Introduction: EasyCap DC60 (STK1160) + VLC + Xubuntu 13.10 = OpenSource Video Capture!!
This tutorial is an overview on how to use VLC to capture the audio and video streams from a device using an Easycap DC60 (Syntek Chipset) and the 3.5mm stereo microphone input of a computer running Xubuntu 13.10 64-Bit. The Materials needed will be only a few simple ones, mostly found at local Dollar/Discount Stores. The EasyCap itself usually runs for around -$10 on eBay. A note: no matter what someone says, there are no 'counterfeit' EasyCap devices on eBay, just different chipsets depending on what version you happened to get from the usually China-based vendor (Mine just happens to be the Syntek model with the low quality audio input). As well, be warned: these devices can lag under other means, like Virtual Dub or other programs that do not allow dshow cache access. I want to aim this tutorial at people who want to use a GNU/Linux-based operating system like Ubuntu or Linux Mint (or even Arch if you feel up to it); who may have a 3-5 year old computer like an older tower kicking around, collecting dust; having issues with getting the Easycap to work under Windows (i had issues even with the proper drivers, as the disc that came with mine did not have the drivers, and wouldn't let me use the included software), or not liking the awkwardness of some other capture software, and you simply want to play the game and record it at the same time without the need for a signal splitter, lag, or significant cost, as, besides the EasyCap and a few cables, this shouldn't cost you a cent, or even have you agree to a EULA, meaning that this would be more Free Thought than Free Beer, but free nonetheless. now onward to our tutorial!!!
Step 1: Checklist! Sound Off!!
So in doing this like i have (or in a similar manner, as i had to jury rig something that i couldn't find in a store), you will only need a few things, and pictures will apply where need be for reference. The following were used in this tutorial:
1. EasyCap DC60 (Syntek Model, most common)
2. Xbox 360 Model 1 outputting via Composite Video
3. RCA Female to Female adapter (AV to AV) to join the Xbox Analog Audio Out to the next item.
4. Stereo RCA Male to 3.5mm Male cable.
5. 3.5mm extension cord with inline volume control (i didn't have one, so i made one from a set of headphones with an inline control and an 3.5mm extension cable) to connect the analog output of the 360 to the analog microphone input of the computer.
6. Computer running a GNU/Linux-based distro; in my case, Xubuntu 13.10 64-bit, but any Ubuntu variant, including Mint, will suffice, and must have one USB 2.0 port available, and cannot use a USB Extension Cable longer than 6 inches. My computer is an HP dv6700 Pavillion, with an Nvidia Geforce 7150M/nForce 630M (128megs onboard, 512 total), AMD Turion 64 X2 Tl-60 dual core CPU, 3 gigs of ram (quite fine for Xubuntu, even when i am rendering 720p video at 30 fps in Openshot), and a 320 gig HDD and 500 gig external HDD, as well as dual monitors via VGA to my 720p/1080i Sanyo 19" flatpanel if you have similar specs, you can certainly do this!
7. VLC (Any version past 2)
It would also be prudent to not run any other programs in the background, where it can be helped, such as Skype or a browser, etc. as this would allow for more resources to be able to be accessed by the
Step 2: A Physical Setup Before Software Configuration.
The easiest way to hook this up is as follows: hook the EasyCap's Composite Input (Yellow Female) to the Xbox Composite out (unless your device has SVideo Out, then by all means, connect to the EasyCap's SVideo aka Black Plug), then hook the Analog Stereo Out of the Xbox to the Female to Female adapter, which in turn is connected to the RCA to 3.5mm cable, which is connected to the 3.5mm extension with an inline volume control, which plugs into the Microphone 3.5mm jack (or Line In, if available). The reason i have done this for the audio is because, simply put, the USB Audio Input on the Easycap DC60 is horrible! It only samples at 8000 hz, which makes the audio captured sound like bad AM Radio. By using the Analog Input (Mic or Line In), you bypass this and record it, with the inline volume control serving as an inline level control, allowing for the sound to be smoother and not heavy, loud and raw, as it would be if input directly into the Mic Jack with now ability to control the level. The Mic Input will later be configured seamlessly into the VLC Capture setup in the Configuration Step, which, after plugging the EasyCap into a USB 2.0 port, is next!
