We recently attended an event at Salisbury Cathedral in which there was an activity tent run by the Royal Signals Museum. I am a huge fan of old forms of communication, especially Morse and so myself and the boy sat down and used the telegraph keys to relay messages to one another. Mine were calling him smelly whilst his messages comprised of instructions to go buy chocolate. I am impressed with how Charlie’s Morse skills are coming along. He’s never forgotten the lesson he got from the kind radio operators on board HMS Belfast a couple of years ago and I think the interest has stuck with him ever since.
To keep the momentum going when we returned home, we started looking online for any interesting Morse projects and found this one by Make Magazine here. Surprisingly when I Looked around the workshop I found I had all the components to make this project, including a spare arcade button so I’ve slowly been piecing it together.
I downloaded the complete image and booted it up. Whilst I’m always appreciative of complete image downloads for Pi projects, I always find it’s more difficult to debug compared with if you built your project from the ground up. Not to worry though, a few checks and I found my issues, Make’s article on it is extremely helpful when it comes to that sort of thing. You can see it fired up here, though I think the communal lobby is a little empty most of the time as I’ve only had one exchange. After a quick scout around online I can’t see that many people have made this project. If you have, drop me a line and we’ll chat.
I burnt my finger whilst cutting the clasp off the back but it covers a nasty scratch on the box (the dangers of taking projects out and about I guess) and that is how the Signalman got its name.
Still loving the handset despite some funny looks when I’m out with it. Today whilst out walking I was able to pick up a couple of old gentlemen talking about building their own radios. I love listening in to snapshots of people’s lives like this. It’s like I’m fishing for good conversations with the Signalman being my net.
I’ve been a big fan of radio for most of my life, especially the ham radio side of things. Luckily nowadays with the wonder that is the internet, there are many convenient ways of listening in to amateur radio transmissions without the need for expensive kit. If you fancy having a go yourself you can download a copy of my beginners guide to Web SDR and amateur radio that gets mentioned in the video below here.
So this week I started on a very exciting project, building a portable listening receiver that hooks into Web SDR setups around the globe. My favourite one of all has to be the one located on the site of an old nuclear bunker here as I find the 2m band is best for picking up voice transmissions.
The idea was to have a nice portable box that you can carry over one shoulder that will allow you to comb the airwaves whilst on the move. I also included a Morse code translator that will decode any Morse that is picked up and display the message on the small LCD. To finish it off I found a retro handset that someone had bought me for a present years ago. I had originally wanted to incorporate an internal speaker inside the box but including the old style handset just seemed an even better idea.
I love this project and I look forward to taking it out and about with me.