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The secret language of Morse code


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The secret language of Morse code

Morse code is a method used in telecommunications to encode text characters as a standard sequence of two different signal periods, called dots and dashes or dits and dashes. Morse code is named after telegraph inventor Samuel Morse.

International Morse code encodes the 26 basic Latin letters a to z, an accented Latin letter (é), Arabic numerals and punctuation, and a small set of procedural signs (prosigns). Each Morse code symbol is made up of a sequence of dit and dah. The dit period is the basic unit of time measurement in Morse code transmission. The duration of a burn is three times the duration of a det. Each dit or dah in each encoded character is followed by some period of signal absence, called a space, equal to the duration of this dit. The letters of a word are separated by a space equal to three digits, and words are separated by a space equal to seven digits. Until 1949, words were separated by a space equal to five digits.

Morse code can be memorized and transmitted in a form perceptible to the human senses, such as through sound waves or visible light, so that it can be interpreted directly by people trained in such skills. Morse code is usually transmitted by on-off keying of an information-carrying medium such as radio waves, visible light, or sound waves. The current or wave is present during the det or burn period and is absent between the det and the burn.

Because many natural languages ​​use more than the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, Morse codes were originally developed for those languages ​​by transliterating existing codes.

To increase encoding efficiency, Morse code was designed so that the length of each symbol is roughly inverse of the frequency of occurrence of that letter in English-language text. Thus the most common letter in English, the letter e, has the shortest code: a single det. Because Morse code elements are specified by ratio rather than fixed duration, the code is usually transmitted at the highest rate that the receiver is capable of decoding. Usually referred to as words per minute and the Morse code transmission rate (speed) is specified in groups per minute.

Development and history
Pre-Morse telegraphs and codes
In the early 19th century, European experimenters made progress with electrical signaling systems, using a variety of techniques including electricity by generating electrochemical and electromagnetic changes from static electricity and voltaic piles.

Telegraph Key and Sounder. The length and timing of dit and dah are completely controlled by the telegraphist.
Following the discovery of electromagnetism by Hans Christian Oersted in 1820 and the electromagnet by William Sturgeon in 1824, electromagnetic telegraphy developed in Europe and America. Pulses of electric current were sent along the wire to control an electromagnet in the receiving device. Many of the earliest telegraph systems used a single-needle system which provided a very simple and powerful instrument. However, it was slow, as the receiving operator had to alternate between looking at the needle and writing the message. In Morse code, a deviation of the pointer to the left corresponds to a dot and a deviation to the right to a dah. By sounding two clicks separated by an ivory and a metal stop, the single needle device becomes an audible instrument, resulting in a double plate sounder system.

Britain’s William Cook and Charles Wheatstone developed an electric telegraph that used electromagnets in its receivers. Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Eduard Weber (1833) as well as Carl August von Steinheil (1837) used different word length codes for their telegraph systems. In 1841, Cook and Wheatstone built a telegraph that printed letters from a typeface wheel struck by a hammer.

Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail

Morse code receiver, recording on paper tape
American artist Samuel Morse, American physicist Joseph Henry and mechanical engineer Alfred Vail developed an electric telegraph system. It needed a method to transmit natural language using only electrical pulses and silence between them. Around 1837, Morse therefore developed the early precursor to the modern international Morse code.

The Morse system for telegraphy, which was first used around 1844, was designed to produce indentations in a paper tape while receiving an electric current. When an electric current is received, an electromagnet engages an armature that pushes a stylus onto the moving paper tape, creating an indentation on the tape. When the current is interrupted, a spring retracts the stylus and that part of the moving tape remains unmarked. Morse code was developed so that operators could translate indentations marked on paper tape into text messages.

