Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5


Early Broadcast Equipment

RCA Field Camera

This camera was used for field pickups by RCA in 1939. It has its original tripod and lens. (From the Danny Gustafson Collection). It is described in detail in Vol. III of RCA's Television engineering series, published in 1946. This was RCA's second generation of portable television equipment. The first system required two full size busses to carry the equipment. This system could be carried in a van. The first television transmission from an airplane used this equipment.

Our camera is serial number 1001, indicating that it was the first one built.

Here is a view of the camera with the cover off. It uses the 4 1/2 inch 1848 iconoscope. On the right is the lens holder. It is mounted on a track, and is moved in and out to focus the image with a pair of servo motors. One was in the camera (missing) . The pulley for the motor is visible on the left, just above the brass support.  The other was in the Camera Control Unit, where the engineer focused the camera by watching the video monitor. On the left are two bias lamps. Below is the video preamplifier chassis. The one in our camera is a replica, with no components under the chassis.

Here is a view of the front. In the middle the face of the iconoscope is visible. The lenses were interchangeable, mounted by the 4 thumb screws. Notice the wire frame viewfinder on the right side of the lens holder.

The front of the camera, showing the frame viewfinder

The camera, with the Camera Auxiliary Unit (under tripod) and the Camera Control Unit.

Courtesy of Darryl Hock

The complete system consisted of the camera, an Auxiliary Control unit, Camera Control Unit, Pulse Unit, Pulse Shaper unit, and several power supplies. There was also a VHF transmitter that was used to relay the signal to RCA's studio in New York.

The Auxiliary Control unit (left) has a 4 tube video amplifier and the deflection circuits for the iconoscope. An 8 foot cable connected this unit to the camera. Up to 500 feet of cable could be used between the Auxiliary Control unit and the Camera Control Unit (right). It contained a video and waveform monitor, and the controls for the iconoscope tube. Both of these items are missing in our system.

Here are pictures of the Pulse Unit. The synchronizing pulses were created here, using countdown circuits.

This is the Pulse Shaper Unit. Sync and blanking signals were generated here.

The Power Supply Unit. Apparently one was used for each of the above units.

Popular Science, April 1940

Broadcsting, December 15 1939

The entire camera could fit in a large car

Radio Age, March 1944

Courtesy of Steve Dichter