Very quickly, I was able to get a very inexpensive (about US$5) Atmega8 microcontroller configuration prototyped on a breadboard, made my own parallel port bootloader programming cable and serial RS-232 firmware programming cable, and started writing C++ firmware using the Arduino release 6 integrated development environment (IDE). I am very impressed with how easy and problem-free my experience was, so I decided to create this web page to spread the word, and also to show exactly how I did things.
After verifying the hardware layout on the breadboard, I decided to make a permanent version of the board using a perf board from Radio Shack. The following diagram shows the physical layout of the parts on my board.
Here is the source code for my Morse Code firmware. I changed the filename extension from PDE to TXT so that most browsers will allow you to view it online. Feel free to copy-n-paste with your favorite editor, or just save and rename as morse_buddy.pde and compile it yourself. Enjoy!