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Morse code

machine –
Learn how to
make –

Excerpt from the book: Things To Make by Archibald William Published
– 1918

The easily made but practical apparatus described in this chapter supplies an
incentive for learning the Morse telegraphic code, which is used for sending
sound signals, and for visible signals transmitted by means of flags, lamps, and
heliograph mirrors. Signaling is so interesting, and on occasion can be so useful,
that no apology is needed for introducing signaling apparatus into this book.

The apparatus in question is a double-instrument outfit, which enables an

operator at either end of the line to cause a “buzzer” or “tapper” to work at the
other end when he depresses a key and closes an electric circuit.

Each unit consists of three main parts—

(1) the transmitting key;
(2) the receiving buzzer or tapper;
(3) the electric battery.

The principles of installation are shown in Fig. 33. One unit only is illustrated,
but, as the other is an exact duplicate, the working of the system will be
followed easily.

Fig.33 – Telegraphic apparatus; sending key, buzzer, and battery.

A wooden lever, L, is pivoted on a support, A. Passing through it at the forward
end is a metal bar having at the top a knob, K, which can be grasped
conveniently in the fingers; at the other a brass screw, O, which is normally
pulled down against the contact, N, by the spiral spring, S.
The contact M under K is in connection with the binding post T1 and N with
binding post T3; K is joined up to T2, and O to T4.

T3 and T4 are connected with one of the line wires; T1 with the other wire
through a battery, B; T3 with the other wire through the buzzer, R. [1]

[Footnote 1: For the buzzer may be substituted the tapper, described on

a later page.]

Assuming both keys to be at rest, as in Fig. 33, the two buzzers are evidently in
circuit with the line wires, though no current is passing. If the stem of K is
depressed to make contact with M, the electric circuit of which the battery, B,
forms part is completed, and the buzzer at the other end of the lines comes into
action. Since the depression of K raises O off N, the “home” buzzer’s connection
with the line wires is broken, to prevent the current being short-circuited. The
fact that this buzzer is periodically in the circuit, even when the key is being
worked, makes it possible for the operator at the other end to attract attention
by depressing his key if he cannot read the signals sent.

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Making the Keys

Transmitting keys can be bought cheaply, but not so cheap as they can be
made. The only expense entailed in home manufacture is that of the screw
terminals for connecting the keys with the lines and buzzers. These cost only a
penny each, and, if the strict economy is the order of the day, can be dispensed
with should the apparatus not have to be disconnected frequently.

The size of the key is immaterial. The keys made by me have levers 1 inch wide
and 5-1/2 inches long, oak being chosen as material, on account of its
toughness. K is in each case a small wooden knob on a piece of 3/16-inch brass
rod; O a 1-1/2-inch brass screw; A a piece of sheet brass 3-1/2 inches long,
marked off carefully, drilled 1/8 inch from the centre of each end for the pivot
screws, and in four places for the holding-down screws, and bent up at the ends
to form two standards. If you do not possess any brass strip, the lever may be
supported on wooden uprights glued and screwed to the base.

Fig. 34 – Telegraphic apparatus mounted on a baseboard

Contact M is a small piece of brass attached to the base by a screw at one end
and by T1 at the other. K was drilled near the end to take the short coil of
insulated wire joining it to T2, and O was similarly connected with T4.
The spring, S, should be fairly strong. A steel spiral with a loop at each end is
most easily fitted. Drill holes in the lever and base large enough for the spring
to pass through freely, make a small cross hole through the lever hole for a pin,
and cut a slot across the base hole for a pin to hold the bottom of the spring.
Adjust the lever by means of screw O so that there is a space of about 1/4-inch
between K and M when O and N are in contact, and after the spring has been
put in position give the screw a turn or two to bring K down to within 1/16 inch
of M. This will put the required tension on the spring.

The Buzzers
For these I selected a couple of small electric bells, costing 2s. 6d. each. Their
normal rate of vibration being much too slow for telegraphic purposes, I cut off
the hammers to reduce the inertia, and so adjusted the contact screw that the
armature had to move less than one-hundredth of an inch to break the circuit.
This gave so high a rate of vibration that the key could not make and break the
circuit quickly enough to prevent the buzzer sounding.

https://youtu.be/_IlZrZ9N4ig Morse code 1

https://youtu.be/Z5uyK5MrsTs Morse code 2

https://youtu.be/q4h9VG5bvQw Morse code 3