Introduction: Manual Morse Code Machine

Picture of Manual Morse Code Machine

The following information is a single lesson in a larger project. Find more great projects here.

Project Overview:

In this project you will learn about and build your own Morse Code machine.
In the first lesson you will build a simple morse code machine. Once your machine is complete, you will evolve it by hooking it up to an Arduino and programming it to send the SOS distress signal.

Step 1: What Is Morse Code?

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Before the days of the telephone it was incredibly hard for people to communicate with others over long distances. Once the telegraph was invented by Samuel Morse, it allowed people to communicate with each other remotely. The telegraph was only capable of sending long and short pulses of a tone; each letter or number was represented by a combination of long and short pulses. Additionally, after each letter, number or word there is a slightly longer wait to signify the end of the character.

Morse Code is now a dead language; the last commercial transmission of Morse Code in the US was on July 12, 1999. Samuel Morse's telegraph and code paved the way for the telephone and other important radio equipment. Look below for a chart of all the letters and numbers in Morse Code.

  1. Continue to the next step.

Step 2: Time to Make the Machine

Picture of Time to Make the Machine

In this step we will construct our own Morse Code Machine. Our machine will will run off of a coin cell battery (3 volt) also known as a CR 2032, and we will also use Piezo and a pushbutton.

  1. Place the piezo on two different rows of the breadboard. Place the pushbutton so that one of it's legs share the same row with the positive leg of the piezo. By placing them in the same row, you are connecting them due to the internal wiring of the breadboard.

    HINT: If you wish to rotate your battery as shown in the picture, you can do so by pressing "R" while having the component selected.

  2. Connect a wire from the negative side of the battery to the negative side of the piezo. Connect one more wire from the neighbor leg of the pushbutton to the positive side of the battery as shown.
  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 3: IT'S ALIVE!

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In this step we will test our work by running our morse code machine through a simulation.

  1. Press the start simulation button in the top right hand corner. This is how we will be able to test our circuit.
  2. While the simulation is running, we will be able to test our machine. We can see if it works by pressing the pushbutton; if it makes a noise then it works!
  3. Try to make the message SOS. The code for S is three short pulses, and the code for O is three long pulses. To write 'SOS' the code will be: ... --- ...
  4. Try to write your own messages, here is a list of all of the letters in morse code.
  5. Once you are done writing messages you can continue to the next step.

Step 4: Improve Your Machine!

Picture of Improve Your Machine!

As you may know, telegraphs are no longer being used. However, that doesn't mean that we can't make our invention even more awesome. In this step we are going to add an LED in parallel to our circuit.

  1. Add an LED and a resistor to the breadboard as shown. Make sure that the resistor and the flat side of the LED are in the same row.
  2. Click on the resistor and set it resistance to 100 Ω in the top right corner. The color of the bands of your resistor should be Brown, Black, Brown.

    HINT: Make sure that your unit is in Ω and not kΩ.

  3. Connect the other side of the resistor to the negative side of the piezo. Connect the round side of the LED to the positive side of the piezo as shown. By hooking up our components this way, we are connecting them in parallel.
  4. Your machine is complete! Feel free to make your own messages with it using Morse code. The chart below lists all of the letters and numbers in Morse Code. Make sure to leave a small gap of time between each letter and a slightly longer gap in between words.
  5. Continue to the next step.

In the next lesson you will learn to make an automatic morse code machien!

Next Lesson:Automated Morse Code Machine

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