Internet/Communications Alternatives : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Has anyone come up with a "workaround" to counter the probability that internet communications may be impossible for quite some time?

The isolation I will feel after all of this invaluable support and information-sharing is bound to be deep.

I suppose the natural direction to turn -- even now -- is to strengthening our families and our communities.

But, if anyone has had a revelation on this topic, I would welcome hearing about it.

-- Sara Nealy (, September 14, 1998


I have two tin cans and a string which are 100% guaranteed to be Y2K compliant!

Seriously, a ham radio, SW or CB operated on batteries would be the best thing you'd get if the net was down. Even if most of the net was working, local problems could isolate you. Since I have no ham or CB gear, I could make use of my shortwave receiver, even though I have no transmitter. I already have plans to listen to the SW for news as the new year (2000) makes it's way west. I have a portable unit with a whip antenna, and also an amplified antenna (the latter won't work if the power goes out). I use it quite a bit already. I get more news from the BBC than CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and MTV (ha ha) combined. With no commercial interruptions! Hopefully, if there are widespread blackouts, this will still bring us some news.

-- Mike (, September 15, 1998.

Hi, Mike,

I know I could probably find this on the Web but would you save me a bit of time, please, let me know on which frequencies I can find BBC on my Baygen? Or please send me URL for SW frequency guide on the web.

For invaluable local news, you can't beat a police scanner. (Always supposing the police radio equipment is Y2K compliant.) Also picks up TV stations. Don't forget a couple of solar chargers for batteries.



-- Aitch (, September 15, 1998.

Aitch, here is one that might get you started. Good Luck!

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 15, 1998.

One of the comments mentioned a solar charger. I would love to know where to get one. Since I live in Canada, and am not really familiar with the internet (yet), any leads are welcome. I have been using the internet as my major source of contact with my mother in Ghana. She has no plans to come home at present, until 2001, and I have been concerned about how to keep in touch. Snail mail can take up to 6 weeks one way, now. If 2k is as bad as I fear, I likely won't ever hear from her! But if I can set up contact by ham, maybe we'll at least get some news back and forth. Thanks.

-- Tricia (, September 15, 1998.

For alternative power and such, check out the 'Home Power' web site. Then hit all the advertisers for their catalogs. I suspect we should be quick about ordering solar panels and such, as the stocks will dry up if many people start a run on ordering...

-- dale (, September 15, 1998.

Tricia, The Sun Mate company sells alot of solar powered stuff. I can't personally recommend their products, yet. I have ordered a radio, but haven't yet received it. Their web address is below. Good Luck.

-- Gina (, September 15, 1998.

Tricia, here's another "Solar" site.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 15, 1998.

I get the BBC on 5975 KHz all night long, until 2 AM.

-- Mike (, September 15, 1998.

Sara, I agree with you and will also miss my daily "Net Fix!" But, I look forward to a "Y2K Reunion" -- someday! In the meantime, are there any Native Americans lurking, or posting, here? If so, may I challenge you to be ready to activate a chain of smoke signals across the nation? I've lived in 5 states, and visited many others, and I believe there tribes in most, aren't there? Stop laughing! I'm serious! What a service this could be! I just don't think tin cans and string will do it.

-- Holly Allen (Tacoma, WA) (, September 16, 1998.

Gayla...! Do you live here? You post every few minutes!

-- ahso (, September 16, 1998.

Ahso, since this is a repeat question, I'll give you the repeat answer found above:

No, ahso, my husband is, but I'm not. I am working on it, though. I'm also doing my best to get out as much information as possible to all of the new people who find their way here everyday. The old saying goes "Knowledge is Power", but to me, knowledge may very well be survival. I certainly don't know the answer to every question asked here, but if I can help direct people to a source that might help them, it is well worth my time.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 16, 1998.

Thank-you all for the tips. Since customs can be a bit of a problem, I will check out local sites for solar power, but now have some optional internet sites,too. Thanks!

-- Tricia the Canuck (, September 20, 1998.

Pardon my ignorance just exactly what are "short wave" and "ham" radios? I've heard of them, but never known how they work or what the approx. prices are. Could someone/or everyone (!) give me an idea of what they do, what brands you have and/or like? Do these also connect with NOAA (hurricane warnings)? Do they both get local as well as national stations? I need something simple to learn. Maybe you could direct me to other web sites too (?) Thanks so much for teaching one who hasn't a clue about them! Jen! ><>

-- Jen White (, September 21, 1998.

Amy! Amy! We need you to fix the HTML again......

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, September 21, 1998.


