I said to him, “How do you operate this?” Change into Indirect Speech
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Indirect Speech: I asked him how he operated that.
Explanation: When the reporting verb is in the past (said) and the direct speech is in the present indefinite tense (simple present tense), then the indirect (reported) speech will change into the past indefinite tense
Present Indefinite Tense > Past Indefinite Tense
And if the sentence is interrogative, we use the reporting verbs – asked, enquired, etc
Indirect Speech: I asked him how did he operate that.