In his early designs for a code, Morse planned to transmit only numbers and use a codebook to find each word according to the number sent. However, the code was soon expanded by Alfred Weil in 1840 to include letters and special characters, so that it could be used more generally. Vail estimated the frequency of letter usage in the English language by counting the running type found in the type-cases of a local newspaper in Morristown, New Jersey. Short symbols were called “dots” and long ones were called “dashes”, and the most frequently used characters were designated as the shortest sequence of dots and dashes. This code, first used in 1844, was known as Morse Landline Code, American Morse Code, or Railroad Morse, until the end of railroad telegraphy in the United States in the 1970s.

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Operator-led conversion from graphical to audible code
In the original Morse telegraph system, the receiver’s armature made a clicking sound as it moved in and out of position to mark the paper tape. Telegraph operators soon learned that they could translate clicks directly into dots and dashes and write them down by hand, thus making paper tape unnecessary. When Morse code was adapted to radio communication, dots and dashes were sent as short and long tone pulses. It was later found that people became more adept at receiving Morse code when it was taught as a language that was heard rather than read from a page.

With the advent of tones produced by radiotelegraph receivers, operators began voicing a dot as a dit and a dash as a dash to reflect the Morse code words they heard. To conform to normal transmission speed, dits that are not the last element of a code are voiced as d. For example, the letter l is pronounced as di dah di it. Morse code was sometimes known as “ED-Ompty”, a dit lampoon as “ED”, and a Dah as “Ompty”, leading to the word “Omptin”.

Gerke changed many codepoints, in the process removing American Morse’s various lengths of dash and various inter-element spaces, leaving only two coding elements, the dot and the dash. In 1851 Gerk’s Code was adopted in Germany and Austria.

This eventually led to the international Morse code in 1865. International Morse Code accepts most codepoints in Garc. Added a new codepoint for j since Gerke did not distinguish between i and j. Changes are also made to x, y, and z. This resulted in only four codepoints like the original Morse code, namely e, h, k and n, and the latter two had their dah extended to full length. Compared to the original American Code dated 1838; The next American code shown in the table was created in 1844.

Radiotelegraphy and Aviation
In the 1890s, Morse code became widely used for early radio communications before voice transmission was possible.

Although earlier transmitters were heavy and the spark gap system of transmission dangerous and difficult to use, there were some early attempts: in 1910, the US Navy experimented with sending Morse from an airplane. However, the first regular aviation radiotelegraphy was in airships, which had space to accommodate the large, heavy radio equipment then in use. That same year, 1910, a radio on the airship America was instrumental in coordinating the rescue of its crew.

Maritime Flash Telegraphy and Radio Telegraphy

Radiotelegraphy using Morse code was vital during World War II, especially for carrying messages between warships and combatant naval bases. Long-range ship-to-ship communication was by radio telegraphy, using encrypted messages because voice radio systems on ships were then quite limited in both their range and security. Radiotelegraphy was also widely used by warplanes, especially the long-range patrol planes sent by navies to locate enemy warships, cargo ships, and troop ships.

End of commercial telegraphy
The final commercial Morse code transmission in the United States took place on July 12, 1999, with Samuel Morse’s original 1844 message, What God Has Done, and signed off with the sign SK (“end of communication”).

The United States Coast Guard has discontinued all use of Morse code on radio and no longer monitors any radio frequencies for Morse code transmissions with an international medium frequency (MF) distress frequency of 500 kHz. However, the Federal Communications Commission still issues commercial radiotelegraph operator licenses to applicants who pass their code and written tests. Similarly, a few US museum ship stations are run by Morse enthusiasts.

International Morse Code
Morse code has been in use for over 160 years – longer than any other electrical coding system. What is now called Morse code is actually quite different from the one developed by Vail and Morse. The modern international Morse code, or continental code, was developed by Friedrich Clemens Gerke in 1848 and was initially used for telegraphy between Hamburg and Cuxhaven, Germany. Gerke changed about half of the alphabet and all the numbers, providing the basis for the modern form of the code. After some minor changes, the International Morse Code was standardized at the International Telegraphy Congress in Paris in 1865 and later standardized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The original Morse code specification, originally limited to use in the United States and Canada, became known as American Morse Code or “Railroad Code”. American Morse code is now rarely used except in historical reenactments.

