This review of the Musumi WCS-99XII-M video scanner was kindly supplied by David Norris, G7VDI.
I bought this scanner with ATV on the 23cm and 13cm (1240 to 1325 and 2310 to 2450 MHZ) amateur bands very much in mind. It handles PAL and NTSC signals, which are frequency modulated. (Secam signals are not supported).
It has 32 memories for specific frequencies, and can be tuned manually as well as in scan mode. However programming the memories does take some getting used to. All programming (and other functions) are accessed via the rotary knob on the left hand side of the unit. Power is via 4 AA cells (which can be either alkaline or rechargeable) or 5V DC external supply. It should be noted that when displaying an image, it consumes as much as 00 MA. So I would recommend using Ni-NH cells rather than disposable batteries. The display and backlight are off until a signal is found (or you tune manually), and a number of timed scanning options are available to reduce power consumption. The unit does respond to signals other than video (GSM cellular signals show up as a patterning); however the scan only stops where a signal can be recognised as video via the frame sync pulse. Both colour and monochrome images are viewable. In the 2.4 GHz area, you may see interference which manifests itself as patterning from time to time, without an obvious picture abstraction which tends to appear and disappear in a cycle. This is caused by signals leaked from a nearby microwave oven (microwave ovens operate at 2.4 GHz). Unless you are into monitoring microwave ovens, ignore these.
This particular unit covers up to 2700 MHZ (not 2520 MHZ as is the case with a slightly cheaper variant), and it also does allow reception of the audio where transmitted (not all cameras capture audio). It is able to detect an audio sub-carrier separation of either 5.5, 6, or 6.5 MHZ, as some European countries used a 5.5 MHZ separation as standard, others 6.5 MHZ; the UK standard is 6 MHZ. It does not receive broadcast television in the 470 to 854 MHZ range, or bands 1 and 3 on VHF. Therefore, it can’t be used for TV DXing (a hobby which will all but disappear in the UK by late 2012 thanks to digital television anyhow).
Other possible signals which can be monitored include wireless cameras, baby monitors, video senders and CCTV operating in the 1394 and 2400 – 2483 MHZ ranges, as well as outside broadcast cameras and video links in the 2025 to 2700 MHZ ranges. The fact that coverage starts at 900 MHZ is in order to cater for the US market where there is an amateur band from 902 to 928 MHZ, which is shared by low power devices, rather like our 13cm amateur band.
Testing it using the supplied aerials, I was able to receive the GB3EN repeater test card in Finsbury Park, North London. The repeater is located on the roof of the civic centre at Enfield, about 7 miles to the north. Besides the test card, details of the repeater keepers and the North London ATV group are displayed.
It has to be remembered that due to the wide bandwidth of video signals, far higher signal strengths are required for video signals to be receivable. This unit turns out to be far more sensitive than the Icom IC-R3, however the Icom IC-R3 has a far greater range of uses and applications. Of course, if your video scanner cannot ‘see’ a signal, than nor can you! However, it is worth noting that at 74 X 120 X 35mm, it is somewhat larger than the Icom IC-R3 (61 X 120 X 33mm), but has a rather larger display.
Unlike the ‘videoscanner’ available from www.videoscanner.co.uk a few years ago (which has a larger display still, but covered only 2300 to 2500 MHZ), the Misumi has SMA connections and thus allows the use of any standard SMA aerial for the frequency ranges in question, rather than limiting you to a built-in patch aerial. This allows you to greatly extend the reception range. (I have read a comment that it would be better to be able to have a receive range of 1 mile or 20 miles(!). Of course, when we are talking about tiny wireless cameras with an output of just 10 mill watts (not broadcast television with a power output measured in kilowatts), using a high gain aerial is the only way to extend receiving range!
Of course, although the wideband aerials supplied together give reasonable coverage between them of the 900 to 2700 MHZ range, dedicated aerials of higher gain can be used. For example, a dedicated 23cm SMA aerial in the 1240 to 1325 MHZ area, or various aerials designed for wireless networking can be used in the 2400 MHZ ISM band. Since wireless cameras on 2.4 GHz and 802.11b wireless networking use the same frequency range, the aerials are fully interchangeable. Note that 802.11a networking uses the higher 5.8 GHz band, so take care to choose aerials correctly.
I can’t wait to carry out some further testing using higher gain aerials. For the 2.4GHz ISM band used by most of the wireless cameras in use, as well as domestic video senders, various aerials for wireless networking (which
also operates in the ISM band) are suitable.
I am anticipating that this video scanner will come in very handy during the London Olympics in 2012 when a multitude of outside broadcast links, not to mention mobile cameras and airborne downlinks are in use. Unfortunately it cannot receive 5.8 GHz video, however signals at such frequencies are short range or highly directional, and although monitoring equipment is available for the 5.8 GHz band, it costs around £1000, which is far too expensive for most enthusiasts to consider buying one.
So to summarise, this video scanner offers good sensitivity, portability and good performance for those wanting a specialist video monitor able to receive not just wireless security and CCTV cameras, but also other video from other sources, such as amateur television, outside broadcast and traffic cameras, video baby monitors and domestic video senders. To name just a few.