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Teaching Morse Code to Scout Troop

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  • ka6bsa@yahoo.com
    Our troop has a camping trip planned and the younger boys want to have a signaling activity using Morse code with flashlights at night. None of the them (or
    Message 1 of 11 , Sep 28, 2001
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      Our troop has a camping trip planned and the younger boys want to
      have a "signaling" activity using Morse code with flashlights at
      night. None of the them (or the adult leaders) know the code so they
      asked me to teach them at the troop meeting before the campout. I
      want them to have fun with the signaling, and it is an opportunity to
      introduce them to amateur radio, but I am not quite sure how to
      conduct an effective group code lesson for 20 boys.

      I have been active on CW at 20 WPM since 1961, so accuracy is not a
      problem for me, but it seems like a difficult task for a large group
      of boys to learn Morse code for the alphabet in just a 30 minute
      period. I have given code lessons before with a practice oscillator,
      but only for individuals, with a series of lessons to learn enough to
      handle a message.

      Of course, everyone told me to bring in a big chart of "dots and
      dashes" but I know that causes bad habits for anyone serious about
      learning the code, and it could be dull and boring to the boys. But I
      don't know what to use in place of a chart, and I think the boys need
      a paper handout to take home for practice before the campout four
      days later. It has to be fun or they just won't do it. Another idea
      to increase interest is to make the code lesson into a game or team
      competition, and carry that over into the signaling event itself.
      Does anyone have any suggestions?
    • W4SNW2@cs.com
      In a message dated 9/28/2001 12:38:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ka6bsa@yahoo.com writes: Using light will be more difficult
      Message 2 of 11 , Sep 28, 2001
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        In a message dated 9/28/2001 12:38:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
        ka6bsa@... writes:

        << scoutradio@yahoogroups.com >>

        Using light will be more difficult than sound (unless you can substitute or
        add a couple of old walkie-talkies with a CW button or wire up a CPO on each
        end). I recommend that you have the boys learn their own name in advance.
        This is simple and will peak their interest.

        Then see which team can copy the most names in the correct order for a prize.

        For a bonus, have the boys with the best "fist" send a short message to see
        if the other team can copy it.

        Good luck and have fun. Let us know how you make out.

        73's

        Steve White, W4SNW
        Trustee, K4BOY
        BSA Camp Flying Eagle
      • Gary W Thorburn
        KA6BSA wrote... ... I have done several morse code things for the troop I work with, as well as running a morse code station at a council camporee which had an
        Message 3 of 11 , Sep 28, 2001
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          KA6BSA wrote...
           
          > Our troop has a camping trip planned and the younger boys want to
          > have a "signaling" activity using Morse code with
          flashlights at
          > night.  .  .
           
          I have done several morse code things for the troop I work with, as
          well as running a morse code station at a council camporee which
          had an "old-tyme scout skills" theme.  Here are two points
          I've learned, the hard way.  When I accepted these limits,
          subsequent sessions were much more fun and successful:
           
          1) Memorizing code is not fun.  Anyway, they simply cannot
          learn the code in 30 minutes.  So the exercises you develop
          should not require much, if any, memorization.
           
          2) Exercises which pair an inexperienced sender
          with an inexperienced receiver will be frustrating, so avoid
          them.  That basically means, do sending and receiving as
          separate exercises.
           
          With the above in mind, here are some things I did:
           
          - I produced and provided a fun looking, attractive handout with
            (sigh) dots and dashes on it.  I actually copied the code pages
            from a 1941 BSA handbook, put some additional clip art on it,
            and printed it on heavy colored stock.  (sample supplied via
            snailmail if you are interested.) 
           
          - I asked them ONLY to learn by memory THREE characters:
            their initials.  The idea is that they should be able to recognize
            their initials when they see them flashed on a light.
           
          The SENDING Exercise:
           
            We learned how to send code using a bunch of keys I had,
            each connected to a bunch of sounding devices:  a very-qrp
            transmitter picked up on a radio across the room (to provide
            a radio association), an antique telegraph sounder, a couple
            audio oscillators, and a 1950's BSA telegraph set.  I also
            have an WWII Aldus signaling lamp running off a small gel-cell
            which is lots of fun.  The boys went from one code station to
            another, trying different keys and gadgets.
           
