Welcome to Television, Digital Amateur Television VK3RTV
Jim Linton - VK3PC
The digital test transmission from Mt Dandenong east of Melbourne today (7 June 2009) went exceedingly well with at least eight stations receiving the VK3RTV repeater signal noise free. The test, using German made commercial quality DVT-B standard digital television boards, began at 11am (AEST or Melbourne time) with colour bars enabling viewers to tune their set-top boxes. There was obvious delight in the voices of those reporting confirmation of their reception via the 2-metre 147.4MHz ATV liaison frequency.
Similar to the 1956 start of TV in Australia through TCN9 Sydney presented by Bruce Gyngell, the new era of digital amateur television was officially launched. Amateur Radio Victoria President Jim Linton VK3PC announced to camera “Welcome to Television, Digital Amateur Television VK3RTV.” Peter Cossins VK3RTV was operating the camera and dubbed Jim VK3PC as ‘the first face on digital amateur television’. Peter Berrett VK3PB held the ‘script sheets’ of the opening address. It referred to Australian radio amateurs having a long history of experimenting with various types of television transmission, and them publicly demonstrating it before TV officially began in September 1956.
The arrival of digital amateur television is an outstanding achievement, occurring at the same time as commercial and ABC stations are just finding their way with the same digital medium. Recognition was given to Peter VK3BFG (pictured above) for having the dream to digitise one of the world’s longest established fast scan amateur television devices. That dream not only became a reality today but an instant success. The digital transmission was received at Vermont, Burwood, Woori Yallock, Delahey, St Albans, Moorabbin and Phillip Island. Commonly used to pick-up the signal was a domestic set-top box (STB) tuned to 446.5 MHz. One viewer saw it using a miniature USB DVB-T receiver connected to his computer. The digital signal was reduced to 2-watts and still received by many, but mostly ran at about 8-watts during the test. At least six others were without a working STB. Peter VK3BFG notes that a manually tuned model STB is required. A list of suitable STB is being compiled. Another option may be a simple converter so VK3RTV can be received on a vacant digital TV channel. During the test transmission viewers saw the digital broadcasting standard DVB-T boards and associated equipment, painstakingly put together and pre-tested at the QTH of VK3BFG. Major project funding comes from Amateur Radio Victoria.
The WIA Club Grants Scheme provided $1,000 in recognition of it being a high quality innovative project. Volunteer support has also been important to its success. Work on the project continues with the next stage being the controller to do all of the switching necessary to manage the complex system that will have two independent channels and three inputs. News of the VK3RTV DATV project has sparked interstate and overseas interest. A detailed article will in time be published in the WIA journal Amateur Radio magazine.
View the opening address and a powerpoint display of photographs of VK3RTV below.