THE Y2K NET IS STARTING -- PART II : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread


In October we developed a roster of over 90 hams interested in a PostY2K Ham Net, and sorted that roster by Division. Separately I had planned to enlist the 30-odd hams from my section of the country, the SouthEast, to start a regional Net. I received only 3 responses to my broadcast email for that purpose. In waiting to see if more respondents would email me, I got caught up in my own personal Y2K preps, of a very basic nature, most of them long overdue. I am still in the midst of implementing them.

In addition, I have multiple times monitored the 80 meter band at night (and to a lesser extent the 40 meter band during the day) and noted what a challenge it is to find a clear freq not radically compromised by QRM.

For the above reasons I have decided not to push for Net activity at this time. Rather I feel it's appropriate to focus on the post-y2k period, especially since it is now so near at hand. The following is my recommendation.

I. Let's choose two monitoring frequencies, one on 80 during the evening, and one on 40 during the day, to use in the post-y2k period if in fact the power grid and conventional communication channels go down (landlines, TV, radio.) Which ones to use? Given the above scenario, we should be able to choose any freq we want anywhere in the HF bands --- apart from our QSOs there will be a deafening silence. I suggest, just to settle on something, 3.860 MHz evenings, and 7.235 MHz days. Both these freqs should be good for regional comm. [It might also be worthwhile to settle on a 20 meter freq, for interregional QSOs -- how about 14.235 MHz?]

2. Since we will not have set up any schedules pre-Y2K, there will have to be a lot of monitoring activity on the above freqs. That means leaving your rig on long hours at a time, day after day. The typical HF 100watt transceiver will draw about 600-700 mA if it's one of the early solid-state rigs like my Kenwood TS0-120S, and maybe 300 mA if it's a more recent model. That appears miniscule compared to the drain on transmit, typically 18 Amps or so. However, in a world devoid of a power grid and depending on alternate energy sources such as solar or wind (small head hydro is rare so we'll ignore it) used to charge deep-cycle batteries -- even 300mA adds up if say you monitor the freqs during daytime hours, 7 days a week.

Here's some arithmetic that underscores the impact of monitoring. Let's say your receiver will be on 10 hours a day x 7days = 70 hours; 70 hrs x .300 Amps = 21 AH [amp hours] used per week. That's about 20 % of the total capacity of a 100 AH deep cycle battery typical of alternate energy installations -- and 20% is about as low as you want to drain your batt if you want it to last it's rated life. That will go on week in week out, including weeks when the sun or wind is unavailable. And we haven't even switched on the transmitter once (which in 1 hour will use up the same amount of battery capacity, about 18-20 amps.)

What can we do to minimize current drain for long-term monitoring? One quick aid is to disconnect any incandescent panel lamps in your rig -- they eat up lots of mA.

A much more effective method is what I just finished doing: I bought an MFJ SW-8100k. It's a SW receiver kit based on a regenerative circuit. $69.95 from Amateur Electronic Supply, 800-558-0411. (If you haven't got a good background in electronics construction better you should buy the built-up version, the 8100w, for $89.95.) Using an ordinary 9v alkaline battery as power source it has an average quiescent draw of about TEN mA. I reduced that to SIX mA by disconnecting the red LED front panel power indicator. It's made for headphones, but when I hooked it up to an MFJ-281 "ClearTone" speaker ($9.95) -- on idle it drew the same SIX mA, and while receiving a LOUD signal it only drew TEN mA --- voila!!! (Just make sure to buy a 1/8" stereo-to-mono adaptor plug from Radio Shack if you use a speaker instead of headphones -- the rcvr jack is designed for stereo phones only.)

But there's more to this little rig. It's a regen rcvr, which means it has two major drawbacks for ordinary use: a) it's not too selective, and b) it transmits a spurious RF signal (at its receive frequency) from it's antenna. However both of these weaknesses become strengths for our application. It's lack of selectivity allows us to pick up signals that are not exactly on the specified monitoring frequency. And it's spurious transmission can be used by one's nearby HF xcvr (in receive mode) to set the SW rcvr to the exact specified monitoring freq: set the HF rig to the exact monitor freq you want, tune the SW rcvr till you hear it's RF signal come in on the HF rig as a carrier, then fine tune the SW rcvr till the 'beat' signal drops to zero, and lo you've set your SW rcvr to the same exact freq!

