Deconstructing Communication Systems

DIY Arduino telegraph
Modern communication systems have become so advanced that we rarely pause to consider how they work—conversing with someone hundreds or even thousands of miles away is, for many, now a daily occurrence. For his systems design course at California College of the Arts, Noam Zomerfeld decided to delve deeper into the technological complexities that lie beneath communication systems in an effort to understand and present the ways in which their different elements interact. To do it, he designed and built his own system using Temboo.

As the foundation for his exploration, Noam constructed a rudimentary telegraph using a piece of wood, a nail, two batteries, and a wire. With a classmate, he also designed an alternative to Morse code to use with his device. He then made the system incrementally more complex: first, he added an Arduino that would translate strings of text inputted by users into his telegraph code, and then he brought in Temboo’s Twilio Choreos to enable users to provide their inputs via SMS.

Arduino Telegraph on exhibit at a student show

Viewers of his application can text a message to Noam’s Twilio number, and the Arduino attached to his telegraph will check the Twilio message queue every few seconds for new arrivals. When it receives a new message, the device will translate it into Noam’s code, which assigns each letter of the alphabet a unique sequence of between three and nine taps. The telegraph then taps out the encoded message, and whoever receives it can decode and transcribe it based on a key that Noam provides. You can see the telegraph in action in this video: