Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 2/19/14

This week's puzzle freebie is about the Pigpen Cipher.  I have made a Decoder Ring to help decode and encode secret messages with this cipher, but you could also whip this one up fairly easily on scratch paper.  Check out the diagram below...

Pigpen Cipher

You just need to draw the four grids, adding dots to the compartments of the last two grids.  Then fill the grids with letters of the alphabet.  You need to have determined ahead of time, with your secret message pen pal, how you will arrange the letters.  Will you go from bottom to top in the first grid?  Or go across starting from the top left?  With the second grid, will you start on the left and go clockwise?  Or start on the bottom and go counterclockwise?  I have created this code starting at the top left for the first grid and going down, then back up to the top middle, etc.  The second grid starts at the top and continues clockwise.  I used this encoding for the Decoder Ring too.

The Pigpen Cipher is sometimes called the Tic-Tac-Toe Cipher, because of the grid shapes.  It is also sometimes called the Mason's Cipher, because it has been used by the Freemasons.  It's also said that this code was used by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War!  There's a bit of history trivia for you!

You can download today's puzzle by clicking on the decoder ring.  I suggest printing the Decoder Ring on stiff cardstock.  You then need to cut out the two circles and layer them together with a brad.  Then you can decode the included puzzle to discover a fun fact!

Pigpen Cipher Decoder Ring

Learn more about this cipher by reading "Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing" by Martin Gardner.  You can download it from Amazon for the Kindle.  It's an easy read with loads of samples to decode.  I highly recommend it!

 Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing

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