Talk:Flag semaphore

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Semaphore code space[edit]

Notice: this discussion's history is available in Talk:Semaphore line

This is how I am determining how many symbols are possible in a flag semaphore scheme. "Across" means the arm is extended across the torso.

Right arm → Up and across
(I)
Up
(II)
Out and up
(III)
Out straight
(IV)
Out and down
(V)
Down
(VI)
Down and across
(VII)
Left arm ↓
Up and across
(VIII)
Looks like U. Flags would overlap at a distance. Flags would overlap. Semaphore Oscar.svg
O
Semaphore India.svg
I
Looks like C. Looks like Cancel.
Up
(IX)
Flags would overlap at a distance. Semaphore Tango.svg
T
Semaphore Papa.svg
P
Semaphore Kilo.svg
K
Looks like D. Looks like V.
Out and up
(X)
Flags would overlap. Semaphore Numeric.svg
Numeric
Semaphore Uniform.svg
U
Semaphore Quebec.svg
Q
Semaphore Lima.svg
L
Semaphore Echo.svg
E
Looks like X.
Out straight
(XI)
Semaphore Whiskey.svg
W
Semaphore Juliet.svg
J
Semaphore Yankee.svg
Y
Semaphore Romeo.svg
R
Semaphore Mike.svg
M
Semaphore Foxtrot.svg
F
Semaphore Zulu.svg
Z
Out and down
(XII)
Semaphore X-ray.svg
X
Semaphore Victor.svg
V
Semaphore Cancel.svg
Cancel
Semaphore Sierra.svg
S
Semaphore November.svg
N
Semaphore Golf.svg
G
Flags would overlap.
Down
(XIII)
Looks like E. Semaphore Delta.svg
D
Semaphore Charlie.svg
C
Semaphore Bravo.svg
B
Semaphore Alpha.svg
A
Semaphore Ready.svg
Front
Looks like G; flags would overlap at a distance.
Down and across
(XIV)
Looks like L. Looks like K. Looks like I. Semaphore Hotel.svg
H
Flags would overlap. Looks like A; flags would overlap at a distance. Looks like N.

The signal for Error is not shown here, as the flags are in motion for that signal, while for all other signals, the flags are held still.

-- Denelson83 05:45, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

To determine the possible symbols, shouldn't it be easier to ignore which arm is used in particular? I count in degrees clockwise from 0°-360° (down). While 90° is left and 270° is right etc. . Then you get a table which is mirrored by the diagonal "overlappings". Only the last letters and 'J' do not reflect the actual alphabet. With yellow as the usual ergonomic way of holding the flags.
(Right) Arm → 45° 90° 135° 180° 225° 270° 315°
(Left) Arm ↓
Semaphore Ready.svg Space/Rest A B C D E F G
45° Semaphore Alpha.svg
A
Overlap H I K L M N
90° Semaphore Bravo.svg
B
Semaphore Hotel.svg
H
Overlap O P Q R S
135° Semaphore Charlie.svg
C
Semaphore India.svg
I
Semaphore Oscar.svg
O
Overlap T U Y
180° Semaphore Delta.svg
D
Semaphore Kilo.svg
K
Semaphore Papa.svg
P
Semaphore Tango.svg
T
Overlap Numerals Letters/J V
225° Semaphore Echo.svg
E
Semaphore Lima.svg
L
Semaphore Quebec.svg
Q
Semaphore Uniform.svg
U
Semaphore Numeric.svg
Numerals
Overlap W X
270° Semaphore Foxtrot.svg
F
Semaphore Mike.svg
M
Semaphore Romeo.svg
R
Semaphore Yankee.svg
Y
Semaphore Juliet.svg
Letters/J
Semaphore Whiskey.svg
W
Overlap Z
315° Semaphore Golf.svg
G
Semaphore November.svg
N
Semaphore Sierra.svg
S
Semaphore Victor.svg
V
Semaphore X-ray.svg
X
Semaphore Zulu.svg
Z
Overlap
Drsteve1337 (talk) 23:42, 21 January 2011 (UTC)


The "error" sign is eight "e"s in a row. The article shows the "attention sign" as error. Numerals are not letters of the alphabet, but are spelled out following the "numerals" sign which is the opposite of the letter "Tango" and is used before and after a numeral set, ie, "open numerals T H R E E close numerals". If the numeral sign is not used, the number is spelled out. SM1(SW), USN, (Ret)I55ere (talk) 18:14, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

