Tag Archives: Arduino Telegraph

Sending messages with an Arduino-based telegraph

In an effort to explore old-school ways of communication, one Maker designed his own telegraph system using Temboo.

Developed in the 1830s and 1840s by Samuel Morse, the telegraph revolutionized long-distance communication by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between a pair stations. Aside from contributing to its invention, Morse would go on to create a code that assigned a set of dots and dashes to each letter of the English alphabet, allowing for a simple transmission of complex messages across these telegraph lines. Nowadays, modern communication systems have become so advanced that we rarely pause to consider how they work, let alone its history — conversing with someone hundreds or even thousands of miles away is, for many, now a daily occurrence.


For his systems design course at California College of the Arts, Maker Noam Zomerfeld decided to delve deeper into the technological complexities that lie beneath communication systems in an effort to better understand and present the ways in which their different elements interact. To do it, he designed and built his own system using Temboo.

As the foundation for his exploration, Zomerfeld constructed a rudimentary telegraph using a piece of wood, a nail, two batteries and a wire. Along with a classmate, he also designed an alternative to Morse code to use with his device. This system was incrementally more complex: first, he added an Arduino that would translate strings of text inputted by users into his telegraph code, and then he brought in Temboo’s Twilio Choreos to enable users to provide their inputs via SMS.


How it works is pretty straightforward: Viewers of the application can send a text to the Maker’s Twilio number, and the Arduino attached to his telegraph will check the Twilio message queue every few seconds for incoming messages. Upon receiving a new memo, the device will translate it into Noam’s code, which assigns each letter of the alphabet a unique sequence of between three and nine taps. From there, the telegraph taps out the encoded message, and whoever receives it can decode and transcribe it based on a key that Zomerfeld provides.

Pretty cool, right? Big thanks to our friends at Temboo for the heads up!