How to Read/Translate Morse Code and Escape Room Ideas

For this edition of our "How To" series we are going to tackle Morse Code and show an example of how to use it in your Escape Room. Be sure to check out our other Secret Message ideas to enhance the experience of your escape room players. Don't miss our selection of puzzles, key mazes, ciphers, and more!

For a quick synopsis of just what morse code is check out this snippet from the morse code Wiki (or just skip on down a few paragraphs if you are only interested in learning how to read a morse code message):

"Morse code is a method of transmitting text information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment. The International Morse Code[1] encodes the ISO basic Latin alphabet, some extra Latin letters, the Arabic numerals and a small set of punctuation and procedural signals (prosigns) as standardized sequences of short and long signals called "dots" and "dashes",[1] or "dits" and "dahs", as in amateur radio practice. Because many non-English natural languages use more than the 26 Roman letters, extensions to the Morse alphabet exist for those languages.
Each Morse code symbol represents either a text character (letter or numeral) or a prosign and is represented by a unique sequence of dots and dashes. The duration of a dash is three times the duration of a dot. Each dot or dash is followed by a short silence, equal to the dot duration. The letters of a word are separated by a space equal to three dots (one dash), and the words are separated by a space equal to seven dots. The dot duration is the basic unit of time measurement in code transmission.[1] To increase the speed of the communication, the code was designed so that the length of each character in Morse varies approximately inversely to its frequency of occurrence in English. Thus the most common letter in English, the letter "E", has the shortest code, a single dot.
Morse code is used by some amateur radio operators, although knowledge of and proficiency with it is no longer required for licensing in most countries. Pilots and air traffic controllers usually need only a cursory understanding. Aeronautical navigational aids, such as VORs and NDBs, constantly identify in Morse code. Compared to voice, Morse code is less sensitive to poor signal conditions, yet still comprehensible to humans without a decoding device. Morse is therefore a useful alternative to synthesized speech for sending automated data to skilled listeners on voice channels. Many amateur radio repeaters, for example, identify with Morse, even though they are used for voice communications."


While morse code is traditional used and thought of as an auditory method of communication for our purposes it is more of a visual medium. It can be transcribed as a series of Dots and Dashes allowing it to be read. While not ideal for longer messages it allows for a fun and creative way of relaying a short message or code to your Escape Room participants. Given the historical connotations it has the potential to fit in very nicely with a wide variety of Escape Room themes as well. For an example check out our Morse Code Panel

Alright, with that out of the way let's get down to translating a message. Below you will find a table denoting each character and it's given series of dits (dots) and dahs (dashes). When incorporating Morse Code into your Escape Room it is vital you include a key somewhere for participants to find. You can not expect  them to automatically know how to translate the secret message or code. 

This is where things get fun for those creating an Escape Room. Do you lock the key in a puzzle box? Do you have it sitting in a drawer as a seemingly unimportant piece of paper? Perhaps different pieces are scattered throughout the room. Better yet, create a mixed media experience and use audio clues to assist in reading the morse code. A tape could be looped to play the letters included in the message:

For Example let's use a simple word such as "HEY." The DITs can be represented by a short beep or pulse with the DAHs being represented by a longer beep or pulse.


Just image a classic cassette tape player sitting on a desk. The escape room participant hit play and is greeted with a series of letters followed by tones...

*Note - When writing down Morse Code it can be a good idea to include a space between each letter with two spaces between each word. This makes it much easier to distinguish the letters and decipher the message

Morse Code Table How to Read Morse Code Example

Now, See if you can read the message below? (I did not include spaces between letters on this in order to accentuate why you should consider doing so)

What are your thought? Do you think Morse Code in a visual form has a place in Escape Rooms? Have you seen any examples of this or have any ideas on how to incorporate Morse Code in the Escape Room Experience?


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