Morse Code Teachers Pack

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					                                                         Touch the Past
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                               Morse Code
Key Stages 1&2
National Curriculum Links: En1 1a – 1f, 2a – 2f, 3a – 3e, En2 1a,b,d,f,k,l, 2c,
En3 1a-f, 2a-d, 4a-f
Main Subject Focus: English
Learning Outcomes:
Children will:
     • Be able to offer their own opinions, listen carefully and respond thought-
        fully to the comments of others.
     • Have an understanding of Morse Code and how it was used.
     • Be able to write their name and a short sentence using Morse Code.
Resources Required:
     • ‘Morse Code & The Titanic’ Information Sheet and ‘Code Sheet’.
     • Morse Keys or torches.
     • Pencils and paper

Activity Structure:
    1. Read the Morse Code & Telegraph Information Sheet to the children and
        show them the ‘Code Sheet’.
    2. Divide the group into 2 teams and ask the children to help their team
        members use the Morse code key or the torches to tap out their names
        in Morse code.
    3. When each child has spelt their name, tell them they are now going to
        send a secret message to the other team using Morse. It may help to
        write their message down first and then translate into Morse. Encour-
        age the children to keep the message short – no more than 4 or 5
    4. Each team should write the message down and then check with the
        other team they have the message correct.
Extension/Homework Ideas:
      • Telegraph operators would rarely spell out messages in full; they have
        a series of 1-4 letter codes for commonly used messages, (e.g. CQD
        (Attention! Urgent! Response required) DE (this is) MGY (Titanic)– the
        emergency message sent by Titanic radio Operator Jack Phillips.)
      • Ask the children to create their own codes and code books and try
        sending secret messages to each other.
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                History of Morse Code – Teachers Notes
Morse code is a method for transmitting information, using standardized sequences of short
and long marks or pulses — commonly known as "dots" and "dashes" — for the letters, numer-
als and special characters of a message. Originally created for Samuel Morse's electric tele-
graph in the mid-1830s, it was also extensively used for early radio communication beginning in
the 1890s.
Samuel Morse
                       Samuel Finley Breeze Morse was born in Charlestown, Mass. on 27th
                       April 1791. He was not a scientist - he was a professional artist. Edu-
                       cated at Phillip’s Academy at Andover, he graduated from Yale in 1810
                       and he lived in England from 1811 to 1815, exhibiting at the Royal Acad-
                       emy in 1813. He returned to America in 1832 having been appointed
                       Professor of Painting and Sculpture at the University of the City of New
                       York. It was on this homeward voyage that he overheard a shipboard
                       discussion on electromagnets. This was the seed out of which the elec-
                       tric telegraph grew. Morse is remembered for his Code, still used, and
                       less for the invention that enabled it to be used, probably since landline
                       telegraphy eventually gave way to wireless telegraphy.
The electric telegraph:
From 1837 Morse gave the telegraph his full attention, having set up in partnership with Alfred
Vail, Professor Leonard Gail, and congressman F O J Smith. Vail provided funds and facilities
at the family ironworks, and Smith legal expertise. The telegraph was eventually patented in
Morse’s name alone in 1854.
The first message sent by the electric telegraph was "What hath God wrought", from the Su-
preme Court Room in the Capitol to the railway depot at Baltimore on May 24th 1844. The
words were chosen by Annie Ellsworth; in one letter Morse wrote this phrase with ‘God’ capital-
ised and underlined twice.
The simplicity of Morse code telegraphy
Morse code is a binary, on-off code. It is admirably suited to a simple transmitter, the emission
or continuous wave (CW) from which only has to be turned on or off in order to transmit the
code. That is why CW transmitters are easy to build. (The original spark transmitters were very
simple. Don’t build one - they wipe out huge segments of the RF spectrum, and are illegal.)
Morse and Vail's initial telegraph system, which first went into operation in 1844, marked a pa-
per tape — when an electrical current was transmitted, the receiver's electromagnet rotated an
armature, so that it began to scratch a moving tape, and when the current was removed the re-
ceiver retracted the armature, so that portion of the tape was left unmarked. In the original
Morse telegraphs, the receiver's armature made a clicking noise as it moved into and out of po-
sition for marking the tape. Operators soon learned to directly read the clicks as the beginning
and end of dots and dashes, meaning that it was no longer necessary to use the tape.
Different versions of Morse code
Morse's original code was not quite the same as the one in use today. In particular C, O, R, Y
and Z contained spaces within the letter codes, which must have been tricky to handle, and the
numbers were different. This ‘American’ Morse code was in wide use until the 1920’s. For in-
ternational use it was modified, this eliminated the spaces within the letters and provided codes
for accented letters.
Both the original code and the current International Code use the same principle, that
the commonest letters have the shortest codes.
How to find out what the letter incidence is?
Difficult now, from scratch, but Morse had a marvellous idea. He went to his local news-
paper. There he found compositors making up pages by hand from individual letters;
capital letters were in one case or tray of type, and this was set above the case of small
letters. This is the origin of 'upper and lower case' letters.
Morse simply counted the number of pieces of type for each letter, thinking, soundly
enough, that this must be related to the number needed.
Thus 'e' has the shortest code, 'dit', whereas 'z' is 'da-da-di-dit' and 'q' 'da-da-di-dah'.
An intriguing question: the symbol for V, di-di-di-dah, is also the opening phrase of Beetho-
ven’s Fifth (V’th) Symphony. Morse was 20 years younger than Beethoven - was he a fan of
the composer?
Morse code can be transmitted in a number of ways: originally as electrical pulses along a tele-
graph wire, but also as an audio tone, as a radio signal with short and long pulses or tones, or
as a mechanical or visual signal (e.g. a flashing light) using devices like an aldis lamp or a he-
liograph. Because Morse code is transmitted using just two states — on and off — it was an
early form of a digital code. International Morse code is composed of six elements:
   1. short mark, dot or 'dit' (·)
   2. longer mark, dash or 'dah' (-)
   3. intra-character gap (between the dots and dashes within a character)
   4. short gap (between letters)
   5. medium gap (between words)
   6. long gap (between sentences)

