Monthly Archives: February 2011

Arduino Chip does Morse Code at 300 wpm

  Karl Hess, Sr. 1975 edition

Karl Hess, Jr. is the speaker scheduled for Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at the 200th meeting of the Karl Hess Club (named for his father, the late Karl Hess) at Dinah’s in Culver City. (UPDATE: Due to airline trouble, rescheduled to September 19, 2011.)

Karl Hess, Jr. encouraged me to buy shortwave ham gear when he spoke to our libertarian supper club at the 100th meeting a few years ago, citing its usefulness during an emergency when a colleague was injured in Africa, where he was working in the field.

Since then I’ve put together some kits in custom enclosures with more powerful ones on the way. Alternative communication methods to the phone and Internet grid are always in the news, most recently in Egypt.

See the complete meeting announcement at the club site for more information about Karl Hess, Jr.’s topic, “Wither Conservation in the 21st Century: More Government or More Liberty?.” Excerpt from site:

“The world changed in 1970. Although the first Earth Day called for more aggressive State involvement, over the past forty years conservation has evolved into a movement increasingly characterized by volunteerism, cooperation, network governance, and entrepreneurship.”

Karl Hess, Sr. mentioned ham radio in passing in his book, Community Technology, and even in his 1975 book, Dear America which followed his 1969 “Death of Politics” article in Playboy.

Karl Hess, Sr. was a speechwriter for Barry Goldwater, then later became an anarchist hippie proponent of alternative energy, off-grid food production and local industry who made a living as a welder for cash, famous for not paying taxes. Goldwater was a ham radio operator who promised to put an antenna farm on the White House if he got elected (he wasn’t). Hess’ autobiography was edited by his son and is titled, Mostly on the Edge: An Autobiography.

Okay, see you at the KHC if you’re in Southern California.

Now, this video from 2008 shows two Arduino boards sending and receiving Morse code to each other acoustically at the same time (full duplex) at 300 words per minute. You could get a 140 character tweetish message out in a few seconds at that rate. Even at just 30 wpm over the shortwave radio the same message would take less than a minute.

Beats walking if the phones or Internet are down.

Egypt ham radio beats Internet outage

The oldest radio signaling method was used to send messages between people in Egypt according to this article at the Huffington Post. The link was in a Democratic Underground post that J. Neil Schulman forwarded to me in email.

Quoting HuffPo:
“These messages weren’t coming from mobile phones or computers, but from an amateur radio sending out Morse Code somewhere amidst the chaos in Egypt.”

Hundreds of miles range with a few watts using a wire thrown over a tree branch for an antenna can beat the government kill switch.

Meanwhile, on the political right side of survivalist prepping, Alex Jones InfoWars published a credible list of alternative communication methods from Liberty News Online, “How to Communicate if the Government Shut Down the Internet” (also forwarded to me by J. Neil Schulman).

Just one point of clarification. During a political upheaval, checking the call sign of amateur radio operators won’t be the State’s top priority and effectively jamming all signals might not be possible, especially if one were to use spread spectrum techniques.

Let’s say for example you were to transmit thermal noise in one band and the noise mixed with the message in another (transmitted reference). It would appear to be noise as well.

Perhaps if you have some programming skills you could use the digital “direct sequence” method to mix several pseudo random “chip bits” with each bit of your message while you quickly hop the center frequency of your signal using a fast digital synthesis chip and a secure software spreading code.

And just to be safe you might use a stealthy hidden antenna that looks like a clothes line, basketball hoop, bird feeder, flag pole or other disguise so your neighbors don’t rat you out. Out of sight, out of mind. Morse code and texting can be done silently with earphones. QSL?

Victory over censorship!