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SIGNALLING - The ability to communicate by visible signs with a person out of earshot is an accomplishment which on occasion may prove extremely useful. The alphabet of either the Morse or the semaphore system is not at all difficult to commit to memory, and as soon as this is mastered the beginner can go ahead rapidly with transmitting or sending messages. To master receiving - by far the more difficult task - the collaboration of a second person is required.

The Morse Code - This is based upon a system of "longs" and "shorts," which may be movements of a Rag, flashes of a lamp or heliograph, buzzings of a telegraph instrument, or whistles. Consequently the code is useful under conditions where semaphore would be impracticable.

The alphabet is shown in full in Fig. 31, where "shorts" and "longs" appear as dots and dashes respectively. A "long" is the equivalent of three shorts. The parts of a letter are separated by periods equal to a short; letters by a period equal to a long ; words by a period equal to two longs.

Fig. 32 arranges sixteen of the letters in pairs of opposites connected by letters which form them into words that can easily he memorized. In addition to the letters should be learned: (a) The Numerals. They are as follows :

  • 1 . -
  • 2 . . -
  • 3 . . . -
  • 4 . . . . -
  • 5 . . . . .
  • 6 - . . . .
  • 7 - - . . .
  • 8 - - - . .
  • 9 - - - - .
  • 10 - - - - -

    (b) The Special Signals: -

  • "Get Ready": a succession of shorts till acknowledged.
  • "Repeat": the letters I M I.
  • "Figures intended": the letters F I.
  • "Figures finished": the letters F F.
  • "Go on": the letter G.
  • "Word before": the letters W B.
  • "Word after": the letters W A.
  • "Erase": a succession of shorts till answered. Acknowledged by same signal.
  • "Message ended": the letters V E (very end). Acknowledged by letters R D.
  • "Stop": flag waved to both sides almost to the ground. Acknowledged by the same signal.

    Unless otherwise stated, signals are acknowledged by the "General Answer", a single "long."

    The Flag

    Only one flag is used. A handkerchief, tied by two adjacent corners to a walking stick, will serve as a makeshift over moderate distances. The left hand should be at the end of the stick and the right hand just above it, about level with the chin, and the elbows be clear of the sides. Before making a signal bring the flag over to the left into position "A" (Fig. 33). From "A" to "B" and back again to "A" constitutes a "short"; from "A" to "C" and back constitutes a "long". The learner must be very careful to contract the habit of making "longs" long and "shorts" short, as half-and-half wags may mean anything, and so convey no meaning at all.

    Fig 33

    The Semaphore Code, which is quicker than Morse, but not so useful over long distances, requires the use of two flags. If one be not in use, it is held vertically downwards in front of the signaller. When displayed it must be in one of seven positions, each separated from its neighbours by half a right angle. It is essential that these positions be adhered to strictly, or confusion will result. There should be a distinct pause between every two signals. Single-flag signals must be made with the proper arm. When a letter is repeated - as in "robbed" - draw the flags into the body after making it for the first time.


  • Fig. 34 above shows the alphabet grouped into three "circles", except for seven "odd" letters. The bottom row of figures includes special signals and (in first and second circles) the signals which serve also for numerals.

    General Hints. - 1. Go slowly at first: accuracy before speed. 2. Begin with short distances, so that corrections may be made vocally. 3. Make sure that your background will show up the flags. 4. Learn the alphabet so thoroughly that the signals come mechanically. It is impossible to signal properly if you have to think what a signal should be. 5. In spelling out letters to someone taking down a message, say,-

    For A,"Ac"; for B,"Beer"; for M,"Emma"; for P,"Pip ; for S,"Esses"; for T,"Toc"; for V,"Vic".


    Copyright ©2004 SatCure
    Updated June 29, 2004
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