Ask Dave!

Got a question about ham radio? Working on getting your license and something isn’t clear? Fill out the form below to pose your question. I’ll answer as many questions as I can in my Saturday Noon US Mountain Time (1900 UTC) live stream, which you can watch here. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notification of upcoming videos. 73! A list of previous Ask Dave videos starts right after the form.

Previous Ask Dave! videos

Ask Dave Episode Topics
Ask Dave Episode 185
The J-38: the Classic Morse Code Straight Key
The J-38 Morse code (CW) straight key is a classic. It’s been around since World War II and deserves its reputation as one of the best straight keys ever developed. Let’s take a closer look!
Ask Dave Episode 182
Unboxing the MFJ-2104 Octopus Antenna
MFJ sent me their MFJ-2104 Octopus Antenna, a four-band dipole with screw-in elements for 75m (the voice portion of 80m), 40m, 20m, and 10m. This is built on a project in Dec 2007 QST by N1GY. The device uses any pairs of hamsticks on any band from 75 to 2m/440cm to create the four bands. It fits on a 1-inch mast. I’ll put it up and test it in a future video.
Ask Dave Episode 181
Review and test of Buddipole Deluxe Antenna
This is the testing and review of the Buddipole Deluxe antenna available at Buddipole.com. I paid for this myself (not a freebie). The unboxing can be found at https://youtu.be/SM7g0d2D_UI. Bottom line: it seems to be a great portable antenna. I had an SSB QSO, several FT8 QSOs, and two CW QSOs, all with 100 watts on 20 meters. The antenna is solidly constructed (very much so) and is recommended for portable use.
Ask Dave Episode 180
Unboxing of Buddipole Antenna Deluxe Package
We unbox (unbag) and examine the Buddipole Deluxe Package. The Buddipole is a portable HF/VHF antenna that works from 40m up to 2 meters. Specifically designed for field portable work, it’s solidly built and well accepted. This video looks at all the components and how they will fit together. A future video will erect the antenna and test it against other antennas.
Ask Dave Episode 179
Review of MFJ-566 Keys–Low Price, High Performance
MFJ recently announced two new Morse Code straight keys, the MFJ-566M with a metal base and the MFJ-566P with a plastic base. These small, 3D-printed keys are priced right (under US$30) and have a nice “feel” to them. I purchased the MFJ-566M and put it through its paces. I also compare it to a classic World War II-era J-38 straight key. CW is great. Welcome aboard!
Ask Dave Episode 178
Should You Join the ARRL?
I’ve said many times that folks need to support the ARRL, and have made the claim that new hams should consider joining “mandatory.” In this video I review some of the ARRL’s history, past controversy, and present benefits. I look forward to your comments. Please visit our sponsor at lcsc.com.
Ask Dave Episode 177
Review of Geochron 4K World Clock
Antennas are amazing devices, and height above ground affects the antenna radiation pattern. How high should a dipole be? I say a half wavelength! Why? Watch and find out! Thanks to sponsor LCSC Electronics, http://lcsc.com.
Ask Dave Episode 176
How High Should a Dipole Antenna Be?
Antennas are amazing devices, and height above ground affects the antenna radiation pattern. How high should a dipole be? I say a half wavelength! Why? Watch and find out! Thanks to sponsor LCSC Electronics, http://lcsc.com.
Ask Dave Episode 175
Review of CyberLink PowerDirector 17 Video Editor
Normally I do ham-radio-related videos, but once in awhile I like to look at the tools I use to create them. CyberLink just came out with version 17 of its prosumer video editor, PowerDirector. This thorough review walks through its many capabilities and shows how I use it.
Ask Dave Episode 174
FCC Bombshell on Chinese Handhelds
NOW CLOSED TO FURTHER COMMENTS. The FCC has issued a Public Notice called an “FCC Enforcement Advisory,” Number DA 18-980, dated 24 Sept 2018. It essentially makes worthless nearly all Chinese-made UHF/VHF ham radio handhelds imported into the country over nearly a decade that can also transmit outside the ham bands (which is nearly all of them). Watch this video for details and an interim update.
Ask Dave Episode 173
PART 2 Review of Baofeng/Radioddity UV-5RX3 Handheld
Here’s PART 2 of the review of the Baofeng/Radioddity partnership radio at https://amzn.to/2Cw5dew for $49.99. Nice little radio. See https://youtu.be/KZ1H_W-vVDk for PART 1.
Ask Dave Episode 172
Review and commentary for Retevis RT3S DMR/FM handheld
This longer-than-usual video dives into the Retevis RT3S 2m/70cm DMR/FM handheld radio (at Amazon at https://amzn.to/2C3rXmY). While describing the programming software, I dive into an explanation of DMR contacts, groups, channels, and zones, showing what information goes where. Nice little radio!
Ask Dave Episode 171
Dave and Trevor Answer Vexing Questions
This is the last Dave/Trevor collaboration for 2018. Topics addressed include grounding in a mobile environment, FTDX5000 issues with WSJT-X, wifi from nordicsemi.com, Motorola DMR programming software, time constants, our local DMR repeater, settings on a Baofeng using Chirp, scanning on the RD5R, VHF vs HF using power meters, and using FSK.
Ask Dave Episode 170
Dave and Trevor Look at Power Supplies and More
Dave and Trevor look at Ask Dave questions about supplying a radio with battery power, a voltage booster from TGElectronics, supplying multiple radios with one power supply, ground loops, Commercial FM Radio on the RD-5R, multiband J-poles, wattage of a signal after it is transmitted (I should have said “inverse cube law,” listening on an UV8000E, programming software, using a BITX40 on 20 meters, RF noise reduction, and using an ICOM 7300 with an amplifier. And check out our sponsor at lcsc.com.
Ask Dave Episode 169
Dave and Trevor Answer Antenna Questions
Dave and Trevor address viewer questions about antennas, including how often to replace coax, antenna mast separation, coax selection, HF antenna recommendations, suburban antenna installation, dipole antenna placement, 40m antenna gain, balun on a folded dipole, and antenna height and radials. You can send questions to hamradioanswers@gmail.com.