Step 3: Software Configuration!
With your Easycap and Device connected to your PC, it is now a simple matter of configuring VLC. There is no need to install drivers, as the Easycap DC60 (Syntek STK1160) is supported by the latest GNU/Linux Kernal and Xubuntu itself via its legacy drivers already onboard, so it is a simple matter of Plug'N'Play! With your device (my Xbox 360 in my case) powered on, the cables all hooked up and VLC running, you can start capturing. Click Media, then go to Open Capture Device, which will launch a new window, allowing you to set up the Easycap as a capture device to VLC for Streaming and/or Recording. in the Capture Device Tab, the Capture Mode selected should be Video For Linux 2. Under Device Selection, if your computer has a webcam connected or onboard, you will have to select /dev/video1 under Video Device Name, as the webcam is usually /dev/video0; and you should set the Audio Device Name to pulse (case-sensitive), as that is the usual default mic input for Ubuntu and its family. Under the Options section under these, select NTSC (or PAL, SECAM, etc. depending on the video hardware plugged in to the Easycap) from the Video Standard drop down menu. Next, click the Advanced Options button, which will open yet another window. Under this window you have two configurations to use, depending on the type of Video Input you are using. Under Input, leave it as it is (having 0 as its value) if you are using Composite In. If you are using SVideo, enter 5 in it's place to capture from the SVideo Input. As well, make sure to Click Use libv4l2 (the Video For Linux 2 lib), and set the Audio Mode to Stereo (as in addition to the craptastic audio capture chip in the Easycap, despite the Stereo Input, the DC60 only captures Mono). Click Ok, and finally click the Show More Options checkbox at the bottom of the window, click in Edit Options, and at the end, delete 'live-caching=300' and enter 'dshow-caching=10' in its place and finally click Play! You should now have an image as well as stereo audio playing.
now that you can tell that you are able to capture the AV feed from your device with ease in this manner, along with clean, crisp audio which can be adjusted for a good overall level (To Full Screen VLC, press F). You may notice lines in your capture image, which is referred to as Interlacing. Deinterlacing is the elimination of these lines in a manner, usually involving a filter of some kind. To apply Deinterlacing, as well as set the default recording folder, go to Tools and then Preferences, Video (option on the left), select the Accelerted Video Input and, in the Output drop-down menus, select Deinterlacing On, and Under Mode, pick the setting that suits your tastes, but know that it will not be applied until you hit Save. To set the default recording directory, select Inpu & Codecs instead of Video, and under Files, either enter in the location manually, or browse for it, setting up a New Folder if need be. Finally, go to View and then select Advanced View to make the Record Button visible. Now you can record and/or stream the audio and video from compatible devices. Transfer all of that old VHS or 8MM video tape footage to a DVD or thumbdrive, capture or stream your gameplay online on Youtube or even Twitch, or just to use that PAL region computer you got in the mail, and you have no PAL Format video hardware!
Step 4: To Close This One Off, and a Parting Tip....
So with this tutorial, you can use a cheap and easy device like an Easycap, along with a Linux-based distro like Xubuntu to capture, record, and even stream anything you want, as long as it can connect to the Easycap. No need for bundled software, hunting around for drivers, executing complicated scripts, compiling, or fiddling with software that has not been supported in years. Just hook it up, set a few options, and you can do what may have been difficult in Windows much easier in Linux. A word of caution: the video files generated in this manner can be rather large, and you would be best to convert them in VLC afterwards. Simply open VLC, Click Media, then go to Convert/Save, Click Add and select the video you wish to convert, then click Convert on the downward arrow on the bottom of the window, bringing you to a new window where you can now name the file, as well as select the manner in which it will be converted (I selected H.264+MP3, MP4 container format for my conversion, then simply hit Start, and VLC will begin converting the file to a much smaller size!!!