I have always wanted to visit Japan and decided to visit Tokyo and Mount Fuji last year. The Akihabara district had always been a magical place (like the Dayton Hamfest) to me and I looked forward to visiting this area first hand. Naturally, scanning on vacations can be a fun and a worthwhile effort.
Akihabara Radio Center, ‘electric town’ or Akiba got its start after WWII. Many tiny retailers sold radio and electronic parts under the Sobu train line tracks and it is a business that is still vibrant today. It is also known for its Maid Cafes and Otaku (anime and manga characters) stores. Hundreds of electronics shops, ranging from tiny one man stalls specializing in particular electronic components to large electronics and camera retailers can be found in a few square blocks. These shops line the main Chuo Dori street and the crowded side streets around Akihabara. A few chain stores such as Sofmap and Laox each operate multiple specialized branches along the main roads, while small independent shops can be found in the side streets. The only mega sized camera store is the Yodobashi Camera complex on the east side of the train station. This area is very busy during lunch hours while salary men go shopping, students attracted to game and animation and weekends.
The radio sellers offer brands not found outside of Japan. Brands like Comet, Create, Radix, AOR Japan and independents. They also had the new Yaesu VR-160 scanning radio, JIM M-75 preamp, Alinco DJ- X81, Jupiter MVT-7500, 5500 and HR-500 scanners, Icom as well which are the R6 and R20 radios. There seems to be a R30 rumour which will include D-Star. There are some cost savings over the USA prices but there is no Uniden or Bearcat radios to be found. JARL, The Japan Amateur Radio League, Inc. has their ham fair the third weekend in August.
Yaesu VR-160 HR-500 AOR AR-8600 Mk2
AR-Mini Yupiteru MVT-7500
$10000 yen Alinco radios
There are two popular ham radio stores and several not so well known stores to purchase your gear from. Inside the Radio Department Store you will find 4 or 5 resellers and it is here where I saved a few bucks in buying my Comet CSC-140J and Diamond SR789 antenna. I also got 30 feet of RG-174 for less than $10 and several connectors and adapters.
CSC-140J Suction cup antenna flexi mount with SMA connector
The Diamond SRH789 is an omnidirectional telescoping antenna for 95 MHz to 1100 MHz. It acts as 1/4 wave from 95-300 MHz and a 5/8 wave from 300 to 1100 MHz. It can be used for transmit up to 10 watts. This black, six section antenna is 7.9 inches retracted and 31.7 inches fully extended. Gain is 2.15 dBi from 95-300 MHz and 3.2 dBi from 300-1100 MHz $26 or 2600 yen
Many of the regular electronics stalls and stores have bins full of deals and one can just wander around and look to see what is of interest to you and I got some excellent headphones for the kids.
Japanese electronics uses 100v 50Hz but most electronics is compatible with our 120v 60Hz standard. Worst case is that the wall wart power supply can be replaced once home.
This is considered the largest amateur radio store in Akihabara. They stock HF, VHF equipment, antennas, mounts, rotators, CB, telegraphs, and many types of free band walkie-talkies. They also offer CQ Ham Radio and Radio Life which the Japanese version of QST. They only have 1 floor.
101-0021, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 1-11-2 Soto-Kanda Kitabayashi building
This is a two story store that is also well stocked and also has a used section on the second floor. They are located at street level and easily found as the retro gaming store called Super Potato is on the 3rd floor. Every Maid on the street handing out flyers knows where it is.
Akihabara Tokyo Radio Department store
How to get there:
I strongly recommend a small compass to figure out where North is to line up your map if you find the data plans for your smartphone to be too expensive. I found out the hard way how complicated their address system is and relied on paper maps and a compass to get around. My Garmin GPS does not have any street mapping information for Tokyo but a Tablet or Smartphone with Wi-Fi will suffice as you can get free Wi-Fi practically everywhere including Starbucks. Enjoy a coffee and sort out directions from there. I basically used the tall buildings as markers and asked the locals where the KFC is as its central to where we want to go. On the way there you will pass the Radio Center as well. The trick is to leave the station at the west side Electric Town exit and then it’s a short walk to our destination. I made the mistake of using the wrong exit and was on the wrong side of the station and ended up walking in circles until I found a Starbucks to get Wi-Fi to figure it out.
|Akihabara Station is a busy station served by the JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Sobu Line, the Tsukuba Express and the Hibiya Subway Line. Suehirocho Station on the Ginza Subway Line is located around the northern end of the district.
