How to build a Morse key

Transmit in Morse code from anywhere with few simple materials ... in perfect Scout/Guide style!

Learning targets

Acquire basic manual skills in making electrical circuits - getting started with Morse code.


  • Wood, thick cardboard, or a plastic box that can provide a solid base for the Morse key.
  • A clothespin/clothes peg and an upholstery nail (thumb tack). Alternatively, you can use thick cardboard and thin aluminium/copper foil.
  • 4.5 V/9V ACTIVE buzzer (it must NOT be passive). Alternatively, a 9V led can be used for light signalling.
  • Battery to fits the buzzer’s voltage range. If a 9V battery is used, please get a suitable connector, as per the following example (see image below).
Battery Connector
  • Soldering iron and solder wire. If leaders prefer not to let Scouts or Guides use a soldering iron, one “mammuth” terminal block will be provided for each Morse key.
  • Cork
  • Nipper and (small) hammer
  • Glue

Time needed and location specifications

30 minutes.

If a soldering iron is used, the activity should take place on a robust heat-resistant table, close to a 110/220 V socket.


The Morse key can be built as shown in below. 

  1. Disassemble the clothes peg/clothespin.
  2. Glue one of the two main parts of the clothes peg/clothespin to the Morse key base.
  3. Partially push or hammer the upholstery nail into the part of the clothespin that is normally held by your hands. Before completely fastening the nail completely, the metal tip of the buzzer’s red wire should be placed under the nail’s head or twisted around the nail. 
  1. A similar thing is done using the other piece of the clothespin, the cork (that will be fastened to the clothespin by nail) and the battery’s red wire. 
  1. Solder together the ends of the two wires.
  2.  Reassemble the clothespin. 


Your Morse key is ready to be used! Be sure that the heads of the nails do not touch each other when the Morse key is not being pressed.



Red and black wires can be swapped. If this happens, connect the nails to the black battery wire and the black buzzer wire, and solder together the red wires.

Morse Key
Morse Key

Alternately you can use  a mammuth terminal block


A simpler model can be built as shown in the following photo. In this case, the “mammuth” terminal block should be connected to the two red wires or to the two black wires.

Morse Key

It’s possible to find lots of projects online, here two examples: 

After building the device, try to use it. Start with small words or your name and ask a Scout or Guide friend to decipher the message.

Morse Code

On the video below, try to figure out what is been transmitted:

Everything you need to know about the amateur radio can be found in the JOTA-JOTI Ham Radio Handbook at


Publish photos or videos on your social media using #JOTAJOTI #Scouts and share what was learned! Remember: Never post photos of others without permission, and always seek parental consent to share photos of children.