Morse code beacon wins the LayerOne badge hacking contest

Ham skills prevail in this year’s LayerOne badge hacking contest. [Jason] was the winner with this Morse Code beacon hack.He got a head start on the competition after seeing our preview feature on the badge hardware development. It got him thinking and let him gather his tools ahead of arrival.

The hardware is segregated into two parts of the board. The lower portion is a take on the Arduino, and the upper portion is a wireless transmitter meant to control some cheap RC cars. [Jason] figured this was perfect for conversion as a CW beacon (continuous wave is what Morse Code is called if you’re a ham). The first issue he encountered was getting the badge to play nicely with the Arduino IDE. It was setup to run Slowduino firmware which uses the internal oscillator. [Jason] soldered on his own crystal and reflashed the firmware. He found that the transmitter couldn’t be directly keyed because of the shifting used in the RC car protocol. He cut the power to the transmitter, and found that it could be more accurately keyed by injecting power to one of the other pins. Check out the video after the break for a better explanation of his technique.

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Fine tune your Morse Code skills with this mint tin practice keyer


Hackaday reader [svofski] wrote in to share a device he built, which would be useful to any ham operators out there trying to hone their CW skills. He calls his practice keyer the Morseshnik, and it is a combination of various items [svofski] found while digging through his parts drawer.

He disassembled an old hard drive, saving its read arm to serve as the keyer’s paddle. He purchased some small angle brackets to create a set of contacts for the device, between which the lever sits, automatically centered by a pair of springs.

An MSP430, which was also collecting dust in [svofski’s] junk pile, resides inside the Morseshnik’s mint tin base on a small DIY PCB. It allows him to toggle between manual and automatic keying modes with the flick of a switch as he whiles his time away practicing his dits and dahs.

Continue reading to see a short video of the Morseshnik in action, and swing by his site for code and PCB schematics should you want to build one of your own.

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Morse Code interpreter

[Sulaiman Habsi] and two classmates put together a Morse Code interpreter as a class project at Sultan Qaboos University. The system listens to a morse code signal using a microphone, then translates that input to text which is displayed on this character LCD.

The breadboarded circuit feeds an audio signal from the microphone, through an OpAmp, to the ADC of an ATmega8 microcontroller. The captured signal is stored as a byte in a special way. The three least-significant bits signify how many total dots or dashes are contained in the character, the remaining bits represent those dots and dashes with zeros and ones. A full description of this process is included in a PDF linked in the article above. As you can see in the video after the break, the hardware waits to process all of the signals once the full message has been received.

This would be a great add-on for a Morse Code practice keyer.

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You might be a geeky dad if: your kids practice spelling in Morse code

Kids learn better if they’re engaged in the topic at hand. [Todd] found something that has his son just begging to practice his spelling words each night. He converts them all to Morse code and taps each out on the Morse code practice station they built together. To start off Todd connected the keyer to his Fluke 87 meter, using the continuity tester to sound a beep each time the key is depressed. But this is just a temporary setup until [Todd] could help guide his young one through some circuit design and assembly.

The replacement is based on a 555 timer. They grabbed an electronics project book and found the schematic along with a Morse code primer. With parts in hand [Todd] films as his son hones his soldering skills with each connection. The finished project uses the timer chip to produce the audio frequency heard from the on-board speaker. If you’ve never had the joy of teaching a kid how to solder, you’re going to love seeing the video.

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Doing it right with a morse code keyboard

Hackaday has seen dozens of Morse code keyboards over the years, but [Hudson] at NYC Resistor finally managed to give that idea the justice it deserves. He built a USB Morse code keyboard with the same type of telegraph key the pros use.

For his project, [Hudson] got his hands on a wonderful iambic paddle that is usually hooked up to CW rigs. Unlike previous Morse keyboards we’ve seen, [Hudson] used iambic paddles, a telegraph key with one lever for dits and another for dahs. Because the dits and dahs are separate electrical connections, it’s extremely easy for the microcontroller – a Teensy – to parse the Morse code and send the correct letter to the computer.

[Hudson] also added some audio feedback for the dits and dahs, and designed a laser-cut enclosure for the Teensy and speaker. Check out the video of the iambic keyer keyboard in action after the break.
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Telegraph key makes for a fantastic Twitter input

In the interests of interface archaeology, [Martin] sent in the Tworse Key, a telegraph key that posts to Twitter using Morse code. It’s a fantastic build that nearly looks like something out of the 1900s.

We’ve seen a ton of Morse keyboards over the years, but never one so well-engineered for a single purpose. The guts and brains of the Tworse Key is an Arduino Ethernet that connect to Twitter over the API. The Tworse Key automagically posts all the Morse messages to Twitter. The Tworse Key may have fallen off the table a few times in the past 24 hours, but we do see a few purposeful messages like ‘sos’ and [Bell]‘s preferred telephone salutation.

We could say that nobody uses straight telegraph keys anymore, but outside a few hardcore CW HAM radio guys nobody uses Morse anymore. This isn’t meant to be used as an everyday input device, though. It’s more of an exercise in interface archaeology. That being said, an iambic key would be a far more ergonomic solution. Check out the video of the Tworse Key after the break.

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Bluetooth morse code keyboard for the disabled

The team a Zunkworks wanted to build a device for people who can’t normally use a keyboard and mouse. The Bluetooth Morse code keyboard is what they came up with. This build gives the user full control over the keyboard and mouse using a single button or a sip & puff interface.

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