Quick summary of post: this post describes, in a long-winded way, how to make your own morse code ringtone. I’ve made a few myself, and they can be found on this page. They are free, and in mp3 and mmf format. If you want a different one, tell me, and I’ll probably do it. I’m better at making them now.
The eight months I spent waiting for the Core 2 Duo processors to come out in Mac laptops–waiting until I could certify myself as a convert, waiting to take advantage of all the fun applications–provided me with ample time to come up with many little, and often odd, ideas about what I would do with the computer. And now that I have the computer, and now that I’ve equipped my desktop with both a blinking Christmas tree and a dancing Hula Jesus, I felt that the time was right to actuate some of those ideas.
One of the ideas was to use Garageband and my synthesizer to make music. But since my specialty on the synth is, at my current skill level, noise — often of the blip bleep bloop variety — I thought I’d start out by making some short, simple, ethereal, ambient ringtones (perhaps I got this idea after being blown away by The Wolfram Custom Ringtone Generator — ringtones can be cool and fun). Then somehow I thought to incorporate morse code into the ringtones. The code, I imagined, would say things, things that, to us non-Hobby Hams, are kind of secret. Things such as Ring, Telephone, or Answer Me.
But first I needed some inspiration. I found it first with an article from Wired that provided some basics on making your own ringtones.
I then located this free morse to midi ringtone generator. Users type in text, and out comes a morse translation, plus a file of it to put on your phone. It provides users with the traditional morse tones. From the comments it appears that many of the users are interested in getting their ham radio call sign as their cell phone ring.
Next up I found Phil Tulga’s Morse Code Music page. On this great site, users punch in some text, then choose either Drums, Tones, or Voice. You then press play and are rewarded with looping morse music. The drums are especially fun. It’s very easy to forget that the loops are comprised of words — two times removed, I suppose. They sound just like music. I’m definitely going to be coming back to this page.
With the preliminary research accomplished, and the inspiration located, the second thing this endeavor required was a program that’ll turn text into morse audio (edit: um, I guess I actually already found that with the generator mentioned above, but I wanted one an non-web app). There were quite a few to try out. One’s a convenient little widget, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for — the morse output is spoken by those those built-in Mac robot voices. That might be useful in the future — especially the Zarvox voice — but for now I just want straight di dit and dahs. Fast Morse ended up being just what I needed. Just about, at least. It’s very simple (some of the other programs are big on providing lessons for learning morse code). The problem is that you can’t save and then export the output as an audio file.
I got around this picking up the output as it comes through the speakers with the laptop’s built-in mic, and recording it straight into Garageband. I then repeated it a bunch of times, then used a few tools to tool around with the tones (it had a pang to it that I can imagine annoying too many people as it emanates from a cell phone) — tremolo, echo, and some other things. I then moved it into Audacity, and with Lame converted it to mp3.
This is just a simple first try. It was fun and easy. I’ll be doing more in the future. I didn’t even use the synth on this one. I had been thinking that the synth could be used to add some extra background texture.
So if anyone wants to check out this tone, here you go! It’s not annoying. It’s a bit different. It repeats the word “ring” seven times in morse code, and is accompanied by some soft effects. You can download it and listen to it first. To get it on your phone, you can either connect your phone to the ‘net and then navigate over to the url of the file, or you can download it to your computer and then use bluetooth or usb. Your phone must support mp3 ringtones — most do these days.
Feel free to give me some feedback. (I haven’t put it on my phone yet… I don’t get reception at my house. I’m especially interested to know how the levels are. I’m afraid it might be a bit too quiet.)