Catch-all cheap hardware alert thread

Rather than starting a new thread any time I want to recommend something, I’ll do it in here from now on.

First off, I picked up one of these composite NTSC parking cameras last week and hooked it up to the 3trins yesterday with good results.

One of the problems with low end parking cameras is that you never really know for sure what the FOV will be until you try it, regardless of the published specs, but I can say this one definitely is at or near the claimed 170 degrees andare a really solid fisheye for video synth purposes. With decent lighting it would probably be good enough to use as a thumbnail B camera for livestreaming if you paired it up with a cheap USB capture dongle. Supposedly it’s IR sensitive but I haven’t tried that yet sinc eI don’t have any decent IR sources handy.

I bought mine on amazon since I had to get some other stuff anyway, but you can get them for less than half the price on Aliexpress:


Didn’t want to post until I’d gotten mine and tested it out, but these are nice compostie video-only (no audio i/o at all, there was a separate audio-only version you’d need to track down and link if you needed both) 8x8 matrix switches with RS232 remote control (there’s a desktop control program but I haven’t tired it), chain mode (so you could, say, chain 5 of them and use them as a single RGBHV component switcher), and 14 memory locations. Only thing I wish they could do is mix multiple inputs to a single output (but they CAN mult a single input to an arbitrary number of outputs).

Really good if you do a lot of feedback, since you can save different complex feedback paths as presets and switch between them on the fly (and seamlessly if you use master sync).

Seller has them listed at $50 with free shipping but I made an offer for $35 and they took it, and when I’d confirmed it worked well I tried to lowball them even more on a second one since some of the button caps were missing on the one I got (still perfectly usable though) but $35 shipped is as low as they’ll go. Absolutely worth it for $35 and would be a solid price at $50.

There are at least a dozen left.


love the idea of this thread -> ima try remember to add some things to this too.

and those switchers look cool -> if they have rs232 protocol could also potentially be controlled via midi using my _transcibe_ circuit :smile:

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If you were trying to set up some kind of vintage gaming rig (the only other thing I can think of that many people would want a composite video matrix switch for in 2020) they’d be useless because they don’t have audio, but for the stuff we all do they’re perfect - small 91u 7" deep), light, no unnecessary features.

EDIT: I almost forgot, I can also confirm that these work really well.

As far as I know most cheap USB HDMI capture options aren’t that great and when they’re USB 2.0 compatible they’re almost universally reviled, but I saw these mentioned in a bunch of Youtube clips so I got one and it looks really nice. More than good enough to hook up an old snapshot camera or something for livestreaming. I’ve never used an Elgato EZ Cam but I doubt it’s $120 better than this thing.

You’ll want to get a little 6" or 12" USB extension cable, though. It doesn’t include one but it’s pretty wide and will probably be hard or impossible to plug straight in to your computer if you have anything connected to a port next to it.

We’ve been using for months one of these composite video USB capture cards without big issues and we recently bought another one which also works fine. Around 15 bucks. Sometimes there’s around half a second of latency as soon as you plug it in, but you just need to unplug/replug it (or do the same via software). I’d say the quality is acceptable but I have no real reference points. We capture at 720x576, 25 FPS which matches our signal. We mostly use it with OBS on Linux. We’ve only quickly tested the S-Video connection. We haven’t tested the audio part. To plug it straight in our computer is problematic, but we still try avoiding USB extensions in our video signal path, since they gave us problems sometimes.

USB powered (I’m powering several different things via a USB hub) HDMI 1:2 splitter. Also since so many TVs have USB ports (ones with HDMI inputs anyway) you can usually just power something like this from a monitor.
a passive component switch in front of something like a LZX visual cortex is wonderful. These can usually be found at thrift shops for very cheap too.
passive 1:2 or 2:1 switch.

for my HDMI input section right now I’m using a 2:1 switch into a 1:3 splitter. The splitter goes to a monitor, HDMI>Composite/S-video converter, and a HDMI > Component converter. The component out goes to one of the inputs of the passive 3:1 switch listed above.

we don’t need a full blown HDMI mixer just yet but this little cobbled together signal flow makes it easy to send different inputs into a system.

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this might only be ‘cheap’ in comparison for most of the alternatives, but i bought one of these from this same seller, came with a giant wheeled hardshell case which id been wanting to have regardless. with the cost of freight shipping the whole thing came to about 200 and change. mixer and control panel had a lot of superficial damage but work excellently. mine ended up coming with most of the expansion boards installed as well. theres not a lot of other options out there for this price point that can do the more complex 3d geometry warping stuff (ADO, magic dAve) and its gots sdi i/o as well. if you’ve got space for it and need some 3 channel cube wipes in yr life its def worth taking a chance on this

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Yeah, I’ve been using those EasyCaps for a while, I picked a couple up back when they were under $10 because at the time it was hard to find Linux-compatible capture devices that handled 320i at all, cheap or otherwise. I got a 3rd one recently and it looks like the originals might be drying up because I got a counterfeit - same design but no logo and the plastic is VERY flimsy and obviously made from a cast taken from the original EasyCap. But it works just as well as the authentic ones.

