Museum of the Broadcast Television Camera

E-mail Received, June 2013

The Link 103 camera in better daysLink 101 camera similar to the 105 camera

Alan Pemberton writes:-

As far as I remember, Cablevision started in 1973. I started going along as an unpaid volunteer in 1974 until it closed down in late December 1975/early January 1976, and remember Tom Millard who was the chief engineer.

As Tom mentions, the station had three Link Plumbicon 103s and at least four vidicon 101s, which were used for static shots - one was installed in the announcer's booth and a second in a combined 16mm T/K and 35mm slide scanner.

A third was aimed at 'The Cube', which was an ingenious contraption with rubber pegboard fixed to the four vertical faces, into which were plugged white letters to form ad-hoc captions. This was rotated automatically by a timer, and interspersed with slides, it was broadcast for most of the day along with Radio Hallam sound.

The fourth camera looked at a six-digit seven-segment LED clock built by Tony Whitaker, G3RKL, and its output was mixed with the caption feed. I doubt whether it was in a usable condition after two years of that.

The CCUs were housed at knee level in a steel desk-cum-trolley that contained the vision and sound mixers and could be wheeled from the studio to the OB van along with one of the two IVC 960 1" vtrs. For single-camera OBs one set of boards could be transferred to a small stand-alone 19" rack unit containing a mic mixer and monitor speaker, and generally the smaller IVC 871 vtr was used.

At the time I worked as a technician in a little CCTV unit at a teacher training college in Sheffield that became part of Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) in 1976.

In the reorganisation a larger audio-visual section was set up including a more ambitious Television Unit, in which three of the redundant Cablevision staff found jobs. At some time between 1976 and 1978 the TV Unit acquired much of the equipment from British Relay where it had been stored in the meantime.

I worked in the Unit between around 1978-1988. We used the three plumbicon 103 cameras and the several vidicon 101 cameras that Tom mentions in the studio until around 1982, when we acquired a set of JVC semi-professional colour cameras (KY2000 I think).

Camera 1, the 103 with the 10x zoom lens was relegated to a caption rostrum facing a 45deg mirror so that it looked down onto a lit platform on which quite elaborate captions could be placed. Its output was either luminance-keyed or colourised with a Cox box for use in productions.

The other cameras were kept in a storeroom, as I remember, until one day we loaned the two 103s to the Crucible Theatre as props for one of their productions. I remember taking them down there, but don't recall our ever asking for them back.

I don't imagine the kit survived very long after I left the unit in 1988 - it would have been chucked out for more modern far-eastern stuff.

Oh, and, as you surmise, the CCUs looked very like the 104 CCUs that you have a picture of. There were also some proc amps used by the 101s in the rack. The 5-channel video mixer was a special made to order by Michael Cox for Sheffield Cablevision.