your antenna can be extremely directional.
Use an omnidirectional antenna, such as a vertical halfwave dipole, ifyou need a complete
circle pattern. If such a setup requires increased gain, just stack another dipole on the
original, making your setup collinear.
Your gainincreases whenthe antennais more directional. Increasedgainlets you transmit
across a given distance with less power, or gain more distance with the same power.
Some antennas actuallyincrease the signal strengthby altering the basic circular pattern.
Vertical antennas normally broadcast equally strong signals in a circle. But if the signal
increases power more to the East than to the West, the antenna would be directional,
favoring the East for its directional gain.
Antennas can also increase gain horizontally by squashing radiated power near the top so
its patternis more horizontal. Directional antennas canbe receivingor transmittingtypes.
All that matters is the signal transmits to, or is received from the correct direction. Again,
this is usually easier to accomplish with the receiving antenna than it is with the
transmitting antenna.
Antenna gain is measured in decibels. For example, a 3 db gain antenna multiples the
transmitter's range as though you had doubled its power. Most energy radiates from
antennas at 90 degree angles to the element, and the least amount of energy comes from
either end, making most antennas somewhat directional.
Transmittingantennas radiate anelectromagneticwave, consistingof an electric field and
a magnetic field. An electromagnetic wave is said to be polarized in the direction of its
electric field.
Vertical dipole antennas are vertically polarized. You should be concerned with matching
the polarization of signal and of the receiver's antenna. You will lose about 20 dB if your
antenna is at a right angle to the correct polarization.
You might use an antenna that broadcasts a signal with circular polarization. The
polarization of the signal rotates clockwise or counterclockwise while the signal moves.
Make sure you match rotation direction if you use two circular polarized antennas.
Youcan mix circular andlinear polarization, but youwill lose about 3 dBingain. Youwould
need both polarizations if transmitter is subject to movement. If the transmitter hangs
from a balloon in the sky and rotates along the up and down axis, you will be unable to
receive the weak broadcasts from its antenna's end with a vertical dipole, nor with a
horizontal dipole due to rotation.
Aradio wave travelling through space keeps its original polarization which was set by the
antenna. Ground structures and changesinlandscape canchange howthe wave is oriented
so you cannot predict the final angle of polarization. Acommon mistake is to assume that
because a signal left the antenna horizontally polarized, it will arrive at your receiver still
horizontally polarized. For the best recel)tion. eXl)eriment with your receiyini: antenna's
Radio signals 30 MHz or lower travel far by bouncing from the ionosphere back to earth
or moving across the ground losinghardlyanypower. However, you use higher frequencies
for intelligence transmissions, and these are capable of moving only in straights line-of-
sight paths. VHF and UHF signals moving along these paths lose power. Any brick,
concrete or wood structures can change the patterns of signals moving through them.
Structures made ofmeta! reflect or absorb VHF and UHF signals in an unpredictable way
determinedbythe signal's arrivingangle andfrequency, andbythe structure's dimensions.
When a radio wave reflects and rereflects through such a landscapes it reaches the receiver
antenna by many paths. Ifthe rereflected signals come in phase with the original line-of-
site transmission they strengthen one another, this is a goodreception area. Ifthey arrive
out of phase with the first signal and cancel one another, the area is not a good reception
area. VHF and UHFwavelengths are short enough so that a listening post in a small room
can have many good andbad reception areas. Often you will receive only reflected signals,
the direct ones being blocked.
An antenna is more directional as its gain increases. You can make the antenna more
frequency-selective to increase gain. Do not use extremely selective antennas when you
work with wide band FM signals, for example FM video. Your receiver or transmitting
antenna (lowVSWR) needs to match all frequencies it uses.
Youcanget wide bandwidth with large-diameter elements. Alsoyou can broaden response
by varying the lengths of elements. Directivity, size, bandwidth and gain all effect each
other, and your antenna design will have to trade one aspect for another.
The smallest omnidirectional antenna that gives 2.5 dBi gain is the skirted half-wave
dipole. For an extra 3 dB of omnidirectional gain, use a collinear skirteddipoleswhich adds
one half-wavelength to the length, and lowers the angle of radiation. Ifyou use four total
half-wavelength dipoles you attain 8.5 dBi of omnidirectional gain.
