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daryl bane
08-25-2010, 03:14 PM
I've have half hearted researched this, and never really got a good answer. We've all see the old western movies, and the clerk clicking away or listening to the telegraph. My question is what kind of code did they use? I know there is a obsolete form of Morse code called American Morse Code, but it still is referenced as dots and dashes. How does this translate to a series of clicks? (hard to do a dash as a click)

Dragons_fire
08-25-2010, 03:16 PM
the dashes and dots are long and short "beeps"

lynnl
08-25-2010, 03:31 PM
What has always amazed me, is that those people who were really good at receiving (maybe sending too), with enough experience could come to recognize specific senders on the other end.

This was a very critical concern to the British intel guys running the double agents against the nazis during the British "Double Cross" (XX) system during WW II. They knew the nazis could discern whether the signals being sent were being keyed by their "trusted" (NOT!) agents.

Of course that ability demanded that one have had a longstanding relation with the sender in question. (Obviously!)

That whole program is one of the most fascinating studies of WW II, and was probably the single most valuable element in the allies ultimate success. I'm kinda lumping the enigma coup in the mix here too.

...
But as to the original question: I never heard of a different morse code ("American Morse"). I thought it was all just Morse Code.
Of course it was invented here by Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph. Wasn't it?... my early school history is a bit faded.

Optics Curmudgeon
08-25-2010, 03:35 PM
Each dot or dash is actually two clicks, one when the armature comes down ("mark") and one when it springs back up ("space"). Hearing the interval between them tells the operator the difference. Experience and aptitude is the key.

Joe

Evan
08-25-2010, 03:38 PM
The original Morse Code isn't the same as International Morse. I have to go to town now but if you look up Morse code vs Intenational Morse you will see the difference.

Your Old Dog
08-25-2010, 04:05 PM
There are several Ham radio operators here on this forum, I am one also.

I routinely copy at about 25 wpm and during a contest after I get my sea legs I can copy up to 35 wpm. After you have some experience you find you aren't really copying the letters but, if sent fast enough, you're copying the words. The word t-h-e is really very rhythmical when sent fast.

As for your question, timing is the only difference and I expect the good ops with the old system learned to copy words instead of letters also.

QSL?
de NV2A bk

Evan
08-25-2010, 04:08 PM
I'm not a HAM but I have Land, Air and Sea commercial tickets.

KIMFAB
08-25-2010, 04:19 PM
Check this Leno test.

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80519289/

daryl bane
08-25-2010, 04:48 PM
Optics Curmudgeon, I think you hit the answer I was looking for. There are two parts to the "click" and its this space between the parts that determines whether it is a dot or a dash. Seems it would be more difficult to learn, I think.

digger_doug
08-25-2010, 04:59 PM
Yes, I did the old 5 wpm to get my ticket, and promptly lost it.

But to watch my old instructor, albeit using a keyer, converse
at 40 wpm, it just flows like a conversation. He just writes down
the specifics, call sign, name and so forth.

MaxHeadRoom
08-25-2010, 05:04 PM
What has always amazed me, is that those people who were really good at receiving (maybe sending too), with enough experience could come to recognize specific senders on the other end.



Yes, it is almost like an accent, you soon recognize the way certain repeatable words are sent.
International news agencies use a machine transmission, (in case of human error), one of my favorites to learn on was Russia's TASS .
IIRC 25wpm. One of my first tune in's I got the news of the Sputnik launch from them.
The ones I dreaded working to was the Cable & Wireless guys, >35wpm and no patience!
Max.

The Artful Bodger
08-25-2010, 05:23 PM
I learned Morse Code in the early '60s at a military school and the graduation level was 25 words per minute. I later used it quite a bit on coded weather traffic and air movement messages.

It is quite true that each character is learned as a sound rather than a sequence of discrete dits and dahs etc. As skill increases common words take up their own characteristic sounds but with coded data this does not happen.

We copied code and keyed it onto a typewriter at 25wpm+ while daydreaming about something else! Concentration on the content of the message was a sure way to make mistakes.

Later, I made a Morse Code keyboard, type in the characters and have code created automatically. It worked very well but it had its problems in that with my previous experience as I typed in a word I would hear it going out on the transmitter and my fingers would automatically type the same word again!

One of my first software projects was a Morse Code sender and receiver on a Z80 PC (a TRS80 clone). It could send and receive Morse Code in full duplex mode cable connected between two units at 1000wpm. This project taught me a lot about software and when demonstrated to various audiences (ham radio clubs etc) it showed that there is much exageration regarding speeds.

It is pointless hammering away at 30wpm+ when everything has to be repeated so on the aviation circuits I worked on speeds of 20-25wpm were the norm for error free copy.

ckalley
08-25-2010, 05:24 PM
As another ham, some operators have what is refered to as a "swing" that is readily identifiable on the air. They will varry the spacing and weight in thier own way. Even if you have never worked them before, you know they have a unique character right away! I sure the old land line ops were the same way.

73

Craig
N1ABY

The Artful Bodger
08-25-2010, 05:36 PM
35wpm and no patience!
Max.

I think the same guys worked at Nandi Aeradio! I remember one guy at Samoa who used to taunt them. Nandi would call the four or so stations on the net for the regional broadcast,or somesuch, but Samoa would always respond 'QRL' so Nandi would get us all to wait until he finally had to send the broadcast without Samoa. Then he would call Samoa 'QTC1' and Samoa would immediately give him a 'K'. After a couple of words Samoa would break him and send 'QRQ' and would do this several times throughout the message while the Nandi operator tried to go faster and faster eventually degenerating in a confused pile of dits while his hand must have been near falling off. When he finished Samoa would reply 'R TU':)

The Artful Bodger
08-25-2010, 05:40 PM
As another ham, some operators have what is refered to as a "swing" that is readily identifiable on the air. They will varry the spacing and weight in thier own way. Even if you have never worked them before, you know they have a unique character right away! I sure the old land line ops were the same way.

73

Craig
N1ABY

"Swing" is of course distortion and is rigourously discouraged by the instructors at the school I went to.
John
ZL2AYQ
ex ZK1AS ZK2AS

dp
08-25-2010, 06:22 PM
The original Morse telegraph recorded embossed marks on a paper strip which were translated to hand written messages by the operator. The ops soon learned they could transcribe live to paper what they heard faster than they could from the paper strips.

The typewriter came along followed quickly by the teletype writer and then the facsimilie machine.

This technology was continually improved to the degree that we now have the perfect environment for exchanging spam with strangers, and which is the single largest use of the vast internet bandwidth.

MaxHeadRoom
08-25-2010, 06:52 PM
. When he finished Samoa would reply 'R TU':)

In a previous life, I had the (mis) fortunate experience that required taking sets in to the Libyan desert for testing (pre-Gadafi).
To relieve the monotony we operated a Ham station, with us and evidentally at that time, only one other Ham station in Libya.
Of course with the relatively rare call signs, my buddy and I were usually taking turns all night answering QSL requests.
Max.

GKman
08-25-2010, 07:18 PM
Listen for yourself at the most logical spot:
http://boyslife.org/games/online-games/575/morse-code-machine/

Mike Burch
08-25-2010, 08:57 PM
Daryl, the original code was indeed diffferent. And Samuel Morse did not, in fact, invent the code that now bears his name. He did, however, invent a telegraph system that eventually proved to be superior to its rivals (principally the British Wheatstone system), and so went on to conquer the world.
As one of the above posts says, at first the receivers printed out the dits and dahs on paper strips which were then decoded by the operator. The ops could hear the clicks and clanks of the relays and soon found that they could recognise the letter aurally, without having to read the paper strips.
Morse himself is said to have raged against this practice until it was proved to him that this meant that his sytem could operate accurately, and faster than his rivals'.
At this point, the paper strip having become redundant, someone invented the sounder, which was essentially a solenoid pulling in an arm when a current passed through the coil, and releasing it under spring tension when the current went off. The click of the "in" was made to sound different from the clack of the "out", and the interval between click and clack determined whether a dot or a dash was being sent. An experienced operator could copy his own sounder amid dozens of others, even when he was off making a cup of tea on the other side of the room. This system lasted many decades.
It wasn't until the advent of wireless telegraphy that the receiving operator heard a continuous noise when the sender's key was down. In those early days it was a horrible roar, but nowadays it's a pure sinewave sound.
Morse is no longer used commercially, and us hams are the only practitioners. It's still a great method of geting a message through in poor radio conditions.