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In aviation, pilots use radio navigation aids. To confirm which stations the pilots are using, stations transmit a set of identification letters (usually a two- to five-letter version of the station’s name) in Morse code. For example, the VOR-DME located at Villo Acuna Airport in Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba, is coded as “UCL” and transmits in Morse code on UCL’s radio frequency. In some countries, during maintenance, the facility may emit a T-E-S-T code ( ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ) or the code may be removed, telling pilots and navigators that the station is unreliable. In Canada, the identification is completely removed to indicate that the navigation aid will not be used. In air service, Morse is usually sent at a very slow rate of about 5 words per minute. In the United States, pilots do not actually need to know Morse to identify a transmitter because the dot/dash sequence is written next to the transmitter symbol on aeronautical charts. Some modern navigation receivers automatically translate the code into displayed characters.

International Morse code is most popular among amateur radio operators today, in the mode commonly called “continuous wave” or “CW”. (This name was chosen to distinguish it from the damped wave emission from spark transmitters, not because the transmission is continuous.) Other keying methods are found in radio telegraphy, such as frequency-shift keying.


The original amateur radio operators used only Morse code since voice-capable radio transmitters did not become commonly available until about 1920. As of 2003, the International Telecommunication Union mandated Morse code proficiency as part of the amateur radio licensing system worldwide. However, the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2003 made the Morse code requirement optional for amateur radio licenses. Many countries subsequently removed the Morse requirement from their licensing requirements.

Other uses
Radio navigation aids for aeronautical use such as VORs and NDBs broadcast identification information in Morse code form, although many VOR stations now also provide voice identification. Warships, including the US Navy, have long used beacons to communicate in Morse code. Radio has continued to be used in modern times as a means of communication in silence.

The Automatic Transmitter Identification System (ATIS) uses Morse code to identify the uplink source of analog satellite transmissions.

Many amateur radio repeaters identify with Morse, even though they are used for voice communication.

Application for general public
It can be sent in many ways: turning a radio on and off, flashing a mirror, toggling a flashlight, and similar methods. The SOS signal is not sent as three separate letters; Rather, it is a prosign sos, and is keyed without spaces between characters.

Some Nokia mobile phones offer the option to alert the user of an incoming text message with the Morse tone ” ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ” . In addition, applications for mobile phones are now available that enable the input of short messages in Morse code

Morse code as an assistive technology
Morse code is employed as an assistive technology, which helps people with various disabilities to communicate. For example, Android operating system versions 5.0 and higher allow users to input text using Morse code as an alternative to a keypad or handwriting recognition.

Morse can be sent by people with severe motor disabilities, as long as they have some minimal motor control. An original solution to the problem of caregivers having to learn to decode is an electronic typewriter with codes written on the keys. Codes were sung by users; See Voice Typewriter Employing Morse or Votum.

Morse code can also be translated by computer and used as a speaking communication aid. In some cases, this means alternately blowing and sucking into a plastic tube (“sip-and-puff” interface). Also, it displays faster than scanning.

In one case reported in the radio amateur magazine QST, an old shipboard radio operator who had suffered a stroke and lost the ability to speak or write could communicate with his physician (a radio amateur) by winking in Morse. Another example occurred in 1966 when POW Jeremiah Denton, brought to television by his North Vietnamese captors, blinked the words Morse-Morse-torture. In both of these cases, interpreters were available to interpret those series of blinks.

learning method
Those learning Morse code using the Farnsworth method are taught to send and receive letters and other symbols at full target speed, with the normal relative timing of dit, dah, and spaces between each symbol for that speed. The Farnsworth method is named after Donald R. However, initially exaggerated spaces were used between symbols and words, to allow “thinking time” for learning the word “shape” of letters and symbols. The gap can then be reduced with practice and familiarity.