From Tokyo Station
From Shinjuku Station
I brought my Icom R20 scanner with a length of 20 feet and a telescoping whip antenna. My Uniden with the Close Call function was forgotten and left behind and proved to be a critical error. This would have been extremely useful as it would have allowed me to find what frequency the local kaban (police department), traffic cop, or even taxi cab was using. I did get a copy of Radio Life which is the scanner publication but it was in Japanese with some English and it did have some frequency assignments for manual monitoring. I was able to receive many transmissions with no idea of what they were. The Taxi Cab dispatch made sense and of course the air band monitoring was in English. I also packed my ham radio license in case TSA or Japanese security had an issue with the scanner. The band assignments are different than ours. If I had more free time I would have also included some Optoelectronics equipment and band specific antennas.
I found out on the airplane ride home while reading Radio Life that there are two scanner frequency apps at
bit.ly/frq2013_appstore for IOS and bit.ly/frq-online that could prove to be very useful.
Public Safety in Tokyo
Close call would have been useful to try to find out what frequencies were in use. The band layouts are different and the 300Mhz range is popular so you will need a scanner to cover this range. It would be useful to have a search bank for that range as well. I really regret forgetting my Uniden scanner.
Band Plans decoded from Radio Life DX2 magazine
398.925, 382.925, 399.650, 383.650, 123.450, 129.750, 131.150, 131.875, 131.925, 131.975, 131.875, 131.925, 131.975, 135.950
55.00-70.00 MHz band, 457.00 to 459.00 and 410-412 MHz are good search ranges
70-75 MHz and 153.89 MHz
Regular marine band with CH16 156.800, 26.760 to 27.92 MHz, 39.144 MHz
414.550 and 414.4250 MHz, 148.09, 150.97, 151.61, 152.49, 153.39, 157.69, 157.97 and 158.07
451.4125 and 459.4125 note the 8 MHz split
154.45 – 154.61 20 kHz step, 465.0375 to 465.150, 468.55 to 468.850 and 348.5625 to 348.8 12.5 kHz step
A and B Runway ANA Pokemon Plane
APP: 124.4 MHz (TOKYO APP)
ATIS: 128.25 MHz
CLD: 121.9 MHz (CLNC DEL)
CLR: 121.65 MHz (CLNC DEL)
DEP: 124.2 MHz (TOKYO DEP)
GND: 121.85 MHz
GND: 121.95 MHz
RDR: 120.2 MHz (TOKYO RDR)
RMP: 121.6 MHz (RAMP)
RMP: 121.75 MHz (RAMP)
TCA: 119.45 MHz (TOKYO TCA)
TWR: 118.2 MHz
TWR: 118.35 MHz
Ham Radio Bandplan:
144-146 MHz 2m
430-440 MHz 70cm
1260 -1300 1.2 GHz
The Tokyo International Amateur Radio Association (TIARA) holds monthly meetings in English and has many expat members.
JR1YPM 1291.92- MHz (88.5Hz), Meguro-ku, Tokyo
IRLP Typically connected to Reflector 9202
WIRES Room 0522
Echolink Connect to 7J1YAA-L (811259) or 7J1AJH-L (979606)
JR1YPM 1291.92- MHz (88.5Hz), Meguro-ku, Tokyo
JR1VI 434.980in/439.980out and 1297.980in/1292.980out, 77Hz subaudible tone.
I actually chatted with a few hams on the IRLP link using my iPad ahead of time and was able to monitor some of their transmissions. Most activity is on weekends
They are limited to ½ watt
- 26.968/ Ch1
- 26.976/ Ch2
- 27.040/ Ch3
- 27.080/ Ch4
- 27.088/ Ch5
- 27.112/ Ch6
- 27.120/ Ch7
- 27.144/ Ch8
There is a fair amount of personal radio use in the 903 to 904 MHz and 420-421 MHz bands with several manufacturers making radios.
