Friday, January 7, 2011

You're doing it wrong

The ARRL kicked off 2011 with a news item that hopefully is not a harbinger of more retro-tech lameness to come during the new year.  (Hint: It is.)  "Ring in the New Year with Morse Code Ringtones" started off well enough; make your cellphone ring with CQ CQ CQ or some such.  I did this almost two years ago and it's great fun; I even made ringtones with my wife's name, the callsigns of hams in the Bay-Net group, etc.  I got lots of good comments on my ringtones from folks at the 2010 Dayton Hamvention; a few even requested that I email them copies of my MP3 files for their phones.

The ARRL article fails on two fronts; first off it talks about creating Morse Code ringtones like it's a completely new thing (clearly it's not), and secondly it goes into detail about the horribly convoluted process Tom AD1B used to create his tones.  Tom actually used his Ten-Tec rig and a keyer paddle to generate the Morse Code, recorded the audio (article is unspecific on how he did this; my money is on "8-Track Tape Deck"), massaged the audio files in Audacity, and then generated MP3 files.  Talk about using a bazooka to kill a mosquito.

Clever.  And completely unnecessary.  I generated my MP3 files by going to, a website created by Fabian Kurz, DJ1YFK.  Fabian's website (the URL is an acronym for "Learn CW Online") offers a number of useful tools, many of which are based on Fabian's excellent open source "ebook2cw" library.  One of the tools on LCWO is "Convert text to CW".  You type in text.  It generates an MP3 file for download.  You put the file on your phone.  Done.  I can generate a library of unique ringtones for twenty people in the time it takes Tom to record and process one.

And even my method is now somewhat obsolete with the advent of apps for smartphones that convert text to Morse Code on the fly.  MorseRing for Android is available in the Android Market for 99 cents.  It converts Caller ID strings to Morse Code.  The beauty of MorseRing is that I now know who's calling me even if my phone is 25 feet away.  I'm sure there is similar apps for the iPhone, possibly one for Palm, likely not for Blackberry.