            The idea is, just let them send at their own speed ( 1 wpm !)
            by looking up each letter.  Dont attempt to validate it.
            It's hard to overstate how foreign this all is to today's
            boys; after all the code is no longer even in the Handbook!
           
          The RECEIVING Exercises (actually 2 of them):
           
            1)  I recorded a 2 WPM message on a CD, and set up a decorated
          "mystery box" in which I hid the CD player.  I set it to repeat the
          track indefinitely.  Use a message that they will recognize,
          sort of.  I adapted the scout law:  "A scout is clean,
          a scout is reverent, a scout likes pizza".  This repeated
          constantly, and at their own pace, each scout came over to the
          box to decipher it by whatever means.  Most boys eventually decided
          to copy the dots and dashes and decipher it offline. 
           
          The familiarity of the message enables them to figure out the
          first two-thirds of the message easily, they had to be accurate
          to get the rest.  Doing this at a camporee flushed out one ringer,
          a 13-yr old scout who was a ham and got it easily on first hearing. 
           
          2)  I flashed a lamp, and asked the boy whose initials were
          being signalled to identify himself.  You can embellish this one
          any way you like:
           
          I couched this exercise in a very melodramatic setting on a
          late fall cabin campout in the New Hampshire White Mts.  The boys
          were instructed to learn their initials before coming to dinner.
          After dinner, I told an apocryphal legend about "Sam", a lost WWII
          signal corps airman who had lived in the area and roamed the woods
          as a child.  Legend has it, sometimes you can see "Sam" on cold clear
          nights, signalling to his plane.   We then took a nighttime
          hike up to a fire tower, with my Aldus lamp.  A boy was selected
          to flash out "S-A-M" a few times, to try to conjure him up from
          the cold dark hills.  After a couple minutes, "Sam" replied,
          from deep in the woods a half mile away, flashing that boy's
          initials in an eerie green light!  Eventually, another boy tries it,
          and amazingly, Sam seems to know who is calling him, as he replies
          with each boy's initials.
           
          Without going into details, suffice it to say that I clandestinely
          controlled "Sam" with a toe operated switch inside my boot, and
          a transmitter taped to my ankle.  Believe me, this was the most
          fun I ever had with this troop.  I had even more fun with the
          other adult leaders, since I didn't let them in on how it worked
          until it was all over.
           
          73,  Gary W Thorburn   KD1TE
           
          Committee member & Treasurer,
          Troop 130, Maynard MA
           
           
        • PBRS176562@aol.com
          In a message dated 28/09/01 21:15:42 GMT Daylight Time, ka6bsa@yahoo.com writes: hi ... sounds if you are going to have a lot of fun and at the same time learn
          Message 4 of 11 , Sep 28, 2001
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            In a message dated 28/09/01 21:15:42 GMT Daylight Time, ka6bsa@... writes:
            hi

            I also like the idea of having the boys
            learn the letters for the initials of their name, so
            that can be part of the "message" too. I am still
            trying to think of how this communication activity
            could be included into a short night hike or outdoor
            game.


            sounds if you are going to have a lot of fun and at the same time learn a little cw purhaps a game would be a good idea with the cw used to carry a short message which would lead them to winning the game  
            73 Paul Goodhall SWL  RSGB member RS176562  ISIS Scout Fellowship Oxford England



          • Larry Acklin
            Another game- put a CW sender (elmer/ham?) on a hilltop with the patrols all facing him- so they can see the light. Send CW message to all patrols and have
            Message 5 of 11 , Oct 1, 2001
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              Another game- put a CW sender (elmer/ham?) on a hilltop with the patrols all facing him- so they can see the light.  Send CW message to all patrols and have them copy.  Most accurate copy wins.
               
              Use the morse chart at the JOTA international site- I will email direct to anyone interested.
               