Airport Layover Frequencies
Since I had some layover time I planned to monitor some local activity in between flights. Again a Close Call type scanner would have been super useful as well as having P25.
162.2750, 131.8 PL
172.9000, 123.0 PL
172.9000, N001 – Wide area repeater serving San Francisco and Oakland airports
Harbor sector. Covers everything north/northeast of Santa Monica Pier. All 24L/R arrivals are handled by this sector.
Downey sector. Covers everything east coming in on the arrival stream. All 25L/R frequencies are handled by this sector.
Covers arrivals from the west and this is a Feeder sector.
Handles those arrivals for smaller plans such as turboprops using 24L and 24R
119.800 LAX Heliport for Helicopters
169.550 MHz 100 PL Customs Inspectors
166.7875 MHz 131.8 PL Icom Low Power radios common
162.2750, N001 – Tom Bradley Int’l Terminal
166.7875, 123.0 PL – Terminal 3
166.7875, 131.8 PL – Terminal 2
168.9625, N002 – Scanner operators
169.2625, N001 – Terminal 7
172.1500, 131.8 PL – Terminal 7
167.2875, N167 – LA A-1
167.3125, N167 – LA B-7
167.4250, N167 – JOIP with CBP
167.4625, N167 – LA A-5
167.5375, N167 – LA D-5
167.5625, 167.9 – Yes, still heard being used in analog.
167.6625, N167 – LA F-7 Anaheim
167.7375, N167 – LA A-3
408.4000, N167 – Links to VHF channels
412.6500, N167 – Links to VHF channels
I was able to spot the Icom F50V radios that TSA now uses at LAX. They are 136-174MHz (5W output RF) with vibration alert functionality and paging alerts or what they call “whisper quiet”. These are analog radios and also offer voice inversion capability.
I spotted the blimp overhead once in the rental car and ended up at Manhattan Beach near LAX. Not much comms except for some location information as it made turns off the beach into the city and back. Last time I saw the blimp was over 15 years ago in Toronto (and last year in Torrance, Ca) so this was a nice surprise. The Coast Guard helo swept up and down the coast a few times and I didn’t have that frequency on my list.
456.8 M 151.4 PL was heard on my trip
Ch. 1 – 451.800 All channels are @ PL 151.4
Ch. 2 – 451.8125
Ch. 3 – 456.800
Ch. 4 – 456.8125
Ch. 5 – 464.500
Ch. 6 – 464.550
Ch. 7 – 469.500
Ch. 8 – 469.550
It is noted that they use an Icom F40LT handheld
CHECK OUT the local Scanner Clubs
http://socalscanner.com/ for listening ideas and their newsletter to read on your tablet
Los Angeles Fire Department
860.93750 85.4 PL LAFD 1 Operations Division 1 (Central/East/West) FM
859.93750 88.5 PL LAFD 2 Operations Division 2 (South/Harbor) FM
858.93750 91.5 PL LAFD 3 Operations Division 3 (San Fernando Valley) FM
857.93750 94.8 PL LAFD 4 Dispatch – EMS (South of Mulholland) FM
856.93750 97.4 PL LAFD 5 Alternate Control – Brush / River Rescue Incidents FM
858.23750 131.8 PL LAFD 6 EMERGENCY/TRIGGER FM
859.43750 192.8 PL LAF7 Dispatch – Fire (South of Mulholland) FM
858.43750 103.5 PL LAFD8 Dispatch – Fire/EMS (North of Mulholland) FM
857.23750 107.2 PL LAFD9 Alternate Control – Structure Fire Incidents FM
856.23750 123.0 PL LAFD10 Operations – EMS (Citywide) FM
860.76250 127.3 PL LAFD11 Command FM
860.43750 186.2 PL LAFD 12 Tactical
