Amateur TV (ATV) in Seattle/Puget Sound

I have always wanted to try out Amateur TV (ATV) and have only found one club in the Puget Sound region holding regular ATV nets.

Western Washington Amateur Television Society: WWATS holds nets every Wednesday and Saturday night at 8 pm local time. The WW7ATS repeater uses Analog NTSC video that is compatible with older televisions. The video repeater is located on Cougar Mountain and has an input of 434 MHz (horizontal polarization) with output at 1253.25 MHz (vertical polarization). Rather than using the audio component of the NTSC signal, the club uses a traditional FM repeater for audio (W7WWI; 147.08 MHz; +0.6 MHz offset; PL tone 110.9 Hz; EchoLink enabled). This allows the ATV-curious to participate in the nets, and see the video from their YouTube live stream.

NTSC primer: NTSC signals have a 6 MHz bandwidth using vestigial sideband (VSB) modulation. This means the lobes are lopsided, starting at -1.25 MHz from carrier frequency on the lower side, while ending +4.5 MHz away from it on the upper end. The luminance (black and white) is AM modulated, the chroma (color) uses QAM, and the audio portion, using 0.5 MHz on the upper-end uses FM.

Transmit video to the repeater: You will need a NTSC modulator with a carrier frequency of 434.0 MHz. At this carrier frequency, the signal occupies 432.75 to 438.75 MHz. WW7ATS doesn't use NTSC's audio, so you are not required to transmit the audio subcarrier centered at 438.50 MHz. To test your modulator, you can tune an old analog NTSC television set to Cable TV Channel 59. This is part of the 70 cm band, and anyone in the US with an amateur Technician class license can transmit video in this band. Remember your antenna must be horizontally polarized. Because the modulators usually put out very low power, you will almost certainly need to use a linear amplifier to reach the repeater.

Receive video from repeater: The output NTSC carrier is 1253.25 MHz, which occupies the 1252.0-1258.0 MHz ATV channel. Technically, it's just 1252-1257.5 MHz because the audio subcarrier is not used. You will want an antenna optimized for 24 cm frequencies. An old NTSC TV cannot receive signals at these frequencies, so you will need to use a downconverter to move it to a more usable range. See description of my equipment below to find out more.

On Saturday April 18, 2020, I drove to a spot that had line-of-sight visibility to the radio tower on Cougar Mountain and setup my equipment in my car so I could participate in the Saturday Evening set. I plugged everything in and could easily see crystal clear colorbars on my portable TV (see image to the left).

Receive equipment:

  • Comet SBB-123 1200 MHZ Band High-Gain Mobile Antenna with N male connector
  • Comet MG-4N Mobile Magnetic Antenna Mount for use with N male antennas
  • KH6HTV Model 23-7 23 cm Down-Converter: I had mine built using an N connector for input and an F connector for output, and selected a LO frequency of 1066 MHz. That means the 1252-1258 MHz signal from WW7ATS gets shifted -1066 MHz to 186-192 MHz which lines up NTSC Over-the-Air TV Channel 9.
  • Tyler TTV707-13 13.3" Portable Battery Powered TV: Unfortunately, Amazon is showing this TV is currently unavailable, but it has come in very handy since it can tune old-style NTSC cable and over-the-air channels without reverting to blue-screen on low-power signals. The seller told me they are working to produce more in the future.
All of the above equipment would be useful for either analog or digtal ATV/DTV. The mobile antenna and mount would be useful for mobile operations, but you would want better receive anntennas for base station use. You might also want to consider a mast-mounted pre-amp for your base station. Because the WW7ATS repeater is 33 miles from my home, I can't receive it with the mobile setup. I was less than 2 miles away from the repeater when I did my mobile experiments. (For Digital, you would need additional equipment on top of what's listed above.)
Transmitting equipment: With the exception of the HLLY TV transmitter that is analog-only, all of this equipment can be repurposed for digital in the future.

Power management:
  • West Mountain Radio RIGrunner 4700U: overkill for this task but I like to use Powerpole connectors on all my equipment to make cable management easier. This unit also has a display to let me know how many amps are being drawn and a USB connector.
  • Bioenno Power BLF-1240A 40Ah LiFePO4 Battery: overkill, but this is what I use for backup power at my home station, so I just borrowed it for my trip near Cougar Mountain. It has built-in Powerpole connectors making it super easy to move around.
  • All the equipment used 12 VDC, so I used a bunch of West Mountain Radio Powerpole to DC plug connectors (2.1 mm: 2.5 mm)
With all the receive equipment running, it drew about 0.4 Amps from the battery. When the amp was turned on to transmit in the low power setting, it jumped to slightly above 4 Amps.

Dave, KD7ZYM, often serves as Net Control for the WWATS nets.

Ron, KD7QKU, was getting a pretty good analog signal into the repeater.

James, WU7N, uses a 13 element Yagi with a copper loop and a solid plate base made of aluminum. Unfortunately, he was having some kind of equipment issue or interference issue tonight which caused his image to be degraded.

Bob, K9PQ, had a very clear picture, but this was due to sending his video over the Internet through digital means directly to the repeater. The WW7ATS repeater has a control channel that lets the control operator switch its input between RF and Grandstream. There is a separate Internet page in which Grandstream users can log into and switch the video feed between any of these Internet transmitters. A low-cost device called a Grandstream GS-GXV3500 can encode a standard definition analog composite video signal into RTSP (real-time streaming protocol) that can be fed over the Internet.

Richard, K7ITX, is also using a Grandstream for his video instead of sending it over RF. There are a variety of reasons for this, including being too far from the repeater, having line-of-sight severely obstructed, or simply not having all the needed equipment yet to transmit from home.

I have also been participating in the net using a Grandstream, but I hope to have the ability to receive and transmit RF from my home in Marysville one of these days.

So how did my field testing go? When I transmitted, I couldn't see the return feed from the repeater. My two mobile antennas may have been too close together, or maybe I need to put some additional filtering in place, but the people on the net said they did get video from me, but that the lighting was really bad. It was dark outside, I was in my car, and tried to add some supplemental lighting, but it didn't seem to gel well with the camera.

What's next? Eventually I want to try to receive and transmit images from home over RF instead of having to be mobile. According to, I just might have a good line of sight to the repeater 33 miles away. We'll have to see how that goes. In the meantime, I have ordered some additional equipment and will be testing/receiving it over the next few weeks:
  • 433 MHz Bandpass Filter: The hope is, if the HLLY TV transmitter is producing spurious emissions, this will help to significantly reduce it.
  • Mini-Circuits SHP-1000+ High Pass Filter 1000-3000 MHz: If I put this inline with my receive antenna before the amp during mobile operation, maybe it will let me receive my video from the repeater while I'm transmitting.
  • MFJ-8704 434 MHz ATV video transmitter: This may be a good, ham-focused, alternative to the HLLY transmitter. I thought this had been discontinued, but they are apparently still available for order. I received mine but it looks different from the picture on the MFJ website. Mine does not have the 9 Volt battery header and the video input has a male RCA jack instead of female. I haven't tested it yet (waiting on some adapters). Here is a copy of the MFJ-8704 manual.
  • Directive Systems 24cm Loop Yagi: I ordered the largest one (DSE2455LY) since I am so far away from the repeater. Hopefully I'll be able to see something with it.
  • M2 Antenna 432-6WL: Supposed to be the "ultimate ATV antenna". Let's find out if I can transmit with this thing.
73 de N7CS.