Evan
08-25-2010, 09:40 PM
As I indicated earlier, the codes are not the same. Here are the differences. It isn't just timing, there are pattern differences too.

http://ixian.ca/pics7/mcode.jpg

The Artful Bodger
08-25-2010, 09:46 PM
Morse is no longer used commercially, and us hams are the only practitioners. It's still a great method of geting a message through in poor radio conditions.

I think you will find Morse is still used in parts of the world for the broadcast of weather information and such like. The last time I heard it in 'commercial' use was a few years ago in Pyongyang where they were copying Russian weather broadcasts.

Morse code has some unique advantages, it is as far as I know the only practical man-machine data code. Broadcasts of weather, news and other data was often done by a machine, initially punched paper tape and later a whole range of electronic devices. There are/were radio stations that monitored a particular frequency and would respond to morse code signals (including hand sent code) they received.

Morse code is a character oriented code which means the people involved in sending and receiving the codes do not have to be able to read the data which lends itself to handling encrypted data and inter-language transactions.

The character oriented nature of Morse code led to the creation of a range of codes where simple 3 to 8 character groups could be exchanged to carry a range of information. Some of those codes are the "Q Code", "NOTAM Code" and Bentley's Code which are worth Googling for those who might be interested. Again, these codes were/are language independant so if a fellow from Absurdistan sends me the appropriate code I will know that he has a pregnant woman on board with a broken leg, for example.

What applies to Morse code often applies to other character oriented codes including flags and flashing lamps.

AD5MB
08-25-2010, 10:16 PM
This technology was continually improved to the degree that we now have the perfect environment for exchanging spam with strangers, and which is the single largest use of the vast internet bandwidth.

I'm inclined to believe that the transmission of images of attractive women who just don't have anything to wear takes up more bandwidth.

MaxHeadRoom
08-25-2010, 10:24 PM
Again, these codes were/are language independant so if a fellow from Absurdistan sends me the appropriate code I will know that he has a pregnant woman on board with a broken leg, for example.

.

Or QLF Use left foot :)
Or my favourite to a female operator, QRM, are you being interfered with?


IIRC the main advantage is that you only need to receive the carrier, it does not have to be modulated as in voice transmission and become susceptible to being garbled, once received, the carrier is beaten with a local oscillator to produce the tone, morse can be received on a very weak carrier where voice or other modulated methods would not succeed.
Max.

dp
08-25-2010, 10:34 PM
I have an acquaintance whose only means of communication is by way of Morse code. He uses his head to control a keyer as nothing below his neck works. He's much faster at sending and receiving than many can ever be :)

He has special software on his Mac that lets him control his computer including virtual machines, so he has full access to Windows and without the need for a second interface. He creates web pages. Imagine the challenges.

Your Old Dog
08-25-2010, 10:36 PM
Or QLF Use left foot :)
Or my favourite to a female operator, QRM, are you being interfered with?


IIRC the main advantage is that you only need to receive the carrier, it does not have to be modulated as in voice transmission and become susceptible to being garbled, once received, the carrier is beaten with a local oscillator to produce the tone, morse can be received on a very weak carrier where voice or other modulated methods would not succeed.
Max.

Even with the older analog radios the crystal filters allowed you to easily copy only a 250 wide cycle bandwidth not including the sloped tuning and notch filters for anything that got in your way. A Datung FL-3 filter can reduce your bandwidth down to cycles making it possible to copy traffic in the midst of hundreds of stations. It's great to be a ham in this day and age accept for a few lid ops.

Your Old Dog
08-25-2010, 10:45 PM
I'm not a HAM but I have Land, Air and Sea commercial tickets.

Does that include the radar endorsement?

dp
08-25-2010, 10:50 PM
Does that include the radar endorsement?

In the US there's an extra batch of questions for RADAR. I got my second class Commercial RT with RADAR endorsement in 1971 or so. All the tests were rather simple things, then. I don't need it anymore but have renewed it over the years. I'm not sure that is even required anymore.

