Sometimes our tech tips are very detailed. Other times, we try to highlight easy ways Hams can solve problems they frequently encounter.

In today’s Ham Radio Tech Tip, brought to you by DX Engineering Technical Writer Tom Parkinson, KB8UUZ, we highlight math conversions.

Need a handy chart for converting inches, fractions and millimeters? Check out this FREE chart on DX Engineering’s web site.

Make a copy, get it laminated, and it will be there to aid in your next ham radio project. We have also included the chart below:


If you are interested in operating CW but have never hooked up a key or keyer paddle, or if it has been a long time since you’ve done it, here are some helpful facts to know.

key paddle

Source: Wikipedia

Many modern transceivers feature a multipurpose stereo, 3-conductor key, or keyer jack. They require the use of a stereo phone plug to allow the use of either a straight key or bug with only two wires connected, or a keyer paddle with all three wires connected to the stereo phone plug. In modern rigs, the function of this type of transceiver CW jack is easily changed with a simple menu setting.
Conversely, some legacy and modern transmitters and transceivers have a dedicated key jack that only accepts a mono, 2-conductor phone plug for a straight key or bug. Some transceivers have both!

The equipment may have either 1/4 in. standard phone jack (6.35mm), or 1/8 in. miniature phone jack (3.5mm). Check your equipment manual to confirm your selection of the correct phone plug and cable assembly, the required plug wiring, as well as any required menu settings.

ts and trs


Phone plug connections are known as Tip-Sleeve (TS) for mono and Tip-Ring-Sleeve (TRS) for stereo. Straight keys and bugs are usually wired Tip to insulated contact and Sleeve to the base common (ground), with no connection to Ring on 3-conductor radios. Paddles are typically wired for the thumb paddle contact for “dit” to the stereo plug Tip, the index finger paddle contact for “dah” goes to the plug Ring, and the base or common is connected to the Sleeve of the stereo plug.


The discussion of choosing between a single-lever paddle or a double-lever paddle and its advantage of iambic keying will have to wait for a later post!

The Silvercreek Amateur Radio Association (SARA) paid a special visit to DX Engineering’s corporate headquarters in Tallmadge, OH Aug. 27.

SARA serves Wayne, Summit and Medina Counties in Ohio, and operates two repeater systems under the W8WKY club callsign.

Members of SARA met the DX Engineering team inside Summit Racing Equipment‘s Tallmadge, OH Superstore, where DX Engineering’s retail showroom is located. Afterward, DX Engineering Sales Manager Bob Naumann, W5OV, did a presentation for club members.

Take a look below at photos from the visit.

Photos by Gary, AA8CS, and Zeke, AB8OU, and used with permission from the Silvercreek Amateur Radio Association.

Today’s transceivers are so feature-packed that you can lose yourself in menus and manuals. TR-4 TransceiverOlder, simpler radios like TS-520s, FT-101s, TR-4s and lots of others can still yield a lot of fun for a fraction of the cost of brand new rigs.

Outboard wattmeters, ATUs, frequency counters and antenna switches can add tons of flexibility to the old boat anchors. New add-on DSP audio processors can upgrade the receive quality on any receiver or transceiver and make it seem decades younger.

You can get on the air with an old transceiver and a simple antenna setup, and then upgrade your station as time and funds permit. Don’t just look at the price of new “stuff” and walk away! You have options for getting your station going with lots of bargain equipment that can be made much better so very easily.

Q. What dimensions do I use for crimp style PL-259 connectors?

A. We have a couple of charts that you will find to be very helpful on the types of connectors used with the DXE-UT-KIT-CRIMP. DX Engineering Ultra-Grip Crimp Connector Tools and Tool Kits DXE-UT-KIT-CRIMPOne shows the various dies in detail and has a chart for various types of coax and the connectors to be used. This chart can be found here.

There is also another chart available that shows the trimming specs for the various types of coax and also lists all of the connectors with small pictures of each for reference. This one can be found here.

Additionally, the instruction manual that comes with the kit has all the info that is in the above two charts, plus details on using the crimper. It can be found here.

We hope this will help you out. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact DX Engineering by phone (800-777-0703) or e-mail (

Q: How can I use the 1200 lb Phillystran as a boom strut or mast guy cable and not use those Nicopress crimp things?

A: Phillystran is a “professional” product, and as such, they do not provide complete detailed installation documents. They presume you know what you’re doing, or that you’d hire someone who does.

That said, there’s really no difference in installing clamps on Phillystran.

You should use a minimum of three, and the saddles go on the “live” side, while U-bolts go on the “dead” side. Use end caps on the Phillystran to keep moisture out. This illustration uses rope to make the point of how this sort of termination is completed:

Phillystran end caps

To attach a turnbuckle, you’d use a thimble through the eye of the turnbuckle, wrap the Phillystran around it, and use the three clamps – just like any other termination. Or, four clamps (Note the end cap in the photo below):

Phillystran clamps

Safety first!

Do you have a tech tip you’d like to share with your fellow Hams? Post it below, or on the DX Engineering Facebook page!

Hamvention has a new home for 2017!

Greene County (Ohio) officials today announced that Hamvention 2017 will be held at the Greene County Fairgrounds. The news was first announced by the Xenia Daily Gazette.

On July 29 word broke that Hara Arena was closing and Hamvention would officially move. Hamvention had been held at Hara Arena since 1964, but rumors swirled in recent years about the building’s future.

“We’re happy to hear that Hamvention has a new home in DX Engineering’s home state of Ohio,” said Tim Duffy (K3LR), DX Engineering ‘s Chief Operating Officer and 2015 Dayton Hamvention Amateur of the Year. “Hamvention has been a great show for several decades, and has attracted Ham Radio operators from around the world.

“We congratulate DARA (Dayton Amateur Radio Association) on an excellent choice of venue. We expect that they will produce a 5-star event, and we are excited about a new era of Hamvention at the Greene County Fairgrounds.”

Read more about Hamvention’s move to the Greene County Fairgrounds on