Welcome to the W9JFL Ham Radio home page!  On this page you will find information about my shack, the equipment I presently own and operate as well as links that I've found helpful as I learn the hobby. 

Select from the topics below.  We hope you find something interesting and worthwhile!


The Home Shack  |  Shack Weather  |  The Mobile Shack  |  Portable Toys    Portable Packet  |  General Equipment Information  |  Interesting Links    Contact Info


The Home Shack

My home equipment is focused on phone and packet on 2m and 70cm.  I also have an HF rig that allows me to monitor most frequencies and perform non-FM communications on the bands I'm presently licensed for.  Here's a listing of the equipment in the home shack. 

Icom IC-7000 HF/UHF/VHF Transceiver,   Jetstream JT220M 220mhz transceiver (50w),  Yaesu FT-7800 UHF/VHF (40w/50w) transceiver,  RigRunner 4008 8-port power distribution panel (not visible),  Kantronics KPC 3+ TNC,  Heil HM-Pro Handheld Microphone (connected to Icom),  Tac-Comm radio mounting kits, Daiwa cross-needle power/SWR meter,  Diamond X-50 2m/70cm vertical antenna in the attic with RG-8 feed line (in attic),  Diamond D130J discone wide-band antenna installed outside with RG-8 feed line (on top of TV mast outside),  SWL longwire antenna outside,  Radio Shack Pro-97 Trunking Scanner,  Davis Instruments Vantage Vue weather station,  MH-C777OLUSII Universal Battery Charger & Analyzer, Alinco DM-330MV power supply, Wouxun KG-UV2D 2m/70cm handy.



Shack Weather

I enjoy monitoring and watching weather.  So, I have the Oregon Scientific weather station in my shack, monitoring outdoor conditions.  This station also feeds the statistics on my weather information page, supplies information for my web pages and also contributes to the www.weatherunderground.com home station network under the name of Concord Oaks W9JFL Gurnee (KILGURNE8) home station.



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 The Mobile Shack


My vehicle equipment provides tri-band (2m/1.25cm/70cm) phone as well as a full function APRS station running from a Yaesu FTM-350R.  The following is a listing of the equipment presently installed in my vehicle.


Yaesu FTM-350R/E dual-VFO, full APRS mobile.  Gosh, this thing does almost everything you'd want, plus a couple things I can't imagine why anyone would want!  Haven't spent lots of time with it yet, but so far it's been easy to setup, reliable and performs exceptionally well.  I have always enjoyed Yaesu mobile transceivers for their quality feel, easy to operate controls and solid audio quality.  This one is no different.  Best feature?  It has a HUGE display!  It is a gorgeous radio.  (You can click the image to the right for a much higher resolution image.)  This is connected to a Comet SBB-244NMO antenna.  The fold-over feature is great, but am concerned it will wear over time.  Will just have to see how that works out.  



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Portable Toys


One of my many vices is handhelds or portable radios.  I'm fascinated by the power and functionality being built into today's handheld amateur radios.  Plus, I'm a gadget freak that just loves electronics, so hence I own an unnecessary amount of these radios.  Here's a summary of the ones I presently own with a bit of commentary on each radio.


Wouxun KG-UV2D - Perhaps the best radio bargain I've had in a while.  I know, most think it's just a cheap, Chinese radio without features, difficult to use and program, etc.  IT ISN'T!  Yes, it's cheap to purchase (~US$120), but that's the end of it.  This radio is of excellent quality.  The software (free) makes it very easy to program.  While there's just a bit over 120 memory slots, that's plenty.  Audio quality is great, both transmit and receive (in fact, the receive amp is clear and loud).  It's not a wide band receiver, it's not the most advanced.  However, there is no other handy I know of, for the money, that gives you more.  Plus, the folks at DBJRE.COM, where I purchased it were excellent.  They shipped quickly, had great communications and were an excellent example of the fair, honest Ham dealer.  Thanks Bob/KG4YOU!



