American ( Railroad) Morse Code
When Samuel Morse invented the Morse Code Telegraph
it recorded "marks" and "spaces" onto a moving
roll of paper tape, to be read by converting his code
when completed, back into the English Language.
Since the railroad had a great need for such an
instrument and already owned long distant
"right-of- ways", the railroad quickly employed such a
device. Soon Railroad dispatchers realized that they
no longer needed to read the paper tape but by
listening to the click-clack sound, they could
mentally convert the code and write the message
down as it was being received.
With the invention of the radio, the original
Morse Code was modified, ie. converted
from click and clack sounds to short and long
sounds called "dots" and "dashes".
Because of the nature of long distant wireless
radio signals, the modified Morse Code was called
The International Morse Code and the original
code was referred to as the American or
Railroad Morse Code. Both codes remained in use
for many years, after the invention of the telephone,
even after improvements in radio communication.
As the railroad gave way to more highway and
air travel and
and improvements of other modes of communication,
the railroad code continued be used.
At the same time, radio communication continued to improve
allowing The International Morse Code to
gain more in popularity, mostly by ham radio operators and
in a number of commercial and military stations.
Some railroad fans and some "old
timers" of days
gone by, now use the internet, computer software and
homemade converters to send their click and clacks
as the old railroad telegraph lines are no longer useable.
It is my belief that using a computer, software,
and the complex homemade converter requiring a com
port no longer found on most computers today, that
a new converter was in order, especially for ham radio
operators who already have their own radio station.
I decided as a ham radio operator with a
setup to build my own converter using the ham bands instead
of using the internet. Think of the possibilities.
Below is a 30 second video using my ham radio
station sending and receiving the American Morse Code.
The converter I designed and built is not shown in the video as
is a maze of wires, integrated chips and other
electronic components and may be simplified
further before putting the working converter in an enclosure.
Wireless American Morse Code Video Demo
Format for Apple iPhones and iPads
Format for Android and Microsoft Products
Email Me Your Comments
Amateur Radio Station n4on
The Petersburg Museum of Technology
Basic Circuit Design:
Using my existing ham station set-up: While most of today's
modern hf ham radios employ a built-in keyer, my station uses
a MFJ-464 keyer allowing the addition of a keyboard, but more
importantly, a number of inputs/outputs and options to help simply
my converter design. The keyer must first be set to hand key mode
and connected to a straight key or "bug", necessary for sending
American Morse Code. My converter plugs into the keyer side tone
jack and will provide "side clicks" during operation instead of "side tone"
to the converters output telegraph sounder.
The keyer is also wired to my hf radio using the key out jack. My hf radio
side tone is turned off so only my sounder connected to my converter will be heard.
My unit is basically an audio to pulse converter than almost anyone
could built using a number of design layouts. Most important is to
isolate the sounder from damaging any connected electronic circuitry.
Since the keyer is set to hand key mode, the sounder will respond
to the American Morse Code as sent by the operator simply by
converting the keyer tones to pulses necessary to operate the electromagnetic
sounder while transmitting. In receive, the converter input is switched to the
radio audio output jack converting any received coded tone from a
properly tuned station frequency also sending American Morse Code.
Using the hf radio audio jack, only the sounder will be heard once
a station has been turned in and the converter switched to the radio output.
I am of the opinion that by the start of the War Between the States,
both the north and south had a network or railroads and telegraph
circuits that became instruments of warfare, allows battle lines to
widely expand and move quickly providing supplies and armies
over vast areas as apposed to all previous wars in history at the time.
It is my opinion that both the railroad and telegraph technologies
impacted the duration of the Civil War and gave both sides
a false sense of advantage that may not have been possible
years before their employment.
Consider the Revolutionary War for example.
The telegraph in my opinion also gave both sides daily
newspaper releases to the public of battle gains and losses
that impacted the war in ways one could only imagine.
I am also of the opinion that these instruments of Civil War,
the railroad and telegraph, also became the instruments used
to help reunite our nation.
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