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MorseIt - Morse tutor for Psion palmtop computers

© 2003 and 2005  by Owen Morgan and Ulrich Hornstein

1 WHAT IS MORSE-IT?
2 WHY WE WROTE MORSE-IT
3 COMPATIBILITY
4 WHAT IS IN THE ZIP ARCHIVE
5 INSTALLING MORSE-IT
6 USING MORSE-IT
     6.1 Selectable text
     6.2 Random text
     6.3 Limitations
7 CONFIGURING MORSE-IT - MAIN SCREEN
     7.1 Speed
     7.2 Sign interval
     7.3 Pitch
     7.4 Lower pitch dashes
     7.5 Keys
8 CONFIGURING MORSE-IT - RANDOM MORSE SCREEN
     8.1 How many groups / number of characters per group
     8.2 Letters / numbers / special characters included
     8.3 Problematic signs
     8.4 Automatic grading
9 TROUBLESHOOTING
10 FREEWARE LICENCE
     10.1 Disclaimer
11 SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK
12 VERSION HISTORY
13 DOWNLOAD

1 WHAT IS MORSE-IT?

Morse-It is a Morse tutor for Psion palmtop computers using the EPOC Operating System.

Morse-It is a macro rather than a stand-alone program, so it must be used with a macro launcher which supports the Macro5 OPL extensions. Possible macro launchers are: Macro5, Extrabars, Assistant, Merlin.

If you are serious about learning Morse code, be sure to read additional material like the Morse compendium " The Art and Skill of Radio Telegraphy" from William Pierpont, available from http://psion.uh-lab.de. There are tips on how to learn quickly in chapters 29 to 31.

2 WHY WE WROTE MORSE-IT

Owen reports: "I wanted to learn to read Morse, and was amazed to find that nobody had written a Morse tutor for the EPOC palmtops. The reason I initially started work on a macro rather than a standalone program was that I was too lazy to write the bits needed to import text files.
Happily, the result is that Morse-It is actually much more versatile than a standalone program as it can Morse just about any text that can be displayed and edited on screen."

Ulrich adds: "Morse code has always attracted my attention, although I never made an examination on it. As a student, I learned some of the art and was able to listen to slow CW on a shortwave receiver. But I abandoned it until Owen's MorseIt for EPOC appeared, for which I added the Random Morse Generator with auto-grade feature.  Owen and me agreed to publish the common product on my Psion homepage http://psion.uh-lab.de ."

3 COMPATIBILITY

Morse-It has been tested in the beta versions with Macro5, Merlin and Assistant, but should work fine with any EPOC macro launcher.

The beta versions of Morse-It have been tested on the Psion Series 5, 5mx, Revo Plus, NetBook and Ericsson MC218. We do not know of any reason why it should cause problems on any of the other EPOC ER5 devices.

4 WHAT IS IN THE ZIP ARCHIVE?

The files supplied are:

MorseItReadme.wrd

THIS readme file in EPOC Word format

MorseItReadme.txt

THIS readme file as a text file

MorseIt.OPL

The source code (for the curious)

MorseIt.OPO

The compiled program

MorseIt.DAT

Datafile containing the Morse characters

 

5 INSTALLING MORSE-IT

To install Morse-It, copy the files MorseIt.OPO and MorseIt.DAT to your default Macros folder, referred to as Macros$ in the opl text. This will usually be \Macros\ on either C, D or E drives. Then make a shortcut to \Macros\MorseIt.OPO from whatever macro launcher you use.

If you are not short in memory space, it is recommended to copy the *.OPL and one of the *.txt or *.wrd files for completeness and easy reference as well, but this is not required.

To uninstall, just delete all files starting with MorseIt in the Macros$ folder, and remove the shortcut to \Macros\MorseIt.OPO from your macro launcher.

6 USING MORSE-IT

To use Morse-It, you have 2 options: selectable text and random text.

6.1 Selectable text

Simply select some text on screen in just about any software with the ability to edit text, then launch the macro and the text will be morsed. The text you select can for instance be some text in a Word document, a SMS message in PhoneMan or an e-mail message.

