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Ham Radio/Emergency Long Range Through an Urban Jungle


Chris, I live and work in Yokohama, Japan and need an emergency way to contact my wife who is unable to walk.  In March of 2011 Japan suffered a major disaster which cut communications, some power and transportation.  I walked 17 miles to get home.  It is an inconvenience to our neighbors due to age or small children to have to worry about others.  I read some about Ham radio in the 2 meter range which would work, but it also is emergency frequencies in the event of an actual emergency. The terrain is very much a problem.  I will have to carry the equipment approx 7 miles to the top of a hill and then transmit through more hell over rolling terrain densely filled with houses and more businesses.  Help.

Well, Mike, although I sort of lived in Japan for a year and a half (Okinawa before the return to Japan), I don't know the details of Japanese Ham operation.  2 meters here in the US is 99% through repeaters.

I guess you know that 2 meters is pretty much line of sight.  Repeaters are automatic radio repeating stations which are sited on top of mountains or tall hills.  They listen on one frequency and simultaneously retransmit on another.  This saves you the 7 mile hike up the hill.  Also, repeaters often have backup power supplies which usually include solar panels.

2 meters, which is 144 mhz, shares characteristics with two other bands, 220 mhz and 440 mhz.  There are many handheld radios that can be used for all three bands and all use repeaters.

I don't know how you are with nihongo, but if you could find a local Ham club that would be a big help, and they would probably be amused having a gaigin as a member.  If you happen to be military, there is a ham club on just about every base worldwide.

If the VHF/UHF solution doesn't work for you, there are low frequency possibilities.  Low frequency radio waves hug the ground to go right over and around hills.  These radios are usually not handheld but can be powered by a 12V automotive battery and you can use an automotive type antenna.  More and bigger hardware, but a viable secondary option.

Chris Bushman
Colfax, California

ex. KR6FX and KR6OP Okinawa

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Chris Bushman


I have been an amateur radio operator for about 41 years.


In real life I managed a small motion picture film lab in Hollywood. I've been a fireman, a teacher of English in Okinawa, a personal computer tutor. I am an Advanced Class Ham radio operator using my originally issued callsign WB6EEQ. I have operated for extended periods of time from Okinawa (KR6FX & KR6OP), Texas (K5VXG), and Mississippi (K5TYP). While in the Air Force, I was a Manual Morse Radio Intercept Operator.

BS Zoology, UC Davis

Member, Society of Motion Picture/Television Engineers - Member, American Radio Relay League - Member, Quarter Century Wireless Assn. - President, Zen Nippon Airinkai, So Cal Chapter - Member, Maltose Falcons Homebrewing Society - Alumni, American Brewers' Guild

I have held Conditional, General, and Advanced Class Ham radio licenses. Attended UC Davis to study Zoology. Go figure!?

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