MorseKOB 2.5 Tutorial
Once you’ve installed the program and have it up and running, try the following:
- Press the Escape key (twice if necessary) to toggle the Circuit Closer to the closed position. This closes the KOB’s circuit, and you should hear the down-stroke click of the simulated sounder.
- Press the Escape key again to open the Circuit Closer. The simulated sounder releases with a slightly different up-stroke click sound.
- Press and release the Right Arrow key. You should hear two clicks from the speakers. The right arrow key can be used as a simulated straight key.
- Press the Left Arrow key and hold it down briefly. You should hear a series of dots coming out of the speakers. With practice (although I can’t recommend it) the left arrow key can be used in conjunction with the right arrow key as a simulated bug.
- Click in the lower left text box of the MorseKOB window to place the cursor there. This is the code sender window. Make sure the Code Sender On checkbox is checked, and type some text on the keyboard. You should hear American Morse being sent, and you should see the decoded text appear in the upper left text box—the code reader window.
Note: if you press a key and the program doesn't do anything, make sure the KOB window is active. In other words, the KOB window's title bar must be highlighted in order for it to recognize any keyboard input. To activate the KOB window, click the left mouse button on the window's title bar.
The code sender
Go to the File menu and select Open. A file browser window appears on the screen, allowing you to select any text file on your computer. For now, navigate to the MorseKOB\Text Files folder and select "The quick brown fox" file. The text of the file appears in the code sender window. Note that the Code Sender is set to Off.
Press the Pause key to toggle the Code Sender to On. The code sender starts sending the text in Morse, starting from the current cursor position: in this case, the beginning of the file.
When the code sender reaches the end of the file, the code sender is still active. If you type on the keyboard, the text will be added to the end of the code sender window (because that’s where the cursor is) and it will be sent immediately. Try it.
Press the Pause key to toggle the Code Sender to Off. Press the Home key to return the cursor to the beginning of the code sender window. (Similarly, the End key can be used to send the cursor to the end of the code sender window.)
The Code Speed setting determines the speed in WPM of (a) the keyer, (b) the code sender, and (c) the approximate speed expected by the code reader. You can reduce the code speed by pressing function key F4, and increase it by pressing F5. (See Keyboard commands for a complete list of the program’s keyboard shortcuts.)
Press F4 five times to reduce the code speed from 25 WPM to 20 WPM, and then press the Pause key to play the file again at the new speed.
You can pause and restart the code sender by pressing the Pause key, and you can restart from a new point by clicking on the mouse to reposition the cursor.
Another way of sending code is to copy text from some other application (a web browser or email program, for example) to the Windows clipboard, and then paste the contents of the clipboard into the KOB program’s code sender window by pressing the Insert key. Press the Pause key when you’re ready for the program to start sending the text as Morse.
Hooking up a key
Although you can use your computer’s right arrow key to simulate a straight key—and even use the left and right arrow keys to simulate the paddle of a bug—at some point you’ll probably want to start using a real key instead. You can do this by hooking up a straight key, bug, or keyer paddle to your computer’s serial port. For information about how to connect a key and/or sounder to your computer, see the Interface techniques page.
While we’re on the subject of sounders, you can change the sound of the simulated sounder. Go to the Tools menu and select Preferences, then pull down the Sound menu and select one of the alternate sounders. If you’re used to CW, then the Tone option will sound more familiar at first. The Mixed option provides a combination of tone and sounder, to help you make the transition to copying Morse by sounder alone.
Once you’ve connected a key to your computer, you’ll also need to tell the program which COM port you’re using. To do this, go to the Tools menu and select Preferences, then pull down the Port menu and select your COM port. Depending on the type of interface you're using, you'll want to set Mode to Normal or Loop, and you'll probably want to change Sound to Off.
The code reader
Once you have a key hooked up to your computer, you can see how well the code reader copies your fist while you’re sending American Morse. The code reader gives a rough indication of the quality of your sending, but it sometimes misinterprets even well sent code, so don’t get discouraged if you see it making lots of errors. It does do an excellent job of telling if you’ve sent too many or too few dots, however.
The code reader is kind of like training wheels: useful while you’re first learning, but unnecessary once you get the hang of it. However, I still find it nice to have while I’m on the wire—as a “second opinion” when I’m not sure if I copied something right or to “take notes” if I’m called away momentarily.
When you’re using the code reader, the program’s code speed should be set to roughly the same speed as the Morse that it’s trying to decode. Unrecognized code is displayed within brackets (for example
[.-..-] ). The circuit closure between transmissions is represented by an underscore.
Practicing Morse code by yourself can get boring after a while. It’s a lot more fun to use Morse as it was originally intended: as a way of communicating with other people. Using the KOB program, you can do this over the internet.
Before you start, you should enter your name, and optionally your office call and location, into the small text box just above the Circuit Closer control. This is your ID, and it’s how you’ll be identified to other operators on the wire.
Once your computer is connected to the internet—via a dialup, broadband, or wireless internet connection—simply click on the Connect button. Within a second or two, the connection indicator above the Connect button should go from white to red, showing that you’ve successfully connected to the KOB server. The server acts as a “hub”, tying together any number of offices into a common telegraph circuit.
If the connection indicator flashes red and white instead of showing a steady red, that means the server isn’t responding to your connect request for some reason.
The number above the Connect button designates the wire number that you’re connected to. You can enter any wire number from 1 to 32000, where each “wire” is the equivalent of a different telegraph circuit. Go to mtc-kob.dyndns.org to see which wires are currently in use.
Within 10 seconds after connecting, in the text box in the upper right part of the KOB window you’ll see a list of the IDs for everyone connected to the same wire that you’re on. Whenever someone transmits, their ID is moved to the bottom of the list, so the station at the top of the list is the one that has waited the longest since their last transmission. About 60 seconds after a user disconnects from the wire, their ID is removed from the list.
Once you’ve successfully connected to the wire, you can listen to other operators or you can open your key and make a transmission, just as if you were on a real telegraph circuit. Remember to close your key at the end of each transmission, or press the Escape key to toggle the Circuit Closer to the closed position.
Note: If some other operator on the wire leaves their key open, when you open your key and try to send, your sounder will remain silent. To regain control of the wire, press the Escape key twice to cycle the KOB Circuit Closer closed and then open again.
When you’re ready to end your session on the internet “wire”, simply click on the Connect button again to disconnect from the server. The connection indicator changes from red to white.
The following keyboard shortcuts can be used as an alternative to clicking with your mouse.
Escape: Toggles the circuit closer open and closed
Pause: Starts and stops the code sender
Insert: Copies text from the clipboard to the code sender window
Home: Moves the cursor to the beginning of the code sender window
End: Moves the cursor to the end of the code sender window
Left arrow: Sends dots
Right arrow: Sends dashes (manually)
F4:Decreases the code speed
F5:Increases the code speed
F11: Clears the code reader window
F12: Clears the code sender window