Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dit Dah - Alpha

Yesterday, one of iGoogle’s Tips of the Day, brought to you by WikiHow, was How to Learn Morse Code.

I know Morse Code but I read the article anyway because I was very curious to see what was written on the subject. WikiHow is editable by users just as is Wikipedia . This means that if a person believes that he is knowledgeable about any given subject, can post or they can edit a post. I've read some great stuff on Wiki, but they again I’ve read some erroneous BS there also.

In 1966 I took a 12 week course in Morse at the United States Army Security Agency Training Center and School at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The best I did was 24 groups (a group is 5 letters or numbers) per minute. After this class I went on to another class that didn’t use Morse Code.

By the time I arrived at my overseas duty station I was lucky to copy 20 groups per minute. But for what I did, Morse was not really a requirement; I was a Communications Analyst working Search and Development. It did pop up occasionally but it was usually at a speed (equivalent to 15 groups per minute or less) that I could copy with a stick (pencil). If it was too fast for me to copy, I would call in a Pro (AKA a Ditty Bopper). These guys were amazing at taking Morse at breakneck speeds.

The only thing that I could understand at high speeds was the standard communications system check; the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dogs back 0123456789.

I haven’t used Morse Code for more than 40 years. I occasional hear it the background of a movie or television program. On occasion I will rewind and play it back to see if I can understand what is being sent. Rarely, if ever do I get it on the first rewind.

Maybe I should take a refresher course. There is a Morse Code Translator where you can type or copy text and chose a playback speed. First you translate into Morse symbols and then you can play it as you read. I found this site about three years ago, for a friend, but never tried it. I tried it this morning and was barely able to copy at 12 WPM. I try again after I’ve had a few cocktails.

.-/ -- .. -. -.. / .. ... / .- / - . .-. .-. .. -... .-.. . / - .... .. -. --. / - --- / .-- .- ... - .

The Beach Bum

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