Ask Dave Episode 168
Dave and Trevor discuss antennas
Dave and Trevor answer more Ask Dave questions, about cobweb antennas, a DIY antenna, the effect of roof construction materials on the performance of attic antennas, the Ultimax DXtreme antenna, hi vs lo impedance antennas for SWL, folded dipoles, and the MFJ-1984 antenna. Check out our sponsor, lcsc.com and easyeda.com.
Ask Dave Episode 167
Dave and Trevor Answer Ask Dave Questions
Dave and Trevor pick up with more Ask Dave questions, including on the Zenith Transoceanic, the use of RIT, HAM as an acronym (it isn’t), and more. And thanks to https://lcsc.com, LCSC electronics, for sponsoring this episode.
Ask Dave Episode 166
Dave and Trevor answer Ask Dave Questions
Dave and Trevor are back with more Ask Dave questions, this time focused on some “getting started” items. Also, LCSC Electronics is joining Ask Dave as a sponsor. You can find them at https://lcsc.com and https://easyeda.com. Check them out as a source of components for your next project!
Ask Dave Episode 165
Antenna Questions and Recommendations
Dave and Trevor are back, answering viewer questions about antennas and related items. You can pose a question at hamradioanswers@gmail.com.
Ask Dave Episode 164
Review of the Syma X56W Drone
This is a little different from my videos and is a review and demo of the DoDoEleph Syma X56W quadcopter drone. It costs about 10% of what my DJI Spark cost, and you get what you pay for. If you’ve got lots of room with no obstructions, this can be a fun drone to fly. Although there are trimmers on the controls, it’s hard to have absolute control of the X56W. An interesting and fun toy.
Ask Dave Episode 163
More on the J-pole Antenna
A close look at how the J-pole antenna works with special attention to how it’s fed. Lots of nice diagrams. Discussion of using quarter-wave transmission line stubs. The end-fed dipole as a special case of the J-pole.
Ask Dave Episode 162
Retevis RT45 FRS Radio Review
Retevis sent me a pair of their RT45 handheld Family Radio Service (FRS) radios to test. FRS radios make great short-range radios for administrative use in a field situation. They’re only $30/pair, so a great price. Note these are not ham radios, but I’ve seen them used to good effect along with ham radio at special event sites. Use https://amzn.to/2OlxxSU to get to the Amazon page. There’s also a discount code you can use, 4LQ2AK44. Retevis has an Amazon store at https://www.amazon.com/retevis.
Ask Dave Episode 161
Performance Test of MFJ-1846 Six-Band Hex-Beam Antenna
Performance results of MFJ-1846 Six-band hex-beam antenna. The antenna shows great directionality and ample gain. The SWR doesn’t quite cover the 20 meter, 10 meter, or 6 meter band, but does cover 17, 15, and 12 meters. I also look at the Hy-gain AR-500 antenna rotator. On the air performance on 20 meters was spectacular.
Ask Dave Episode 160
Hy-gain AR-500 Antenna Rotator and erection of MFJ-1846
This video focuses on the Hy-gain AR-500 antenna rotator, showing the parts, what it does, and so on. Also shown is the completion of the MFJ-1846 six-band hex-beam antenna. Learn about rotators and why they’re necessary. Special thanks to Mike Bergman for help erecting the antenna and to his wife, Amy Bergman, for footage of the actual antenna “walk up.”
Ask Dave Episode 159
What I discovered by modeling the MFJ -1846 Hex Beam
I describe the status of erecting the new MFJ-1846 six band hex beam, plus I show G3TXQ’s EZNEC+ model of the antenna and what it has to say about gain, beam pattern and SWR on each band, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters. (Hint: good things!)
Ask Dave Episode 158
Dave discusses companding, testing, grounding, and 6 meters
Ask Dave returns with Dave and Ask Dave Editor Trevor Oman to discuss companding, testing the Pixie, digital contesting, grounding, and 6 meters.
Ask Dave Episode 157
Dave Answers Technical Issues
Dave answers viewer questions along with Ask Dave Editor Trevor Oman. Questions are under the heading “technical issues.”
Ask Dave Episode 156
Ask Dave about antennas
Dave and Trevor look at viewer questions about antenna topics.
Ask Dave Episode 155
Exam questions, manual, and getting started
Trevor Oman, the Ask Dave Editor, again joins Dave Casler to answer questions about the exams, license manuals, and getting started.
Ask Dave Episode 154
Equipment Recommendations: Ask Dave
Dave and Trevor answer viewer questions focused on equipment recommendations.
Ask Dave Episode 153
Dave Answers Troubleshooting Questions
Dave and Trevor answer questions from Oggies about troubleshooting.
Ask Dave Episode 152
Assembling the MFJ-1846 Six-Band Hex-Beam Antenna
Watch the time lapse photography as I assemble the MFJ-1846 six-band hex-beam antenna. I also explain how hex beams work.
Ask Dave Episode 151
Ask Dave #151 Addresses Troubleshooting
Kevin Oman, our Ask Dave Editor, and I discuss several questions related to troubleshooting.
Ask Dave Episode 150
Ask Dave: Recommendations
Dave Casler and Trevor Oman answer more questions from viewers looking for recommendations.
Ask Dave Episode 149
Interview with coax expert Ray Nelson, N1MPD
Enjoy a half hour conversation with coax expert Ray Nelson about coax connectors of several different types, including some you may never have heard of.
Ask Dave Episode 148
A close look at the MFJ-1708SDR T/R switch
Want to use your SDR as a panadapter while you’re operating your transceiver? The MFJ-1708SDR lets you do that by connecting the SDR antenna while your transceiver is receiving, and then grounding your SDR antenna while transmitting. I show several tests including actual operation. It’s pretty effective.
Ask Dave Episode 147
Dave answers troubleshooting questions
Dave and Ask Dave Editor Trevor Oman get together to ask and answer viewer questions about troubleshooting.
Ask Dave Episode 146
Dave answers questions about power supplies
Join Dave and Trevor discussing Ask Dave questions related to power supplies and other issues.
Ask Dave Episode 145
Dave answers questions about getting started
Dave and Trevor take a look at Ask Dave questions having to do with getting started.
Ask Dave Episode 144
Dave Answers Equipment-Related Questions
Join the Q&A about equipment-related issues.