Another way to get 8.5 dBi of gain is to employ a slotted array, which redirects the wave
pattern forward. Hardly any signal broadcasts from the back of the slotted array. Make
sure you matchpolarizations when you use a slotted array with a skirted dipole. Youmight
need to rotate the slotted array one 90 degrees to match polarization, because it does not
look like a regular antenna.
To reach gain more than 8.5 dEi, use a wide bandwidth yagi design. Like the slotted array,
the yagi redirects the wave in one direction. It uses at least one reflector and director, the
spacing and length of determining gain and beam width. Remember, however that high
gain antennas have lower bandwidth and lessen your system's performance.
Yagi style antennas provide extremely good signal gain by making the reception pattern very directional.
Note one antenna is vertically polarized while the other is horizontal.
Ifyou want circular polarization, use helical antennas, which come as high gain, extremely
directional, or as low gain types, but usually have a very broad bandwidth.
Your systemperformance will vary, depending on both the transmitting and the receiving
antenna. Select and apply your equipment with care in order to get the best performance.
Make sure you match receiver and transmitter when you employ circular linear polariza-
tion. Whenbeamwidth is your highest concern, use as much gain as the systemcanhandle.
When you use 30 MHz signals or higher, your operating range along the earth' surface is
reduced because this range is line-of-sight. If the transmitter and receiver antennas are
five feet above the ground, your range will only be three miles, no matter how much power
you pump into the system. Therefore, you should place your antennas in the highest
position possible.
Move the antenna to different sites until you fmd a few good points for signal reception.
Mark each site for potential later use, and choose the best for the job at hand. You should
rotate the antenna and move it until you find the strongest signal. Use the antennain that
position. If possible use a device known as a SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) meter on your
units to "tune" the antenna for the least SWR. these meters are available at Radio Shack
or Ham outlets and help channel maximum signal to the antenna.
When you put an antenna on a roof, you should probably use antenna extension cable. Use
RG-58U cable for 50-feet lengths or less, and RG-8U for longer lengths. Ifyou use 100 feet
ofRG-58U you will lose 4.6 db at 100 MHz, and if you use 100 feet ofRF-8U you will lose
2.2 db at 100 MHz.
Normally, you should record everything because certain aspects of the audio may become
clearer after several replays and also because you can apply filters to clean up various
portions of the material to enhance intelligibility.
Youcan use an audio filter to reduce the power of certain frequencies. To reduce the power
of one frequency or one band of frequencies without attenuating frequencies nearby is
desirable, but technically impractical.
Think of audio filters as excellent tone controls with selective circuitry that reduces the
power of frequencies or entire frequency ranges. One kind of filter is integral to the
amplifier and boosts selected frequencies while decreasing unwanted ones.
This is active filtering. Passive filtering serves only to reduce the power of unwanted
frequencies and cannot amplify the correct one.
High pass filters allowall frequencies higher thana certainprogrammable level to proceed
through, and reduce the power ofall frequencies below. Youuse a high pass filter whenever
you operate the bass control on your music system at home.
Low pass filters allow only frequencies lower than the set level through, and reduce the
power of any above. This filter is comparable to the treble control on your stereo.
Ahigh pass filter set for a cutoff of 400 Hz reduces the power of all frequencies under 400
Cutoff is the point in a filter where all frequencies either too high or too low are highly
suppressed (minus 3 dB)- and not actually cut offper se. The filter evenly reduces power
in frequencies through tile frequencies one or more octaves from the tile cutoff.
Systems can performhigh and lowpass filtering individually or at the same time. You can
vary the cutoffpoints for these filters, squeezing or expanding the range offrequencies you
wish to leave alone.
Parametric filters, long popular in music recording applications have infinitely variable
limits in both frequencies and attack slopes (bandwidths). Parametrics were the most
useful types offilters until recently, with the advent of computer enhancement, especially
home PC based enhancement, sound recreation has moved into another dimension.
Ifyou try to use high and lowpass filters to eliminate interference in the voice range, you
would lose too much wanted sound. In this case, ifthe tile interference is one frequency or
a closely packed group of them, use a notch (or "dip") filter, which can easily reduce power
over a small band of frequencies.
