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 the Ask Dave! video series on my YouTube channel. 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 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