One thing I noticed recently is that the s-video input doesn’t work with the Andrei Jay RPi stuff, at least not out-of-the-box, but I don’t think the difference between S-video and composite on one of these things is going to be enough to justify trying to figure out how/if I can get it to work. The only reason I even tried it is that it would free up a composite output to use for feedback.

I want to suggest again that everyone should check out those Kramer matrix switches I suggested earlier, while they still exist. They also double as a distribution amplifier. It looks like I’m the only person who has bought any so far from that auction, so they might be willing to go even lower than $35 now and you really can’t go wrong at that price, even factoring in BNC to RCA adapters if you need them.

EDIT: also keep your eyes out for the AVerKey 300 or 300 Gold if you do much with composite video. The prices seemed to be a bit inflated lately but not too long ago I was getting them complete-in-box for $5-$10 (usually closer to $5). At that price they’re cheaper than the cheapest Monoprice VGA-to-composite boxes and have a lot more functions in an only slightly bigger form factor.

The prices I’m seeing now are more in the $25-$50 which is around what I payed for a Tv One C2-2155 a couple years ago, but since those are now up around $80 I think the AVerKey is still a viable choice for VGA-to-component.

I still use them any time I need to quickly get some kind of internet-sourced media onto VHS. I know some of the cheapest analog format converters are supposed to be good for bending but I don’t know if these are.

svideo and component in on the wp systems can be finicky but definitely works, ive got some hacks to do it if is neccessary but the quality gain is subliminal at best

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FYI on that Kramer switches auction, when I actually enter my zip code (L.A.) to get shipping pricing, it changes from free to $20.

That definitely changes it. If you can talk them down to $50 shipped it’s still a good buy IMO.

100% not worth the trouble for me.

cheap usb hdmi video capture

but you can get them all over (ebay, ali etc) for under $15

im super happy with this lil thing -> surprisingly well made (ie not plastic) , and works very well. even though i have a intensity shuttle, i always use this for capturing/streaming hdmi -> it always works and handles all the different (weird) hdmi resolutions i throw at it without complaint.

  • bonus is that it appears to also be recognised as a usb-video input on r_e_c_u_r (so i guess other rpi projects too - although i havnt tested this much)

I picked up a couple of those for something like $8 each on Ali Express after I saw a few Youtube reviews and yeah, they work great. My current camera setup for streaming is that bumper camera I posted earlier into an EZ-cap and a camcorder I already had into one of those HDMI dongles. I wouldn’t want to run the EZcap full screen but it’s fine for a little inset in the corner, and the HDMI one looks great. I actually have a fairly fancy USB3 HDMI capture device already that I was using with my laptop and I only got these because the old Del I use for streaming doesn’t have USB3, and I haven’t compared side by side but the quality is close enough I haven’t bothered to hook up the nice capture box once since I got these, because they look more than good enough for live use and they’re more convenient; I’d sell the fancy one if I didn’t sometimes need to capture lossless. I’m actually thinking about buying a few more sometime soon to have them around for when they inevitably fall out of production, they’re that good.

Haven’t actually tried one with Recur yet, glad to hear it works.

But yeah

What I fail to understand is how anything USB 2.0 could do full HD? I know you could get somewhat close but is the rest just scaling? I’m going to buy one anyway just so I could use it with a r_e_c_u_r (which reminds me that I need to build one first :grimacing:).


Cheap 3.5mm mono cables:

Most Sellers on Aliexpress noticed by now 3.5mm mono cables are used by eurorack folks and increased the prices dramatically over the last years. but not all of them :smiley:
They have different length in this shop. Quality is just fine. Connectors are nice and thin so no Problem with small jack spacing (other cheap cables sometimes have). Black only i guess.

not sure how many of you are into eurorack though

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Don’t think anyone else has posted about it and thought y’all might be interested in this little passive mixing/routing box that Cat Full of Ghosts is doing as a Kickstarter:

The DIY options especially are very reasonably priced (the shipping from Australia is nearly as much as the price itself for the panel/PCBs).

Nothing too Earth-shattering, feature-wise, but seems like a handy thing to have around.


Yeah I was extremely impressed by this (although also being Australian and having cheap shipping is probably a small bias lol), always wondered why there isn’t a functionally similar device around. I don’t have too much money for the next couple of weeks but definitely buying one ASAP, very cool!

Anyone have any luck thrifting video gear? Or too rare to expect to get lucky? I’m new to video stuff and would love to get some hardware but it’s relatively pricey so may need to be in the software domain for a bit… any advice on finding stuff locally would be great :slight_smile: