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This article will help you understand Morse code, what it does, and how to use it.
Today, communicating over large distances may be challenging even with our advanced technology.
When a catastrophe hits, cellphone signals go out, the internet is unreliable, and radio batteries could run empty or expire. It’ll be even more tricky to get in touch with rescuers without all these conveniences.
This scenario brings us into reverting to ancient technology like transmitting a message via Morse code using a flashlight, signal mirror, or other light sources.
In a film starring Jodie Foster entitled Panic Room, they got rescued by their neighbor across the street. Thanks to Kirsten Stewart’s character, who used a flashlight. They didn’t use a Morse code in that movie, but it still did the job and saved their lives. What more if they gave Morse code signal with it, right?
Now, if they did use Morse code and the receiving party understood. It would’ve been a whole different story to tell.
And if you were in the same situation – which I certainly hope would never happen – it’d be a great hero moment for you if knew how to understand a Morse code message.
If you’re unfamiliar with Morse code, then you came into the right place.
Let’s go ahead and learn everything you need to know when sending and understanding messages through Morse code flashlight.
Morse Code Defined
Morse code is a character encoding technique that employs representing letters. Dots and dashes, dits and dahs, and empty spaces are standardized sequences of two distinct signal lengths used in Morse code to convey text characters in telecommunication.
After the telegraph, Samuel Morse, one of the telegraph’s creators, was named after the Morse code. Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail created it to communicate through text messages.
Morse code, which Morse and Vail created almost 160 years ago, is still used today. Pilots use it. Radio operators use it. When radios fail, sea ships communicate through Morse code to this day.
During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese kidnaped Commander Jeremiah Denton. They televised a press conference to show how nicely treated American POWs (Prisoners of War) were, but Denton indicated T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code to the Americans by blinking.
I know what you might be thinking; he could’ve used SOS. This distress signal is perhaps the more familiar signal for calling help we all know today. But it still made his message known and has served the same purpose.
Morse Code's Process
Morse code utilizes dots, dashes, and spaces at a specific rate to turn letters and numbers into words and phrases.
A mark is a dot or a dash. A character is one or more of these marks. For example, a dot, often known as a dit, is a brief mark that lasts one unit of time. A dash, often known as dah, is a lengthier character. Each dash represents three units of time.
Plus, spaces between each letter and word are often known as gaps. In a letter, there are also spaces between each dot or dash. The majority of characters are more than one mark long.
A character’s gap between marks is a one-time unit long. The time difference between letters is three times, while between sentences is seven.
Now, quick tip: when utilizing Morse code, be careful to maintain a steady pace; otherwise, your characters will blur together, and others won’t be able to comprehend what you’re transmitting.
Here’s a helpful video you can use as a reference in learning how to understand Morse code.
Using Morse Code
Now that you know what Morse code is and how to understand it, you can start using it in a lot more scenarios than you would think.
Using a flashlight is a typical example. For a dot, you can turn it on for a count of one, then turn it off, and for a dash, turn it on for a count of three, then turn it off.
If you don’t have a flashlight but still have a signal reflector or maybe even a watch, turn it towards your target to begin the mark and away to finish it.
Another movie reference is Lost in Space, starring Gary Oldman. It’s where you’ll see a character tap out Morse code to the robot, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” Give it a try too! Not with a robot, though, but with a flashlight, mirror, or watch.
If you have a robot, don’t let me stop you.
You can also tap your finger for a dot, and drag your finger for the dash. You may even transmit dots and dashes by waving flags or covering a lamp.
There are a variety of ways and tools to use morse code. Be creative. Just make sure that you can clearly and precisely send your message with it.
Also, and to reiterate, you must transmit Morse code at a constant pace, regardless of how you send it. It doesn’t have to be quick; it simply has to be consistent.
Understanding Morse Code
Let me be straightforward to you at this point. It is more challenging to understand Morse code than to transmit it. It takes some learning and takes time to get used to it.
Those who can listen to Morse code and interpret the rapid-fire dots and dashes as entire phrases are a rare breed; it takes a lifetime of practice and proficiency.
Even keeping up with five words per minute might be challenging.
With this, you must write down the Morse code to better comprehend it.
Take out your pencil and waterproof notepad. And then, make a list of each dot and dash and the number of spaces left between each pause.
After that, you may go through the written Morse code and interpret each character one by one as you go along.
A Morse code chart may be quite helpful in this situation. If you want to send and read Morse code, you may purchase plastic cards with their symbols. You can make it handy by putting it in your survival pack.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself when trying to learn. Keep practicing. You can also try using Morse code in your day-to-day activities so that it would seem more natural to you.
Morse Code Essentials
Certain words in Morse code are vital and valuable to know. You can learn some of the codes first as you get more fluent in sending and reading them.
Some Morse codes are prosigns, a string of Morse code characters that do not form a word, but anybody familiar with the code will understand.
They exist because Morse code may be a slow-moving mode of communication. After all, why communicate a whole word when a letter or two would suffice?
Here are some of the Morse codes you start learning and memorizing:
Message = S.O.S.
Morse Code = … — …
SOS isn’t an acronym for “save our souls.” Designed for ships at sea, SOS has become the de facto distress signal globally. It’s short, unambiguous, simple to broadcast, and repeatable for extended periods making it the perfect choice of letters.
If you are lost in the woods, having a method to transmit an SOS signal might save your life. You can find flashlights that can signal SOS for you for up to a day.
Message = Stop
Morse Code = .- .- .
This one is probably something you’ve heard a thousand times in movies or on TV. It indicates that the message has concluded.
Message = Yes
Morse Code = – .- .
The dots and dashes represent the letter C. It’s pronounced the same way as the Spanish word for “yes,” which is “sí.”
Message = No
Morse Code = -.
It’s simply the letter N, which stands for “no.”
Message = Speak slower
Morse Code = –.- .-. …
“I’m new at this, so slow down.” is what this Morse code says, which stands for QRS.
Message = Wait
Morse Code = .- . . .
“Wait” is similar to “stop,” only you have much more to say for a few moments.
Message = Over
Morse Code = -.-
This one is a literal K, and it’s an invitation to the recipient that it’s the end of your message, and they may now send.
Message = Understood
Morse Code = . . .- .
This means that you not only got their message, but you also got what they were saying.
Message = Roger
Morse Code = .-.
This response indicates that you have received the other person’s message. To keep things simple, it’s simply the letter R.
Message = Closing
Morse Code = -.-. .-..
This message implies you’ll be turning off your transmitter for the time being.
Message = ?
Morse Code = ..–..
If you were using a radio, you can send this signal which asks, “Say it again?” that will imply that you didn’t understand what was said.
To practice more, here’s a video to help you when receiving a Morse code message.
Even though Morse code seems obsolete, it is still in use across the globe. I do not doubt that learning to send and read a Morse code message can save lives even to this day and in the future.
It is best to know how to use and understand it as part of survival training for you and your kids. Morse code messaging with your kids might be a fun way to communicate in an awkward situation.
You can also look into these articles for more informative and helpful tips when exploring the outdoors.
- Morse Code SOS Light (Real Method Step-by-Step)
- The Top 5 Best Survival Electronics for 2022
- Best Emergency Shortwave Radios
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