SSTV Transmission Modes
(by John Langner, WB2OSZ)
Here are some characteristics of SSTV modes currently in use. You will notice that number of pixels per line is not listed. This is because SSTV uses analog modulation which can be sampled at any rate. Various systems might sample the same scan line with 256, 320, 512, 640, or other number of pixels. They are all compatible but those with more samples per scan line produce better detail.
Based on my own observations, around 80% of images sent in North America are Scottie S1. You will also hear a few S2, Martin M1, Robot 36 and 72. Others are extremely rare.
Someone from Europe told me it is about 95% Martin M1 there.
Robot and AVT are apparently popular in Japan. At the 1994 Dayton Hamvention, Tasco demonstrated their incredible new TSC-100 scan converter. Everyone was really impressed with the product but no one was buying them. The reason? It only had four modes: Robot 36 & 72, AVT 90 & 94. Tasco had failed to do any market research on what the rest of the world was using.
SSTV Transmission Modes ----------------------- Mode Mode Color Time Scan Family Name Type (sec) Lines Notes ------ ---- ---- ----- ----- ----- AVT 24 RBG 24 120 d 90 RGB 90 240 d 94 RGB 94 200 d 188 RGB 188 400 d 125 BW 125 400 d Martin M1 RGB 114 240 b M2 RGB 58 240 b M3 RGB 57 120 c M4 RGB 29 120 c HQ1 YC 90 240 HQ2 YC 112 240 Pasokon TV P3 RGB 203 16+480 High P5 RGB 305 16+480 Resolution P7 RGB 406 16+480 PD PD 240 YC 248 480 PD 180 YC 187 480 PD 160 YC 161 384 PD 120 YC 126 480 PD 90 YC 90 240 Robot 8 BW 8 120 a, e 12 BW 12 120 e 24 BW 24 240 e 36 BW 36 240 e 12 YC 12 120 24 YC 24 120 36 YC 36 240 72 YC 72 240 Scottie S1 RGB 110 240 b S2 RGB 71 240 b S3 RGB 55 120 c S4 RGB 36 120 c DX RGB 269 240 b Wraase SC-1 24 RGB 24 120 c 48 RGB 48 240 b 96 RGB 96 240 b Wraase SC-2 30 RGB 30 128 60 RGB 60 256 120 RGB 120 256 180 RGB 180 256 There are also some experimental modes implemented in only one or two systems. Some are still evolving, some will be phased out. Information here might not be accurate. Whether others decide to add them remains to be seen. ProSkan J120 RGB 120 240 WinPixPro GVA 125 BW 125 480 GVA 125 RGB 125 240 GVA 250 RGB 250 480 "J.A." ? ? ? 480 MSCAN TV1 ? ? ? TV2 ? ? ? Color Type: RGB - Red, Green, and Blue components sent separately. YC - Sent as Luminance (Y) and Chrominance (R-Y and B-Y). BW - Black and White. Notes: a - Similar to original 8 second black & white standard. b - Top 16 lines are gray scale. 240 usable lines. c - Top 8 lines are gray scale. 120 usable lines. d - AVT modes have a 5 second digital header and no horizontal sync. e - Robot 1200C doesn't really have B&W mode but it can send red, green, or blue memory separately. Traditionally, just the green component is sent for a rough approximation of a B&W image.
The original 8 second B&W SSTV mode (about 30 years ago) used 5 milliseconds of 1200 Hz for horizontal sync (separating scan lines) and 30 milliseconds of 1200 Hz at the beginning of a frame. The Robot 1200C introduced a new concept called Vertical Interval Signaling (VIS). All recent SSTV systems now use a longer vertical sync with a digital code representing the mode of the following image. This allows the receiving station to select the proper mode automatically.
Thanks to everyone who provided information to keep this table complete and up to date. Several have suggested that this be recognized as the world-wide location for registering this information to avoid conflicts.