Ask Dave Episode 143
Ask Dave questions answered
Trevor Oman, the Ask Dave editor, poses reader questions to Dave Casler, KEOG.
Ask Dave Episode 142
Ask Dave Questions Answered: Connections
Dave answers Ask Dave questions under the heading “connections.” See if you find answers here. To submit a question, send to hamradioanswers@gmail.com.
Ask Dave Episode 141
Digital Hotspots for DMR, D-Star, and C4FM
Digital hotspots make it possible for you to participate in your favorite UHF/VHF digital voice modes without having to have a nearby repeater. I use the SharkRF Openspot as an example to show what can be done.
Ask Dave Episode 140
Ask Dave Answers Troubleshooting Questions
Trevor Oman and I address troubleshooting questions in this Ask Dave video.
Ask Dave Episode 139
Reviews of QCX Case, battery, Mastrant Rope, Zastone X6
Join me for some quick reviews: a 3D printed case for the popular QCX radio kit, a cool, lightweight battery from Bioenno, guy rope from Mastrant, and the Zastone X6 “walkie talkie.”
Ask Dave Episode 138
Ask Dave Antenna Questions #3
Dave addresses several antenna questions.
Ask Dave Episode 136
Ask Dave on Antenna Topics
“Ask Dave” answers Oggies’ questions on antenna topics. Send your questions to hamradioanswers@gmail.com or use the form at dcasler.com/ask-dave.
Ask Dave Episode 135
Using the MFJ-1788 Mag Loop Antenna Horizontally
I test the MFJ-1788 in a horizontal position on my rooftop. The performance is great on 20m. I used an MFJ Cobweb antenna as the comparison antenna.
Ask Dave Episode 134
Ask Dave: Antenna and Analyzer Questions
New Ask Dave format with Dave Casler and with Ask Dave Editor Trevor Oman, takes on questions about antennas and analyzers.
Ask Dave Episode 133
The Dayton Hamvention
My trip report to the world’s biggest ham radio convention, the Dayton Hamvention.
Ask Dave Episode 132
Review of SDRplay SDRduo Two-Tuner SDR Radio
SDRplay has done it again with an outstanding and technically sophisticated software-defined radio that even at $280 is still a bargain. The video compares this with the previously-released RSP-1A. Have fun with software defined radios. And do serious experimentation, too! Covers 1 kHz to 2 GHz, and no, that’s not a misprint!
Ask Dave Episode 131
The Remarkable Retevis Ailunce HD1 DMR Handheld
The Ailunce HD1 DMR 2m/70cm handheld is quite a radio. You can order on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2rxXapC. You can also purchase it directly from Ailunce at http://bit.ly/DavidHD1post-1. There will be future videos on this radio covering FM performance, DMR performance, and programming. Nice rig!
Ask Dave Episode 130
Ask Dave Addresses On Air Bullying
New approach to the mountain of Ask Dave inquiries: I’ve brought on Trevor Oman, a film school student at BYU, to take over the area. Here’s our first video together! Ask Dave Editor Trevor Oman, Sound by Loretta Casler (first efforts both). We address on-air hazing and bullying and how to respond.
Ask Dave Episode 129
Slogging to recovery: status of the hiatus
While the health issues continue, here’s a status of the things in work that should appear in videos soon. Thank you all so much for your support and kind words! The link for the HD1 should read https://amzn.to/2HlHhh4.
Ask Dave Episode 128
The Mighty Rhombic, the King of Antennas
There was a time, back in the 1930s and 1940s, when the rhombic antenna was the king. A remarkable antenna that had phenomenal directivity and an extraordinarily low elevation angle made it the antenna of choice for point-to-point HF links. Here’s a little history, plus an exploration using EZNEC+. Phenomenal antenna!
Ask Dave Episode 127
Radioddity GD-77S versus GD-77, an Odd Radio
Even Radioddity says the GD-77S, a version of the GD-77 but without the keyboard or display, is not really intended for the amateur radio market. It programs just like the GD-77, and will even use a GD-77 code plug, but you cannot program it from the front panel–only via PC. Learn all about it!
Ask Dave Episode 126
Good but inexpensive Morse Key and Iambic Paddle
Here are two inexpensive but nicely constructed Morse keys. Both are 3D-printed. One, from www.thecheap3dprinter.etsy.com, is a set of iambic paddles for $30 (but note oggies can get $5 off!). The other is a straight key from www.cwmorse.us, available for $22. Both prices include shipping inside the USA. See them in action. I take apart the paddles so you can see what’s inside. I also compare these to the JJ-38, the J-38, and an old railroad key.
Ask Dave Episode 125
Review and Tutorial on Radioddity/Baofeng RD-5R DMR Dualbander
Two Chinese companies, Radioddity and Baofeng, have teamed up to bring you the US$75 dual-band FM/DMR radio housed in the old UV-5R package. The video provides additional material to help understand DMR, and shows how to program the radio, and includes a sample QSO. Order the radio using this link: http://amzn.to/2Gju2fz, and a small part of your purchase price supports Ham Radio Answers!
Ask Dave Episode 124
Review using DMR of Diamond A430S10 70cm Beam Antenna
DMR (digital mobile radio) has come to town! Well, to Grand Junction, Colorado, only 80 miles away. I need a 70cm beam (yagi) antenna! This video reviews the Diamond A430S10 10-element beam antenna. It come assembled and requires no tools to set up. And it performs! I’ve included some sample DMR QSOs using the new repeater.
Ask Dave Episode 122
Power Supplies for Hams and Makers!
Let’s look at power supplies used for today’s ham radio equipment used in your home station. Several examples and tips.
Ask Dave Episode 121
Soldering 101 for Makers and Radio Hams
Let’s talk about an oft-requested topic, soldering. See all sorts of soldering devices and learn how it’s done with lots of tips and techniques.
Ask Dave Episode 120
Build a Low Cost Code Practice Oscillator
Here’s a really inexpensive, yet thoroughly serviceable Morse code practice device complete with a (rudimentary) key. This is only $18 postpaid in the US from the Four States QRP group. Build along with me and you’ll have the perfect companion to our Saturday code practice sessions held at noon US Eastern Time (5pm UTC).