Hand sent CW telegraphy is now mostly an amusement for those enthusiasts who like
'pounding brass'. Statements at the beginning of 1999 that Morse code is 'no longer used' were
not true. Oddly, there is one high-tech industry where Morse code is still used: airline pilots
have to know it. Admittedly it is only at about 5 wpm, and only three letters at a time. Beacons,
which radiate in the medium wave region of the spectrum use three-letter identifiers, sent very,
very slowly in Morse.

References for History of Morse and radio telegraphy
                                                                        Touch the Past
                                                                        M useum s E ducation Service

                            Morse Code & the Titanic
Titanic Radio Officers
Titanic carried 2 Radio Officers (or, as they were known in those days, Marconi wireless opera-
tors or telegraphists).
                                In charge was 25 year old
                             John (Jack) G. Phillips, (right)
                          with 21 year old Harold Bride as the
                            deputy or second R/O, (far right)

The R/O's remained at their posts until about 3 minutes before the vessel foundered... even after
being released from their duties by the Captain.
Harold Bride remarked that water could be heard flooding into the wheelhouse as he and Jack
Phillips abandoned the radio room. Jack Phillips was still sending as the power supply to the ra-
dio room failed...
                 The Titanic Radio Officers did great honour to their profession.
    Jack Phillips died of hypothermia on or near Collapsible lifeboat B - his body was never
   Harold Bride left the sea after WW1, and faded into obscurity. He died in Scotland in 1956.
Distress calls
CQD (6 times) DE (this is) MGY (6 times) position 41.44 N. 50.24 W
This was the message sent out by Jack Phillips when Titanic struck the iceberg.
Morse code messages contain abbreviations used by ship's Radio Officers. At that time Marconi
employed almost all the Radio Officers afloat...
The message "CQD" means a general call to all vessels, which indicates the vessel sending is in
distress and requires immediate assistance.
 At the time of the "Titanic" sinking, the Marconi company's "CQD" was still in common use, al-
though it had been officially replaced by the well known "SOS" - which, by the way, does NOT
mean "Save Our Souls" or anything so melodramatic - it was chosen specifically to be easily and
instantly recognisable in Morse - "dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit". The three dots - three dashes -
three dots are sent as a single signal without the gaps that would be present if three separate let-
ters were being sent.
Such was the dominance of Marconi over the infant marine radio industry that many ships still
used CQD, rather than the official distress signal SOS. This can be seen in the Titanic's initial and
final distress calls - Jack Phillips stuck to the company CQD signal to the end....
Radio Callsigns
In 1912, ships were issued with 3 letter callsigns (this later changed to 4, as more ships were
fitted with wireless).
Titanic                      Capt. Smith                 MGY                      __ __.
Olympic                      Capt. Haddock                              MKC                       _
_                _._      _._.
Carpathia      Capt. A.H.Rostron            MPA                         __         ._ _. ._
Morse code telegraphy, even in the hands of a very skilled operator, is quite slow - 20 words
(100 letters) a minute is shifting pretty well, and only professionals could manage 30 wpm. The
requirement for the amateur radio licence is 12 wpm. So there are lots of procedural signals,
which take little time to send but say quite a lot, and many abbreviations.
Special symbols (prosigns)

                   Sign      Code                     Meaning
                    AR        ._._.            Stop (end of message)

                    AS        ._...             Wait (for 10 seconds)

                    BT       _…_             Separator within a message

                    CL      _._.._..                Going off air

                     K           _._        General invitation to transmit

                     R           ._.          Received and understood

                    SK       …_._               End (end of contact)

                   SOS    …_ _ _...         Serious distress message and
                                            request for urgent assistance.