Notch filters can have variable or fixed operating frequencies. Use a group of fixed filters
to process bands near each other. Ifthe filter is variable, you can probably adjust its depth
also. For your purposes, you will find a depth or amount of attenuation of 20 dB (100:1)
quite acceptable.
You should prefer using the more flexible variable notch filter over the fixed type. You will
get less distortion and amplifier noise with a variable type because all the notch cuts can
be made in one time. Ifyou use highpass, lowpass and notch filtering on one recording you
will highly reduce noise.
An audio processor or parametric filter can reduce the power of unwanted sounds above
4 KHz and below 600 Hz. Load the unfiltered tape recording into the unit it was recorded
on. Couple the recorder's output to the processor's input and plug headphones into the
processor's output. Thenyou can monitor the tapewhile makingprecise adjustments to the
high and low pass cut off frequencies, eliminating noise more effectively.
Computer based processing is almost magic. It does not "filter" sound but rather analyzes
The best PC based processing system around, I think, is available from:
1891 E Francisco Blvd
San Rafael, CA 94901
makes a Macintosh based digital processing workstation that has a number of uses in
forensic sound. it used a form of artificial intelligence to remove noise from surveillance
Model Fl2/A is a ready as-
sembled andfullytested auto-
matic notch filter module in-
tended primarily to enable FL2 users to upgrade to
Model FL3, It can also be built intoother equipment.
Model FL2/Ascansthe audiospectrum from350 Hzto
3.5 kHz looking for continuous tones. When it detects
oneit automatically notchesit out. The notchdepthis
better than 40 db at 1 kHz, and acquisition time is
  1 It comescomplete withcomprehen-
sive installation Instructions, mounting hardware and
newfront panel to convert existing FL2sto FL3s.
Model FL2JA requires a power supplyof 10 to 16volts
DC@40mA. Normallythiswill comefromthemainunit.
ModelFL3connectsinserieswiththeloudspeaker lead
fromthe receiver and by usingstateof the art technol-
ogy, achieves remarkable versatility.
Thetwelvepolesof turnablefilteringcanbe usedin six
differentwayswhichwill assistyouto; digdownintothe
QRM andhearthat weakSSBOX; listentoCWthat you
didn't evenknowwasthere; pull RTTYout of thenoise;
and remove offensivewhistles and heterodynes from
anymodeof transmission.
Whether you are an amateur or professional and no
matterwhichrigyou own, the overcrowding ontoday's
HF bandscan spoil your reception. Oatong's MODEL
FL3AUDIOFILTER isprobablythebest available inthe
w?rld today and. can enhanceyour enjoyment by ena-
blingyou to realisethe full potentia) of your receiver.
Theconnection isquitesimple,but thedifferenceinper-
formance is outstanding.
ModelFL3hastwonotchfilters. Oneis manuallyoper-
ated, the other (an additional four poles of filtering) is
completely automatic andoontinually searchesforwhisttes
andheterodynes and removes themin a secondor so.
Combinethiswithcompletely independentvariablehigh
andlowpassfilteringandyou havea truly remarkable
audiofilter. Infact ModelFL3simulates theeffectoffully
variable IF selectivity with pass-band edges that are
steeper than most crystal filters, andcan be usedwith
almost anyreceiverold or new.
ModelFL3requiresa powersupplyof 10to 18voltsDC
at 150mAandcomescompletewith connecting leads.
Some examples oflow end
filters from Datong Electronics
Thevaluefor money. standaloneautomaticnotchfilter
that doublesasa CWfilter. Model ANFis small in size
but neat in looksand big in performance.
Simply connect model ANF in series with the loud-
speakerleadof your receiver andyoucansaygoodbye
to heterodynes, whistles and other steady tones that
oftenmake listening onthecrowdedamateurandshort
wavebandshardwork. They will vanishautomatically
as the ANF notches them out while at the sametime
showing thefrequencyof theoffending interference on
a bargraph LEDdisplay.
Atthe pushof abuttonmodelANFbecomesagoodCW
filter eliminating all but the signal you want to hear.