Ask Dave Episode 119
Test Equipment: Multimeter, Power Supply, Oscilloscope, Signal Generator
Here’s an overview of test equipment in use at the KEØOG ham shack: Rigol DS1054Z digital oscilloscope, Rigol DG1022Z Function (signal) generator, TekPower TP9606BT Multimeter, and the Pevono PS305 DC Bench power supply. This is the first appearance of the Pevono on Ask Dave. Links: Rigol scope http://amzn.to/2HfafLO, Rigol Sig Gen http://amzn.to/2EsS3k1, Multimeter http://amzn.to/2o0XgW9, and bench supply http://amzn.to/2BXVXzL. Thanks to my wife, Loretta, KBØVWW, for videography.
Ask Dave Episode 118
Review of MFJ’s new Xiegu X5105 HF QRP Deluxo!
Review of MFJ’s newest radio. MFJ is the sole importer of the new Xiegu X5105 160m-6m QRP SSB/CW/AM/FM radio with built in rechargeable battery and an amazing antenna tuner. I had lots of fun with this radio that MFJ loaned me. Sadly, now I need to send it back! In the video I go through what the radio can do, with a tutorial on the menu items.
Ask Dave Episode 117
Deciphering Decibels Tell All for Ham Radio
Decibels got you down? Are dBm and dBW giving you headaches? Is it confusing when sometimes an antenna gain is given in dBi and other times in dBd? Watch this tell-all to learn about decibels as used in ham radio!
Ask Dave Episode 116
Review of Alpha Loop and Buddipole Buddistick
Hey Oggies, Oggie Rodney Johnson, KAØUSE, loaned me his Alpha Loop antenna and his Buddipole Buddistick. Both antennas are pretty good out away from buildings in low noise environments. I would give the nod to the Buddipole. Check them out!
Ask Dave Episode 115
SDRplay RSP-1A and SDRuno Gen Coverage RX
Wow! What a combo! The SDRplay is so much more than yet another SDR dongle, but has gobs of capability and up to 14 bits digitization. It makes an outstanding general coverage receiver, or a great panadapter to go with your HF rig. And the price is right, too!
Ask Dave Episode 114
MFJ Extends its Cobweb Antenna to 40 Meters
Ask Dave 71 reviews the MFJ cobweb antenna, covering 20 through 10 meters. MFJ recently came out with a modification kit, adding 30 and 40 meters. This video covers construction notes and performance. Great antenna and a keeper!
Ask Dave Episode 113
New All-band SSB/CW Micro BITX Now Available
HFSignals.com now offers the uBITX (micro BITX) HF radio, an all-band QRP rig that operates both sideband and CW, for the truly remarkable price of US$109, postpaid from India. The main board comes assembled and tested. The buyer supplies a chassis and some peripheral parts. Give it a try!
Ask Dave Episode 112
20/40 Two Band Dipole Modeled
Preparing to build a two band 40-meter, 20-meter dipole by calculating the trap design and modeling the result in EZNEC+. Building the model, trying the model at various heights. I’ll build the antenna in an upcoming video.
Ask Dave Episode 111
On-the-Air Review of QRP Labs QCX
Randy, K7AGE, suggested I review the QCX from a more on-the-air sense. This video includes a complete narrated CW QSO as well as much more information about the QRP Labs QCX radio. Did you know that QCX is actually a valid Q-signal? Find out what it means!
Ask Dave Episode 110
Decoding Antenna Modeling Charts
By request, here’s a video explaining what antenna modeling charts mean. Using EZNEC as a start, we take a look at its graphical outputs, including SWR charts, antenna views, and azimuthal and vertical radiation pattern charts. I also propose that subscribers, fans, and visitors to this channel be called “oggies,” made up from the “og!” channel logo. What do you think?
Ask Dave Episode 109
Review of QRP Labs QCX QRP Radio
Unboxing, building and using the QRP Labs QCX single-band, 5-watt QRP radio. This advanced technology radio borrows ideas from software-defined radios. The final amplifier is Class E. It’s relatively easy to build, although probably not a good first kit. I really like this radio and hope it continues to sell well.
Ask Dave Episode 108
Review of Sofirn SP32 LED Flashlight
Here’s a solid LED flashlight with 5 levels of light that would make a great addition to your go bag. You can buy on Amazon here (be SURE TO USE COUPON CODE SHDPD8NO for 15% off): https://www.amazon.com/Flashlight-Sofirn-Outdoors-Cycling-Rechargeable/dp/B0718YN7X3/ref=sr_1_37?ie=UTF8&qid=1509588824&sr=8-37&keywords=pocket+size+flashlight
Ask Dave Episode 107
Soldering and Desoldering
I’m a terrible desolderer, so I asked all of you for suggestions. This video sums those up with special recognition of early viewers who recommended Fakko desoldering tools. See how it’s done: solder suckers, copper braid with flux, etc. NOTE: This video released simultaneously with Ask Dave #108.
Ask Dave Episode 106
Which is better: Vertical or Dipole?
Vertical or dipole? Which is better for you? Antenna modeling software (EZNEC+) helps answer the question!
Ask Dave Episode 105
The Intrepid World of QRP
QRP seems to be enjoying a resurgence with new kits coming out that are fundamentally different from kits just a few years ago. Lots of cool digital features previously found only on expensive radios. This video looks at my decades-long experience with QRP. And Technician class hams might find this particularly interesting.
Ask Dave Episode 104
Everybody’s Trying the New FT8!
FT8 is the newest weak-signal mode from Joe Taylor, K1JT, and friends. It operates very much like JT65 but is four times faster and more automated. Learn a little about the history of digital modes and conversational vs bare essential modes! Two sample QSOs!
Ask Dave Episode 103
The Hartley and Colpitts Oscillators with Demo
The oscillator is the fundamental building block of radio. I build a Hartley oscillator using a circuit from ARRL’s “Hands On Radio.” I walk through how they work and demonstrate the shortcomings of the approach and why it’s so difficult to build a really good oscillator. I end with a few words about how modern techniques are different.