The Morse code and the letter currently being morsed are displayed in the lower right corner of the screen and the current position is highlighted in your document. You can pause Morse-It at any time by pressing the space bar or stop it by pressing any other key. See chapter 7.

6.2 Random text

Do not select any text, then launch the macro. Press R to go to the "Random" screen. Exercise your skills with randomly generated morse signs, which may even be graded by the machine. See chapter 8.

6.3 Limitations

The moving highlight does not work in Jotter and Data, but apart from this there are no problems associated with morsing Jotter and Data entries. If your selection is 160 characters or less, Morse-It will re-select the same text when it is finished. In longer selections, Morse-It will leave the cursor where it stops.

Some symbols that do not have Morse code equivalents are morsed as whole words. For instance, the pound symbol "£" is morsed as "UKP". A carriage return is morsed as break "----".

The current version of Morse-It has a maximum limit of 32kb of text which should keep it going for about an hour at the default setting. We've not had the stamina to keep it going for that long.

There is no volume control. The reason for this is that there is to our knowledge no way of setting the volume of the EPOC Beep function from within an OPL program, so you will have to set this on the Control Panel under System. If anyone knows of a better way, please tell us.

In Random text mode, there seems to be a temporary untrackable error before grading when the Word file is not open. This eventually appears if the Psion is otherwise very busy, f.i. during file transfer on RS232. Switch off the communication interface or apps that make heavy use of the CPU, if this error appears.

Be *careful* when morsing many random groups when your battery is low: there is no elegant way to stop MorseIt in this mode; it will want to continue morsing all characters that you have ordered. For an emergency exit, press the four keys Fn+Ct+Sh+K simultaneously. This will kill the running process of your macro launcher. You will have to start it again manually afterwards.

7 CONFIGURING MORSE-IT - MAIN SCREEN

This part has been designed and programmed by Owen Morgan, LA7QZ.

If you do not select any text before launching Morse-It, you will get a menu where you can adjust the speed, weight and pitch of the Morse characters as well as specify whether you wish dashes to be morsed at a lower pitch.

Menu of MorseIt

The settings are:

7.1 Speed

This should be pretty self explanatory. It adjusts the duration of the dots, pauses and dashes, not their relationship. The range is one to six. One is quite fast for a beginner, six is slow. For best learning results, leave this setting to 2 or 1 (see 7.2).

7.2 Sign interval

This adjusts the duration between the morse characters. The default value is 3, you can lengthen the pauses between the characters for practising purposes to up to 20. This is called the FARNSWORTH METHOD - one should not have time to analyze a slowly sent sound pattern, but recognize the sound pattern of a given character directly, as a whole.

Ulrich supports this method strongly - better do not change the speed setting to values greater than 2 - increase the sign interval instead!

7.3 Pitch

This adjusts the pitch of the tone. The higher the number, the lower the tone.

7.4 Lower pitch dashes

If you tick "Lower pitch dashes", the dashes will be morsed at a lower pitch than the dots. This can be useful when you're beginning to learn to read Morse code.

7.5 Keys

If you hit the spacebar, the settings will be returned to the defaults.

If you hit Esc, you will close Morse-It without saving the changes.

If you hit Enter, the changes will be saved to MorseIt.INI and used the next time you run Morse-It.

To try your new settings, select some text and launch the Morse-It macro. To change your settings again, launch the macro without selecting any text.

If you hit the R key, the Random Morse screen is activated.

8 CONFIGURING MORSE-IT - RANDOM MORSE SCREEN

This part has been designed and programmed by Ulrich Hornstein, Germany,  http://psion.uh-lab.de

In this mode, your EPOC machine produces a sequence of random morse characters, which can be controlled by a number of variables:

8.1 How many groups / number of characters per group

If you select 3 / 5, the machine creates 3 groups of 5 morse signs each. If you select many signs that way, it will take a while to morse them. Unfortunately there is no "clean" way to quit the morsing once it has been started. You CAN use the Fn+Ct+Sh+K key combination to kill Macro5 (or the macro launcher of your choice). But this is not really recommended, better select smaller numbers and call the macro repeatedly.