Evan
08-25-2010, 10:54 PM
No Radar endorsement.

squirrel
08-25-2010, 11:23 PM
De Wf9q 73 Ar

also EX NNN0AHI, NavMARS

Todd Tolhurst
08-25-2010, 11:30 PM
I'm not a HAM but I have Land, Air and Sea commercial tickets.

Radiotelegraph, or radiotelephone?

thedieter
08-26-2010, 01:53 AM
I don't know about the exact codes but this sure brings back memories. back in the late '30s my brothers and I used to listen to the codes from ships, aircraft and locations around the World on a Zenith multi-band radio and tried to understand what the messages said.

We learned Morse Code and built our own simple keys that worked but we didn't practice enough to be able to keep up with the messages.

On the Leno test, the cell phone guys were using technology that is one step behind. I can speak text messages to my htc EVO 4G smart phone very quickly and it sends it as text.

I still like to hear the Morse code though.

Best regards, Jack

laddy
08-26-2010, 10:37 AM
An older gentleman in the neighborhood worked for I believe Western Union in their infancy. He said that he would be listening to three and sometimes four machines clicking their messages at the same time and jotting down on a pad the received messages. He was 98 years old and that was about ten years ago. He is dead now. Quite a talent . Back in my youth we learned Morse code as well as semaphore (flags). The Morse code was I thought easier and you could use a clicker or a lamp for ship to ship.

Your Old Dog
08-26-2010, 03:18 PM
In the US there's an extra batch of questions for RADAR. I got my second class Commercial RT with RADAR endorsement in 1971 or so. All the tests were rather simple things, then. I don't need it anymore but have renewed it over the years. I'm not sure that is even required anymore.

A good friend of mine who worked for Motorola FTR told me about 1972 that they were dropping it and that it was a much coveted credential. I'd suggest you keep renewing it.

Your Old Dog
08-26-2010, 03:21 PM
..................................................

I still like to hear the Morse code though.

Best regards, Jack

With me it's rtty for the same reason as you. Spent many hours in front of one of those old floor model radios at my buddies wondering what all the rtty signals meant! .....Now I are one!

Your Old Dog
08-26-2010, 03:31 PM
An older gentleman in the neighborhood worked for I believe Western Union in their infancy. He said that he would be listening to three and sometimes four machines clicking their messages at the same time and jotting down on a pad the received messages. He was 98 years old and that was about ten years ago. He is dead now. Quite a talent . Back in my youth we learned Morse code as well as semaphore (flags). The Morse code was I thought easier and you could use a clicker or a lamp for ship to ship.


Laddy, read The Artful Badger's post #14 :D Specifically the next to the last paragraph. It is not unusual for cw ops to up their speed boast maybe 20% when there is no cw around to be copied!! Our radio club meetings get pretty quiet when someone opens up a computer to play back some DX pileups! There are many cw ops who can talk to you and listen to cw transmission at the same time because they are hearing words and not individual letters. Your old gentleman would have been hard pressed to copy 2 let along 3 of the older style machines that sent clicks only instead of tones. I also think age has a lot to do with how well you "used" to be able to copy :D

dp
08-26-2010, 03:53 PM
With me it's rtty for the same reason as you. Spent many hours in front of one of those old floor model radios at my buddies wondering what all the rtty signals meant! .....Now I are one!

I like rtty too. I have an old AEA CP-100 demod unit I bought new from the factory here in Seattle, but haven't used it since I quit using PC compatible computers. I'd intended to use it on 2-meters but never did hear any traffic in my area. I'm in a bit of a hole for that frequency, though. I have a large hill across the street that goes nearly straight up 300', so I get next to no eastern signals on any frequency. My best exposure is SW which is mostly ocean :).

My Yaesu SSB unit (tubes in the final) is old enough that it would probably go up in smoke now if I lit it up. Guess I need to look into a newer unit one of these days.

The Artful Bodger
08-26-2010, 06:14 PM
Your Old Dog, Laddy, I suspect the old gentleman embroidered his story somewhat especially about being able to copy more than one message at a time, you can prove this to yourself by attempting to listen to a radio broadcast, the television and the voice in the kitchen all at the same time.