Ask Dave Episode 102
Modeling the Simple Inverted Vee Antenna
What can we learn about the Inverted Vee HF single-band antenna from the EZNEC+ model? Lots of things, having to do with height above ground, the amount of spreading, and using a metal pole as a mast. Tune in for full details!
Ask Dave Episode 101
Modeling Common Dipole Variations
Viewers queried me about what happens when you shorten a dipole by letting the ends hang down, or have to put up a dipole that can’t be in a straight line, and I was also curious about the effect of my aluminum masts on horizontal dipole performance. EZNEC+ to the rescue. The video shows that modified dipoles can work quite well.
Ask Dave Episode 100
How High Should a Dipole Be? A Look at Antenna Modeling
How high should a dipole be? What happens if it’s too low or too high? We turn to EZNEC antenna modeling software to see that the old rule of thumb of one half wavelength is correct. But there are lots of things going on! Learn about modeling and dipoles in this video.
Ask Dave Episode 98
Review of CyberLink PowerDirector v16
Description – PowerDirector15 http://goo.gl/FLPbnK. Here’s an out-of-cycle video describing the video editor I rely on heavily in the production of the Ham Radio Answers and Ask Dave videos, as well as the Tech, General, and Amateur Extra training videos. Note: I am a CyberLink “Most Valued Professional” and they provided this $100 product to me for free, as they have for the past several years. My next ham radio video will be on Wednesday as usual.
Ask Dave Episode 97
The Coax Connection: Interview about bad coax with Ray Nelson, N1MPD
My second interview with coax expert Ray Nelson, N1MPD, covers how coax can go bad, primarily due to water entry. We talk about the proper method of waterproofing coax connections, and how to spot the poor quality coax that masquerades as the good stuff. MPDdigital is at www.mpddigital.us.
Ask Dave Episode 96
Become a Volunteer Examiner
Ham exams are administered by volunteer examiners, and you can become one yourself! Find out how to help.
Ask Dave Episode 95
Review of Pracomm SML-1000-1 HF Loop Antenna
Roberto Arranaga, KX4CY, felt that commercial small HF loops were too expensive, so he’s made his own for sale at www.pracomm.store which has an interesting tuning method using a wide range tuner (such as the MFJs). I tried it and it works! And the price is right, too, at US$199 (introductory) plus S&H.
Ask Dave Episode 94
Rigol DG1022Z Arbitrary Function Generator
My new Rigol DG1024Z Arbitrary Function Generator, or more normally, a signal generator, looks like a great addition to my test equipment. Caveat: this is not sponsored. I paid for it using tips, and I intend to use it to make videos for you to watch. It provides sine waves and other functions up to 25 MHz. You’ll see this more in upcoming videos. If you purchase this using the following link, it won’t change your price, but a small amount will support my Ham Radio Answers channel http://amzn.to/2xnjeY9.
Ask Dave Episode 93
Review of Radioddity GD-77 DMR Tier 2 Handheld
The Radioddity GD-77 is their 2nd Generation DMR Tier 2 radio and it looks like they’ve done a fine job. It’s a solid, useful radio, and I recommend it. If you’d like to purchase it and support Ham Radio Answers at the same time, use this Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2gmh6dq.
Ask Dave Episode 92
Exploring the Yagi, Log Periodic, and Phased Array Antennas
Discusses the difference between Yagi antennas, log periodic antennas, and phased array antennas. Also, I’ve picked up a sponsor, JLC Printed Circuit Boards, www.jlcpcb.com. This is the first time I’ve had a company sponsorship! Thanks to my wife, Loretta, KBØVWW, for reading the short advertising copy.
Ask Dave Episode 91
Stuff You Need to Know to Set Up Your VHF/UHF Rig
Using CHIRP as our guide, let’s look at all the different stuff you need to understand before you set up your VHF/UHF handheld or mobile. We look at frequencies and offsets, CTCSS tones, simplex vs duplex, and much more. Thanks to Joy McLemore Rabins for the question that led to the video.
Ask Dave Episode 90
Review of MFJ -9232 QRP Mini Loop Tuner
This week’s video takes a close look at the MFJ-9232 QRP loop antenna. Given sizes of components and all, it is rated to handle no more than 25 watts. It can be used both indoors and out. This is a great little adjunct to those who want to play with (er…I mean “study”) loop antennas.
Ask Dave Episode 89
Review of MFJ-1984MP End-Fed Multi-band Antenna
This turned out to be one weird antenna. It’s an end-fed multi-band antenna that’s best used in a portable environment. I had to get MFJ’s help to figure out what was going on; I provide all this info in the video. This is the summer of antennas! I learn new things every day! (I skipped a number–#88 is coming)./td>
Ask Dave Episode 87
MFJ-6120 Zepp and MFJ-6220 Collinear Review and Test
These are both 20 meter single band wire antennas (also available for other bands). This video reviews the “how it works” followed by tests for each, and explains how I got the Zepp to work. I particularly like the collinear (and, yes, it’s spelled with two L’s), which performs significantly better than my station vertical.
Ask Dave Episode 86
Making and Using a Simple 40-m Dipole
I’m often asked how to make a dipole. In this video I use materials on hand to build a 40-meter amateur radio dipole. I hung it on the antenna test rig I built this past week, and it works great! Lots of work, though. Although dipoles are available for far less than $100, I made this one for zero!
Ask Dave Episode 85
Setting up to Test Wire Antennas
I have several wire antennas ready to test, but needed a couple masts. This video describes how I used chain-link-fence top rail together with pulleys and guy rope to set up the “test range.” This is an easy technique you can use to set up a dipole when there are no ready supports.
Ask Dave Episode 84
Four MFJ wire antennas: Unboxing
MFJ sent me four wire antennas for evaluation. They are the MFJ-1984MP, MFJ-9232, MFJ-6220, and MFJ-6120. This short (a record for me!) video is the unboxing. Scroll down for more.
Ask Dave Episode 83
The Coax Connection: Interview with Ray Nelson, N1MPD
Here’s a new approach. For the first time on an Ask Dave video, I’m focusing on an interview! In this case it’s with Ray Nelson, N1MPD, who with his wife own USA Coax (www.usacoax.com, or www.coaxusa.com, or mpddigital). Ray’s an expert on coax and on the many types of connectors available, and his business caters to both amateurs and commercial users. Learn about coax!