Yaesu VX-8 - Wow!  My new favorite toy!  This thing does it all.  It sounds great, has nice ears and the added APRS is just wonderful.  A bit tricky pounding out messages with the keyboard or the wheel, but what radio doesn't have that characteristic?  The physical design of the radio is great.  It does take a few minutes with the manual at first (or use the Nifti Mini Manual from www.niftyaccessories.com).   The GPS antenna is ergonomically better in my opinion than the radio mount.  I worry that I'll snap it off when it's attached to the radio.  However, to each his own, it works both ways.  Battery life is good also.  Haven't used the Bluetooth yet - will probably get around to that later.  If you want a full-featured handy - buy this one!  Did I mention it has 220!?!



Icom-91A - A nice overall radio. It has a solid feel, the menus are clear (once you read the manual and figure out how to navigate them), the audio is loud and the features are strong.  I'm also planning on doing some investigation on digital voice with this.  Just need to find a repeater or two out  there (they're scarce right now). Finally, this is one darn good looking handy!  You'll definitely want the carry case to protect it.  Good looks, but it's metal case suggests it's durable as well. 




Yaesu VX-3R - 2 meter / 70cm 1.5 watt HT

This is a fun little handy, great for those ham fest visits and local repeater accesses.  No Ham is worth their weight in this hobby without a bevy of accessories and antennas!  Yeah, that a picture of the VX-2, I know!  I had one before the VX-3 and sold it on eBay.  I'll get a new shot of the VX-3 later.  :-)





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Portable Packet


Portable Packet has always been something I've enjoyed doing.  First, I learned from one of the more knowledgeable packet people I've met.  I've also done some work with the local RACES/ARES group in the past in assisting with an attempt to establish a solid, relaible and robust packet network in the area.


I have also been quite successful with my attempt at "playing" with APRS.  It's worked quite well with both systems.  The basic APRS portable system I've used is detailed below.  I must admit, it gets little use these days now that I have the VX-8.  Might offer it up to the highest bidder on eBay soon.  It's a slick little package if I don't say so myself.    Here's what my portable packet station includes...

  • Yaesu FT-8900 2m/70cm mobile transceiver

  • Yaesu FT-90 2m/70cm mobile as backup 

  • Kantronics KPC 3+ terminal node controller (TNC)

  • Astron 25a power supply

  • Various antennas, omni and beam

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General Equipment Information


Additional Shack Overview  -  My home setup is focused on flexibility.  I have multiple radios setup, so that I can operate in one mode while monitoring another.  I operate both phone and packet from this location. My antennas are placed in various locations.  My primary 2m/70cm antenna is located in my attic (housing covenant restrictions).  I have been able to place a small discone antenna on the top of my HD television antenna outside and use that for 2m packet and general receiving/scanning.  Finally, I have a longwire antenna outside, hidden in my fence, that provides adequate SWL services when required.  I recently added a Workman tri-band 2m/220/70cm antenna mounted to my upper deck for my 220 use, an excellent vertical antenna!


Additional Transceiver Comments  -  I receive a surprising amount of email from this web page.  The vast majority of that communication comes from fellow Hams that are considering the purchase of a piece of gear I own, inquiring about specific features, etc.  So, here's some extra opinions on my transceiver gear.


Icom IC-7000 -- Well, what can I say?  I needed a bit of incentive to upgrade my ticket and the IC-7000 is that incentive.  Now being used as my primary VHF/UHF radio, it has also allowed me to immediately get into alternate modes of operation available to me under the Technician class.  Studying continues and an upgrade to General is imminent, then the real fun starts!  BTW, this is a wonderful radio.  Amazing control, the size is great for my shack and there are more features than I understand right now.  A wonderful radio to get your feet wet in HF to be sure.  I love the TFT color display, very informative and easy to quickly read.

Yaesu FT-3000M -- An older high power (70w) 2m rig that also has a separate wideband receive VFO.  Very interesting unit.  I got this one off of eBay and was very curious about it.  Honestly haven't done much with it, but have some plans to play around with it this summer.  The rig is typical Yaesu mobile in it's design, decent display, excellent physical controls, solid audio in both receive and transmit.  I really like this radio, just haven't found a good permanent home for it yet. 


Yaesu FT-7800 -- This is a wonderful radio for the price!  Solid 50w output on both 2m and 70cm, excellent design and build quality and solid audio.  I've said it before, I'll say it again that Yaesu transceivers just have a solid, quality feel about them.  Plus, I've never had a problem with any one of them.  This one is used as my primary home packet station and really does a super job.  However, I still use it as phone radio at times and always get excellent reports.  This would be an excellent mobile for someone wanting a basic, single VFO unit.  Solid all the way through.