8.2 Letters / numbers / special characters included

Tick at least one of these 3 checkboxes:

Letters=A-Z  Numbers=0-9  SpecialCharacters=!-'(),-./:="?

The random morse sequence will consist of a mixture of the selected varieties.

Example: tick "numbers" only to hear random numbers, but no letters or special characters.

Note: the field 8.3 'Problematic signs' needs to be empty for this to work properly.

8.3 Problematic signs

From experience, the morse novice will learn many signs easily; with some others he may have problems, especially with those of 'similar' appearance.

Example: Let us assume the student can hardly differentiate between the characters y, j, z and 7. Just enter yjz7 into this field. After hitting enter, the machine produces random morse signs consisting only of y, j, z and 7.

Note: any character in this field "overrides" the selection of 8.2 letters/numbers/specialCharacters.

8.4 Automatic grading

This is the 'hippest' function on this screen. Tick this checkbox and do the following:

Cover the screen so that you cannot cheat. After hitting Enter, the machine morses randomly the characters which have been selected in the fields 8.1 to 8.3. Right after you recognise the character, type it into the keyboard. Of course, you will have to know how to typewrite - if you can't, you will spend more time seeking the keys than decoding the sound patterns!

After the desired number of characters (3 groups of 5 in the example above) have been morsed out, the automatic grading starts. It is not foolproof, but should work most of the time as follows: The morsed characters are printed in upper case, the characters recognised and typed by you are in lowercase. The program does it's best to grade your performance.  

MorseIt - grader result

All these typed exercises are kept in the word file 'MorseItRandom' in your Macros$ folder. Delete it once in a while, if it starts to grow too big. If needed, it will be created anew.

9 TROUBLESHOOTING

If Morse-It is silent, it probably means you have set Beeps to Off under 'Sound' in the Control Panel in System. If you get clicking noises rather than morse tones, it means your Psion's batteries are too low for sound. Why not use external power while listening to MorseIt? That would save your batteries.

10 FREEWARE LICENCE

Morse-It is FreeWare. That means you are free to use it and give copies to anyone you like. However, the copyright remains the property of Owen Morgan, LA7QZ, and Ulrich Hornstein respectively. Both of us ask that you do not distribute modified copies of the macro or the source code and that you do not distribute the macro without this readme file.

10.1 Disclaimer

All usual disclaimers apply. We will not take any responsibility for any problems encountered, be it on your machine or on any of your data, and any consequences thereof. Be sure to read and understand the chapter "6.3 Limitations".

Also a word of WARNING what MAY happen: If you select a big chunk of text and then fumble when you call up Macro5, you may accidentally type just "n" instead of "Fn+n". Oops! You've just overwritten your whole selection with a humble lowercase "n". We do hope you have a backup! If you're really lucky, you can salvage it with "Ctrl+z", but for some reason this doesn't always work. We don't know any way around this except to *** warn users *** not to use Morse-It on important unsaved text.

The source code is supplied with the macro so that those who are interested can study the techniques we've used. As the code is copyrighted, you are not allowed to use it as a basis for a commercial application which users must pay for.

11 SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK

If you think of a way of improving Morse-It, please contact Ulrich on the contact page on: http://psion.uh-lab.de ; he will listen to your suggestions and work into the code whatever he thinks is useful and as much as his time permits. Of course, both of us would be happy to hear if MorseIt is of any use for you. If you really learn to morse with it, maybe even up to a HAM examination, would be of interest for us.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to Rolf Vonau for his help and support.

The authors:
Owen Morgan. Latest position report and more information available via http://www.qrz.com . Enter his ham radio call sign LA7QZ.
Ulrich Hornstein in Freiburg, Germany.

 

12 VERSION HISTORY

15.11.2005

V1.0

First public release.

 

beta versions

not documented here.

13 DOWNLOAD

Downloads: 94 (since 15.11.2005)

 

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