• Hardware Setup

    Keri Szafir06/06/2023 at 20:06 0 comments

    This section will be about cameras, mikes, other hardware stuff I use in my channel.

    My little studio uses (as of June 2023) five cameras:
    1. Logitech StreamCam as a main "at the desk" cam
    2. Razer Kiyo for the bench cam
    3. Logitech C930e for the test equipment
    4. Razer Kiyo Pro - former bench cam, currently tripod cam
    5. Canon EOS 40D (+ some scripting with gphoto2) as a closeup cam with replaceable optics

    and a smartphone (Samsung Galaxy J7 2017) for making shorts and some out-of-lab filming.

    It's cheap. Being on a very low income has its drawbacks, but also advantages. It forces you to be creative. That's how I used the smartphone as my first bench cam - I had a single webcam back then (probably not even the C930e). I even had a Sony FHD camcorder, but still don't have a clue how I lost it. 

    There were lots of problems to solve, things hardly ever worked how I wanted them to. USB bandwidth issues and latency issues often prevented me from having a nice dual-cam setup hooked into my PC via a single USB hub; there was all manner of problems with devices losing connection and getting mangled in OBS. I wrote some custom udev rules to make device files predictable.

    Now the bench cam (Razer Kiyo) and mike is fed through a USB3.0 dual-input 4-port hub that plugs into another USB3.0 7-port hub at my desk, for switching between my laptop and PC. Strangely, I had bandwidth limit shenanigans when running two USB2.0 cams from that hub. It looks like USB2 devices plugged into USB3 port still are limited to USB2 as compatibility mode; I didn't know about that beforehand. I mean, I didn't buy a 5Gbps capable device to be limited to less than 480Mbps in isochronous mode. What makes things worse is that it's the whole bus on the mobo that is limited, rather than any particular port on the back of the mobo. So, if running out of bandwidth, get a separate controller rather than plugging that extra cam into a free port. Lessons learned the hard way. I did some testing and it turned out that all internal and external USB2.0 ports share the same bus internally; USB3.0 ports share the same EHCI bus (separate from the one for 2.0 ports) and the same xHCI bus. As expected, an extra PCIe USB3.0 + 3.1 adapter provided an additional pair of buses. That's more bandwidth for ya!

    So, StreamCam + USB3 hub1 with mic1 and daisy-chained USB3 hub2 (Razer Kiyo, mic2) are plugged into the controller card with an extra USB3 port bracket; Razer Kiyo Pro and Logitech C930e are plugged into the mobo.

    And now, mikes. I'm not sure when I got my first one, it was a cheap Mozos USB condenser mic that's extremely low on sensitivity. It's meh but I only take it for traveling. I use Behringer C-1U mikes in my setup and am pretty happy with them, other than having to fix shielding and ground connections in them. One went into loud humming once and I decided to give it some checkup - it was the enclosure that lost connection with the ground and picked up interference. Fixed and working again.  Other than that, I'm perfectly happy with these Behringers as they sound nice and are reliable enough, unless something steals USB bandwidth from them.

    I attached the cam & mike setup to a testing speaker I installed above my bench. The setup is placed centrally above the working area of the bench, looking down on whatever I do on it, and optionally looking at the test gear (mainly the scope) in case I want to show some waveforms.

    The Kiyo Pro is installed on a lightweight and agile tripod I can take anywhere in the lab; I'll also take this handy set out there for recording on my laptop while traveling. 

    As for lighting, I use sunlight and normal working lights in the lab. No studio lighting at all. I record mainly during daytime, though I stream in the night.