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Author Topic: Practical Morse  (Read 3515 times)
KF6VB
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Posts: 19




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« on: April 19, 2012, 04:47:42 PM »

Hello,

    Once upon a time, I toiled in firmware development for a networking equipment manufacturer.  I was tasked with developing firmware for a coprocessor that counted packets going by.  It connected to the main processor through a sophisticated shared-memory interface.  This coprocessor had no I/O of its own, with one exception:  a reset pin output that was software controlled.  The hardware engineer had proposed creating the reset pulse in hardware, but I insisted that he give me full control of the pin, and I would create the pulse in software.

    I designed the program, coded it up, got it working on the ICE ( In Circuit Emulator ).  Then pulled off the emulator, plugged in a real CPU - and it did NOTHING.  Just sat there like a lump.  Plugged in the ICE again, it worked fine.  How to troubleshoot?  I pulled my hair out over it for the better part of a week.

   Then I had an idea - I remembered my one and only output pin.  Soldered a resistor to the pin, and a speaker to the resistor.  Wrote a quickie program to output CW beeps to the pin.  Then peppered the code with statements to the effect of - if you get HERE, then output morse "A".  If you get HERE, output a "B".  Etc.  Solved the problem in about an hour.

                                         - Jerry Kaidor, KF6VB
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VK2FAK
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Posts: 87




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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2012, 05:51:29 PM »

Hi all...


And at the end of the day......this all means what......I am confused..

John
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WX7G
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2012, 07:39:00 PM »

Excellent troubleshooting via CW.

I've run into two industrial devices that sent audio CW for error messages.
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DL3RR
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2012, 01:08:45 AM »

Brilliance!  Grin

I'm amazed I haven't thought of it myself.  I must remember that one.
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LB5KE
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Posts: 141




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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2012, 11:21:36 AM »

Some times i use Morse for helping me with directions.  Grin

Let's say that you are asking for directions and some tells you go straight forward and take the first to right - then third to the left then second to the right . I use dots for counting to the left and dash to the right. So in this case first to the right is a dash, third to the left is 3 dots. Now we have a 'B'. Second to right is an 'M'.  So all you need to remember is BM.   
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LB3KB
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2012, 11:31:28 AM »

I don't know if it's done like this anymore, but in the 80s the typical PC BIOS would give some error messages in the form of "beep codes".  It wasn't Morse code, but a similar concept.  Pretty much a necessity if an error prevents the display from working...
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M0LEP
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Posts: 200




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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012, 03:46:43 PM »

Being a programmer, I'd have gone for something in binary ( probably a short beep for a 1 and long beep for a 0 ) and started from the highest 1 bit (except for zero, of course); dit for 1, dit dah for 10 (i.e. 2), dit dit for 11 (i.e. 3) and so on...

1001001, Rick
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2012, 06:16:55 PM »

Great thinking,

Yes, the advantage of knowing a human readable pulse encoding system like morse is great for innovative programming debugging.
I also used morse to give a text to morse system on the early P.C.s as well as those "pocket PC" devices.
In the early days of nokia they sent SMS in morse on their mobile phones as well as "nokia connecting people".
Most people are still surprised when I tell them that the ...--... SMS alert is morse for SMS.

Unfortunately, when you have been doing morse too long, dog barks and other rythmic periodic sounds also attempt decoding!
This may be something for the neuroscientists to consider when trying to communicate with animals, since they can usually click, bark, yap, meow, roar or otherwise produce morse.
I would not like to try and read a dolphins clicks though, a bit too qrq for me.

Thanks for a nice light success story of another morse triumph.

73s.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 10:01:19 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
KF6VB
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2012, 11:29:12 AM »

Being a programmer, I'd have gone for something in binary

*** One coworker asked why I didn't bit-bang a serial interface:

  Yet another thing to troubleshoot.  You get it wrong, the terminal either just sits there or displays gibberish.  Then you haul out the scope to look at the pulse train....   You also have to get the pinout and voltage levels
right.  With the morse thing, the total hardware consisted of a baby speaker and a resistor.  The time from
getting the idea, coding it up, wiring it up, instrumenting the code, recompiling, burning a rom, running it
and figuring out the problem was literally just a couple hours. 

                          - Jerry Kaidor

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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2275




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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2012, 03:16:21 PM »

The story continued......

Decades later the corporation is spending several million dollars to have custom ASIC's designed and manufactured in order to meet the obscure specification requiring the aperiodic output of long and short analog pulses during operations. 

The temporary junior engineer hired to the transition task got his head chewed off by the clueless senior engineer when he questioned him about this specification.   Shrugging it off, the junior engineer adds it to the long list of requirements....

And you wonder how things end up the way they are.   Loss of corporate memory.
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2012, 03:48:39 PM »

Every thanksgiving, grandma used to cook the turkey with the ends cut off.
This was passed from generation to generation, with derivative explanations explaining how it cooked the turkey more evenly.
One day grand-daughter asked grandma - who replied, "Land sakes child, I did not have a tray big enough to take the whole turkey".

I have seen many such turkeys in my programming days.

73s
« Last Edit: April 23, 2012, 03:50:59 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
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