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A New Sound for Morse

Paul Signorelli (W0RW) on January 18, 2019
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A New Sound for Morse

Here is a project to get your old Morse Sounder back ‘On the Air.’

Listening to morse on a sounder maybe a new experience to you but it is cool. You only need a sounder, a sensitive relay, step up transformer and a tape recorder.

You record some morse code audio on to an old tape recorder and feed the audio into a step up transformer, Rectify it and connect it to a sensitive relay. Morse code practice code is on the Web or you can use your CW Receiver on W1AW. My Sounder is a Western Electric 3B and it is keyed by a Western Electric 21A relay (100 ohms). -- Sounders on eBay might need repair.

The code speed should be 5 to 15 WPM for the sounder to follow the keying.
If the relay is sensitive enough you won’t need any amplifier.
The Clickety - Clack fills my Shack with cool morse sounds.
You don’t need to know American Morse to use a sounder but I miss the ‘C’s and ‘R’s.
My old call sign had 17 dits in it on American Morse.
See photo and diagram.

Paul W0RW

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A New Sound for Morse  
by KA3JLW on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Looks pretty cool -

Any chance you could post a link to a youtube video? Would love to see/hear it in action.

If you couldn't provide your own video, maybe someone else's video that shows a similar setup?
A New Sound for Morse  
by W0RW on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I don't have a video, but Jim WB8SIW has a great one at:
This one is a little fast for beginners.
Others there too, Just search for 'morse code sounder'.
Paul w0rw
A New Sound for Morse  
by K2BEW on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice, I have a Weston meter just like that, what are you using it to monitor in your set up?
I may have to try to set this up myself!
A New Sound for Morse  
by KC0PP on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I remember Harry Turner (W9YZE) designed a circuit years ago but it had a few more parts. I built one, connected it to a receiver and the circuit drove a sounder without the relay. Harry was a railroad telegrapher for many years. He could hold a conversation with you and copy code at the same time. By the way Harry holds the World's record for sending with a straight key, 35 wpm. I once asked him if he needed a CW filter in his rig. He said why, I only listen to one signal at a time.
RE: A New Sound for Morse  
by W0RW on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
The secret to copying CW and having a conversation at the same time is to copy by words and phrases.
Never copy letter by letter.
See the eHam article #41222:
“The Secrets of High Speed Morse”, <>,
Paul w0rw
RE: A New Sound for Morse  
by K5LXP on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Except, sounders use American Morse and not International Morse. So if you "send" recorded American Morse to a sounder via tape recorder you'll end up with something neither a telegrapher or a CW op will recognize.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
RE: A New Sound for Morse  
by KL7AJ on January 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I give the clicky clacks a try every time I'm at Hamvention. I'm a very good CW operator....but the clicky clacks are an incredible challenge.
RE: A New Sound for Morse  
by KW6LA on January 19, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I used a KOB clacker a few times and it was like going back in time. Not easy until you get the hang of things. You have to send pretty slow and chunky to get it right. The KOB are on eBay all the time, so easy to buy one. looks nice in my display case with old microphones. When I tell Hams I had a telegraph license T2, I have the clacker to prove it.
A New Sound for Morse  
by WA9PWP on January 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
That technique has been used here in WI at "Depot Days" where several old (restored) train depots had HF CW ham stations set up and were open to visitors. The ham ops used headphones. As they chatted in CW all the visitor heard was the clacking of the sounder. It wasn't the true telegrapher's code, but I doubt any visitors knew the difference!
A New Sound for Morse  
by KL7CW on January 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I purchased about 10 telegraph sounders on E Bay, some were guaranteed and many were as is. All worked just fine, but many looked rather beat up. They ranged from 4 ohm models to 400 ohm models. These sounder coils like to be driven by about 1/4 to 1/2 watt, which means the 4 ohm models work fine with a single type D cell of 1.5 volts for many dozens of hours of operation. Higher R models require higher voltages, perhaps 12 volts or more. I use a higher voltage and a series resistor to drive the sounders at the correct voltage and current to drive the sounders at perhaps 1/4 to 1/3 watt. I think my average cost was less than $50, but bid on perhaps 50 of them to get 10 at reasonable prices over a few years. I built a interface device to drive the sounders with off the air CW like W1AW code practice. It was easy for me to copy almost immediately and I quickly got my 15 WPM certificate and believe that much higher speeds should be easy to copy with a little practice, of possibly well over 30 WPM. It sounds like music to my ears, however I have been a CW op, both ham, shore, and ship for 64 years, but never heard a sounder until I hooked up mine about 10 years ago you may need a bit of practice. If you go to and do a search on telegraph sounder there are some demos, some good some not. I sometimes listen to W1AW and ham QSO's with my sounder, lots of fun as long as the signals are somewhat in the clear.
This is a very short reply to a complex subject so do research on how to adjust sounder, build interface devices, etc. PS...American Morse is not too hard to learn...several times I began, with some success, but dropped the project since other projects got in the way. Sounders with perhaps 20 to 50 ohm coils are easy to work with. Your circuit can use reasonable voltages and series resistors which will not need to dissipate much power. Some of the old western union sounders on black bases look really bad with the pealing black paint, but perform just fine. Avoid rusted or bent sounders, but tarnish is just fine. If adjusted properly, the "click" and "clack" of the sounders are the same volume, but have a subtle difference. When I first turned my circuit on to copy code practice at 18 WPM, copy was nearly 100 % immediately, and after perhaps 2 hours it was 100%.
Good luck....enjoy your adventure...Rick KL7CW
A New Sound for Morse  
by W0WUG on January 25, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Darn it W0RW, I wish I had your call sign. LOL
Roger Williams, W0WUG , licensed in 1954.
A New Sound for Morse  
by W0VTT on January 27, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
There are a number of us who still use sounders and bugs for chatting in American Morse over the 'net. Information on the Morse Telegraph Club and the MorseKOB system may be found here:
RE: A New Sound for Morse  
by W0RW on January 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
The schematic of the sounder above shows the Power Supply with a '24V' above it.
My 3B sounder works with 5 or 6 Volts.
Use a power supply that is appropriate for your sounder.
Thanks to Rick, KL7CW, for spotting this.
Paul w0rw
A New Sound for Morse  
by W4RS on January 30, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
well I remember years ago, being taught code by a railroad telegrapher.
there was the sounder and a price albert pipe tobacco can rubber banded in the back of the box. sounded good.
my father was the general yardmaster so they all wanted to help he. hi hi
A New Sound for Morse  
by W5GNB on February 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
A better solution for this would to be to download the simple program called "Morse KOB" from the site

There you can listen to a Simulated "Sounder" on your computer with news feeds, Etc on your computer OR you can connect an actual Sounder and Key with a simple interface and actually operate with other KOB operators over the Internet... Very COOL !!~ ~~
A New Sound for Morse  
by KF5GLB on February 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I have a link to a you tube video I made below of one in action!
I made this a few years ago....all the parts came from radio shack. This was one of my first DYI ham projects. I welcome feed back,
KF5GLB [at]
A New Sound for Morse  
by K9VP on February 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I have found that the 'secret' to being able to use both International code and American Morse code is to only listen to American Morse with the sounder and only use tone for the International code.
Several retired rail road telegraphers and others who are just interested in using American Morse gather on the 'net' to converse in American Morse using bugs and sounders using an app that one of our Morse Telegraphy Club members developed. There is a group of us that gather on Saturdays around 2pm EST on wire 11. You can download a small app and give a listen or join in and you don't need a bug or a sounder to enjoy it as it can be accomplished just using the keyboard and computer speakers. Check it out at:
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