Yaesu FT-90 --  Now discontinued, this was my first transceiver I installed in my car.  Curiously, it didn't get lots of respect in the market.  But if you read a bit about it, only the heavy duty rag chewers complained about heat.  Look, this thing is TINY and really doesn't have lot's of area for heat sinks, etc.  Given the size and what this thing can do, it's a really fun radio and excellent piece of engineering.  I keep it around as a backup to my packet station, given it's size.  Everytime someone sees this little rig, they comment about how small it is and how good it sounds.  Hmmm... it may well go back into service somewhere else, haven't decided.  I'm just going to hold on to it for now.


Alinco DR-235 -- My first 220 capable transceiver.  Also my first Alinco radio.  Aacquired this slightly used from a great Ham eBayer and I'm really beginning to like this radio.  The controls are straight forward, they feel solid, transmit and receive audio quality are strong and the design is simple.  I must admit, being a confessed gadget freak, the general design of Alincos don't visually catch my eye initially.  But, for a solid, basic radio it would be hard to beat this one.  My plan is to use this as an alternate packet system as well as a phone radio for some less congested communications on local repeaters and simplex.  Already I notice there's less QRM on 220.


Jetstream JT220M - A new radio, purchased from the folks at DBJRE.COM.  Have been curious about this rig ever since it was announced.  While my Alinco continues to perform extremely well, the Jetstream seems to be picking up where the Alinco left off.  The similarities in these rigs are tight - it's apparent to me these two radios come from the same lineage.   However, the Jetstream offers a bit of different 'personality'.  The display is clear, but slightly smaller.  The volume control sits directly above the mic input, which can get in the way a bit.  However, transmit and receive quality are solid, the extra power helps out when chatting simplex and the feel of the rig's controls are strong (although not quite as nice as the Alinco feels).  Want a solid 220 rig for around $250?  This one is worthy of consideration.


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Mobile & Handheld Transceivers


Baofeng UV-3R - Well, again overall, I am very pleased.  This little radio is wonderful to throw into the backpack and use as a quick takealong on those daily commutes to the office.  Great, loud and clear receive audio, solid controls, clear readable display, good battery life.  Antenna, as is usual with most handys in any quality or price range, is not optimal.  A quick addition of a Diamond SRH815 solves that problem.  This radio is clearly modeled after the popular Yaesu VX-3 and it does a good job for the price (well under $100).  Will it offer the same quality as the Yaesu?  I doubt it.  But it does beat the Yaeasu on receive sound has been quite reliable.

Baofeng UV-5R - One of two new additions as I play some more with the "entry-level" radios from China.  I must say, that this dual-bander doesn't disappoint.  For an entry price of about US$60, including desk charger, this is helping to change the market for basic handy's.  Strengths include loud audio, quality controls (buttons and knobs) and unique features that at first seem quirky, but actually have some application.  Example: changing the color of the display backlighting based on transceiver mode.  The default antenna leaves lots to be desired.  But, an upgrade to a Diamond SRJ77CA does the trick.  Still trying to master software programming on this one.   A good low-risk handy that you won't go crazy over if you drop it on concrete!

Wouxun KG-UV2D - As mentioned previously, this is a great value radio.  It's construction is solid, the audio quality is strong, battery life is great, included accessories are vast and the features offer strong basic radio functionality, including speech!  The radio is easy to operate, while some may struggle with the broken "Engrish" of the manual - it's not hard to read through it and understand.  What a great rig to have as that "always with you" radio, one you won't struggle with as it gets an occasional nick or scratch.  No, it isn't MilSpec rated and the Yaesu VX-8 still holds all awards for rugged design and solid feel.  However, the more I use it, the more I appreciate it. (Uses Kenwood compatible speaker mics as well.)  No stereotypical cheap Chinese quality here, plus fully FCC approved.  Bottom line, at this price, there's probably room in your shack for this little bugger - also an absolutely excellent first rig for the beginning amateur.


Icom-91A - I like the feel and operation of this handheld.  It has a solid feel, the menus are clear (once you read the manual and figure out how to navigate them), the audio is loud and the features are strong.  I'm also planning on doing some investigation on digital voice with this.  Just need to find a repeater or two out  there (they're scarce right now). Finally, this is one darn good looking handy!  You'll definitely want the carry case to protect it.  Good looks, but it's metal case suggests it's durable as well.  I'll update as I get more time with it. 