Ask Dave Episode 82
Adding 20 meters to the QRP Labs Ultimate3 WSPR TX
I moved my little QRP Labs Ultimate3 WSPR transmitter from 30 meters to 20 meters, which involved building the kit for the 20 meter low pass filter. Follow along as I step through the process, stopping for a moment to really detail how to wind toroids. It’s now up and works: check for ke0og on wsprnet.org.
Ask Dave Episode 81
Unbox the Radioddity GD-77
Unboxing the not-yet-released Radioddity GD-77, their “try again” DMR Tier 1/Tier 2 radio. I describe many of the promised features. It’s both analog and digital, and operates on both 2 meters and 70 cm. I should have the programming software soon. It comes with a programming cable.
Ask Dave Episode 80
Testing the NEW GD-55+ for DMR
Here we are again, looking at the Chinese Radioddity GD-55+. The PLUS indicates they’ve made mods to solve the Slot 1/Slot 2 controversy. My testing indicates they’ve certainly gone a long way. They now cleanly transmit in only one time slot at a time. I leave it to others with more sophisticated test equipment, and as we have no DMR repeater near here, others can test for compatibility with standard DMR repeaters. I suspect I’ll get lots of comments!
Ask Dave Episode 79
My Station Antenna, Butternut HF-9V
Here’s an answer to a question I’ve been asked many times: what’s my station antenna? The answer is a Butternut HF-9V, a ground-mounted vertical with radials. This video explores how I have my antenna set up.
Ask Dave Episode 78
Unbox and Test FD-094B HDTV RX Antenna
Hams can use the PremWing FD-094B HDTV receive-only antenna for 2 meters and 70 cm. It’s surprisingly effective, giving me several SD and HD channels from Grand Junction, about 70 miles away as it bends over a couple mountains. You can find it at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N11V1HH.
Ask Dave Episode 77
Review and test of Iso-Tip 7700 Portable Soldering Iron
I’ve never used a portable, rechargeable soldering iron before. This one surprises me: it heats quickly, charges quickly, and has easily interchangeable tips. Pretty cool, really.
Ask Dave Episode 76
Unbox and Test MFJ-849 Digital SWR Meter (AD #76)
Here’s a look at an MFJ-849, a nice digital power/SWR meter that MFJ sent me. It works well and has solid quality. It also requires no button pushing to get forward and reverse power and SWR because they’re all shown at the same time. Nice little rig.
Ask Dave Episode 75
2017 MARC Field Day Photos AD#75
Come enjoy Field Day with us! Here are some slides showing Montrose (Colorado) Amateur Radio Club’s Field Day event. The purpose of Field Day, held at the end of June, is to practice using our radios “in the field,” such as for emergency events.
Ask Dave Episode 74
Unbox and Test of W6LVP Receive-Only HF Loop (#74)
Here’s a great receive-only HF antenna good for stealth scenarios or just putting a receive antenna in a much quieter place. This antenna is the direct cost and performance competitor with the MFJ-1886. The W6LVP loop is better at stealth and ships in a much smaller box.
Ask Dave Episode 73
All About Baluns (Ask Dave #73)
I get lots of questions about baluns. This video explores baluns and gives demos. A balun is a device to convert a balanced transmission line to an unbalanced transmission line and vice versa.
Ask Dave Episode 72LMR-400
Coax Cable and Connector (#72)
I’m new to Times Microwave LMR-400 coax cable, often considered the best in ham radio (and rather expensive). I purchased 500 feet for future antenna projects. Learn with me as I attach a PL-259 connector!
Ask Dave Episode 71
Review of the MFJ-1835 Cobweb Antenna (#71)
Here’s a review of the MFJ-1835H (high power) cobweb antenna. It has a very small footprint and can be a great stealth antenna. I found myself really liking it. Join me for unboxing, assembly, and testing. If you have limited space for an HF antenna, this may be one to look at.
Ask Dave Episode 70
Review of Chameleon P-Loop Magnetic Antenna (#70)
Here’s my review of the Chameleon P-Loop magnetic loop antenna. I show some use cases for which this antenna is particularly suited. The video provides lots of info about the antenna. Thanks to all who participated in my tests last Saturday!
Ask Dave Episode 69
Help me test the Chameleon P-Loop (#69)
Give me a hand testing the Chameleon P-Loop. I’ll have it set up under portable conditions on Saturday, May 27th, from 10 a.m. to noon US Mountain Daylight Time. I’ll be calling CQ on phone around the bottom of the US General band, meaning 7.175+ and 14.225+.
Ask Dave Episode 68
QRP-Labs Ultimate3S WSPR Kit Assembly and Review (#68)
Michael Lloyd, NE5U, sent me several kits from QRP-Labs. I put together the various subkits required for the WSPR auto beacon. Interesting project that you might want to emulate! It took some real doing to get the right instructions and understand the programming, but it works well and I plan to keep using it permanently. Thanks, Mike
Ask Dave Episode 67
Review of MFJ-1886 Rx-only Antenna (#67 MFJ)
From unboxing to mounting and testing, this is a great little antenna. Its receive performance matches that of a more traditional vertical as well as MFJ’s 1788 loop antenna. Watch unboxing through testing. MFJ sent me this antenna for review–thanks!
Ask Dave Episode 66
DM-R5+ and GD-55 DMR Radios Revisited (#66)
Last December I unboxed the Baofeng DM-5R+ and the Radioddity GD-55. Soon after several repeater operators said these radios were banned from their networks. This video looks at why that is so and how the radios don’t meet current American practices and technical requirements.
Ask Dave Episode 65
MFJ 1788 Loop Antenna Fixed (#65)
After several videos and disappointments, the MFJ-1788 Hi-Q Loop Antenna didn’t work on 40 m. Now it does! I took it apart to discover that the big capacitor was not fully meshing because of a mis-set limit switch. See how it works!
Ask Dave Episode 64
Another Try Fixing the MFJ-1788 – Fail! (#64)
My MFJ-1788 Loop Antenna is having issues on 40 meters. This video looks at a failed remounting attempt, plus at a viewers successful approach. I’ll keep plugging on this antenna!
