Morse Code
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Morse Code

Although morse code is not now used by the military / armed forces, it is still a very clear and easy way to communicate with someone over the airwaves.

 

Here are the various parts of Morse Code

This list shows the dot and dash equivalents of letters and numbers in the Original Morse code (American Morse Code), and the Continental (International) code.

An explanation of the timing and length of the characters follows the lists.

( DOT = *   DASH = -   LONG DASH = ---- )

MORSE CODE
CHARACTER  AMERICAN MORSE INTERNATIONAL CODE
    A * -     * -
    B - * * * - * * *
    C * *   * - * - *
    D - * *   - * *
    E *       *
    F * - *   * * - *
    G - - *   - - *
    H * * * * * * * *
    I * *     * *
    J - * - * * - - -
    K - * -   - * -
    L ----    * - * *
    M - -     - -
    N - *     - *
    O *   *   - - -
    P * * * * *         * - - *
    Q * * - * - - * -
    R *   * * * - *
    S * * *   * * *
    T -       -
    U * * -   * * -
    V * * * - * * * -
    W * - -   * - -
    X * - * * - * * -
    Y * *   * *          - * - -
    Z * * *   *          - - * *
    1 * - - * * - - - -
    2 * * - * *         * * - - -
    3 * * * - *         * * * - -
    4 * * * * -         * * * * -
    5 - - -   * * * * *
    6 * * * * * *        - * * * *
    7 - - * * - - * * *
    8 - * * * *          - - - * *
    9 - * * - - - - - *
    0 ------ - - - - -
Period * * - - * * * - * - * - 
Comma * - * -  - - * * - -
Question  - * * - *  * * - - * *



EXPLANATION OF SPACING AND TIMING:


To standardize the International Code Transmission Speed, the 5-letter word PARIS is used to establish the number of ''words-per-minute''. For example, if the word PARIS was sent 5 times in a minute, the transmission speed would be 5-words-per-minute or WPM.

The following relationships exist between the elements of the code (dits and dahs), the characters (letters) and the words:
The DIT is the Basic UNIT of Length.
The DAH is equal in length to three DITS.
The space between the DITS and DAHS within a character (letter) is equal to one DIT.
The space between characters (letters) in a word is equal to three DITS.
The space between words is equal to seven DITS.
(Source: U.S. Army Technical Manual TM-11-459/TO 31-3-16 - Sept. 1957)


SPEED IN WORDS-PER-MINUTE or WPM:

The following information about the calibration of the speed of transmission in WPM (Words-Per-Minute) was provided by Marshall Emm, N1FN.

There are two standards-- for most practical purposes, and the one that most hams are familiar with, the speed in WPM is defined as the number of times the word "PARIS" is sent in one minute with normal 1:3:7 spacing and weighting. "PARIS" was chosen because it has the right number of dits and dahs to represent an average word length in Morse.

In fact, though, that is the standard for "plain English text" having a normal distribution of characters. There is another standard word, "CODEX" which is used where the material being sent consists of code groups, in which longer letters like J and X will occur as frequently as the short ones like E and T. I think I have also heard that either "12345" or "67890" can be used where the traffic is entirely numeric, and I would bet there is yet another standard "word" for traffic with mixed letters and numbers.

In Europe they measure speed in "signs" or "symbols" per minute, and I don't know if they have a standard symbol set that they use for calibration. Maybe someone else on the list can fill on this.

To get a radio certificate for the merchant navy you had to send and receive 15 minutes of 90BPM or 18WPM of mixed groups (letters and numbers), and 120BPM or 24WPM for clear text and all kinds of simulated traffic without interruption and you were allowed exactly ZERO mistakes on receiving and 3 mistakes on sending.

Other Morse Code syntax / common word combinations

 
Colon [:] dah dah dah dit dit dit Underline [_] dit dit dah dah dit dah
Semicolon [;] dah dit dah dit dah dit Paragraph [ ] dit dah dit dah dit dit
Hyphen [-] dah dit dit dit dit dah Dollar sign [$] dit dit dit dah dit dit dah
Double hyphen [=] dah dit dit dit dah Multiplication sign [x] dah dit dit dah
Quotation ["] dit dah dit dit dah dit Addition sign [+] dit dah dit dah dit
Apostrophe ['] dit dah dah dah dah dit Understood [ ] dit dit dit dah dit
Left-handed bracket [(] dah dit dah dah dit Attention [ ] dah dit dah dit dah
Right-handed bracket [)] dah dit dah dah dit dah Underline [_] dit dit dah dah dit dah

 

Wait, stand by (AS) dit dah dit dit dit
Slash (DN) dah dit dit dah dit
End of message (AR) dit dah dit dah dit
End of contact (SK) dit dit dit dah dit dah
and of course, Break (BT) dah dit dit dit dah