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23 Dec. 2006
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Morse Code Ring Tones for the Motorola Q

And (02 February 2009) For the BlackBerry Storm*

Why this Bonus item?  So you shouldn't have to go through the learning process.  So I shouldn't have to go through the learning process again!

Why Morse Code ring tones?  So you know who is calling when the 'phone rings?  Hardly!  Who cares?  You're going to answer it anyway.  Because it's cool?  YES!  I am as uncool as one can be, and nobody ever calls me anyway.  But if someone did, the whole room would hear Morse ringing from my pocket and know that I was an initiate in the secret language of nerds.

The Motorola Q accepts MP3 ring tones.  This means that any MP3 file can be played.  The file can be associated with any caller.  These are the steps I use:

  • Create a Morse Code .wav file.  I use WinMorse, which is a free text-to-Morse converter.

  • Convert the file to a properly named MP3 file.  I use Audacity, which is a free audio recording and manipulation program.

  • Store the file in your Q in association with the contact you want it to represent audibly.

Making the Morse Code files

WinMorse is a freeware program.  Download it and follow the instructions provided to make an audio file .  Once you have added a number of contacts in the Motorola Q, I found the fastest way to make the Morse file is to type each identifier on a separate line in the WinMorse text window.  At a 30WPM setting in WinMorse, each identifier only takes a second or so to play, and the Q imitates the cadence of a normally ringing phone, i.e., about 4 seconds between "rings" or repeats of the identifier.  A hint, therefore, would be to type each name or call sign twice on the line, e.g.,

N6TX  N6TX
WA2IKL  WA2IKL
WORK  WORK 

That way, when the phone "rings" if you miss the beginning of the identifier, you'll hear it again immediately when you are alert without having to wait the additional few seconds before the Q brings it back.

After you have made a list for your contacts, use WinMorse to convert it to a .WAV file and save it.

Making the MP3 files

Due to licensing considerations, the freeware program Audacity doesn't automatically install the MP3 file converter with the installation package.  Follow the instructions that come with Audacity to install this converter.  Once you have Audacity running, load the Morse Code file you created in WinMorse and save each contact ID as a separate file.  You do this by dragging your cursor over the segment in the Audacity editing window and using FILE/Export Selection as MP3. 

Important!  The Q uses the MP3 tag as the name of the "sound," not the file name itself.  Therefore, you must make sure that each MP3 segment is named correctly, e.g., N6TX, WA2IKL, and WORK.  In order to do this, you must restart Audacity each time instead of just saving the different MP3 segments under different file names, as Audacity only asks once for the MP3 tags.  (This may change in later versions; I don't know if it's considered a bug or not, but it's easy enough to work around.)  Editing a Morse file in Audacity is easy because Morse looks just like it sounds, and it's trivial to pick out the segment you want.  If you're doing many contacts at once, a good method is to save the first segment as its own MP3/Tag and then delete it.  Save the remainder of the audio file (File/Export Selection as WAV), close Audacity, and then re-open it.  You will now be at the beginning of the next contact.  Repeat until done.

Turning MP3 files into ring tones

This is the tricky part, largely thanks to the extremely poor "manual" that Motorola provides.  Here's how to do it:

Be sure ActiveSync is installed on the PC.  You do not need to have Outlook on the PC, or to use any of the synchronization features of ActiveSync.  You're using it here just so the PC can transfer files to the Q.  (ActiveSync comes on a disk with the Q or can be downloaded from Microsoft.com)

Plug the Q into the PC.  It should appear in My Computer as a little "mobile device" icon.  Open the icon, open Applications Data, and then Sounds.

Copy the Morse Code segments into this folder.  When done, disconnect the Q from the computer.

Important!  You must now cycle power on the Motorola Q.  Although the files show up as selections for ring tones, they won't "take" until power is cycled.  This is probably a bug in the Q software, and this part of the procedure is not mentioned in the manual.

Now you can select a ring tone for each contact or a general ring tone for the Q itself by following the instructions in the manual, such as it is (or isn't). 

*Not Very Special Instructions for the BlackBerry Storm

When I switched from the Q to the Storm (see my review), I was able to re-use the files I had created for the Q.  I simply stored them in the BlackBerry's memory and followed the manual's instructions on how to select a sound file for each contact.  I was careful to store the files in the system memory, not on the removable media card, else they wouldn't be available if I were to change the card.

2006,2009
Richard Factor