Ask Dave Episode 63
Review of MFJ-1788 Mag Loop Antenna (#63)
This video reviews the MFJ-1788 magnetic loop antenna, which purports to cover 40 meters through 15 meters. It doesn’t cover all of 40 meters, and 40 meter performance is poor, but 20 meter performance is indistinguishable from a good vertical. MFJ has given me suggestions for 40m, which I will address in a future video.
Ask Dave Episode 62
How To Attach Crimped Coax Connectors (#62)
To test the new HF loop antenna, I need a long piece of coax. In this video I mount the connectors.
Ask Dave Episode 61
The Alpha-Delta Transi-Trap Lightning Surge Protector (#61)
In setting up an apples-to-apples comparison between my vertical and the MFJ-1788 loop, I’m running the coax through the same type lightning surge protector as used on my vertical. This video explores the Transi-Trap and describes how it works.
Ask Dave Episode 60
Cleaning a Heathkit Coax Switch with Deoxit (#60)
My old, long-dormant Heathkit coax switch will be part of the setup I use to test two loop antennas: The Chameleon P-loop and the MFJ-1788. This video shows everything coming apart, how to use the Deoxit, and how it all goes back together.
Ask Dave Episode 59
Unboxing the MFJ-1788 Loop Antenna (#59)
I’m always on the lookout for antennas that might help those with deed restrictions or living in apartments. The MFJ-1788 is a small 3-foot-diameter HF loop tha covers 40-15 meters and will handle 100 watts. This unboxing video shows what comes with it and peeks inside at how it works.
Ask Dave Episode 58
BITX-40 TX Audio Response Tests
Using the function (signal) generator put together in episode #57, we test the transmit audio response of the BITX-40 to discover that rolloff occurs around 2 kHz. Watch to see how it all works!
Ask Dave Episode 57
Unpacking and Testing the XR2206 Function Generator
Let’s unpack and then test a remarkably inexpensive kit for a sine/triangle/square-wave 1Hz to 1MHz kit. Dirt cheap and works. This video covers only unboxing and then testing.
Ask Dave Episode 56
DeoxIT demo on an LED flashlight
CAIG Products, which makes DeoxIT, asked me if I’d like to try some. Soon it was at my door (to be clear, “mailed” is used in the generic sense–it did NOT come via USPS). The demo makes an old LED flashlight work reliably again.
Ask Dave Episode 55
Experimental video: FARN plus channel updates
Okay, so this is an experiment. It’s April 1st, hence time for a Fake Amateur Radio News video. Also, I wanted to pass on some info about my channel, so I added “infomercials.” It seemed more fun than a “state of the channel video.” Tell me what you think.
Ask Dave Episode 54
Assembling the Chameleon Loop Antenna
This is the Chameleon CHA P-LOOP 2.0. This video shows that it indeed fits in the canvas bag, and also shows assembly in an unhurried way so I can give tips and helps.
Ask Dave Episode 53
Unboxing of Chameleon CHA P-LOOP 2.0 HF Loop Antenna
This loop might be the solution for the many hams who’ve written me asking about antennas for covenant-restricted communities and high-rises. I unbox the Chamelion CHA P-LOOP 2.0 HF loop antenna.
Ask Dave Episode 52
Solar Power for your Ham Station
Can you power your station from the sun? Absolutely! This video explains solar power from the panels and batteries to charge controllers and sizing.
Ask Dave Episode 51
A Simple Look At a Basic Amplifier
One of the basic building blocks of radio is the amplifier. Let’s look at the theory behind a simple transistor amp, breadboard it, and test it!
Ask Dave Episode 50
BITX-40 Fix for Galloping VFO
The BITX-40 Raduino-based VFO has a horrible habit of galloping up or down the band at the most inconvenient times. This simple mod fixes the problem.
Ask Dave Episode 49
Review of BITX-40 SSB QRP Rig Operations
Previous videos explored aspects of building the BITX-40 SSB QRP rig. This video explores the operations aspect. Fun little rig! Ashhar Farhan photo courtesy Nagasai Nath.
Ask Dave Episode 48
Assembling the BITX-40: KE0OG Kwickie
This is the third videos about my BITX-40 kit, a QRP, SSB, 10-watt, kit from hfsigs.com. The basic kit is only $59, and comes with assembled circuit boards. This video covers connecting all the other components. Many thanks to K7AGE for introducing me to this!
Ask Dave Episode 47
DX and the Radio Amateur
What’s DX? How does it work? Is it something you want to do? Give it a try! This video tells how.
Ask Dave Episode 46
From Data Modems to Sound Cards
We use sound cards for lots of digital modems. Why? This episode explores the history behind creating the tones we put on the air.
Ask Dave Episode 45
Understanding Oscillators
Where do radio sine waves come from? From oscillators! This video delves into a simple audio phase-shift oscillator to see how they work. Included is a look at a breadboarded oscillator on an oscilloscope.
Ask Dave Episode 44
Using Anderson Powerpole Connectors
What are Anderson Powerpole connectors? They’re really popular for 12VDC power connections. This video explains how they work and shows how to mount the connectors properly for amateur radio.
Ask Dave Episode 43
Overcoming “New Ham” Frustration
Are you a new Tech and can’t find folks to talk with? This video provides several suggestions that can increase your satisfaction with your new hobby.
Ask Dave Episode 42
How to build a J-pole with twinlead
The Amateur Radio Supplies 2m/70cm Dual Band J-pole kit is the subject. This video takes you through the entire build process including testing.
Ask Dave Episode 41
How to get on JT65
JT65 is one of the most popular amateur radio digital modes. This video walks you through setting up the software and getting on the air.
Ask Dave Episode 40
Symbolism in the FCC Seal
The FCC has a seal as well as a logo. At the request of a viewer, this video explores the symbolism in the seal.
Ask Dave Episode 39
Kit Building for the Radio Amateur
What kits are all about and how to decide if one is for you.
Ask Dave Episode 38
Using CHIRP to Program your Handheld Ham Radios
Use your programming cable with CHIRP software from http://chirp.danplanet.com. I show how to download memories, change them, and upload. Also how to transfer from one radio to another.