Yaesu VX-3 -  I must say this is a very nice upgrade from the VX-2.  Surprisingly functional given its size.   Typical Yaesu good sound quality, solid construction.  The new lockable knob arrangement is a great improvement.  As with most of these wide band receive radios, the addition of an internal bar AM antenna did little to improve reception on the AM broadcast band.  This is still a Ham radio through and through.  Don't consider it if you're wanting to use it equally as an every day use AM receiver.  You'll be disappointed.  Must say the little bugger is a very nice solution when you don't need lots of power in a mobile situation.


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Interesting Links

Here are a few web sites I've found helpful, fun and interesting.  I change these from time to time so check back often.


Meeting People with Ham Radios  -  A great resource for those interested in becoming a Ham operator.  Tips and guides on how to become licensed, study guides, supplier resources, social groups and more!  Even if you're a seasoned Ham, it might be fun just to see what's on this page.  You may find something new!  (Thanks for the link, Prof. McNeill!)


W9GWP - A friend of mine who has a fun page with lots of great instructional data on APRS.  Plus, there's quite a bit of local weather data there as well.


A Bit of Humor!  -  OK, a friend sent this to me.  He claims it was taken one evening when I was in "the shack" doing a bit of Echolink.  It's a 7mb video (AVI) file, but worth the download (especially if you're a ham that enjoys old black and white television).


AnswerConnect - A very nice site with introductory information on Amateur Radio.  Includes many informational and reference links that new Hams or those considering the hobby will definitely find helpful.  (Thanks to Krisi Nichols for the link!)


eHam.net  -  These guys host an excellent resource.  I have particularly become fond of the equipment reviews they provide.  Most hams know about these guys, but if you don't, check it out.


The Amateur Radio Relay League  -  This is the national organization that represents most hams.  Like most orgs of this type, you either love-em or hate-em.  I'm indifferent at this point!  If you're a ham, you know this link like the back of your hand.  If you're not a ham and want to learn more about the hobby, it's worth a visit.


Nixie Clocks!  -  This site has an excellent display of home made nixie clocks.  You know, those tubes from the 60's that were used to display numbers and characters.  Really nice stuff at this site.   Check out the rest of Mike's site too, lots of interesting reading.

Radio & TV Broadcasting Resources - This is a very nice general information site on radio & TV resources  published by Gary Block.   Good links and descriptions for those interested in the basics of the Radio & TV industry.  (Thanks to Sarah and Danielle for recommending this link!)

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And now for something completely different...

Here's something that has nothing to do with Ham radio, but is fun none the less.  It's a Chumby (www.chumby.com).  The Chumby is a small Linux based PC device, in the form of a bean bag.  It has a color, touch sensitive screen, speakers, USB ports, microphone, accelerometer and internal WiFi.  It plays applets created in Flash and is lots of fun.  Below is a live shot of my Chumby "Web Cam" channel.  It displays live web cam streams I've selected from around the world.  Very fun!

This is a neat idea and one that really appeals to my gadget vices.  Haven't found any Ham-like apps (hint, hint) like APRS maps, Echolink (it's definitely possible), simple rig control...

Contact Information

Local Repeaters   KD9GY repeater @ 443.850 / + / PL: 114.8
W9GWP repeater @ 444.600 / + / PL:114.8
W9FUL repeater @ 147.180 / + / PL: 127.3
Internet / Echolink   W9JFL / Node:90810
MSN Messenger   W9JFL
Yahoo Messenger   W9JFL
Twitter   W9JFL
Packet   W9JFL-1 on 145.050 in Lake County, IL

W9JFL-9 on 144.390 in vehicle

W9JFL-8 on 144.390 mobile/handheld

W9JFL-10 on iBCNU.us (iPhone APRS)

Present APRS Location  

CLICK HERE to view where my APRS enabled vehicle was last transmission using K6IB.COM.

CLICK HERE to view where my APRS enabled vehicle was last transmission.

CLICK HERE to view where my APRS enabled handheld was last transmission.

CLICK HERE to view where my iPhone with iBCNU.US APRS application was last submission.

Internet Email   john@w9jfl.com

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