Was the audio morse code in ANTR accurate


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Throughout much of "A Night To Remember" we can hear the sounds of morse code being broadcast and recieved...
Was the morse being broadcast mere gobbledegook, or was it indeed 100% authentic?


regards


Tarn Stephanos
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Tarn,

It is authentic and includes Titanic's distress call. If I remember correctly (it's been years since I've watched the movie and my copy of the DVD won't load in the player anymore), the abbreviations being "transmitted," however, are more modern than 1912 (heavy use of standarised Q codes, instead of Marconi-unique codes).

Parks
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Hi Parks,

Yes you are right the morse is correct (For a change!), I don't actually remember the use of the more modern "Q" codes, I'll have to watch the Video again.

It is nice to hear genuine morse in a movie rather than the garbage that some films put in.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Dennis,

I could be wrong about the Q codes...it's been a while since I last saw the film. I do remember that Marconi-specific codes weren't used, other than the famous CQD. Maybe it was plain text. Please let me know when you watch the film again...my DVD copy won't read in the player any more, for some reason.

Parks
 

Bob Godfrey

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Parks, re: disc won't play. When that happens it's usually the player that needs attention rather than the disc. As dirt builds up on the lens the device becomes increasingly selective about what it can read, but a cleaning often restores full performance. I usually put it off until ANTR stops playing and withdrawal symptons set in! :)
 
Jan 7, 2002
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Thanks for the information Parks.
That makes ANTR all the more authentic...

I can only assume the cut Marconi room scenes in Cameron's Titanic film also had auccurate morse code that could be heard....

In ANTR, was the Marconi room equipment that was used accurate for 1912, or was there a gadget or two that was actually too advanced for 1912?

In ANTR, I always wondered about the scene where the Californian officer crept into the Marconi room, listened to the headset for a few moments, but apparently couldn't understand what was being transmitted. I'm curiouus which particular Titanic transmission could he hear?
Thanks in advance.

Regards

Tarn Stephanos
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Bob,

Normally, I would agree with you, because I have replaced a DVD player because I was began to see pixillation on a number of discs when I tried to play them. In this case, however, all the discs in my DVD library are playing fine, with the sole exception of the ANTR one (Criterion Collection version). I have also tried that particular disc on other machines, and it simply refuses to load. I have to conclude that it is a bad disc and will have to pony up the money for a new one.

Tarn,

The Morse code in "Titanic" is not intelligible. They recorded me tapping out Titanic's distress call for "Ghosts of the Abyss," but my key sounded too "clean" (even though I matched Titanic's 60-Hz tone) and my "fist" is nowhere near as fast as Phillips' would have been, so Cameron came up with another recording. Whether he had someone else do it, or simulated the sound electronically, it sounds pretty good and if I remember correctly, he copied the characters I tapped out for him. I have no complaints.

The Marconi components in the ANTR set were all correct for the period, and some were virtual copies of some of the components installed in Titanic. The layout of both the apparatus and the room itself was wrong, but I can't fault the ANTR crew for that...no one knew exactly what parts of the entire apparatus were divided up between the Marconi and Silent rooms until Cameron explored the interior in 2001. The person who designed the ANTR Marconi set knew his business, there can be no doubt about that. I also suspect that all those components used in ANTR were original Marconi items. Cameron wanted to use original components for "Titanic," but the guy who has those original components in his collection did not want to turn them over to the production for safekeeping (I can't blame him for that...his collection is priceless and props take a beating). So, Cameron had an outfit in the UK reproduce all the Marconi components, which is good because we had them readily available when it came time to shoot GotA.

Of course, there's no way to answer your last question. One thought, though...Titanic's rotary spark put out a distinct musical tone. If Groves was an interested novice, I would think that he would have been taken by this unique tone, so unlike the "whispers" he would have been accustomed to hearing. Then again, it has been said that the magnetic detector had wound down. That clockwork ran a wire band past an arrangement of magnets that transformed received electromagnetic oscillations in the aerial into pulses that would vibrate the diaphragms in the headphones. The magnets in the "Maggie" would still be acted upon by the osciallations, but if the clockwork in the device was not running then the quality of the pulses that were transferred to the headphones would be greatly reduced. I'm not sure what Groves would have heard in that instance. We can speculate, but this is something that we will never know.

Parks
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Parks,

This may be impossible to answer online, but by musical tone, do you mean Titanic's spark would have sounded like a piano note? Or maybe like a quick, stacato violin note?

Yuri
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Hi Again Parks,

Went through the morse on ANTR last night and as I suspected there was no use of modern "Q" codes.

The only codes I heard were "CQD" and "SOS" and all other stuff was in plain language.I did notice one thing though, when Titanic was receiving the first Ice warning from Californian the morse read -

"......bergs weather good = lord master++" but when the operator (Can't remember which one) put the received message down it read "......icefield weather good = lord master ++. Not much I know but it's something that was wrong. Also after the "Keep Out" msg when he was working Cape Race
he sent "...keep out tt" well thats what I wrote down but it didn't make any sense so I listened again and I don't think it was "tt" the dashes were too long, so I think he was just giving two long dashes to shut him up.

Hope this is what you wanted Parks, anything else, give me a yell.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Dennis,

At least the movie people were smart enough not to use Q codes. I suspect that they had a knowledgeable radio man around as advisor for the Marconi scenes, who probably didn't know the obsolete Marconi-specific codes and went with plain text instead.

Try as I might, I haven't been able to find any reference for the Marconi-specific codes. The Marconi code books of the early 1900s detailed nonsense words that stood in for more complex phrases, but that's not the code that I am looking for. I would like, for instance, to understand the origin of the "D...D...D" code that Bride described. I know that it existed, but I can't find the reference for it. Without the reference, I don't know what other codes were used.