              Also- have a CW keyboard handy so they can try audible after the gmes are over- good lodge activity-- (plus you don't want them counting dots and dashes for too too long- old habits and so on)
               
              73
              Larry
              KB3CUF
              ----- Original Message -----
              Sent: Friday, September 28, 2001 4:12 PM
              Subject: Fwd: Re: [scoutradio] Teaching Morse Code to Scout Troop


              --- Bob Bruninga <bruninga@...> wrote:
              > Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 12:48:32 -0400 (EDT)
              > From: Bob Bruninga <bruninga@...>
              > To: <ka6bsa@...>
              > CC: <scoutradio@yahoogroups.com>
              > Subject: Re: [scoutradio] Teaching Morse Code to
              > Scout Troop
              >
              > On Fri, 28 Sep 2001 ka6bsa@... wrote:
              >
              > > Our troop has a camping trip planned and the
              > younger boys want to
              > > have a "signaling" activity using Morse code with
              > flashlights at
              > > night. None of the them (or the adult leaders)
              > know the code...
              >
              > > Does anyone have any suggestions?
              >
              > Teach a small simple subset.
              > Plan the activity so that at each point along the
              > "event" they send a
              > signal to convey some kind of info.  THus, they dont
              > need to send plain
              > text, but they will send "mesages".
              >
              > Teaching them the letters for
              >
              > SOS, OK, NO, GO L (for go left) or GO R for go
              > right.
              > Or R for roger...
              >
              > Keep it simple and they will LOVE IT!
              > de WB4APR, Bob
              >
              >

              Thank you Bob, I also like the idea of having the boys
              learn the letters for the initials of their name, so
              that can be part of the "message" too. I am still
              trying to think of how this communication activity
              could be included into a short night hike or outdoor
              game.

              -Loren Mitchell, K6BK
              KA6BSA, Scripps Ranch, CA


              =====
              Scout Radio KA6BSA, Scripps Ranch CA
              Station Trustee: K6BK Mitch
              BSA High Adventure QRP Operation

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            • McGlen
              Larry, I would be interested in seeing a copy of the morse chart for out JOTA station Regards, Eric G6INK end. This e-mail may be confidential, legally
              Message 6 of 11 , Oct 1, 2001
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                Larry,
                I would be interested in seeing a copy of the morse chart for out JOTA station
                Regards,
                Eric G6INK
                end.
                This e-mail may be confidential, legally privileged or otherwise protected in law.  Unauthorised disclosure or copying of any or all of it may be unlawful.  If you receive this e-mail in error please contact the sender and delete the message.  Outgoing mail is certified 'Virus Free'.
              • Larry Acklin
                everybody gets it? if attachments are permitted ... From: McGlen To: scoutradio@yahoogroups.com Sent: Monday, October 01, 2001 1:42 PM Subject: [scoutradio]
                Message 7 of 11 , Oct 1, 2001
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                  everybody gets it? if attachments are permitted
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: McGlen
                  Sent: Monday, October 01, 2001 1:42 PM
                  Subject: [scoutradio] Teaching Morse Code to Scout Troop

                  Larry,
                  I would be interested in seeing a copy of the morse chart for out JOTA station
                  Regards,
                  Eric G6INK
                  end.
                  This e-mail may be confidential, legally privileged or otherwise protected in law.  Unauthorised disclosure or copying of any or all of it may be unlawful.  If you receive this e-mail in error please contact the sender and delete the message.  Outgoing mail is certified 'Virus Free'.


                  Check out the UK Radio-Scouting page here at Yahoo!Groups. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/radio-scouting-uk

                  Now that you've got new licensees in your unit, why not have them subscibe to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ScoutRadioYouth

                  Great list of Scouting/Amateur Radio web sites:
                  http://www.k1dwu.net/ham-links/clubs.-.scouting.phtml

                  Visit the "Adventure Radio Society" http://www.natworld.com/ars/

                  ScoutRadio start page:
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                • Ray Brown
                  ... I m in favor of the CodeQuick (c) method myself. Get m to do those sound-alikes and reinforce it with a key and oscillator. Catch-it-catch-it
                  Message 8 of 11 , Oct 1, 2001
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                    > From: Bob Bruninga <bruninga@...>
                    >
                    > > Our troop has a camping trip planned and the
                    > younger boys want to
                    > > have a "signaling" activity using Morse code with
                    > flashlights at
                    > > night. None of the them (or the adult leaders)
                    > know the code...
                    >
                    > > Does anyone have any suggestions?

                    I'm in favor of the CodeQuick (c) method myself. Get'm to do those sound-alikes and reinforce it with a key and oscillator.