    (See also Morse Code Alphabet Sheet)
    Chart of Q codes

    Website that translates text to Morse
                           Morse Code Alphabet
An easy way to learn the Morse alphabet is to cross-reference them with their
respective phonetics.

Letter Phonetic Morse                                   Mnemonic
 A       Alpha       ._     al-FA
 B       Bravo      _…      YEAH! ‘ clap’ ‘ clap’ ‘ clap’
 C      Charlie     _._.    CHAR-lie’s AN-gels
 D       Delta      _..     New or-leans
  E      Echo        .      hey!
  F     Foxtrot     .._.    ‘step’’step’BRUSH’step’ (That’s how you Foxtrot!)
 G        Golf      _ _.    HOLE IN one!
 H       Hotel      ….      Ho-li-day-inn
  I      India       ..     bom-bay
  J      Juliett   ._ _ _ where-FORE ART THOU?
 K        Kilo      _._     POUND for POUND
  L      Lima       ._..    li-MA- pe-ru      (Lima – capital of Peru)

 M       Mike       __      LIKE MIKE (Michael Jordan Jingle)
 N     November      _.     AU-tumn
 O       Oscar     _ _ _ SUN-NY-DAY (Sesame Street character theme song)
  P      Papa      ._ _.    of DOC-TOR good (from “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” song by
                            Cher Bono)

 Q      Quebec     _ _._ A-LOU –et-TUH                  (French Canadain song)

 R      Romeo       ._.     ro-MER-o        (Romeo in Spanish)

  S      Sierra     …       ne-ve-da     (the Sierra Nevada)

  T      Tango       _      ‘DIP’   (In the dance the girl is dipped for a few seconds)

 U      Uniform     .._     u-ni-FORM
  V      Victor     …_      First 4 notes of Beethoven’s 5th symphony
 W      Whiskey     ._ _    jack AND COKE           (Jack Daniels whiskey and Cola)

  X      X-ray      _.._    ON-ly the BONES (!)
  Y     Yankee     _._ _ ON a PO_NY                (from Yankee Doodle)

  Z       Zulu     _ _..    SHA-KA zulu            (famous Zulu King)
                   Commonly-used Morse code abbreviations
Abbreviations differ from prosigns in that they observe normal interletter spacing; that is, they
are not "run together" the way prosigns are.
AA     All after (used after question mark to request a   GM     Good morning

ABT    About                                              GUD    Good

ADS    Address                                            HIHI   Laughter

AGN    Again                                              HR     Here

                                                          OB     Old boy
BK     Break (to pause transmission of a message,
                                                          PSE    Please
C      Yes

                                                          R      I acknowledge or decimal point (depending
CFM    Confirm                                                   on context. The origin of "Roger")
                                                          SEZ    Says
CLG    Calling

                                                          SN     Soon
CQ     Calling any station
                                                          SMS    Short message service
CQD    Original International Distress Call
                                                          SRI    Sorry
CS     Callsign
                                                          TMW    Tomorrow
CUL    See you later
                                                          TU     Thank you
CUZ    Because
                                                          UR     Your or You're (depending on context)
DE     From
                                                          URS    Yours
DSW    Goodbye (Russian: до свидания [Do svi-
       danya])                                            VY     Very

DX     Distance (sometimes refers to long distance
       contact)                                           WL     Will

ES     And
                                                          WUD    Would

FB     Fine business (Analogous to "OK")
                                                          YL     Young lady (used for any female)

FER    For
                                                          73     Best regards

FM     From                                               88     Love and kisses

GA     Good afternoon or Go ahead (depending on
GE     Good evening
                                   Touch the Past
                                   M useum s E ducation Service

               Morse Code Alphabet
A       .-       N   -.        0        -----
B       -...     O    ---      1        .----
C      -.-.      P   .--.      2        ..---
D     -..        Q    --.-     3        ...--
E      .         R   .-.       4        ....-
F    ..-.        S   ...       5        .....
G    --.         T   -         6        -....
H   ....         U   ..-       7        --...
I   ..           V   ...-      8        ---..
J    .---        W    .--      9        ----.
K    -.-         X   -..-      Fullstop   .-.-.-
L     .-..       Y   -.--      Comma      --..--
M      --        Z   --..      Question Mark  ..--..

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