Signaling - Historic Merit Badge

First offered in 1911—discontinued in 1992

A hundred years ago, there were no cell phones or computers.
How did people communicate over long distances? 
They used flashes of light, dots,  dashes, and flags.
What do we have today that replaces how people once communicated?

These are the original requirements written in 1911.Think about how times have changed as you complete the requirements a Scout your age would have done a hundred years ago.

Whether a signaling device is electronic or not, in its simplist state it works by showing “on” or “off.” Today, we use computers for most of our communications. At its most basic level, a computer is just a collection of switches that turn on and off very rapidly.

Originally created for Samuel F.B. Morse's electric telegraph in the early 1840s, Morse code was also extensively used for early radio communication beginning in the 1890s. In the early part of the 20th century, the majority of high-speed international communication was conducted in Morse code, using telegraph lines, undersea cables, and radio circuits. The Titanic used Morse code on a simple wireless to plea for help.


To obtain a Merit Badge for Signaling, a Scout must:

  1. Make an electric buzzer outfit, wireless, blinker, or other signaling device.
  2. Send and receive in the International Morse Code, by buzzer or other sound device, a complete message of not less than 35 words, at a rate of not less than 35 letters per minute.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to send and receive a message in the International Morse Code by wigwag and by blinker or other light signaling device at the rate of not less than 20 letters per minute.
  4. Send and receive by Semaphore Code at the rate of not less than 30 letters per minute.
  5. Know the proper application of the International Morse and Semaphore Codes; when, where, and how they can be used to best advantage.
  6. Discuss briefly various other codes and methods of signaling which are in common use.