Amateur Television (ATV)

Michael Wright

June 16, 2005


What is ATV?

ATV is amateur (real) television.

Comparison of Amateur TV with Broadcast TV

SubjectAmateur (FCC Part 97)
Not compensated for services
Broadcast (FCC Part 73)
Compensated for services
Typical Players:Individual hams such as W2NYC, KK1CW, KK6MX, KT6LN, WB6RIY, WA6HNE, KN6PE and ATV clubs such as K6BENKRON, KPIX, KQED, CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and various media moguls
Transmission Mode:NTSC (fastscan)NTSC (fastscan)
Bandwidth:6 MHz (video at 1.25, audio 4.5 from video)6 MHz (video at 1.25, audio 4.5 from video)
Receiving unit:Consumer type TV setConsumer type TV set
RF equipment:100mW to 30W transmitter500W to 5000W transmitter
Antenna:Yagi, J-pole or collinear on mast or tower as high as the ham can afford, hillside or mountain top from a friend.Gillion dollar high ERP antenna on 100 to 2000 ft towers on mountain tops.
Camera equipment:Camcorder or whatever they can afford.Broadcast quality studio cams with expensive lenses, $60,000 shoulder DV-cams
Studio equipment:A room in a house, a video cable between camera and transmitter. A extra light in the room. Maybe a video titlemaker. Large stage, array of stage lights, control room, glamour talking heads, props, armies of technicians and engineers, lots of expensive equipment.
Portable equipment:What the ham can carry or put in their car, operates on amateur radio frequenciesMobile van equipped with $2 million worth of shoulder cams, processing equipment, powerful microwave uplink transmitter, telescopic mast. Also includes $2 million helicopter with $2 million worth of transmission equipment. Operates on private frequencies.
Cost to get started:Price of camera, price of TV set, $150 - $350 for ATV transmitter, $10 - $250 for antenna, $50 - $200 for cable.If you have to ask, you cannot afford it.
Licensing:All classes of amateur radio license (pass written test, $14 fee)File tons of paperwork for justification and coordination, get commercial sponsorship, fees can be hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of dollars.
Programs to be aired:Chat with friends, show-and-tell latest radio gear, vacation photos, ARES/RACES events, and public service events at NO CHARGE and NO FEES.*Sports, entertainment, news, movies, commercials, paid programs.

* In this context “Amateur” is a legal term meaning compensation free, it does not mean “beginner.” This is why it is against FCC regulations to earn money or conduct business on ham radio frequencies.

So what kind of TV programs?

Benefits of ATV

ARES/RACES Applications

How to get started in ATV

  1. Connect your cable ready TV set to external antenna and tune to local ATV stations.
  2. Get an amateur radio license (a no-code technician license also qualifies for ATV)
  3. Get an ATV transmitter, companies sell ATV transmitters. All should have a composite video input.
  4. Get a video camera. Any camera will work as long as it has composite video output.
  5. Get an efficient antenna.
  6. Use the best quality lowloss RF cable, cheap cable will not work.
  7. Connect the components together.
  8. Be adequately dressed and well mannered (don’t scratch yourself in wrong places while on TV).

Using Cable Ready TV Sets

How Can Regular TV Sets Receive Amateur Frequencies?

Other Types of ATV Receivers

ATV Transmitters

RF Cable from ATV Transmitter to Antenna

ATV Transmitter Antennas

ATV Receiver Antennas

Frequency Bandplans

Local ATV Stations in SF Bay Area

ATV Diagrams

For More Information...

“See You On The Tube”

NASA TV Retransmissions

ATV Demonstration

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