But spelling out numbers after the numeral sign completely defeats the purpose of the numeral sign to begin with. You can spell out numbers without using the numeral sign, but if you want to send numbers quicker, the numeral sign changes some of the letters into digits, and then sending the "J" sign means "shift back to letters," just like in the Baudot code. -- Denelson83 04:17, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Numeral sign is not for speed of transmission, but to facilitate how the number is recorded by the receiver. It may seem redundant, but when a number is sent without the numeral sign, it is recorded as a word, when it is sent with the numeral sign, it is recorded as a digit. Letters are not substituted for numbers. You can easily reference this by obtaining a copy of the SM 3&2, SM 3, QM 3&2, or QM 3 rate Training Manuals provided by the US Navy. "J" is not used in the transmission of numbers as a "prosign", it is used after the attention sign to allow the receiver to tell the sender to move up, down, left, or right to place the sender into a better position for reading. A simple message would go as such... "attention" "J" BT send two "numeral sign" two two "numeral sign" gallon barrels BT K. It would be recorded as BT send two 22 gallon barrels BT K This can easily be verified in Pub 102 (International Code of Signals) and Allied Communications Publication 113 (Visual Signalling Procedures). An SM (Signalman) uses semaphore on a daily basis when communicating with other ships at close range, ie. during underway replenishments. SM1 (SW), USN (RET)I55ere (talk) 14:08, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Well then, what if this was in a battlefield and the semaphore sender was under threat of enemy fire? -- Denelson83 06:32, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Then you do your job. Semaphore signals were used on landing craft and from the beach during the D-day invasion of Normandie. People were "under the threat of enemy fire", in fact, they were under direct enemy fire. Semaphore was used during shipping convoys from the US to Europe under constant attack by German U-boats. That did not change procedure, because changing procedure leads to confusion and the cost is paid in lives. If you can come up with a concrete references that supercede Allied, NATO and U.S. communications procedures, feel free to present them. If you are going to discuss a communication system which I personally used for over 20 years, then pack a lunch. You can "what if" it all you want, but that doesn't change the way it's done.I55ere (talk) 02:23, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

The hand positions are much easier to memorize and recognize in a circle starting with "a" and remembered in opposites. "a" - "g", "b" - "f", "c" - "e" and "d" by itself. Then two hand letters "h" - "z", "i" - "x", "j" - "p", "k" - "v", "l" by itself, "m" - "s", "n" - "u", "o" - "w", "q" - "y", "t" - "numerals", "r" by itself. With over twenty years of practical application (Twice weekly minimum), I never had a problem interpreting flags as overlapping. The only real problem is someone sending the opposite letter like an "x" for an "i" and it was usually done by a novice.I55ere (talk) 18:28, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

There is no "cancel" character. A mis-spelled word is errored out, the receiver sends a "charlie" and the sender then sends the word preceding the mis-spelled word, the correct word and continues with the message. If the whole text is to be cancelled the error sign is given followed by the prosign AR (end of transmission) and the message is cancelled.I55ere (talk) 13:56, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

References in fiction[edit]

Notice: this discussion's history is available in Talk:Semaphore line

I'm coming here in the middle, but another one of these crept in (using a novel as its cite); I've moved it into the "trivia" section and templated that section as such. I'm guessing this article just needs cleanup of the "legacy" or "in culture" section or whatever this discussion is all about. -- B.S. Lawrence (talk) 15:40, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Fiction:Pokémon[edit]

The pokémon Xatu in the pokémon universe is known for using semaphore during the series. 172.147.203.192 19:54, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Courage[edit]

Aparently, so is Courage the cowardly dog!

Total rewrite[edit]

Notice: this discussion's history is available in Talk:Semaphore line

I gave this article a total rewrite as per flag --DV8 2XL 04:06, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

great work man ! :) --Procrastinating@talk2me 08:46, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. --DV8 2XL 10:00, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

External Link Cleanup[edit]

Notice: this discussion's history is available in Talk:Semaphore line

Hello, I'm just doing a cleanup of the external links for this article. Below are the entries I removed:

Most of these have nothing to do with semaphore, and instead are talking about marine signalling flags. Two of them are dead links, and one of them is merely a set of images identical in function to those in the article. The two pages Semaphore (comunication) and Semaphore (communication) are both based on the same article but have been copyedited into two different ways. They should be merged. -- JeLuF 10:17 Dec 31, 2002 (UTC)

I'm not sure we need disambiguation for this anyway -- see Talk:Semaphore -- Tarquin 10:28 Dec 31, 2002 (UTC)

I have also remove - A Manual of Signals: For The Use Of Signal Officers In The Field for being some thing about the army, not semaphore...209.247.21.165 14:25, 27 May 2007 (UTC)


A "symbol" and "code" are different things. A "code" is a scheme to translate a string of "symbols" into natural language. I fixed the article. Also, the title is misspelled- "communication" has two "m"s. I don't have time to fix it. (gotta go).


I think this page needs to be merged with optical communication. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus 21:09, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

There's plenty here to warrant this article's existance. And there are a ton of different kinds of optical communication, all that page does is act as an overview.LRT24 (talk) 09:09, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Copyrighted signals?[edit]

Notice: this discussion's history is available in Talk:Semaphore line

90.241.22.219, in their January 9th, removed the signals for X, Y and Z claiming they were "copyrighted". I don't think flag positions can be. Shouldn't that edit be undone? — Jacobo 14:28, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree. I put them back. --David Edgar 14:46, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Overlapping articles?[edit]

We have:

Surely some of these can be combined with benefit to readability and context. --Wtshymanski (talk) 20:48, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Flag semaphore vs. flaghoist[edit]

The intro mentions flag semaphore being used at Trafalgar. My understanding was always that flaghoist signalling was the method used by the Royal Navy back then, and Nelsons famous signal was definately done by flaghoist. Certainly the French had lines of mechanical semaphore towers, but I've never heard anything about flag semaphore that early. The sources I can find also seem to indicate that flag semaphore wasn't very useful aboard ship, and that flaghoist was still usually preferred. LRT24 (talk) 09:40, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

I have removed the unsourced info. LRT24 (talk) 04:36, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Flag Semaphore vs. the Ordinary Language[edit]

Just wonder if each and every ordinary language has its own flag-semaphore counterpart? Is there some kind of international, or universal, flag semaphore? --Roland 07:17, 8 March 2012 (UTC)