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Another popular teaching method is the Koch method, invented in 1935 by German engineer and former stormtrooper Ludwig Koch, which uses full target motion from the start but begins with only two letters. Once the string containing these two characters can be copied with 90% accuracy, an additional character is added and so on until the entire character set is mastered.

In North America, thousands of individuals have improved their code recognition speed (after initial memorization of letters) by listening to regularly scheduled code practice transmissions broadcast by W1AW, headquarters of the American Radio Relay League. As of 2015, the United States military teaches Morse code as an 81-day self-paced course, phased out by more traditional classes.

Visual mnemonic charts have been developed over the ages. Baden-Powell included one in the Girl Guide Handbook in 1918.

In the United Kingdom, many people learn Morse code through a series of words or phrases that have the same rhythm as Morse letters. For example, q in Morse is dah dah di dah , which can be memorized by the phrase “God save the queen,” and Morse for f is di di dah dit , which is “did she like?” can be memorized as.

Non-Latin Extensions
The general technique for creating Morse code for non-Latin alphabet scripts is to use international Morse codes only for characters whose sounds match those of the local alphabet. Because Gerke’s code was in official use in Central Europe, and included many non-Latin characters, none of which conflicted with the international Morse standard, it served as a starting-point for other languages ​​that used an alphabetic script, but for code is required. Letters not accepted by International Morse.

The usual method is first to transliterate the words represented by the international and secondly the Gerke code into the local alphabet, hence Greek, Hebrew, Russian and Ukrainian Morse code. If more codes are needed, one can either invent a new code or else convert an unused code from one of the code sets to non-Latin characters. For example:

Ñ ​​in Spanish Morse is ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄, a local code not used in international or Gerke Morse.
For the Greek letter Ψ, the Greek Morse code uses the international Morse code for Q, ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄, which has no corresponding letter in Greek, although Ψ and Q have a historical, No phonological or morphological relation. .
For Russians and Bulgarians, Russian Morse code is used to map Cyrillic characters to four-element codes. Many letters are encoded the same way (A, O, E, I, T, M, N, R, K, etc.). The Bulgarian alphabet consists of 30 letters, which match exactly all possible combinations of 1, 2, 3, and 4 dit and dah (Russian ы is used as Bulgarian ь, Russian ь is used as Bulgarian ъ). The letters Э and Ъ in Russian require two more codes that are encoded with 5 elements each.

Non-alphabetic scripts require a more radical adaptation. Japanese Morse code (wabun code) has a separate encoding for kana script; Although many codes are used for International Morse, their sounds are mostly unrelated. Japanese/Wabun code has special signs for switching back and forth from International Morse: ▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄ Return from Wabun to International Morse.

For the Chinese, the Chinese telegraph code is used to map Chinese characters into four-digit codes and send these numbers using standard Morse code. Korean Morse code[68] uses the SKATS mapping, which was originally developed to allow Korean to be typed on Western typewriters. SKATS maps Hangul characters to arbitrary characters of the Latin script and has nothing to do with pronunciation in Korean.

unusual variant
Early in the First World War (1914–1916), Germany briefly experimented with ‘dotty’ and ‘dashy’ Morse, briefly adding a dot or dash to the end of each Morse symbol. Each was quickly dismantled by the Allied forces, and standard Morse was restored by the spring of 1916. Only a small percentage of Western Front (North Atlantic and Mediterranean) traffic throughout the war was in ‘dotty’ or ‘dash’ Morse. In popular culture, it is mostly remembered in Kahn’s book The Codebreakers and in the National Archives of the UK and Australia (whose SIGINT operators copied many of these Morse variants). The sources cited by Kahn come from the popular press and wireless magazines of the time.

Decoding software
Decoding software for Morse code ranges from software-defined wide-band radio receivers connected to reverse beacon networks, which decode CQ messages in the ham band and detect them in smartphone applications.


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