Manual or automatic operation innotch and peak modes,
plus automatic frequency control, make Model ANF
extremelyversatileandeasy to use.
A power supply of 10 to 16 volts DC @ 100 rnA is
required. ModelANFissupplied withconnecting leads.
recordings that makes normal filtering look like a model T Ford standing next to a
Lamborghini Diablo.
I have heard this systemtake a mess ofrumblings. pops. crackles and static and strip them
like layersfromanoniontoproducea relativelyclean, complete understandable conversation.
This system is known as NO NOISE and it works like the name infers it would. It plugs
directly into a Mac and lets the operator use a number of separate tools. like Fourier
transforms. automatic de-clicking. anti-clipping, de-hissing, etc.
The systemlet's the operator watch and control the entire de-noising (un-noising?) process
much like running a video game. Much of the operation can be run as a background
operation or each individual component can be operator attacked for maximum effect.
This systemis priced to be affordable for medium to large law enforcement departments
and maybe a bit out ofreach for most private organizations, but various NO NOISE owners
will preform surveillance tape enhancement for a fee.
Needless to point out, you must have somethingon a tape inorder to use tape enhancement.
Record everything!
Low end (cost wise) filters can be purchased from electronics outlets or surveillance
suppliers. Parametric filters can be purchased from audio suppliers including:
Clayton Wood Close
West Park, Leeds LS16 6QE
POB 4882
Poughkeepsie. NY 12602
The recorder is the heart of any audio systembut is often the weakest link in the chain. It
is desirable. inmost cases. to record as muchintelligence on a single side of a single cassette
as possible sonot to have to visit the LP (or hidden recorder) more than necessaryto change
the tape.
The accepted method to do this is to employ a modified, "long play" recorder. the problem
is that most so called "long play" recorders simply change the size of the capstan in order
to move the tape through at a slower speed. You can do this yourselfby wrapping friction
tape or a rubber band around the rubber doughnut inthe capstan drive. This modification
is less than satisfactory as it produces unstable speeds, wow, flutter a high wear rate and
distorted audio.
Look for a recorder that has been modified with a positive electronic speed control lock to
provide 8 or even 10 hours of recording on a single cassette (4 or 5 on a side) along with a
positive speed control lock on the motor and a specially designed circuit that compensates
for the change in audio when operating at a slower speed.
Reduced speeds do change the audio andifyou needto decode touch tones or just want clear
conversation make certain your long play unit has an effective compensation circuit
The larger the basic, unmodified recorder is, the better chance the modified version will be
of acceptable quality. Most surveillance suppliers take a standard size Sony or Panasonic
unit which gives just enough space for politically correct mods.
If you want a smaller, microcassette version (good for body applications) do not expect to
get as long of a record time (maybe 2 hours per side) and little or no audio compensation.
In the other direction, if you can afford an upgrade in both size and price it is possible to
start offwith a more professional, sturdy recordingunit which allows better modifications.
These professional recorders also offer more rugged drives and other features not found on
the smaller units.
Effective modified recorders are sold by:
2228 S EI Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
581 Liberty Highway
Box 623
Putnam, CT 06260
POB 535
Southampton, PA 18966
OMNICRON"VLR" recorders are professional voice loggers designed to pro-
videyouwith completedocumentationof your important telephoneconversations,
two-way radio messages, or dictation, They have special features which allow
virtually unlimited use in a wide range of applications. with top performance and
minimal maintenance.
Built-in voice activation circuitry expands the recording time by automatically
stopping the recorder between conversations. Model VLR-1 runsat the standard
cassette speedallowing you to record andplayback tapes which are compatible
with recorders that do not have slowspeed capability.
Advanced slow speeddrive circuits in the VLR·4 and VLR·8 recorders expand
the recording time even further to provide 8 or 16hours ot solid talk time on each
cassette tape. The VLR·4 provides four times the unattended recording and
playback time. It packs 8 hOurs of conversation on each MLC·120 cassette tape.
Thesuper slowspeedVLR-8runs at speedfor 16hourspertapewithlittlelossof
fidelity (8 hours per side with an MLC-120 cassette).