Not to say though that undivided attention is required to recognise certain groups and sequences. For example at one airport where I worked I had 3 HF voice air-ground, 1 VHF voice air-ground and two HF point-point CW frequencies to monitor. There were several stations on the CW frequency so the Morse became a sort of a background noise but when my callsign came up I would recognise it but as for being able to work an aircraft on voice while copying Morse in my head.....well... lets just say I never got that good.:o


Milford Radio shack c.1968

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4015/4393774587_cc8f2aa92f.jpg

I also worked at other airports including one which had multi channel RTTY connections and most of us found it easy enough to recognise certain sequences, for example 'ZCZC' start of message and 'NNNN' end of message but no one that I have seen has ever claimed to be able to read RTTY yet some people have no problem claiming to be able to read Morse Code at about the same speed!

dp
08-26-2010, 06:19 PM
I cannot have a conversation while I play guitar or piano. Not wired for it. I know plenty of folk who can. My family is used to it and say "I'm in the zone" when I'm playing and don't respond to conversation :). Oddly, I can sing while playing. So I doubt I could ever listen to CW and a conversation and pull anything of substance from either. I do follow the code in movies when it's present and it's just about always gibberish.

The Artful Bodger
08-26-2010, 06:27 PM
I do follow the code in movies when it's present and it's just about always gibberish.

I did a short stint with AAP-Reuters where they put me on night shift to do the CW news broadcast to shipping. They used a Wheatstone perforated paper tape for the broadcast and they were very pleased to have a Morse competant person to tend to it having had a few embarassing incidents where the tape had been played backwards!

Evan
08-26-2010, 07:03 PM
A very good friend of mine can easily copy 70 wpm or more if it is clean. He has been a Ham for a very long time as well as a commercial operator in the past. You may have QSOed him if you are into islands. His call is VE7IG

The Artful Bodger
08-26-2010, 08:35 PM
A very good friend of mine can easily copy 70 wpm or more if it is clean. He has been a Ham for a very long time as well as a commercial operator in the past. You may have QSOed him if you are into islands. His call is VE7IG

He never worked me at 70WPM! :) That is a very credible speed and is almost the record set by Ted R. McElroy (75 wpm if I recall correctly). 70 wpm is a baud rate of about 58!

When listening to hams talking you must not overlook that typical ham QSOes are quite formalised with a very small set of words and procedural signals in use, they also, typically, send callsigns 3 times.

Not to denigrate the skills of anyone who says they can copy anything at 70wpm I wonder how they would fare with varied length groups of letters and numerals.

dp
08-26-2010, 09:36 PM
My experience with CW at that speed is the guy receiving it doesn't write anything down but describes the sender's message. It's conversational CW where every letter isn't important so much as the message. A guy at a hamfest I was at was repeating back computer generated code at 65 wpm and did very well.

squirrel
08-26-2010, 09:37 PM
An old timer that passed about 5 or so years ago was the telegraph operator for the railroad station that was in the our town and he did say the same thing he would copy messages over multiple wires at the same time. I don't recall how fast he could go but he did it until the railroad stopped using telegraph. He did blame is terrible hearing loss on the noise from the wires.

terry_g
08-26-2010, 10:29 PM
One morning the telegraph operators showed up for work and donned their headphones and heard something completely unexpected. People's voices talking about the latest invention, the microphone. It must have been quite a shock to some.

"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal"

Terry

Your Old Dog
08-26-2010, 10:42 PM
.................................
My Yaesu SSB unit (tubes in the final) is old enough that it would probably go up in smoke now if I lit it up. Guess I need to look into a newer unit one of these days.

In it's day that 101e was a great radio. A friend loaned me one to get me on the air before I could get into a Kenwood TS940. The 101e was deaf on 15 &10 until a did a diode mosfet change and then it heard quite well. If I were you I'd fire it up and have some fun!

huntinguy
08-26-2010, 11:23 PM
I was at a field day maybe 10 years back. Watched an old guy, he use to be a telegraph operator for the railroad, work two stations at a time. One of the guys that had been with him all day had watched him run some Russian stations up around 70wpm.

I just can not get the rhythm down to do Morse, wish I could. It is a great way to run small stations and get through a good deal of QRM. Kind of like hearing a lifter make noise in the din of an running engine. Pretty neat.

