Getting Started

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Amateur Television is a fascinating area of Amateur Radio covering all aspects of video production, editing, transmission and reception of Television and has always been at the fore front of the technology revolution. Many stations are now transmitting Digital pictures (DATV) using the DVB broadcast standards and using video streaming technologies to exchange pictures with ATV operators around the world.

You're probably here because you want to know more about Amateur Television and so help you get to grips with the basics of our hobby, BATC has put together a series of "Getting started" guides.

Once you've read those, you may be wondering if there's an easy way to "get on the air" - if so take a look at this page which shows you how to join in the fun on 5.6GHz ATV for under £20!

2020 Digital ATV primer

We often get asked how do I start to receive or transmit Digital Amateur TV - below is an answer a BATC member gave to this question on the BATC forum.

Receiving DATV

The only real show in town and the most flexible, is the PC based MiniTiouner system with a USB tuner card. The reason for this is that it tunes from 143 MHz to 2450 MHz so covers all the bands from 146 > 13cms and with a standard LNB can be used to receive Oscar 100 signals. It also can recieve all the Symbol Rates (SR) or bandwidths from 33Ks (the lowest RB-TV you will find) right up to 27,500 as used on Freeview etc.

The system consists of the USB tuner card hardware which you build (no Surface Mount!) - the 4 hard to get components are from the BATC shop and the software is free to download - total cost = ~£80 depending upon the case you use.

You will then need the normal filters / pre-amps annd / or LNB depending on the band you want to receive but it will be all you will ever need!

See for more details.

Yes, there are are a couple of Set Top Boxes that will receive some reduced bandwidth signals but you will need freq converters etc. There is also a PC software program called SDRAngel which you can use with the cheap £10 RTL dongle. In my opinon both of these options require a lot of faffing about and you cannot quarantee results.

DATV transmit

The BATC Portsdown system is the way go. Yes it is Raspberry Pi based but you can buy a pre-programmed SD card from BATC so there is no programming or computer wizzardry at all. This plus a touch screen and a LimeSDR Mini, which simply plugs in to the Rpi USB socket, will give you a simple to use touch screen DATV transmit system.

This basic system will cost ~ £250 ( less than a dual band FM rig!) and give you a full blown DATV transmit system from 50MHz up to 3.4GHz with good picture quality. There is some limitations on symbol rates - with the Lime SDRmini you can only transmit up to 1Ms . Again you will need filters and amplifiers for the band of your choice....

For more details see

DATV transmit and receive in one box

Since the release of Portsdown software in autumn 2019 that included the LongMynd receiver you can plug the MiniTiouner USB tuner hardware in to the Portsdown system and it will display the pictures, thereby becoming a full DATV transceiver and replacing the need for a PC.

The Portsdown software includes everything you need - just make sure you have the latest Portsdown build - and plug your tuner card in to the Raspberry Pi USB port. See for more details.

Getting Started - the guides

Below are a series of guides which have been written by BATC members - unfortunately our hobby moves at a rapid pace so that guides written only 3 years ago are now out of date!

A good place to start is by reading the Getting Started in ATV leaflet also available as an article extract from CQ-TV, our quarterly newsletter:

Or take a look at this introduction to ATV PowerPoint presentation

Receiving and Transmitting ATV

To find out more about receiving and transmitting ATV signals download these "Getting started" guides:

DATV Reception

DATV transmission - take a look at the BATC Portsdown project, a simple easy way to get on air with Digital Television.

Reduced Bandwidth TV

And to find out more about the latest technology called Reduced Bandwidth Digital television (RBTV) take a look at this RB-TV special edition of CQ-TV.

For more technical details take a look at our getting started guide to RB-TV. Getting Started with RB-TV

Video signal basics

If you want to know more about the basics of video signals, Brian Summers has written a series of articles for CQ-TV which are available for downloads as part of our "getting started" series.

Part 1-7 available as a single download: Video Fundamentals parts 1-7

What next?

Having read and digested all the information in these getting started guides and want to get on air, the next thing to look at is the BATC Portsdown DATV transmitter project. There's probably someone building one near you - you can check by looking at the Portsdown users map.

And for a receiver take a look at the Minitioune project.

Or if you want to get on to ATV the really easy way and for very little cost - take a look at this page on using the 5.6GHz Drone FPV transmitters!

And then head over to the BATC members forum to gain even more knowledge and ask those questions you must have - and don't worry the ATV community are a friendly bunch!

Or take a look to see if there's a TV repeater near you on this wiki page.

History : branches and fork