Morse Code test

Need to take the Flashing light / visual communication test. Can anyone recommend a study software for flashing light test? Who has taken it and where is a good place to take it? I am located in Texas so the closer the better.

Maybe this is where you are looking for.

My advice: don’t bother to learn it.

Make a chart in some way you find logical. Then memorize that chart and practice making the chart from memory.

Practice listening to dits and dahs and writing what you hear to paper. (I used horizontal and vertical slashes. I downloaded a free Morse generator and put in random strings of characters.)

Then when you sit for the test reproduce your chart, write out the dits and dahs as you hear them, and decode them with your chart after.

I tried to learn to translate in real time for weeks and sucked at it. I used the above method for a few hours and scored 100% on all my practice tests.

Here was my chart. It’s a variation on a common one.

It’s ridiculous that flashing light is still even a thing.

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Why bother with navigation anymore? Don’t we have GPS and ECDIS for that? Why not give a license to everyone with no basic skills required, except how to push buttons on a computer?

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That is perfect. Thanks!

Thanks for the advice i wont bother trying to translate real time. Doubt it would ever be necessary anyway.

Earlier we used to call the Sparks to the bridge to decode the morse signals but those days are over…

The system described below is a more intelligent solution!

I guess that was a sarcastic response to my post. But answer me this: how many times have you used a flashing light to communicate with another vessel in your career?

I’m on a boat with a fixed route now but when I was still on a tug I still corrected charts by hand and pencilled our routes in on paper charts. I’m not saying we need to toss out everything, just the stuff we don’t ever use.

I’ve haven’t used Morse since I was a little kid. It is obsolete, kind of like knowing how to do a square root on a slide rule. The International Code of Signals? Code flags? In the era of radios and STCW mandated English skills, it’s all obsolete. I don’t care if the USCG drops it all.

However, I can imagine emergency scenarios where Morse and flags might become useful.

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Way back we had no VHF and we could not raise another ship only by what we called an Aldis lamp. It was always the same text: ‘What ship’. The name of the ship was signaled followed by: ‘Bound for …’ It was all to cumbersome to have a real kind of conversation. It was also prone to errors because the ship rolled and pitched sometimes. For the rest let’s forget about it, just like smoke signals, in this day and age in which we have VHF’s and handie talkies with the marine band.

I can also imagine an emergency where lead lines, knotted rope attached to boards, hourglasses and sails would be useful. And slaves with oars rowing to the beat of a large sharkskin drum. :slight_smile:


The main thing is the test taking strategy. I made flash cards to learn the alphabet, and did a few practice tests on the test simulator (Houston Marine).

Like others have said, real-time deciphering is too hard. I transcribed the dots and dashes, with actual dots and dashes that I drew, and then, after the test was finished, I went through and translated the dots and dashes into letters.

I consider small boat skills to be essential skills for a Mariner, both deckie’s and engineer’s.


It is not by any means obsolete !! further more, there are plenty of programs that one can use where you don’t have to know morse. check out 40 meters any night of the week !
_ …_ _. … . … .… ___ ..

Did you hear the melee on all bands for TI9A and HU1DL last week? E44CC was worse.

I’m in my late 40’s and I’m certain that it has not been used, other than for testing purposes, in my lifetime. Effing stupid…

No, I also see spell chk f’d up. & “fixed” my code. No escape!

it’s generally accepted that any knowledge gained shouldn’t be belittled. As mentioned previously: the HF bands are full of morse code, furthermore, it is oft times the only digital signal that can be relied on surpassing narrow bandwith digital. Army and Air Force MARS stations use it, deaf / mute people use it, special forces use it and other venues of communicating. To call it “effing stupid” … embarrassing in the least but more descriptive than you apparently realize !!

Given that we’re having this discussion on a forum for maritime industry professionals, I’m not sure what your point is? I’m glad that the Army, Air Force, Boy Scouts, American Kennel Club, League Of Women Voters, etc., avail themselves of obsolete technology, but you’re not going to see it used on board a commercial vessel. I think that most of us would prefer industry training and testing to be focused on skills that are germain to our actual jobs.

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