Vertical Interval Signaling Codes --------------------------------- Compiled by John Langner WB2OSZ Version of April 1997 Low High Order Bits (MSB = Even Parity) Order Bits | 0/8x 1/9x 2/Ax 3/Bx 4/Cx 5/Dx 6/Ex 7/Fx | p000 p001 p010 p011 p100 p101 p110 p111 ------+---------------------------------------------------------------- x0 | Robot SC-1 Martin Scottie AVT AVT Acorn Pasokon 0000 | 12 sec 24 M1 S4 24  125 PD 180 TV  | Color Color [4a] | x1 | Robot   AVT AVT Acorn Pasokon 0001 | 8 sec 24 125[4a] PD 240 TV P3 | Red  Narrow Narrow | x2 | Robot   AVT AVT Acorn Pasokon 0010 | 8 sec 24 125[4a] PD 160 TV P5 | Green  QRM QRM GVA 125 | x3 | Robot  SC-2 AVT AVT PD 90 Pasokon 0011 | 8 sec 30 sec 24 125 [4a] TV P7 | Blue  Color Nar+QRM Nar+QRM PD 65 -+- x4 | Robot SC-1 Martin Scottie AVT  ProSkan  0100 | 24 sec 48  M3 S3 90 J120 | Color Color | x5 | Robot   AVT 0101 | 12 sec 90 | Red  Narrow | x6 | Robot   AVT 0110 | 12 sec 90 | Green  QRM | x7 | Robot  SC-2 AVT GVA BW 0111 | 12 sec 180 sec 90 125 | Blue  Color Nar+QRM -+- x8 | Robot SC-1 Martin Scottie AVT MSCAN 1000 | 36 48  M2 S2 94 future | Color Color | x9 | Robot   AVT MSCAN 1001 | 24 sec 94 future | Red  Narrow | xA | Robot   AVT MSCAN 1010 | 24 sec 94 future | Green  QRM | xB | Robot  SC-2 AVT MSCAN 1011 | 24 sec 60 sec 94 future | Blue  Color Nar+QRM -+- xC | Robot SC-1 Martin Scottie AVT 188 GVA 250 1100 | 72 96 M1 S1 Scottie | Color Color DX [4b] | x1 | Robot   AVT 0001 | 8 sec 188 | Red  Narrow | x2 | Robot   AVT 0010 | 8 sec 188 | Green  QRM | x3 | Robot  SC-2 AVT PD 120 0011 | 8 sec 120 sec 188 | Blue  Color Nar+QRM -+- Notes:  The Robot 1200C can send either composite color or just one of the Red, Green, or Blue memories. Some SC-1, Martin, and Scottie implementations also allow transmission of only one color component. This means columns 0 through 4 are completely used.  There are two different Wraase SC-1 48 second modes. One has twice the scan line time but half the number of lines as the other.  Narrow uses a shift narrower than the usual 1500 - 2300 Hz so a narrower bandpass can be used on the receiver. QRM mode is interlaced. [4a] A couple sources indicate that Scottie DX has the same VIS code as AVT 125. The Robot 1200C - the defacto standard - uses code CCh, same as AVT 188. [4b] Scottie DX and AVT 188 both have the same VIS code due to lack of communication between developers. Let's not make this mistake again!  These table entries do not have standardized uses yet. Column 5 - last 12 rows. Column 6 - entire column. Column 7 - last 12 rows.  First 4 rows of column 7 are for new modes such as 640 x 480. The first one is reserved for future use. The others are for P3, P5, and P7.  Unused positions in this column reserved by Martin Emmerson for future Martin modes. I would assume HQ1 and HQ2 are somewhere in this range but I don't know.  Martin Emmerson wants these too. The VIS code is sent as: 30 mS start of 1200 Hz. 7 data bits sent LSB first, 30 mS each, 1100 Hz for 1,1300 Hz for 0. Even parity bit of 30 mS. 30 mS stop of 1200 Hz.
This section will take a little longer to prepare. There are numerous descriptions of SSTV modes floating around. I've accumulated many over the years and they are incomplete, inaccurate, and inconsistent. They seem to be based on approximate measurements of signals heard on the air rather than the precise specifications from the original developer.
This explains why we have so many interoperability problems between different SSTV systems.
I'd like to help clean up this mess by collecting and publishing complete and accurate specifications of the SSTV modes but I can't do it without your help. If you have accurate and reliable information on any of the SSTV modes, please send it to me WB2OSZ and I will publish it here. Everyone will benefit.
New High Resolution (640 x 480) "P" Modes
These new modes are similar to most existing modes in that they:
These new modes differ from existing modes in a couple significant ways:
Here is the specification with enough detail that others should be able to implement it.
There are 3 new modes for 640 x 480 image transmission. They all begin with a different VIS code which does not conflict with any other known modes.
They all have 16 lines of gray scale at the top, black on left and white on right. Text may also appear in this region. The transmitting station adds it automatically and most receving systems will display it. These top 16 lines generally won't be saved when the image is written to a file.
After the 16 gray scale lines, we have 480 image lines. Assuming 640 pixels per line, the timing for each line is:
[ VIS code or horizontal sync here ] Back porch - 5 time units of black (1500 Hz). Red component - 640 pixels of 1 time unit each. Gap - 5 time units of black. Green component - 640 pixels of 1 time unit each. Gap - 5 time units of black. Blue component - 640 pixels of 1 time unit each. Front porch - 5 time units of black. Horizontal Sync - 25 time units of 1200 Hz.
A total of 1965 time units per line.
The 3 modes differ only in the length of the "time unit" mentioned above.
Mode name P3 P5 P7 --------- ---- ---- ---- Time units / second 4800 3200 2400 Total time (sec) 203 305 406 Total time (min) 3.4 5.1 6.8 VIS code (hexadecimal) 71 72 F3
As you might have guessed, the names come from the number of minutes required to transmit a picture.
For the highest quality mode, P7, a pixel rate of 2400 Hz was picked because it is a nice round number close to the rates used by M1, and S1. It is also a standard serial port baud rate so some low cost implementations might want to use a serial port somehow for timing.
The P3 mode, has twice as many pixels per second resulting in half the transmission time and lower image quality. P5 is somewhere in the middle.
You will notice that all the numbers listed are multiples of 5. Implementations choosing to use 512 instead of 640 pixels per line can simply multiply everything by 4/5 and it all still comes out in nice round numbers. For example, P7 would have a pixel rate of 2400 * 4 / 5 = 1920 Hz. The front and back porches, and the gaps would be 4 units instead of 5. Each line is a total of 1572 time units. The total line time, in milliseconds, comes out the same.
For best image quality, the receiving station will want to use "free run" or synchronous mode. Uncalibrated systems can follow the horizontal sync pulses for timing. The presence of horizontal sync also allows you to receive the rest of an image even if you missed the beginning. Modes without horizontal sync, such as AVT, do not have this property.
John's Email is bouncing, has anyone got a up to date Email for John ?
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