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.


[Martin] got bonus points for the cloth-covered Ethernet cable. Anyone have a source for this?

21 thoughts on “Telegraph Key Makes For A Fantastic Twitter Input

  1. Actually Morse code or CW is having a resurgence as is ham radio and there are more people using ham radios now, then ever before.
    It is amazing that for $10 in parts you can build a CW Radio and “Talk” via CW around the world.

  2. As a long time ham radio operator who was very upset that the FCC removed the code mandate for licensing, this is a great project. I would love to see it evolve in to an electronic keyer so that the speeds could be increased.

    On a side note: It appears that the box could probably do with a bit of weight on the bottom to keep it more steady.

    1. What’s to be upset about?

      There are many good reasons for people to get into ham radio that have nothing to do with morse. It only seems right that it is no longer required.

      It doesn’t mean morse isn’t cool n’ all, or that anyone with an interest in it can’t learn and use it, but to force it on people who have no interest or use for it is kinda like saying people who can’t use a stick shouldn’t drive.

      1. A few points, if I may:

        CW is a narrow bandwidth mode. This means that it is possible put numerous channels into narrow spectrum space.

        It also means that, even in the face of extreme atmospheric noise, poor propagation, or low transmit power, the receiving-end can apply aggressive filters that will allow you to receive the message. In the case of QRSS (extremely slow speed morse) it is possible to receive and decode a transmitted message that cannot be heard above the background noise.

        Add to that, as mentioned by others, practical and useful transmitting/receiving equipment can be built simply, easily, and cheaply.

        I have worked stations in Japan with 3-4 watts of power and a low, random-length piece of wire as an antenna. Voice communication (SSB, AM or FM) under those circumstances would be almost unthinkable.

        So, while I certainly agree that CW is “cool,” whether or not it’s cool is really not the point. There are sound technical reasons why CW is advantageous or even preferable under certain circumstances.

        Just because a communication mode has fallen out of fashion doesn’t mean that the modes that replaced it are universally/unconditionally better.

  3. Such a broad and sweeping statement “We could say that nobody uses straight telegraph keys anymore, but outside a few hardcore CW HAM radio guys nobody uses Morse anymore.” Really, a few “hardcore” ham radio guys (not to mention sexist) are the only ones using morse code or “CW”, spend some time listening to the low ends of 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 10, 12, 6 and 2 meters you’ll hear tons of “CW” and it’s growing more and more popular because in a majority of cases it will get through when voice won’t due to noise and other signal degrading conditions.

    Oh and when we do get an X10 flare or some enterprising terrorist lets off an EMP and all those precious “smart” phones are hunks of burnt out uselessness the people able to “pound the brass” will still be able to find out if you’re gramma is still alive in Poughkeepsie.

    1. On the other hand the equipment used by the majority of CW operators is subject to the same fate as that you described for smart phones. There most likely isn’t enough surviving tube equipment to proved every county/parish in the US with a tube equipped station. The premise that consumer grade tube transceiver would survive such event itself may be wishful thinking. Sexist? Come on, in context “you guys” is consider gender neutral as the use of he is.

      1. @N0LKK – Look into your local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) group and see just how much tube equipment there is that has survived. As a member of an ARES Group down here in deep south Texas(north Mexico to some), I’ve seen just the sorts of equipment available, and there is PLENTY of tube equipment still running, or being repaired even. Sad to say, the county figureheads want the brand new Kenwood TS-480HX (nothing against the radio itself) instead of a good ole fashioned tube rig, but if their solid state equipment dies, home stations will definitely be available with tubes warmed up and ready to go.

        @hackaday – not a “hardcore CW HAM radio guy” but I am learning it as a backup means of communication, honestly I prefer 2 Meter Simplex Voice over any of the other modes, but CW is there When All Else Fails.


    2. I agree and yet the government continues to pump out the global warming hoax instead of addressing real issues about our vulnerable energy grid that has hardly been touched since the 60s Other then computer sensors slowly replacing vacuum tubes.

      The US energy grid is designed more for a 1960s type population and they want to shut down even more power plants.

  4. There’s quite a bit more than “a few hardcore CW HAM radio guys” using morse still. Listen to the lower ends of the HF ham bands and you will find many of them on any given night. (which bands depends on current space weather, time of year, etc…)

    Myself, I’m learning it now b/c CW (the radio mode commonly used for morse code) transmitters are really easy to build for beginners.

  5. I have read of those who used CW while driving their car, but not read any rash of accidents associated with the practice. Then again comparatively few engaged in the practice. I’m no hardcore CW op, but I had always thought in addition to super bright LED, a decent keying button should be included the cell phone design. After a short time of learning the code,it would be a natural for texting. The ability to send texts faster could mean more texts sent,the carriers would love it. Seeing how they successfully condition the public into accepting it costs the carrier more to send a text that it does providing a corresponding amount of time to voice communication. Don’t get me wrong texts are great for time shifting messages without having to call up up voice mail, not to mention the broadcast capability added by twitter.

    I have read where some use new shoe laces to to give a vintage look to new wire. and wire manufacture with a cloth covering can be found with a web search.

    The paddles used with iambic keyers in themselves aren’t ergonomic, straight keys when used as suggested aren’t non-ergonomic. No doubt using them in an eight hour shift is as likely to caused reprieve use injury as much as using a straight key

  6. Many thanks for the feature!
    The cloth-covered ethernet cable is also my favorite detail, I just made it myself using the textile cover from an electric iron cable …
    The project implementation itself is intentionally trivial, since it it should serve as an example that illustrates the open design idea to beginners.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.