VLR recorders with the "CT" Clock Track option (VLR-1CT. VLR·4CT, and
VLR·8CT) are designed for use with the Omnicron TCC·14 Talking Ctock/Ca-
lendar. They have a second track for recording the verbal lime and date
announcements provided by the clock. Whenplaying back the recorded conver-
sations. simply switch to the Time Track and you will know exactly when the
recording was made. One Talking Clock can provide time and date announce-
ments for over 50 recorders.
VLR.1.VLA·4, &V\.A.,
VOICEACTIVATEDRECORDING- withadjustablerecord level, activatesensi·
tivity, and turn-ott delay.
"c r OPTIONl
ALARM - beeps when the cassette needs to be changed, or if the recorder is
turned off either accidentally or by built-in au-modemotionsensingcircuit. The
tapedriveautomatically turnsoff andsoundsthealarmif thetape stops whenit
should be moving in record, play, tast-torward, or fast-rewind.
MONITORWHIL£RECORDING-letsyoulistento conversationswhilethey are
being recorded, through the built·in speaker, through either of the two '4"
headphone jacks (one mutes the built-in speaker, the other does not), or
through the 'A" external speaker jaCk(4 Ohm).
CUEANDREVIEW - for rapidly finding and repeating recorded messages.
AUTOMATIC RECORD LEVEL CONTROL - prevents overload on strong sig-
AUTOMATIC END·OF·TAPESHUT·OFF - in record, play. fast-forward, and
AUTOMATIC BATTERY CHARGING - for optional rechargeable batteries.unit
automatically switches10 battery power if external AC power is lost.
INPUT/OUTPUT JACKS - microphone, remote record on/off , auxiliary audio
input, remote speaker, two headphone jacks, and Talking Time Clock (CT
option only).
ACBIASRECORDING - lor optimumvoice frequency recordings.
EASILY SELF INSTALLED - with or without direct electrical connection.
POWER: 120 VAC50/60 Hz, 8 watts, six "C" cell batteries, or optional recharge-
able batterypack (RBC·6).
SIZE: 11'/,"L x1OWW x3'12"H. S'12 lbs,
INPUTS: Microphone, 2 k ohms, -70 dB
Auxiliary. 200 k ohms. ·20 dB
Clock, 600 ohms, ·10 dB
SIGNALTONOISERATIO IA.welghted): VLR· I =50 dB, VLR·4=42dB, VLR·8 =
34 dB.
TAPE SPEED: VLR·l =1-7/8 I.P.S., VLR-4 =1S/32 I.P.S.,VLR·8 =15/64I.P.S.
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: VLR·1= 125Hzto 10KHz, VLR-4= 125Hzto 6 KHz,
VLR·6 = 125 Hz to 3 KHz.
TAPE SIZE:StandardCompact Audio Cassette
RECORD SYSTEM: Hall Track ('A track with "CT" option). AC bias.
VLR-1 = 1 hour per side (MLC-120) at 1-7/8 I.P.S.
VLR-4 = 4 hours per side (MLC-120) at IS/32I.P.S.
VLR-8= 8 hours per side (MLC-120) at 1S/64 I.P.S.
Each VLRrecorder comes with an MLC-120 cassette tape. attached AC power
cord With bullt-mstoragecase. owner's manual, and a limited 90 day warranty.
Specificafions are subject to change without nolice.
As most sophisticated surveillance folks realizes cellular phones, far from beingimpossible
to monitors are quite eavesdropper friendly. BOOK II - HOW TO GET ANYTHING ON
ANYBODYis still the best source for a complete run down on the operating concepts and
intercept possibilities of cellular telephones.
It's also a good idea to peruse both Bill cheek's and Tom Kneitel's books from:
Commack, NY 11725
One recent breakthrough is the development of a reasonably priced (about $6K) briefcase
sized cellular monitoring system. The CELLMATE includes an internal antennas tape
recorder, dialed number recorder, internal battery etc.
You simply dial in the number of the cellular to be monitored and the unit does the rest.
