ALEXANDRIA, VA.—Radio amateurs, or “hams,” have been involved in one way or another with television practically ever since commercial entities began developmental work in the medium during the 1920s. And many TV engineers have held ham licenses and performed their own share of experimental work in their off-duty hours. Early on, at least one manufacturer offered camera pickup tubes at discounted prices to encourage experimentation by the radio amateur community.
Ham TV has evolved right along with the rest of the industry, moving from mechanical scanning to all-electronic operation, then color, and eventually to digital video and most recently, high-definition imaging. And while commercial television entities have routinely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in retrofitting analog plants for digital broadcasting, hams—being an ingenious and creative lot—have managed to go digital on the cheap.