Welcome to M0KPW's world of 6cm ATV and discover how to build a simple, but very effective, AWARD WINNING 5.6GHz ATV station.
Build a 5.6ghz atv station
M0KPW had always been interested in the idea of ATV, but knowing absolutely nothing about microwave bands and not being a dab-hand a 'home brew' I didn't think it was anything I would ever be able to develop. Then many many years later I read a short article in the ATV column of the September 2017 edition of RadCom that stated 5.6GHz ATV could be achieved by using cheap 'First Person Video' (FPV) transmitter and receiver units – intended for use in drones - for less that £30.00.
As I would see, £30.00 may have been an underestimation (by some degree!), but hey – the world of ATV was now within reach.
Although my system would ultimately cost more than £30.00 I had developed a method within capabilities, and it is this that I shall explain on this website and prove that 5.6GHz ATV can be achieved without too much technical know-how by using low cost 'First Person View' (FPV) transmitter and receiver units – intended for use in drones. These, with the addition of high gain antennas, can achieve ATV contacts over line of sight paths of over 180km.
There are various ways to build an ATV station, and with varying levels of complexity. The building blocks for building a simple 5.6GHz ATV station with separate RX and TX antennas are described below.
My station won the Colin Fox Trophy for construction at the 2018 NARSA (Norbreck) Rally in April 2018.
M0KPW came 12th (overall UK) in the 2018 IARU ATV Contest (from UK 28 entries)
NEW for 2019 : 6cm WBFM kit anda new lightweight ATV kit suitable for portable / SOTA
January 2019 - first SOTA Summit to Summit 5.6GHzATV QSO
June 2021 : ATV activation (103km) from Cumbria to the Wirral
FURTHEST 2 WAY QSO TO DATE : 180KM (JULY & AUGUST 2018)
A 5.6GHz ATV station needs to comprise the following elements :
TX unit & camera | RX unit & monitor (and speakers) | Antenna(s) | 12v battery supply & power distribution | Method for displaying call sign
5.6GHz FPV Transmitter
A 600mw tx unit is the main feature of this ATV system and costs less than a tenner!
5.6GHz FPV receiver
Plug and play receiver unit with RP SMS connector makes the perfect RX for the station.
Separate panel antennas for RX and TX may be more costly, but reduce the need to relays.
Test card and callsign display
Remember to be complaint with lice conditions have a way of transmitting your callsign or a test card.
Powering all the 12v devices from one central control with 'PTT' and on air indicator.
Fitting is all together
Now it's time to fit all the pieces together and make a completed ATV station.
tx Beacon for testing
Building a beacon which enables you to test your system and more.
If 600mw isn't enough, try the dizzying heights of 2w with a 5.6GHz linear amplifier.
Testing and Activations
This is a line of sight station, so when planning tests and activations it's good to check for LOS between the 2 stations before starting. A tool that I use is SOLWISE or HEYWHATSTHAT (See useful links below) which will give an indication of line of sight paths and highlight any areas where LOS will not work – allowing both stations to find suitable operating positions. It's proves to be very accurate, but just bear in mind it will not factor buildings, trees etc. into it's calculations, so be mindful of the terrain between your station and the one you're wanting to work. ATV talk back (via radio) takes place on 144.750 FM.
With a relativity narrow beam-width, alignment is key so you need to have a bearing on the station you want to work. Shorter distances where you can see the area of the other station are relatively easy, simply have one station transmit and the receiving station can set up the antenna for best alignment – something that's relatively simple over a distance of 10 to 40 miles as you can set up pointing in the general direction (as long as you know your local geography and the wx is clear!) and with a beam width of around 10 degrees you have some 'give' for alignment. Planning your path in advance is key and having a bearing in which to point is a good starting point. For longer paths or when the wx isn't offering a clear view this can become much more tricky. This means time, patience and communications between stations is imperative - but alignment can be achieved without too much difficulty.
Notable QSO Distances achieved :
24 March 2018 – 101km
4 April 2018 – 91km (M0KPW at sea level)
8 April 2018 – 115km
14 April 2018 – 138km
21 April 2018 – 153km (5.6GHz distance record - this has subsequently been beaten by others)
15 May 2018 – 75km (testing sea path to sea path from Barrow in Furness to Hoylake)
17 May 2018 - 162km (1 way, Northern Ireland to Cumbria)
23 May 2018 - 101km
9 June 2018 - IARU ATV Contest. Various QSOs including 5km, 35km and 117km
29 June 2018 - 159km (First 2 way 6cm ATV contact between G and GI and new distance record)
9 July 2018 and 31August 2018 - 180km (New distance record - beating our previous record)
3 January 2019 - SOTA summit to summit QSO G/LD049 to G/LD030 - P5 both ways using the new portable ATV station
23 August 2019 - 85km (one way, my signal received, I didn't receive the other station)
17 June 2021 - 103km (Corney Fell to the Wirral)
PLUS lots of shorter distance QSOs
gallery of atv station
arrange a 5.6ghz atv Sked into South CumBria
If you have a line of site into South Cumbria and you're interested in arranging a sked, please get in touch below.
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