In Danger? No Phone Signal? Using Morse Code with Your Smartphone [Android]
Getting lost in the forest is a scary feeling. Yes, I speak from experience. When I was about twelve years old, my dad and I got turned around in the forest behind our house, just after twilight set in. We ended up about 150 yards from the ATV we’d driven into the woods with, as well as the trail that would lead us home.
We were lost for only two hours – my father was clever enough to make me stay in one place as he explored for the trail in each direction. It took him what felt like an eternity to find the trail, but he did. I endured the cold of a winter night setting in, a stampede of seven moose running through the dark forest only a few feet away from me, and the mocking “hoot” of an owl that seemed to think it was quite a hoot that I was lost in the woods.
We made it home that night, but ever since then I never forgot the feeling of realizing that I was lost – that I couldn’t have told you the correct direction to get out of the woods even if I wanted to. Up until that point in my life, I always felt like I was an outdoorsman, even at that young age. That experience told me that I had a long way to go yet.
Tools For Survival
It was that experience that started me on a quest to figure out the bare essentials that a person would need to survive in the forest for an extended period.
I put together a “survival kit” that included fish hooks and fishing line, flint and steel, a small flashlight and medical supplies. It wasn’t until many years later, when the first smartphones came out, that I added my next survival tool to the list – a morse code app.
Anyone that knows me well knows that I love the concept of morse code – a traditional method of communication that could stand up even when most other forms of communication fail. I’ve written about using morse code to transmit messages with your computer, and even transmitting a news RSS feed using morse , but what about the old traditional use of morse code?
In my opinion, a good Morse code app loaded on a smartphone has the potential to save your life. One such app is called MorseCoder. [No Longer Available]
MorseCoder looks like an ultra-simple app, but when you’re in a pinch in the dark night of the forest and you can see searchers with flashlights hunting for you at the foot of the hill – this app won’t seem so simple after all. It’ll be the most important app you could have.
No Internet connection is required to use this app. All you have to do is tap out the morse code by pressing the long or short key on the screen. Press short, and the phone will sound a short code and the screen will flash quickly. Press long, and the phone will sound the short morse code and flash long.
This is fantastic if you know morse code and can type out your message quickly so people in the distance will see your flashing screen and can interpret your message, but what if you don’t know the code? No need to fear – MorseCoder can run in a completely automated mode.
Just click the menu button and tap on the “Convert” menu button. This conversion feature will let you simply type the message that you want to transmit via morse code. Select “Repeat” if you want your phone to just keep repeating the morse code message over and over.
When you press OK, the screen will start flashing out your morse code message, and the morse code audio will play out the speaker.
While it’s playing your message, you’ll see the letter being transmitted in the center of the screen.
Each letter includes the short or long flashes in sequence before moving on to the next letter.
The benefit to having audio is that you can transmit morse code over a phone line or over a CB radio with your mobile phone held up or placed next to the mic.
Sure, maybe you’ll never need to use this app. Maybe you’ll never find yourself stranded in the middle of the night somewhere, with a need to flash out your SOS.
But if you do…wouldn’t it be nice to have an app that could potentially save your life?
Morse Code Reader
If you’re going to start loading morse code apps onto your phone, then it only makes sense that you would want an app that can not only transmit morse code messages, but also an app that can decipher them.
If you’ve ever watched survival movies or TV shows, there always comes that moment when the hero discovers a radio or picks up a phone and discovers that someone is transmitting a message via morse code. If you were the hero, could you understand the code?
Well, you could if you had the Morse Code Reader app!
This app literally listens to any sound through the microphone and will decipher an morse code that it recognizes.
I tested the app by having my computer transmit SOS via morse code on a morse code generator website. Sure enough, Morse Code Reader picked up on the message immediately.
Know Your Signals
Finally, if we’re talking about apocalyptic scenarios here, where you may need to decipher morse code messages, flag down passing rescue planes or listen to police radio transmissions to figure out what’s going on during a major emergency, another app that would come in handy is Signals. [No Longer Available]
Signals is basically a directory of emergency codes and signals that you might need to know if you are ever lost or in a situation that would require something like Morse code.
Speaking of which, there is a quick reference of all letters – this would make it easy to decipher an incoming code if you don’t want to use the Morse Code Reader app.
Did you just signal an airplane and unsure what the pilot was trying to convey to you when he or she waved the wings of the plane? Flip over to “Air to Ground Signals” and find out.
I’ve found myself listening to police transmissions using an app like Radio Scanner (one of my favorite Android apps ever) and not really understanding what on Earth the cops were talking about with all of their strange number codes.
Signals lists all of the police codes that you might here on a scanner.
Most of the penal codes you’ll hear about when they discuss a crime in progress comes under the “Police Penal Codes” page.
All of these three apps could come in handy any time that you’re lost or find yourself in an emergency situation. It may not seem like you’ll ever need it, but trust me when the moment comes and you need to use it – you’ll be glad that you downloaded it before the entire Internet went down and the power grid crashed, marking the beginning of the apocalypse.
Think you could find an interesting use for these morse code apps? Heading out on a wilderness adventure? Download them, try them, and let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Image Credits: Alphabet in Morse Code Via Shutterstock
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