Shortwave radio uses high frequency signals which act differently than longer AM signals. They actually bounce off the upper atmosphere, are reflected back to Earth, bounce off the earth, etc., etc. This means that these signals will travel very far. It's possible to pick up transmissions from almost anywhere in the world, if conditions are right. More commonly, stations with transmitters will swap time, so for example, a Chinese station may at times broadcast from a Canadian transmitter, and the Canadians may broadcast from China. This makes for much better signals, even though the programs are originating in a far-off country. Broadcasts cover a wide range of topics. The BBC is good for news, Radio Havana has some killer Latin Jazz music, and Radio Netherlands has very popular entertainment. Personally, I'm a real big fan of the BBC. Lots of hard news, good coverage. Easy to find on the dial.

Shortwave receivers are available at Radio Shack and other such stores. You should be able to get a good one for $100. My unit seems to run forever on six D-cell batteries. SW and AM receivers draw much less power than FM.

There are a couple of frequency guides which are published each year. They may even have tips for buying radios. One is the Passport to World Band Radio. These books can be purchased or orderd at most bookstores.

Ham radios are transmitters/receivers which let you talk to people far away, directly. They use these same type of high frequency signals, but have fairly low power. They do require a license, which means you will have to pass a couple of exams to prove you know what you're doing. This requires a fair amount of time, as well as a substantial investment in equipment. Ham operators provide valuable service in times of emergency, and could be important if TSHTF. You can listen to them with the same shortwave receiver used for international broadcasts, but of course, you can't talk to them. In fact, most often you will hear only one of two parties conducting a conversation.

I hope this helps.

-- Mike (, September 21, 1998.


I learned that from Amy! :o) (the HTML trick)

-- Mike (, September 21, 1998.

Yeah, I feel like I'm at work -- gotta call the sys op to fix things 'cause he's too stingy to share the blinking, blasted, dat gum, explicative depleted administrator's password with us poor user types.

How you do dat? Spreken ze html? Parelvous html? Se hablo html? Gobble-de-gook le html?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, September 21, 1998.


Are "ham" conversations still manual Morse, machine Morse code from a keyboard/modem/PC, or voice? A mix of the three?

If a user doesn't know Morse (and since I don't speak fruent HTML either, it's a safe bet I won't learn it time), is SW a viable option?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, September 21, 1998.

Let me tell you that I only know some general facts about ham radio. I thought about getting into it 8 or 10 years ago, but decided it really wasn't for me. I do know that when you start out in ham radio, you begin with manual morse code. You work your way up to voice. There may be other low power ways of broadcasting voice which don't require more than payment of a fee. Certainly, CB radio is one of these. But the FCC is pretty strict - you have to know the "rules of the road" so to speak, in order to do anything more advanced. (That's not to say that Pirate radio doesn't thrive - they just have to be sneaky about it. Which makes it pretty hard to maintain a following - all that switching frequencies and moving transmitters.)

My whole point of mentioning SW earlier in this thread, is that many people don't know how widespread the broadcasts are. It seems that few people even listen to AM any more. Most people think of FM when they think of radio, and FM has a very limited range. There's an FM station 90 mi. from here I'd like to listen to, but it's just too weak - and it's a powerful one. So if TSHTF, SW might be a good way to get news and other important information. Hey, it's great for that right now!

-- Mike (, September 22, 1998.

You could check out the Amateur Radio Ring on the web with over 1000 sites indexed. I found qualifications for all levels of ham radio operation. There is even a site telling how to make crystal radios on the web. Anybody else old enough to know about them? :-) Holly? I will probably depend on my BayGen though. Virlie in NE TENN

-- Virlie Maner (, September 22, 1998.

OOPS! Forgot to put the URL. Sorry. ring?ring=amateurradio&list.

Virlie in NE TENN

-- Virlie Maner (, September 22, 1998.

About ham radio:

One thing about ham radio vs. SW is that SW is AM broadcast, just like the broadcast AM "on your dial." Ham use single-sideband when they use the frequencies that a SW radio receives. Most of these SW radios don't have the ability to receive single-sideband (SSB) transmissions. The best you could hope for is a heavily garbled voice that you can't understand. Some still use AM, but very few.

Hams today use voice and Morse Code (called CW, for Continuous Wave), and some other methods, too, that involve computers. It works, and is widely used, but is slower than the internet.

Ham licensing has changed over the years. One class of license allows the ham hopeful to get a "no-code" Technician license. You don't have to know any Morse Code at all, and you can get on the air in some of the ham bands. Unfortunately, Tech "no-codes" don't have many privileges on the HF bands, and most of that is for Morse Code only. The FCC has proposed big changes in licensing to lower the Morse Code requirement for all licenses, but it's still in the works.

There's a lot more to it, but I think this addresses some of the points convered so far.

-- Larry P. (, September 23, 1998.

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