Ask Dave Episode 37
Baofeng, TYT, Wouxun Programming Cable That Works
Frustrated trying to get the programming cable to work with your Baofeng, TYT, or Wouxun handheld radio? Watch this for an approach that works, using the Powerwerx cable.
Ask Dave Episode 36
How does a J-pole antenna work?
Find out how a J-pole antenna works
Ask Dave Episode 35
RF Connectors
This video examines the most common RF connectors: PL-259, SO-239, BNC, SMA, and Type N.
Ask Dave Episode 34
WSPR – Weak Signal Propagation Reporter
This video is the fourth in a series about propagation beacons. The Weak Signal Propagation Reporter is a system designed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, a Nobel laureate, to study HF propagation. You can participate both by listening and transmitting.
Ask Dave Episode 33
PSK Reporter: How You Can Be Part!
The PSK system can show you where your signal is being received, and all the signals that you receive, all nicely plotted on Google Maps. And if you are already set up for digital modes, it’s likely that your digital mode software already has the capability to participate!
Ask Dave Episode 32
The Ham Radio Reverse Beacon Network
The amateur radio Reverse Beacon Network offers the opportunity to see where in the world your signal is being heard. The RBN listens for CQs on CW, RTTY, and PSK-31, and will tell you which reverse beacon listener heard your signal.
Ask Dave Episode 31
International Beacon Project
A network of beacon stations scattered around the globe is available for you to use. This video describes specifics and shows how to use it.
Ask Dave Episode 30
Antenna Types and Terminology
This video explores amateur radio HF antennas, looking at various types of interest to those new to the hobby. It also provides a brief overview of gain antennas.
Ask Dave Episode 29
Ham HF Bands: Introduction
This video looks at the amateur radio high frequency (HF) bands and describes each. This helps hams new to HF to understand what bands will work best for them.
Ask Dave Episode 28
Standard Wave Radio Demystified
This video explores SWR in some detail.
Ask Dave Episode 27
Sample PSK-31 QSO
A sample PSK-31 QSO with annotations and descriptions.
Ask Dave Episode 26
Installing FLDIGI for amateur radio digital modes
FLDIGI installation and connections to your radio.
Ask Dave Episode 25
How to Set Up Your Station for Digital Modes
Walks through how digital modes are created using sound cards and shows the components you’ll need for a digital station.
Ask Dave Episode 24
Radio Time is UTC
Shows how to use Coordinated Universal Time for your logging and QSL cards. Also a short history of GMT and UTC.
Ask Dave Episode 23
How and when must you identify?
Here are the basics for when and how to identify your station on the air, including calling and answering CQs, contests, and DX.
Ask Dave Episode 22
What to look for in an HF radio
Are you looking at HF radios, new or old? What features are important?
Ask Dave Episode 21
Exploring Waterfall Displays
Learn what waterfall displays are in digital software or on software-defined radios and how to use them.
Ask Dave Episode 20
How Much Does a General Upgrade Cost?
Once you have your Tech, how much does it cost to get your General license and equip an HF station?
Ask Dave Episode 19
How Much Does Ham Radio Cost
How much does it cost to get into ham radio at the Technician License level?
Ask Dave Episode 18
Logging your HF contacts
All about logging, both on paper and using the computer
Ask Dave Episode 17
Power for your Amateur Radio Station
Linear and switch-mode power supplies. Using batteries to power your radio. Allowable voltage variations.
Ask Dave Episode 16
Troubleshooting HF Setup Issues
Explores things that can go wrong while setting up an HF station for the first time, and how to remedy them.
Ask Dave Episode 15
Emergencies and You: Are You Ready?
Readying yourself and your station to participate in disaster communications in a meaningful way
Ask Dave Episode 14
Anatomy of a CW QSO
Here’s what a CW QSO actually looks like, especially for newcomers to CW. You don’t need to know CW to learn from this video!
Ask Dave Episode 13
The CW Renaissance
CW is coming back! Here’s what it is, where it is, how to use it, and how to learn it.
Ask Dave Episode 12
Radiosport!
This video addresses the age-old question: “I got my license. Now what?” Specifically, for those who enjoy goals and measurable objectives, the video covers contesting, DXing, operating awards, and CW proficiency.
Ask Dave Episode 11
Antenna questions
This Ask Dave episode addresses three common antenna-related questions. The first has to do with how to hang the coax from the center insulator in a dipole. The second deals with the inadequacies of rubber-duck antennas. The third has to do with materials for center insulators. Be sure to subscribe to receive notice of upcoming videos.
Ask Dave Episode 10
Mailbag
Peter Greene, KG7VXX, asks about radials for vertical antenna systems. Dick Jubinville, W1REJ, asks about how remote coax switches can work without a control cable. And Bill Smith, N5XVT, asks about finding info on old rigs.
Ask Dave Episode 9
Assigning Amateur Callsigns
KG7KCH, Pete, asks how amateur callsigns are assigned.
Ask Dave Episode 8
Station Grounding
Ask Dave Episode 8 is about station grounding.
Ask Dave Episode 7
HF Antennas for Difficult Situations
This episode explores HF antennas for those with less-than-ideal situations. The video includes three case studies.
Ask Dave Episode 6
The Amateur Radio Marketplace
This episode of Ask Dave sorts out the amateur radio marketplace – who the suppliers are, the big retailers, and so on. This can help you know what to buy and from whom.
Ask Dave Episode 5
How to Use a Manual Antenna Tuner
This episode shows how to use a manual antenna tuner on HF.
Ask Dave Episode 4
Zero-Beating CW Signals
Here’s the fourth installment of Ask Dave, which focuses on a CW conundrum: how to tune a CW signal with your HF receiver so that the other station can hear you easily. The process is called zero-beating, meaning making the signals match in tone.
Ask Dave Episode 3
Setting Up Your Home Station
Covers your home station from power through the coax.
Ask Dave Episode 2
A Tour of the 20-meter Ham Band
This week’s installment is built around a response to a question from Justin Smith, AF7QN, who asked about calling CQ and where to listen for a response. That question sparked this tour of the 20-meter band for the new General or Extra, or for those hams who might like to try something new.
Ask Dave Episode 1
Antenna Analyzers
How to use an antenna analyzer