10 March, 2014

Non-English display for the K3NG Arduino Morse keyer

German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and some Spanish characters in the display are now supported by the K3NG Arduino Open Source Morse keyer. I have worked with OZ1JHM, Hjalmar and K3NG, Anthony, in order to implement this using the 8 custom-designed characters of the LCD display (based on the Hitachi HD44780). This should satisfy the call I had for such support here on this blog last year: Which non-English Morse characters are the most important ones?

Here are examples using the phonetic alphabets of these languages.
  1. For Norwegians and Danes - Æ, Ø, Å:
  2. Norwegian: Ærlig Østen Åse

    Danish: Ægir Ødis Åse

  3. For Swedes and Finns - Å, Ä, Ö.
    But if you are not, then perhaps you still need to send your shopping list of IKEA products in Morse? 
  4. Swedish: Åke Ärlig Östen
    Finnish: Åke Äiti Öljy
  5. For Germans - Ä, Ö, Ü:
  6. German: Ärger Ökonom Übermut
In addition, Ü, Ñ, Å are always supported. This makes it possible to write the following without changing language, so Spanish speakers should also be satisfied:

The most likely combinations of characters are:
  • Æ, Ø, Å, Ü, Ñ for Danish/Norwegian.
  • Ä, Ö, Å, Ü, Ñ for German/Swedish/Finnish.
It should be noted that Ö=Ø and Ä=Æ when it comes to Morse code (and meaning).

It is also possible to support the CH which has its own Morse code (----), but so far I haven't been able to find a symbol that represents this letter. Neither should it be much of a problem to support other letters also, such as French accents and the C cedilla (À, È, É, Ç). All it takes is to generate a bit pattern using an editor such as the one provided here and replace some of the above characters.

I am very happy for the collaboration that took place to make this possible and not the least to Anthony, K3NG for making his work available and his willingness to accept ideas for changes and improvements. For the time being, this feature is in the beta version, but hopefully it will eventually find its way into the official version. It can be enabled by uncommenting:


  1. A note about the Spanish "CH" character. It is written as two letters, "C" followed by "H". Typographically, it is more like two letters than one, but phonetically, it is usually taught as a single letter. If you search google with the term "alfabeto español", especially searching images, you'll find various alphabet charts, some of which list "ch" as a letter, others which don't. Also, "LL" and "RR" are sometimes considered single phonetic characters in Spanish, though they are written as double letters, and you'll see that reflected in those Spanish alphabet charts.

    But the point for this conversation is, "CH" is never written as its own separate symbol, always as two symbols. I don't know the K3NG keyer code well enough to know if it's easy enough to have it display two letters for the "CH" (----) character, but if that's possible, that's the proper solution.

    My wife is a native speaker of Spanish, and I'm fluent in it myself. I also am a fairly new student of morse code. However, I have never had or listened to a CW QSO with a native speaker of Spanish, so I have never heard the ---- symbol on the air.

    73 de Rich, AG6QR

    1. Thanks Rich,
      Spanish it is not a language I know so much about so this was helpful. But then it seems as the only letter with a single character in writing and a unique Morse code is ñ, if I understand right?

    2. I think you're correct. Spanish also has accented vowels ÁÉÍÓÚ, but the references I found on Morse code in Spanish seemed to indicate they are not used. I do know that native speakers can easily and unambiguously understand text without the accent marks.

      Here's the Spanish Language Wikipedia article on Morse. You may not be able to read it, but you'll understand the table.


      One more bit of trivia about "CH". Older dictionaries ordered words beginning with "CH" as though "CH" were its own distinct letter, after "C". But in the past decade or two, they have started to re-arrange them, as though the "C" and "H" are separate characters. I guess this is because of the advent of computerized word processing. I'm not sure how common it is to send "CH" as (----) versus (-.-. ....) among Spanish language operators.