73

kc7fja

PS

I think some of the Railroads had their own code systems as well.

Marc M
08-27-2010, 07:44 AM
...My Yaesu SSB unit (tubes in the final) is old enough that it would probably go up in smoke now if I lit it up...
If you bring it up slowly with a Variac to limit the inrush to caps, you should be OK regarding smoke. It would likely need an alignment for best performance though. You shouldn't have any troubles finding copies of the operating and service manuals online if you're so inclined. I've got a slightly newer FT-101ZD which also used tubes in the output - I think it was the last Yaesu to do so. Mine still works great except the tubes are getting a little tired. Nowadays it's a backup radio but she'll still drive the NCL-2000 to full power so I haven't gotten around to replacing them.

73's

W9OM

Evan
08-27-2010, 12:39 PM
Not to denigrate the skills of anyone who says they can copy anything at 70wpm I wonder how they would fare with varied length groups of letters and numerals.


I have tested Reg using computer generated code from a program I wrote. I didn't test him with code groups but used ordinary text from random selections of everyday writing like a news story. He copies entire word groups and even sentences just like he is listening to spoken language.

dp
08-27-2010, 12:47 PM
He copies entire word groups and even sentences just like he is listening to spoken language.

I went through several phases of this. When I was a novice I needed to write down what was sent as it was sent so slowly (and usually unskillfully :) ) that it was often difficult to recognize words. As my speed improved to 20 or so wpm I quite writing things down and simply conversed. I graduated from a brass key to a bug to an iambic keyer to a computer, and while my sending quit improving, my receiving continued to improve until I lost my ham shack to a sewing room :). I never cared for any of the speech modes, so used code, rtty, and packet. Packet was kind of fun.

Tony Ennis
08-27-2010, 02:05 PM
Back in the day, codes were used extensively for telegraphic communication. The primary reason was as a cost savings. If phrases specific to a business domain were encoded, they could be transmitted in 4 or 5 letters instead of potentially dozens. Further, if encoded 'at home', the telegraph operators wouldn't be privy to sensitive information.

It was common for companies to have their own code books made by companies that did nothing but. They're all gone now.

Sometimes telegraph companies charged more for encoded communications since the non-words slowed down the operators.

krutch
08-27-2010, 05:40 PM
My Grandfather was a Telegrapher. I bearly remember going down to the Western Union office and seeing him there. I was a little sh*t at the time and have little memory of it. I do recall him tapping out messages and teasing me a bit. My dad, while in the Army Air Corps, was able to benefit from the knowlage.

The Artful Bodger
08-27-2010, 09:30 PM
I have met a number of telegraphists of various skill levels and found that very few could accurately judge their own capabilites and even less that did not exagerate.

20 to 25 wpm was a typical everyday working speed in my experience of press, aeronautical and maritime Morse code services.

dp
08-27-2010, 10:19 PM
If you are tasrincnirbg data and need to pverrsee acccaury then 20 to 25 wpm is plorbbay a cfotlombrae seped and is faliry acvlihbeae. But if you're hanvig a cneoaorvistn wrhee each caeahtrcr is not so irnpmaott, and wrhee even wlhoe wdors are not cairctil, then the spdees can go otauolgrseuy high wtiuhot loss of cnmuoaoimictn qautliy.

If you are transcribing data and need to preserve accuracy then 20 to 25 wpm is probably a comfortable speed and is fairly achievable. But if you're having a conversation where each character is not so important, and where even whole words are not critical, then the speeds can go outrageously high without loss of communication quality.

Drag your mouse over the text to see the hidden translation.

Jack772
08-27-2010, 10:22 PM
The other code such as used on railroads uses spaces in the dots and dashes.
I believe a C is two dots space dot.

squirrel
08-27-2010, 10:30 PM
I have met a number of telegraphists of various skill levels and found that very few could accurately judge their own capabilites and even less that did not exagerate.

20 to 25 wpm was a typical everyday working speed in my experience of press, aeronautical and maritime Morse code services.
I can remember pounding my brass when I was a little kid. Fortunatley Dad was Ham,ex W0AHL then K9YRS. It seems like any thing over 20 was always pretty hard for me if the other guy was running a poorly adjusted Vibroplex.