25 – Morse clicker e snapper sounder




“Apparati”, se vogliamo chiamarli così, un po’ più professionali dei clickers generatori di rumore presentati nella News 24 e nel mio La lingua bistabile furono i cosiddetti “snapper sounder”.

La loro particolarità era quella di produrre un suono acuto e improvviso (snapper) sia alla pressione che al rilascio di una lamina particolare. Quindi fungevano contemporaneamente da tasto e da sounder. Ne furono commercializzate varie versioni, da quelle a pochi cents (disegno a sinistra) a quelle a un dollaro (a destra).

Non ebbero molta diffusione per i motivi che mi spiegò il grande Bill Pierpont (N0HFF):

The clicker or cricket was not a morse tool in anyway although it can be mistaken for it. It was made out of tinplate with a thin steel ribbon rivited on the inside - the cup of the cricket acted as a resonator or amplifier of the sound - the movie you speak off (“Il giorno più lungo”), it sounded more like a bolt on a rifle and was mistaken quite correctly as that in a few cases - because of the response time by depressing the thumb on the steel ribbon,it could not be effectively used to send code - far too slow.

Tapping (con forchette sul tavolo di cucina) "joujou" ("toy") is not a bad classification, although it was developed as a noise-maker (such as at a children's birthday party).  You may remember that in England students learning the "Morse" [International] code of used table forks at the dinner table to practice their newly learned code by tapping them on a hard surface.

A "cricket" (this usage of the word is not in Webster's Dictionary) of this sort is  based upon the behaviour  of a thin piece of spring steel strip abut 12-15 mm  wide and from 25 - 35 mm long when it has had a dimple, a depression, stamped into it somewhere near its middle before hardening by heat treating.

When this strip is held firmly at one end and the other end is pressed in the direction toward the concavity of the dimple, it will suddenly bend (with a snapping sound) from it original position to a new position – as long as the pressure is maintained.  When the pressure is released it snaps back to its original position with a sharp and somewhat different sound.

Somebody (it must have been in the mid or late 1800's) made a "tin " (thin sheet iron) holder-resonator to restrain the fixed end and augment the sharp snapping sound. It was held  in one hand between the thumb and the fingers and squeezed to operate. It was perceived as having a sound somewhat like a cricket, from which it was given this name. Often the sheet iron was painted like the body of a cricket or other bug, or some totally different design. 

Some telegrapher must have played with one and thought: "That sounds a lot like the clicking of a sounder. I can time the space between the squeeze and its release and make dots and dashes of any length."

That idea took hold and was practical for practicing the code away from actual keys and sounders.

Those "crickets" were sold by the millions at stores carrying toys, novelties, party trinkets, etc.  They were available in several sizes and sold for as little as a "nickel" (5 cent coin) at what we commonly called "dime" (10 cent coin) stores.   (Several chains of such stores which carried small merchandize and notions at low prices: sometimes were called "5, 10 and 25 Cent Stores" -- Kresge, Kress, Woolworth and others.)

I still have some of these crickets around home here somewhere.. .

Da qualche tempo in Europa sta diffondendosi il Clicker-training, una tecnica per addestramento di cani (a rinforzi positivi) che si avvale della precisione e coerenza del segnale acustico del clicker.