Tech Support Systems
1203 Nonnandy Way
Santa Clara, CA95050
Avery nice cellular gain antenna (yagi style) that offers a healthy 15 DBi gain on the 800
MHz band is available from:
Cedars MI 49621
This antenna will si@ificantly improve the range and directional capabilities of most
monitoring systems includingICOMss
scanners andthe enhanced OPTOELECTRONICS
frequency counter system described in BOOK II • HOW TO GET ANYTHING ON
- -
CeUmate is a sophisticated single voice channel, real time, cellular radio monitoring system. It is built into an
aluminum carrying case and includes a DTMF decoder and display, and a professional quality Marantz tape
Cellmate is designed for ease of use in the field with simplified commands that make one handed operation
possible. It automatically changes frequency to follow the target phone as it changes from one cell to another.
Manual resetting is not necessary.
o Operates both in general monitoring mode, and targets specific phones by number.
o Has excellent audio quality.
o The DTMF decoder stores up to 32 digits, which can be scrolled through the 8 digit display.
o The modified Panasonic phone is removable, and can be used as a normal cellular phone.
D The display shows target phone number, channel number, and Cellmate mode.
o Operates with the built in, or an optional external, antenna.
o Supplied with a battery charger and a cigarette lighter adapter and cables .
D European TACS 900 model available.
This report is not designed to be a complete study of electronic telephone surveillance simply
because of the complexity of the SUbject. Intelligence Incorporated publishes a complete guide
to practical telephone eavesdropping, and I would also suggest you consult our manual on
countermeasures for more specific telephone eavesdropping tips, but let's take a look at some
practical methods for both residence and office phone systems.
The commonest telephone tap is the auto start recorder that is placed in series or in parallel
with the tip and ring (red and green) wires in any particulartelephone system. The recorder itself
can activate the recording process, being coupled to the phone lines (across them) by a small
capacitor between the recorder and the phone line. This system blocks any DC but lets the
audio pass into the recorder's microphone jack. It usually also requires a resistor to pad down
the level of the incoming audio to avoid distortion and bring the level within range of the
recorder's VOX adjustment.
Once the line is hooked across both the red and the green wires you simply adjust the VOX level
of the recorder to start the recorder when audio is present. This can also be accomplished by
utilizing a small transformer and a capacitor on one lead. The secondary winding of the
transformer goes directly into the tape recorder.
The transformer-plus-capacitor arrangement is a bit safer because of the smoother charging
and discharging of the cap. making it less likely to show up on a low level (VOM based)
countermeasures search.
The capacitor in either system averages about .001 microfarads.
Either of these systems works well when attached to a extended play recorder with an
adjustable VOX starter. The operator simply hides the recorder in the garage, attic, or outside
of the building. using the inside wiring or the drop wire for the audio path. He simply needs to
come by every couple of days to pick up and replace the tape and change the recorder's
batteries (recorders use very little power when on VOX, the draw will be dependent on the
amount of conversation that actually gets taped).
This is probably the most common system in "significant other" tapping .
The next logical system would entail the use of a drop out relay, or ''telephone starter." These
units sense the voltage drop in a telephone system when a receiver is lifted off hook and then
start a recorder, via the remote start jack. passing the audio into the mic input.
Drop outs come in two flavors: series and parallel. Series units must be hooked in series with
all of the telephone instruments in order to record conversations on any line. If a series unit is
located on the wiring from only one telephone, that instrument's audio is allthatwill be recorded.
Because of this, the logical placement of a series starter is after all the individual phone lines
come together. Examples of this would be at the outside drop wire, the outside protector block
or the common wire all extensions merge into.
Remember, voice activated (as opposed to voltage sensitive) units can be installed anywhere
in the network, including on an extension phone line. inside any handy connector block, and
so on.
Parallel drop-outs also exist. These units can also be installed anywhere along the network and
automatically start and record conversations on any phone in the system.
Parallel-starters are law enforcement favorites because you can cover the entire building (on
any single phone line) with a single installation. Parallel starters need to be installed physically
closerto the actual phone instruments than do series starters. Better units feature a very high
input impedance (10-30 million ohms) in order to make them a bit more impervious to
countermeasures searches.
Most general surveillance companies such as Intelligence Incorporated, Sherwood, AMC, etc.
sell acceptable phone starters as do many law enforcement suppliers. It should be noted many
so called "law enforcement" parallel devices are easier to detect due to low input impedance
than are their cheap civilian cousins.
Radio Shack makes both a series and a parallel recorder starter that work quite well. The Radio
Shack units feature telco modular plugs that snap into wall jacks since they are legal taps and
not designed to be hidden, but both units work well and have a fairly high input impedance.
RF Taps
Next in the logical progression of telephone surveillance is the use of a radio frequency tap to
Radio transmitters offer the same flexibility in telephone tapping operations as they do in room
surveillance. A successful RF tap can be manned or operated in a fully automatic condition
subject to the same conditions as a room transmitter, i.e., the signal can be transmitted directly
to a close by LP, monitored by a crystal controlled receiver, an ICOM, or even a scanner
equipped with the proper antenna for optimum reception.
The LP can be stashed in an apartment or a vehicle or a repeater can be employed to extend
the useful range of the tap to a distant, and more convenient, LP.
Tap transmitters come in free running and crystal controlled versions, and, as with room
transmitters, the more dependable and the more expensive are the CC versions. these are sold
by RUBY ELECTRONICS, SHERWOOD, C ~   Z and a couple of the Japanese suppliers
previously detailed.
The other consideration in an RF tap is whether it be series or parallel. Series units leech their
power from the telephone line itself meaning they never need battery changes but that their
output power is limited by the amount of current they can draw without tripping telco relays.
Series units are also easierto find with simple voltage/current measurements than are parallel
units. Series units require the operator to break on side of the phone line and install the unit as
part of the line itself.
Like their hardwire counterparts series units should be installed after the various telephones
where all lines merge into one output. A favorite place for series transmitters is at the outside
protector block, as many transmitters are small enough to fit inside this block, installation
requires no breaking and entering and takes only a minute or so of the agent's time.
Series units can also be installed further down the line, at Bboxes orin rubber installation boots
located on poles.
Parallel taps. or bridging taps as they are known, go across the tip and ring, require their own
power supply. normally have a separate antenna (as opposed to series units that use the phone
wire), are more difficult to locate, can be installed anywhere in the loop and will broadcast all
conversation on any unit in the system.
Amateurs connect bridge taps in, or near the target phone (wall connecting blocks are a favorite
place); pro's install them at Bboxes. multiples, or appearances several blocks from the original
target. Any parallel tap is by nature hard to locate because it does not greatly affect the DC
current flow in the telephone circuit.
One great trick is to bury a bridge tap along with a long lasting cascaded battery supply and a
recorder near a phone distribution cable and dig it up every week or so so a a complete record
of the target's calls.
Very difficult to find...
More exotic, although. not necessarily more difficult taps, can be accomplished by such tricks
as splits where the professional eavesdropper combines the individual wires in a 25 wire
distribution cable in such a fashion that conversation can be pulled of of the target wires with
very little chance of discovery.
The split, in effect, promotes cross talk and lifts the target audio out of the wires with a powerful
The same principle is in effect with the use of an induction tap. Although the audio is very low
level, the tap is non existent to most electronic surveys. These sophisticated tapping methods
aretoo involvedtogointo here but will be covered in HANDS·ONTELEPHONESURVEILLANCE.
The three most important elements in the effective use of eavesdropping equipment are
planning, control and follow through.
You will get optimum performance from your equipment by carefully orchestrating the
location and events of surveillance.
Avoid conducting surveillance in a moving car because the engine's noisy interference can
destroy your audio quality. Reduce electrical noise of any kind. Stay away from metal
buildings, industrial zones or power transmission sites. Test your equipment where it will
be employed so you can find the best area for a listening post.
Choose the most quiet meetingplace possible. Donot, for example, select a bar where noise
or music will interfere with surveillance. Allowfor the receiver to be in close proximity to
the transmitter. Carry plenty of fresh batteries and throw a battery away no matter how
briefly you have employed it. And, have the transmitter so you can easily turn it on and off,
or change its batteries.
When you conceal a device on your person, manipulate events and environment soyou and
the suspect are as close as possible to each other, and so his or her movements are
restricted. Arrange for undercover meetings to be held out in the open for the best
transmission reception. And when you wear a body transmitter be sure your clothing
adequately conceals the equipment.