Let's say your radio fails, but luckily you brought your keychain Morse code transmitter as a backup! Is there any way to use it?

keychain Morse code transmitter

ICAO defines Q-codes for aviation use. Q-codes were initially designed as Morse code abbreviations. But I can't find any information on if and when Morse code was officially discontinued for aviation use.

Where is the record of Morse code being discontinued in aviation or, if it is still possible to use it, how do you use it?

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    $\begingroup$ What do you need to communicate, and with whom? I doubt you can call ATC. You might reach a ham radio operator who could call them on the phone and relay information, but that's going to be difficult with such a low power radio. Also, how are you deploying your 255-foot-long antenna while in the air? Overall, this is theoretically possible, but I think the result will be that you focus too much on communicating at the expense of aviating and navigating. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ Is that thingy transmitting only on 1.8432 MHz? That seriously limits the practicality... If the tx frequency was selectable and an antenna was carried (because why not), then for sure it could be used. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ Is that thing an actual transmitter? It looks to me like it's intended to feed into another piece of equipment, like an actual radio transmitter. If it was an actual transmitter it would have an approval sticker on it. (Frankly it looks like it's a toy, but feeding into another piece of equipment is the only use I can think of.) $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2023 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Someone: That's what I suspected, that all you would be able to reach is Hams. I know the wavelength is very large, but antennas can be made to be much smaller (by coiling them, etc). Is it not possible to make one that is handheld? $\endgroup$
    – Zaz
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Zaz that's already a very low power radio (0.016 W). For comparison, 5 W is generally considered low power. Antennas can be coiled, but they become much less efficient, and antenna efficiency is especially critical with such a low transmitter power. A handheld 160 meter band antenna that could achieve usable communications at 0.016 W is almost certainly not possible unless all other variables (distance to other station, ionospheric conditions, space weather, etc) are ideal. Another problem is that that is only a transmitter, so unless you also have a separate receiver, you will not hear any.. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 3:45

1 Answer 1


Morse Code is still used in aviation to identify navigation aids by audio means. VORs and NDBs broadcast their identifier letters as beeps heard on the audio channel when you tune in that VOR. You are supposed to listen in to confirm the station you are tuned into when you select a nav-aid while IFR flying.

Nobody actually learns to interpret and transmit Morse code (maybe, pilots or controllers who are ham R radio enthusiasts), beyond the Mayday signal of SOS. Navigation charts show the Morse version of their 3 or 4 letter identifier, and the audio broadcast of the dots and dashes is very slow to allow pilots, almost none of whom know Morse, to listen to the beeps and follow the Morse on the identifier box on the chart (until they get to know that particular navaid by ear).

If I was in some kind of emergency where I couldn't communicate by voice, only microphone clicks, I would certainly try sending Morse over the air by mic clicks if I knew how. And there's a possibility somebody listening in could be able to interpret the letters or at least record it for later interpretation.

I decided years ago that I'd learn the Morse alphabet for that reason, and just for kicks. For those that are interested in acquiring pointless knowledge, you can learn Morse letters fairly quickly by creating a list of words or short expressions that match the cadence of the Morse letter, the sillier or otherwise memorable sounding the better.

For example:

A = . - = A-chooo

B = - ... = Browwwn-cho-co-late

C = - . - . = Chaar-lie Chaar-lie

D = - .. = Daaag-nab-bit!

E = . = Eh?

F = ..-. = Funny-haan-dle

G = --. = Goood goood grief

H = .... = Ha ha ha ha

I was able to recall those letters right away, and I haven't really thought about them for 10 years or more.

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    $\begingroup$ I entered ATC in the 80's and learning Morse code was not a requirement then. It is doubtful that more than a handful of controllers nationwide know Morse code. $\endgroup$
    – RetiredATC
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ I kinda figured that. I tried out once in Canada in '86 and took the preliminary screening test. It was a booklet of diagrams of radar displays with various target tracks, & a table of their speeds/alt/routes, & you had to pick which targets would conflict, on a time limit. I got 44 out of 50, 2 wrong, & 4 I didn't answer because the test ended before I was done and I wasn't paying attention to the time. Pass was 40, but they told me I didn't make the cut b/c they had so many applicants they were cutting off at 45 for follow up testing. Prolly would've made it if I'd checked them off randomly. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 21:56

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