Yuri of Rowan County,

My g-g-g-g-grandfather was one of the pioneers of Old Rowan County, in an area that today lies in Iredell Co.

I take the term, "musical note," from telegraphy books of the period. In actually, it was a 60-Hz tone, which does not sound like any particular musical instrument that I can think of. If you have heard a modern telegraph key (not a spark key), then you heard something similar, albeit higher-pitched.

Parks
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Parks,
Its a small world.
Was your ancestor from Rowan county a contemporary of the Revolutionary War?
After moving here from Texas, I began studying Revolutionary War history in the Carolinas and found that my G-G-G-G-Grandfather was a Captain in the Continental Army and saw action at Guilford Courthouse Battle against Cornwallis. (In present day Greensboro NC)
He went on to become a Sheriff of Rutherfordton County NC, which is between Charlotte and Asheville.
So in a sense, my decision to come to NC was in effect completing a great circle of migration. Yet I did so in ignorance of my beginnings here.

Thanks for the added description of the Titanic tone. I enjoy your website very much.

Yuri
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Yuri,

My ancestor was one of 3 brothers (the fourth went to Maryland) who came down the Old Wagon Trail from Philadelphia (port of entry to the US) and settled in Old Rowan County around 1745. When the Rev. War began, there was a split in the family...my ancestor's brother William changed the spelling of the Stephenson name in his branch to Stevenson because he deemed the "ph" spelling to be "too British." Adlai Stevenson, formal US ambassador to the UN, descended from William's side of the family. My ancestor, Joseph Stephenson, was a civilian sutler supplying the Continental Army and actually drove wagons with supplies to the action around the Guilford Courthouse. For this reason, I studied and then reproduced the Guilford Courthouse flag in oils on canvas, which now hangs above my bed (much to my wife's dismay).

A bit of trivia that you might enjoy about that very interesting flag...if you study the original flag, you'll notice the remains of at least two, maybe 3, additional stripes along the hoist. I took this into account when I painted my version, which sports 15 stripes. Most reproductions of the flag show 13 stripes, which is definitely not correct and throws off the relation of the canton to the overall flag shape.

But, this has nothing to do with Titanic.

Parks
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Parks,

I'd love to get my hands on an old Marconi handbook showing the original Mimco codes. I suppose there must be one in existance somewhere.

Best of luck with your searches for one.

Best Wishes and rgds

Dennis
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Dennis,

A couple of the early-1900s Marconi codebooks showed up in two separate auctions on eBay during the last month and I seriously considered bidding on them. They wouldn't directly help me with my Titanic research and I'm a bit short on cash, so I reluctantly opted to pass on them.

I do have access to one of these books whenever I feel like driving down to Fox Studios in Mexico, but again, the code book is merely a listing of nonsense words (most starting with the letter "A") that were used for passenger, not procedural, traffic. Like you, I am looking for the codes for procedural (operator-to-operator) traffic. The day I find such a source will be a happy one, indeed.

Parks
 
Jul 14, 2000
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Parks,
To think our great grandfathers may have interacted in some way long ago on a very bloody day. Who says Americans have no common heritage?

Yuri
 
May 3, 2005
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Reference to previous postings as to Titanic's transmissions.:

I had heard :
That the tone was closer to 440 HZ ("Middle C" on the piano) than 60 HZ. Some WWII Radars used a rotary spark gap modulator that produced the same frequency tone.

Also that the reason that the officer (I think he is depicted as Third Officer Groves on ANTR) on the Californian did not hear the Titanic's "CQD" was not that he didn't understand it (as heard in ANTR) but that he didn't know how to wind up the detector in the first place and thus heard nothing when he dropped in to the Marconi Room while Evans was asleep.
http://www.sparkmuseum.com/MAGGIE.HTM
 
May 3, 2005
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More on the Titanic's distress calls.:

One of the Titanic movies has Captain Smith saying "Send CQD - Come Quickly Distress". Actually the "CQ" was a general call - as Marconi pointed out, it did not stand for anything but was "a conventional code" - something of the nature of "Calling All Cars !" to alert any listener to stand by to respond. "CQ" is still widely used by "ham" radio operators on both code and voice operation .
The "D" suffix did mean "Distress."
Also " S O S" did not mean "Save Our Ship" but was used since it could be easily and simply sent, received and understood - Three Dots, Three Dashes , Three Dots.
 
May 3, 2005
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Kosta-

"Q" codes are sort of a telegraph shorthand. I am assuming they date back to the old land line (wire) telegraph operators but are commonly used today, especially by "ham" radio operators, both on code and voice transmissions.

A few which come to mind are.:

QRM- I am being interfered with ("Hams' refer to interference as "QRM")
QSL- I acknowledge receipt of your transmission
("Hams" exchange printed post cards with a record of exchange of contacts known as "QSL Cards")
QSO- I am in contact with station ----
("Hams" refer to contacts as "QSO's". An off the air or personal meeting between hams is called
"An Eyeball QSO" :)
QST - "Calling All Amateur Radio Operators". This is also the name of the magazine published by the American Radio Relay League, a national organization of "ham" radio operators
QTH- My location is------

There are many others. You might try searching
on "Q" Codes.
Some of the experts such as Parks may see this and fill you in on more details.
The letters don't stand for anything in themselves. "CQ" is a general call such as "Calling All Cars !" "CQD" was the distress call before "SOS" was adopted. It does not mean '
"Come Quickly Distress" literally but "Calling all stations, I am in distress." "SOS" does not mean "Save Our Ship" but was adopted because it was easy to send and easily recognizable...Three dots, three dashes, three dots.

Hope this answers your question.

Regards,
Robert
 
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