A morse alternative mode for the HAM,
with no need for training
article written on 19-May-2022
mode originally thought by sv3ora
The thinking of this new mode, came to me when someone posted
that he quit the HAM hobby because he did not learn morse code and he
did not want to use computers to do the job for him. Some time I faced
a similar situation and I believe many do one day or the other. So I
thought that I had to do
something about it. It is too bad people quit the hobby or
missing the fun of the KEY operation, because of the obstacle of morse
matter what CW operators that already learnt morse might say, the fact
is that morse
requires patience, continuous practice and most importantly time. After
all millitary had dedicated courses on it in the past, so it must be
more than true. These
are things not all people can, or are willing to do. An alternative
that gives the same pleasure like morse and operates with the same
techniques, but requires no training and time must exist. Meet the TAP mode!
This mode has its roots to
ancient Greece. You may read the article in Wikipedia
for more information on the Polybius square. A form of it, was used in
the previous century in war times, for in-prison communication.
A modified version is presented here by me, that fits perfectly the HAM
modified TAP code scheme, is dedicated to HAM radio and includes the
numbers and the letter "k".
d e f
j k l
p q r
v w x
1 2 3
7 8 9
This is all you need to know in order to send and receive TAP. It
is easy to follow and easy to generate on paper. This is a 6 by 6
table, with the first six alphabet letters placed in the first line,
the next six in the second and so on. After the alphabet ends, the
numbers are put in the same manner. Thats it!
It is better to describe the sending procedure with an example.
To send the letter "i" you send two dots ("i" is on the second row),
wait a bit and then send 3 more dots ("i" is on the third column). In
other words, you first count the number of rows where the letter
exists, then wait a bit and then you count the number of columns where
this letter exists. Before sending the next letter, leave a bit of more
time, so as to distinguish that this is a separate letter and not the
time between rows and columns. Thats it!
Try it now without any transceiver! Write the TAP table on a piece of
paper (you do not need to write the row and column numbers), or read it
from the website. Tap on your desk with your finger and send some words
to the coleague near you. See how easy it is?
There are actually four spacings involved. The
spacing between adjacent dots, the spacing between the row and the
column, and the spacing between letters and the spacing between words.
Follow the PARIS spacing, like morse code does, if you intent to write
software for it. However, in practice, manual operators would need to
consider just two spacings, the spacing between rows and columns and
spacing between letters. These are the most important. Just make the
one bigger than the other and communication should be achieved without
is better to describe the receiving procedure with an example.
letter "i" you listen two dots ("i" is on the second row), then a short
scilence time and
then listen 3 more dots ("i" is on the third column). In other words,
first listen for a number of dots (this is the row where the letter
exists), then sense the scilence
and then you listen for the next number of dots (this is the column
where the letter exists).
The scilence time between two letters is greater than the scilence
and columns and this can be distinguished easily. Thats it!
any transceiver! Write the TAP table on a piece of paper (you do not
need to write the row and column numbers), or read it from the website.
Put your coleague to sent you some TAP words and you should be able to
decode them by counting the rows and columns in the TAP table.
A programmer that may need to implement the mode in software, should
follow the PARIS spacing to distinguish the different parts of the
code, as described above.
Here are some advantages I can think, of TAP in comparison to morse.
training is required, start using it imediatelly, even by non-HAM
people and kids. This probably is the greatest advantage and this is
why most would want to use TAP in HAM radio.
encoding/decoding square can be drawn easily, it is very easy to
remember how to draw it.
by hardware or software means, becomes very easy, as there are no
dashes to account for. Dot lengths can be anything and can be even
varying from dot to dot, it does not matter.
- All you
count, is how many ON-states (taps) there are and the rough timing
between them, to decide between a row-column or a letter. Because of
this intependency from dashes, the code can be used
on any means, radio, light, pipes, walls, desks etc.
- If dot
lengths are kept very short (up to the point where channel noise allows
it), RF amplifiers can be pushed beyond their limits (due to limited
duty cycle), or otherwise run cooler within their limits. There are
some mediums, like light communication, where bright pulses of light
can be produced easily (eg. xenon tubes), but not kept for duration and
TAP is ideal on them.
are some disadvantages I can think, of TAP in comparison to morse.
limit issues probably. TAP beginners achieve for sure faster speeds
than morse beginners. However, a trained morse HAM, can achieve greater
speeds with morse.
the table by heart, can be tricky in comparison to morse. However war
prisoners had tricks to learn by heart the 5x5 TAP square.
- Not known
(yet) among the HAM community, like any new mode. Why not change that
by let HAMs know about it?
TAP common points to morse
There are some common points shated between TAP and morse code.
- Both are
relatively slow modes.
- Both are
ON/OFF keying modes, efficient class-E amplifiers can be used.
- Both share
the same channel bandwidth and noise-related characteristics.
- Both are
human-oriented, although TAP does not require training. Both share the
PARIS timing when implemented in software.
- Both allow
for the "joy of the KEY". You send TAP with the same equipment as morse.
- Both are
ideal for homebrew QRP, due to efficiency and transceivers simplicity.
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