Fine print. Any power supply from 6v to 12v will work; the base design assumes a 9v 'transistor' alkaline battery. (If you use a 6v or a 12v supply then you'll have to adjust a trimmer capacitor to re-align the tuning dial.) If you drive it with a 12v battery the current drain will rise some, but not a whole bunch. I'm probably going to drive it from my 90 AH deep cycle 12v gel cell battery -- that batt's capacity is 90,000 mA Hours; it will never notice a 6 or 9 mA drain -- I could theoretically run the rcvr for at least 10,000 hours before draining one complete charge from the battery.

Another point: the antenna length. The manual says a 20-30 foot length will give you good reception. I hooked it up to my full-wave 80m horizontal antenna (ca. 270 feet total) -- and heard hams from Japan come in S9 on my MFJ speaker. (Once you get the hang of peaking the regeneration control the rcvr's sensitivity rivals that of your typical HF xcvr!)

Which brings up the final point. If you plan going this route get your regen rcvr now and get up on the learning curve on how to use your regen control. It's not rocket science stuff --- just takes some practice (My 1st rcvr was a regen I built from a kit in 1938, age 12 -- worked great. Not in my wildest imagination could I have envisioned the reason for building another similar circuit 61 years later!)

So, so long gang --- talk to you via email if Y2K turns out to be just a BITR --- and on 80 or 40 if otherwise.

73, Bill, kg4dhj

-- William J. Schenker, MD (, November 08, 1999


Here's a good suggestion on scheduling from an email from W9CAT:

"maybe a set time to listen would be good as well (like for 10 minutes at the top of every hour - such as 8am to 8:10am) This would save on power....If no connections made those 10minutes -try again next hour...."

Bill, kg4dhj

-- William J. Schenker, MD (, November 08, 1999.

Someone mentioned putting together mass quantities of small nicads. I found this lot of 65 lbs of small cells, but it's ending in five hours from now ("now" being just past midnight monday night/tuesday morning), so if you're interested, jump fast.

Disclaimer: I've no connection with the guy, although I did ask for details, this is what he told me:






(PS: I despammed his address above, if you're going to email him, do the obvious editing.)

-- Ron Schwarz (, November 09, 1999.

Here's a cut/paste from a good email I got last nite:


We all have to be sure we have an accurate clock. I bought a wind up clock at Wal=Mart, yes they still make wind up travel alarms. keep several digital watches around to set your clocks and have spare watch bateries. I also am learning how to tell time with a sun-dial-many references on the net. With a sundial can get accurate time within 1 minute.

Fred Lehmann WA0PBL


These are excellent hints (which I purchased myself in Jan '97 when I got my 1st glimpse of the Y2K problem.) If you can't synchronize with the Net sched, you may miss the transmissions.

Bill, kg4dhj

-- William J. Schenker, MD (, November 11, 1999.

I don't have a transmitter, but I have a rood radio and would like to listen in. What hours do you mean by "days" and "evening?"

-- Shivani Arjuna (, November 15, 1999.


There's no rock hard schedule yet (may NEVER be, before Y2K), but note the comments above about monitoring at the 'top' of each hour. IOW, 8:00-8:05AM, 9:00-9:05AM, etc., down the line, during the day, and into the evening (till 10PM or so?) A lot of all that depends on the 'propagation conditions,' which change with the hour of the day, the day in the month, and the month in the year. Some of the variation is consistent thru the decades, but some of it depends on 'sun spots' and 'geomagnetic storms.' Specifically the 'nighttime' band, 80m (around 3+ MHz), will not give you much distance during the day. And the 'daytime' band, 40m (around 7+ MHz) has too much 'skip' during the day. The one other band, 20m (around 14+MHz), is often good for 'long skip' during the day and into the evening -- but probably won't get you across your own state. It's an interesting subject -- much to learn. You can't learn it all in the next 1 1/2 mos, but it would be good to start monitoring the above ham bands for a few nites a week for a while. It will help you get the feel.

Last piece of advice: rob a bank, and buy an HF ham transceiver, and pay someone to put up an appropriate antenna and install a solar electric driven battery pack to power your rig. If you're just LISTENING post-Y2K, and Y2K turns out to be The Big One -- you will drive yourself crazy JUST LISTENING!!!

I like your posts, Shivani; you're a good man (lady?) and you've been a big help to a lot of people. God bless,


-- William J. Schenker, MD (, November 15, 1999.

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