                    Catch-it-catch-it pay-day-to-day Dog-did-it Eek Kang-a-roo Bang-rat-a-tat ought-ought-ought-ought-ought Ssss-Ssss-Ssss
                    Tall Naa-tzi Kang-a-roo. :-)

                    _Ray_ KB0STN
                    DA, Den 3, Pack 77
                    Ozarks Trail Council, Joplin, MO
                    raybrown@...
                  • McGlen
                    Larry, Thanks for the prompt reply. I received the chart ok as an attachment to your e-mail. (I now just need to reduce it to a size for my printer and I can
                    Message 9 of 11 , Oct 2, 2001
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                      Larry,
                      Thanks for the prompt reply.  I received the chart ok as an attachment to your e-mail. 
                      (I now just need to reduce it to a size for my printer and I can then produce copies for our event)
                      Regards,
                      Eric G6INK
                      end.
                      This e-mail may be confidential, legally privileged or otherwise protected in law.  Unauthorised disclosure or copying of any or all of it may be unlawful.  If you receive this e-mail in error please contact the sender and delete the message.  Outgoing mail is certified 'Virus Free'.
                    • Cedric Walker
                      ... ... To begin with, keep it short, keep it simple, make it fun. In 30 or 60 minutes you can t teach all the letters, as has been pointed out. Start
                      Message 10 of 11 , Oct 2, 2001
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                        --- In scoutradio@y..., ka6bsa@y... wrote:
                        <snip>
                        > Does anyone have any suggestions?

                        To begin with, keep it short, keep it simple, make it fun.

                        In 30 or 60 minutes you can't teach all the letters, as has been
                        pointed out. Start with the simple stuff... the ones the ARRL code
                        tapes begin with. But don't use the ARRL's (boring) words and
                        sentences. Appeal to the boys' base instincts.

                        Once the boys in our Webelos den figured out that I was
                        sending "TEN RATS ASSES IN TAR" and similar appealing phrases, they
                        perked up and were attentive to every letter!

                        Cedric
                        k5cfw
                      • Darryl Wagoner
                        Hi, I think teaching code to Scouts or anyone else is best done using Koch method. I think it is generally a bad idea to try to teach the code where the
                        Message 11 of 11 , Oct 4, 2001
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                          Hi,
                           
                          I think teaching code to Scouts or anyone else is best done using
                          Koch method.  I think it is generally a bad idea to try to teach the code
                          where the student first learns what dits and dahs make up a letter.
                          They should learn it first totally by sound first.
                           
                           I have a page with lots of links at http://www.shecora.com/ham
                          plus my free ham testing software. 
                           
                          73

                          --
                          Darryl Wagoner - WA1GON

                          "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing."  - Edmund Burke [1729-1797]

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                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: Larry Acklin [mailto:larrya@...]
                          Sent: Monday, October 01, 2001 2:15 PM
                          To: scoutradio@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [scoutradio] Teaching Morse Code to Scout Troop

                          everybody gets it? if attachments are permitted
                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: McGlen
                          Sent: Monday, October 01, 2001 1:42 PM
                          Subject: [scoutradio] Teaching Morse Code to Scout Troop

                          Larry,
                          I would be interested in seeing a copy of the morse chart for out JOTA station
                          Regards,
                          Eric G6INK
                          end.
                          This e-mail may be confidential, legally privileged or otherwise protected in law.  Unauthorised disclosure or copying of any or all of it may be unlawful.  If you receive this e-mail in error please contact the sender and delete the message.  Outgoing mail is certified 'Virus Free'.


                          Check out the UK Radio-Scouting page here at Yahoo!Groups. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/radio-scouting-uk

                          Now that you've got new licensees in your unit, why not have them subscibe to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ScoutRadioYouth

                          Great list of Scouting/Amateur Radio web sites:
                          http://www.k1dwu.net/ham-links/clubs.-.scouting.phtml

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                          Check out the UK Radio-Scouting page here at Yahoo!Groups. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/radio-scouting-uk

                          Now that you've got new licensees in your unit, why not have them subscibe to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ScoutRadioYouth

                          Great list of Scouting/Amateur Radio web sites:
                          http://www.k1dwu.net/ham-links/clubs.-.scouting.phtml

                          Visit the "Adventure Radio Society" http://www.natworld.com/ars/

                          ScoutRadio start page:
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