Making a Telegraph

Introduction: Making a Telegraph

This instructable will show you how to make your own telegraph. You have probably already heard of the telegraph, which is an invention used to send messages in morse code. In this instructable, you will learn how to make a telegraph, how telegraphs work, and in the end, you will be able to send your own coded message with your telegraph.


-Two iron nails

-Magnet wire

-Block of Styrofoam

-Two paper clips

-Duct Tape


-Two 1.5 volt batteries.

Step 1: Wrap the Wire Around the Nails

First of all, we will make two electromagnets, using the magnet wire and the two nails. You will need enough magnet wire to wrap around both of your nails completely.

Step 2: Sand Off the Enamel at the Ends of the Wire

After you have both nails wrapped completely in magnet wire, sand off the covering at both ends of the wire until you can see the copper.

Step 3: Electromagnet

Next, connect the magnet wire wrapped around the nail to the battery. Hold the wire in place on the battery and touch the nail to the paper clips. The paper clip should be attracted to the nail. So far, you have made an electromagnet.

Step 4: Make Another Electromagnet

Once you have your electromagnet, make another with the other nail, the rest of the magnet wire, and the other battery.

Step 5: Make the Base

Once you have both electromagnets made, you will need to make a base for both electromagnets. Take a 12x6 piece of cardboard. Hot glue gun the 3x9 piece of styrofoam to the cardboard. Use duct tape to help keep the styrofoam on the cardboard.

In the pictures, there are two pieces of styrofoam, but I decided that one bigger piece would be better. Also, the styrofoam is not centered, but it should be.

Step 6: Setting It Up

Poke the sharp end of the nail into the styrofoam to keep the wire from slipping off. Do the same thing to the other nail on the opposite side of the styrofoam. Duct tape one of the wires onto the battery and duct tape the battery onto the styrofoam. The side that is duct-taped down to the styrofoam should be the side of the battery that has the wire taped down. The side of the battery that is facing up should have the wire above it, but NOT duct-taped down.

Step 7: Checkpoint

Your project should look something like this. (There should only be one piece of styrofoam and it should be centered. It doesn't matter that much but....)

Step 8: Making the Clicker

Take both paper clips and bend them as shown. Poke the long side of the paper clip that is bent into the styrofoam. The part of the paper clip that was not bent should be positioned above the nail head.

Step 9: Test It

You should have the wire from the electromagnet that is not taped down, above the battery. If you take the wire and press it down onto the battery, you should complete the circuit and the nail and the paper clip should attract and make a clicking noise. If they do not attract, then the paper clip is too far away from the nail head. If they attract at first, but when you take the wire off the battery and the paper clip remains stuck to the nail, the paper clip and nail are too close.

Step 10: Click Click Click Click ( Pause ) Click Click

Whenever you touch the wire to the battery, the paper clip should attract to the nail. When does that, it should make a clicking sound when metal hits metal.

Step 11: Long Click and Short Clicks

Long clicks in morse code can be written as a dash

Short clicks can be written as a raised dot

Step 12: Morse Code Sheet

Here is a link to a sheet to decode the long clicks and short clicks into letters and numbers.

Step 13: Telegraph

Now you and a friend can send morse code messages back and forth by touching a wire to a battery, to make clicks

Step 14: How It Works

When you touch the wire to the battery, it completes the circuit and electricity from the battery flows through the wires from the battery into the electromagnet, which attracts the paper clip positioned above it. When the electromagnet attracts the paper clip, the paper clip makes a click when it hits the nail. When you take the wire off the battery, it stops the electromagnet, which means the paper clip is no longer attracted, so it will go back to its original position, above the nail. By touching the wire to the battery, you can make the paper clip click against the nail. This is a telegraph.

Step 15: Using It

You can do short clicks or long clicks. Using a morse code sheet, you can make letters out of a series of clicks, and cliiiiiicks, (short clicks and long clicks.) The person using the other telegraph can write down the series of clicks they heard, and decode it later. Then they can send messages back to you. To learn more about the telegraph, you can go here.

Thank you!!!

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    2 years ago

    Awesome job Ethan!! I love how detailed your instructable is and how you clearly explained each step with the process. Keep up the great work!