SSTV – The Basics

SSTV stands for Slow Scan TV. In the amateur radio world, this allows you to send images as data to each other.

To send and receive messages, you need to connect your amateur radio rig to a computer, and then use software to send and decode images.

Pictures typically take about one minute to be received. Here are four images captured whilst writing this article. There were received on the 20 metre SSTV frequency of 14.230MHz:

SSTV Image 01 SSTV Image 02
SSTV Image 03 SSTV Image 04

Using SSTV

As with anything that involves connecting a computer to a radio, setup can be quite tricky. You need to connect the output of your radio to the audio input on your computer’s soundcard, and you’ll normally use a TNC (terminal node controller) to make the connection between radio and PC.

Digimaster Pro

Digimaster Pro CAT Interface box

Assuming you can connect your radio to your computer, you need some software. One of the more popular SSTV applications out there is MMSSTV, written by JE3HHT – This is a free download: Download MMSSTV

The following screenshot shows an outgoing message sending a message in response to a CQ call:

SSTV QSO

Sending an SSTV image using the MMSSTV application

It’s very rewarding being able to receive images from other amateurs around the world, and of course, the images are also a QSL card confirming the exchange.

The following image may not look visually impressive, but was one I received in 2011 from the ARISSat-1 orbiting amateur radio satellite – an image captured on the 2 metre band from space:

Image captured from the ARISSat Ham Radio Satellite

Image from the ARISSat-1 satellite, captured from space

SSTV on a Smartphone

If you’re not able to connect your radio to a computer, but you have a smartphone, you can get yourself an application that lets you decode and view SSTV images.

SSTV iPhone App Screen 1 SSTV iPhone App Screen 2

 

The two screenshots above are taken from the SSTV app for the iPhone and iPad. It’s a case of downloading the app, and holding it to your radio’s speaker. Tune your rig into a common SSTV frequency, such as 14.230MHz, and hold the phone’s mic to the radio’s speaker.

When you hear the distinctive tone of an SSTV image coming in, the image should start to load on your screen. You can also leave the phone by your radio, come back in a bit and see how many images you’ve captured. Application: SSTV for iPhone on iTunes

Tried SSTV?

If you think SSTV might be for you, give it a go. If you’ve given it a try, please add a comment below to let us know  your experiences.

Want a one-page guide? See our Getting Started Guides

Comments

SSTV – The Basics — 6 Comments

  1. I have a SCS PTC-II would love to use it for SSTV..any help.
    Will MMSSTV SOFT WORK WEWLL WITH IT FEEDING PROPER LEVELS
    IN AND OUT.?? AND OR NEED ANY OTHER INTERFASE,,,.rEASON FOR USING ptc ARE THE GOOD SENSITIVITY AND FILTERS AND COMANDS.. ETC.
    pLEASE ADVISE
    WILL ALSO LOOK VENTUALLY FOR ISS SSTV (BUR RUSSIANS) ONLY DO IT
    OVER MOSCOW…???OH WELL.. THE BREAKS….

    PLESE HELP THERE IS ABOUT OTHER 10 PEOPLE WHICH I WILL HELPS AFTER MY TESTING…
    THABKS.

    TED HC5K KG4LRJ LOCAL PHONE 336 499 9659

  2. Tks for message….One more question…

    Is it better to Modulate the Icomn 706 thru the Mike circuit
    and or thru the ACC socket to the Modulator( as I do on packet)
    Will levels be critical thru MMSSTV SOFT ..?/Any advanages to
    mod mike and or Modulator Plese HELP and tks..

    We will do some local tests on VHF UHF first fm will that be OK and or SSB Please advise…SOrry many questions.

    ted Hc5k

    • I have an icom 718, and use the ACC socket, which works well, and doesn’t tie up the mic socket. If ACC is working well for you with packet, try it with SSTV. TX level is important and make sure the signal isn’t compressed (no ALC).

      On VHF, go with FM, not SSB.

  3. a android and payed for a slow scan for it……unfortunately it will NOT do,ROBOT 36,and most of the other’s,I just have to bite the bullet …chethel

  4. Well i had invented the mechanical SSTV glow paint monitor .
    The idea was to copy the result of the p7 crt used in th early days of SSTV to view pictures scanned on this long phosphor persistence CRT,but do it mechanically and with junk box parts .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEmc7Jbq7L0…A%26%2365279%3B

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9efez277_E3FpVgyObW8LA

    I am not sure if you can view the pictures and odd video if your not a member of the other forum but this is the link to my project.
    How its done and how i came to getting it to work was a long process the idea was right but i needed to get my head around the correct scanning and how to modulate the laser .
    Ok the drum is painted in Glow paint i found the type shown in the last few posts was much better than what i started with as its finer the first type i used was grainy so not great for fine detail.
    I used a Uv laser to charge the glow paint the amount of time the paint is charged will glow depends on the intensity of the laser ,think i used a 20mw but all that power is not needed.
    IT was a great project and i am proud i got it to work my very own invention.

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