857.43750 141.3 PL LAFD 13 Tactical
856.43750 146.2 PL LAFD 14 Tactical
859.76250 162.2 PL LAFD 15 Tactical
858.76250 162.2 PL LAFD 16 Tactical
857.76250 167.9 PL LAFD 17 Tactical
856.76250 173.8 PL LAFD 18 Tactical
769.05625 156.7 PL LAFD 19TA Tactical
769.06875 156.7 PL LAFD 20TA Tactical
774.99375 156.7 PL LAFD 21TA Tactical
CHP – California Highway Patrol
Los Angeles Communications Center CHP
You will need a P25 capable scanner for best monitoring. Note the different NAC addresses
|44.94000||KRB411||RM||186.2 PL||BLK2 SOU||BLACK 2 – Central Los Angeles (15)||FM|
|769.44375||RM||DB3 NAC||BLK2 EXT P||Extender – BLACK 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.93125||RM||DBA NAC||BLK2 EXT A||Extender – BLACK 2 – Alternate||P25|
|44.74000||KJP457||RM||186.2 PL||BRN2 SOU||BROWN 2 – Altadena (98)||FM|
|769.43125||RM||DB2 NAC||BRN2 EXT P||Extender – BROWN 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.91875||RM||DB9 NAC||BRN2 EXT A||Extender – BROWN 2 – Alternate||P25|
|39.40000||KTN273||RM||186.2 PL||GLD2 SOU||GOLD 2 – Santa Fe Springs (83)||FM|
|769.68125||RM||DB6 NAC||GLD2 EXT P||Extender – GOLD 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.19375||RM||DAF NAC||GLD2 EXT A||Extender – GOLD 2 – Alternate||P25|
|45.02000||KCQ240||RM||192.8 PL||ORG2 SOU||ORANGE 2 – Baldwin Park (81)||FM|
|769.66875||RM||DB5 NAC||ORG2 EXT P||Extender – ORANGE 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.94375||RM||DBB NAC||ORG2 EXT A||Extender – ORANGE 2 – Alternate||P25|
|44.62000||KMB443||RM||186.2 PL||PNK2 SOU||PINK 2 – West Los Angeles (79)||FM|
|769.18125||RM||DAE NAC||PNK2 EXT P||Extender – PINK 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.69375||RM||DB7 NAC||PNK2 EXT A||Extender – PINK 2 – Alternate||P25|
|45.70000||KMH277||RM||136.5 PL||TAN2 SOU||TAN 2 – Newhall (78) / Antelope Valley (89)||FM|
|769.16875||RM||DAD NAC||TAN2 EXT P||Extender – TAN 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.71875||RM||DB8 NAC||TAN2 EXT A||Extender – TAN 2 – Alternate||P25|
|45.52000||WPAE678||RM||186.2 PL||TEA2 SOU||TEAL 2 – West Valley (56)||FM|
|769.19375||RM||DAF NAC||TEA2 EXT P||Extender – TEAL 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.68125||RM||DB6 NAC||TEA2 EXT A||Extender – TEAL 2 – Alternate||P25|
|39.22000||KMA801||RM||192.8 PL||WHT2 SOU||WHITE 2 – South Los Angeles (77)||FM|
|769.41875||RM||DB1 NAC||WHT2 EXT P||Extender – WHITE 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.71875||RM||DB8 NAC||WHT2 EXT A||Extender – WHITE 2 – Alternate||P25|
|45.50000||WQA721||RM||192.8 PL||YEL2 SOU||YELLOW 2 – East Los Angeles (82)||FM|
|769.46875||RM||DB4 NAC||YEL2 EXT P||Extender – YELLOW 2 – Primary||P25|
|769.96875||RM||DBC NAC||YEL2 EXT A||Extender – YELLOW 2 – Alternate||P25|
I had an incredible time in Tokyo and the Hakone area and great fun scanning. I also enjoyed doing the research ahead of time (which due to the language issue was really hard) but the principles are the same: choose a city, research and set up scanners in advance, and enjoy while on your trip.
She was looking for the Yaesu VR-160 scanning receiver Yaki was her name
Super Potato Gamers mecca