Amateur Radio News

Hams You Should Know: David Vest, K8DV, DX Engineering Customer Support Specialist

Have you ever wondered who was the Ham on the other end of your call to DX Engineering? Well, we thought you’d like to know.

OnAllBands will be running a series of posts highlighting members of DX Engineering’s customer/technical support team—all accomplished Elmers ready to answer questions whether you’re building your next antenna or deciding which coaxial cable is best for your station.

First up is longtime DX chaser, contester, and ARRL card checker David Vest, K8DV. He recently joined DX Engineering as a customer support specialist working out of Southern Ohio, where he is a frequent participant in state QSO Parties and is highly involved in promoting Amateur Radio throughout the region.

David is active on SSB, CW, and digital modes on 160 through 6 meters. After 25 years on the air, he received his DXCC in 2006. In 2014, he earned his nine-band DXCC (his current DXCC count stands at 334). Among many other honors, he has received his WAS award (80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters) with endorsements for 160, 17, 12, and 30 meters. He is president of the Milford, Ohio, Amateur Radio Club, co-chair of its annual hamfest, a trustee of a UHF Yaesu Fusion C4FM/Analog repeater east of Cincinnati, and collector of “boat anchor” radios he still uses for a good rag-chew.

Dave, K8DV, one of DX Engineering’s new customer support specialists.

What first got you interested in Ham Radio?  

My dad (W8LMF/KZ4G, SK) was a Ham and had been off the air for several years but got back on when I was around 12. I was amazed watching my dad talk to people all over. I was also in the Boy Scouts at the time and decided I wanted to be the first one in our region to get the radio merit badge, so with my dad teaching me the code and some theory over the next year and a half, I got my Novice license and the radio merit badge. It really came down to wanting to be closer to my dad, and it grew into a way of life. 

Do you remember what it was like getting your Novice license?  

I had it all planned out. I was not going to tell my dad I was taking the test, but like any good dad, he knew all about my plan. A friend of my dad’s gave me my Novice test (Ken, K4IT, SK), and I remember being as nervous as could be taking the code test—both sending and receiving. I’m not sure how I made it past that, but I did. A few weeks later Ken called and let me know he had my test from the FCC. I went to his place the next day and took the test; it was only 20 questions but seemed like much more. I had no idea if I passed or failed as the test was sent back to the FCC for grading. I do remember it was May and I had just gotten out of school for the summer. Mom, Dad, and I were camping at a nearby state park. Dad and I went back to the house to pick up something and get the mail— and there it was, my license, my own call sign and everything. What a great day this was. 

What about your first QSO? 

Only one problem: My dad was a radio wheeler dealer and just a week or so before my Novice license came in the mail my dad sold his radio equipment and had not bought anything to replace it. I was anxious to make that first contact so over to Ken’s we went. He had a set of Kenwood twins that I used to make my first contact: SM7HPU (below). I made a few other contacts and operated in that year’s Field Day and then did not get back on the air until seven months or so later when I operated the ARRL Novice Roundup, and I’ve been on the air ever since.  

Do you have a favorite contact you’ve made? 

Although not DX, I used to get home from school and get on 40 meter CW and worked a guy down in Tennessee once or twice a week. We would tell jokes back and forth on the air. Sometimes we would get to laughing so hard I couldn’t even send my own call. I can’t remember his name but his call was WD4DGU and he always had a good one for me.

From your impressive list of DXCC entities, are there any that stand out?

The BS7H Scarborough Reef DXpedition had been on the air for several days. I spent hours calling them on phone and CW with no luck at all. On phone on 20 meters they would operate split and would be working 14.200 to 14.275; it was like trying to win the lottery it was so packed full of signals. So the last evening they were there I set my radio on their CW frequency on 20 meters and waited. They finally came on and called CQ. I hit the split button and sent my call and they came back. I was like, there is no way, but it turned out to be good and the rest is history. It was truly a case of “it was better to be lucky than good.” Right after that, within only a few minutes, they had a huge pileup that took up most of the 20 meter CW band.  

What do you enjoy most about Ham Radio?

Everything. But currently, DXing is what I do most. In the early days I was into traffic handling and did a lot of that, mostly on CW. I later got into RTTY and spent Saturday mornings sending and receiving pictures using an old Teletype machine and paper tape.

I really enjoy helping out my fellow hams, and that is what drove me to become part of DX Engineering. I try to follow my dad’s advice about always looking for ways to give back to the hobby. I have done a lot in the hobby and not been tied to one band, mode, or award. I enjoy it all.

Some of my best memories are building a successful multi-multi team and station that allowed us to win the Ohio QSO Party five years in a row, and take it all on the road and win the Indiana QSO Party four years in a row as multi-multi and the Kentucky QSO Party five years in a row as a multi-single. The other thing I like is to get on 40 or 80 meters with a piece of my vintage equipment and rag-chew. 

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of getting into the hobby or to those who have just received their Tech license?  

Ask questions. Don’t go it alone. Find someone to help you as it will make it a lot more fun and not as frustrating. Don’t try to do everything at once—there are lots of areas to explore. Try as many as you can and then figure out what captivates your interest the most. We are in the best of times for Ham Radio with so many new modes and radios. Coupled with the internet, there is no end in sight. 

Anything else you’d like to add about your experiences and the future of the hobby?

I have done lots of general hamming, rag-chewing, traffic handling, equipment repair, and contesting, using hundreds of different radios, from tube-type to more modern ones. I have operated in many field, portable, and mobile operations over the years. 

I have made hundreds if not thousands of friends via Ham Radio and continue to do so every day. The hobby is as good as it has ever been and seems to be a growing interest. Ham Radio has done a good job of keeping up with technology while not forgetting its past. How many other hobbies can you use a 50-year-old piece of equipment and compete with equipment that is being built today? Not many. I think the future is bright for Ham Radio, but we have to always be trying to give back and help the ones who are just coming into the hobby. We have to also respect different interests, as that is what keeps it exciting.

“This photo is my first exposure to Ham Radio with my dad, W8LMF/KZ4G SK, holding me checking his DX log, so I come by the hobby honestly,” Dave, K8DV said.

“This photo is of me, just after passing my General, in front of my new Ten Tec Triton IV my dad got me for passing my test,” Dave, K8DV remembered. “I still have that rig. Don’t use it much, but it still works great and is a lot of fun.”

Need to get in touch with an Elmer from the DX Engineering team? Email or call 800-777-0703. For email support 24/7/365, email at Order from more than 30,000 Amateur Radio products at

Leave a Reply