Drupal Camp A/V Kit REBOOT!

This is a continuation of the discussion started here: http://bit.ly/DrupalAVKits

The session record kits we tested at DrupalCamp Fox Valley 2014 show a lot of promise for easy-to-use, affordable recording stations. There are some issues that need to be worked out and some additional testing to be done before we can approach the Drupal Association to consider making them available for camps.

While most sessions were recorded flawlessly, we ran into a few issues:

  • One presenter laptop (MacBook Air) never successfully made a connection, but luckily we were able to capture a QuickTime screen record
  • There is no indicator of the audio levels, and three sessions were lost due to no audio
  • The record is stopped if the presenter laptop goes to sleep, so we lost a session due to that
  • The touch audio panel is visually misleading to presenters, and very touch sensitive
  • There is only one audio input, so to record multiple presenters, we need to test a small mixer to accept multiple inputs and output one audio channel to the recorder
  • The projector must be able to take a 1920x1080 signal
  • The VGA to HDMI adapter didn’t hold a tight connection to the VGA cord for the projector, so we scored some tip ties from the venue AV department. This was inconvenient when we had to switch out the cords
  • The audio was a bit too quiet, so we should have used the +20db boost for the records
  • There is a detectable clicking on some of the audio records, though can’t say why
  • Additional dongles need to be purchased and tested to capture from various tablets for presenters that come in without a laptop

Next Steps

Before this can be ready for prime time, the audio issue definitely needs to be overcome. I’m hoping to find a digital audio recorder that can feed audio out, which would then pipe into the recording device. This would give direct feedback via the audio recorder as well as a backup audio channel. If we had this, we could have saved three session records, since the video capture was perfect. 

The mics proved to be the weakest link. Three sessions were lost because of no audio channel. Hard to say why, but it’s possible that the on/off switch was inadvertently switched off after initial setup, or the unit was muted (seems less likely). It would be worth testing if a portable audio recorder can feed audio in to the record device. That would also overcome the issue of multiple presenters.

Also, with better communication with the presenters, after we hook up the kit, they can be in charge of the start/stop of the record, since that big red “easy” button can’t get any simpler. Maybe a simple printed sheet listing the various indicators on the device. This would eliminate the need to trim and re-process in post.

Ultimately, with predictable/boosted audio and no need of trimming, session videos could be uploaded directly from the thumb drives.

Bonus points if there is a converter out there to take the 1080 signal out of the recorder and downsample it for older projectors.

The Beta Kit

Record Device - $140
Hauppauge HD PVR
http://www.amazon.com/Hauppauge-Rocket-Portable-Recorder-Systems/dp/B00…

This device provides a pass-through record of the presenters laptop directly onto a USB thumb drive. The movie format is an H.264 1920 x 1080 AAC 30 FPS MP4 video. 

The unit takes HMDI or component video (with a provided adapter cable) in and provides HDMI out. For audio, there is a 3.5mm microphone jack. To start and stop the record, you basically push the big red button. The audio touch panel lets you mute/unmute the microphone, increase the volume and add 20db boost. 

Powered Microphone - $32 
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone  
http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATR-3350-Omnidirectional-Condenser…

HDMI to VGA (connects to projector) - $10
VicTsing 1080P HDMI Male to VGA Female Video Converter Adapter Cable For PC Laptop DVD HDTV PS3 XBOX 360 and other HDMI input
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G9UWP94

VGA to HDMI (support non-HDMI PC laptops) - $25
IO Crest VGA to HDMI Convertor with Audio support (SY-ADA31025)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006FILNV6

Mini Display Port to HDMI (support non-HDMI Mac laptops) - $10
PNY A-DM-HD-W01 Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter
http://www.amazon.com/PNY-A-DM-HD-W01-Mini-DisplayPort-Adapter/dp/B007B…

Additional Untested Equipment

2-4 Presenters, if a standalone digital audio recorder does not work

4-channel mixer - 17.44
Nady MM-141 4-Channel Mini Mixer
http://www.amazon.com/Nady-MM-141-4-Channel-Mini-Mixer/dp/B0009X9H9I

1/8” to 1/4” - 2.3
Hosa GPM-103 3.5mm TRS to 1/4" TRS Adaptor
http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-GPM-103-3-5mm-TRS-Adaptor/dp/B000068O3T/

1/4” to 18” - 1.95
Hosa Cable GMP386 1/4 TS To 1/8 Inch Mini TRS Mono Adaptor
http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-Cable-GMP386-Inch-Adaptor/dp/B001CJ68KE

Various tablet support and alternate dongles

Cable Matters SuperSpeed USB 3.0/2.0 to HDMI/DVI Adapter for Windows and Mac up to 2048x1152/1920x1200 in Black - 47.99
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BPEV1XK

VicTsing Dock to HDMI AV Cable Adapter for iPhone 4 4S iPad 1 2 New iPad (1080P) - 11.99
http://www.amazon.com/VicTsing-Cable-Adapter-iPhone-1080P/dp/B00979QONC/

Lightning Digital AV Adapter - 43.37
http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MD826ZM-Lightning-Digital-Adapter/dp/B009WH…

EnjoyGadgets Thunderbolt to HDMI Video Adapter Cable, with Audio Support - 9.98
http://www.amazon.com/EnjoyGadgets-Thunderbolt-Video-Adapter-Support/dp…

Micro HDMI (Type D) to HDMI (Type A) Cable For Microsoft Surface - 5.99
http://www.amazon.com/Micro-Cable-Microsoft-Surface-Compatible/dp/B009X…

Skiva MHL Micro USB to male HDMI cable (6.5 feet) for Samsung Galaxy S3 (SIII LTE i9300 L710 i747 i535 T999), Samsung Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note, HTC One X, LG Optimus HD and other MHL Devices (HD-X3) - 11.99
http://www.amazon.com/Skiva-Samsung-Galaxy-Optimus-Devices/dp/B00A9H30L…

LinkS Micro USB to HDMI MHL cable +Micro 5pin to 11pin adapter + 3 Feet Charging Cable in Black Kit-(Compatible with any MHL enable smartphones and tablets) (Adapter kit) - 12.99
http://www.amazon.com/LinkS-adapter-Charging-Compatible-smartphones/dp/…

Cable Matters Gold Plated DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter (Male to Female) with Audio in Black - 11.99
http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Plated-DisplayPort-Adapter/dp/B005H…

Samsung ET-H10FAUWESTA Micro USB to HDMI 1080P HDTV Adapter Cable for Samsung Galaxy S3/S4 and Note 2 - Retail Packaging - White - 28.91
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-ET-H10FAUWESTA-Micro-Adapter-Galaxy/dp/B0…

USB A Male to Mini 5 pin (B5) Female Adapter - 2.97
http://www.amazon.com/USB-Male-Mini-Female-Adapter/dp/B001VLIL3K/

Various HDMI converters - 13.99
AFUNTA Hdmi Cable Adapters Kit (7 Adapters)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AA8MAUK

HDMI cable - 7.69
Twisted Veins 1.5ft High Speed HDMI 3 Pack
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FX6KO8Y

VGA to component video (would still need component video cables) - 7.24
StarTech.com 6-Inch HD15 to Component RCA Breakout Cable Adapter - M/F (HD15CPNTMF)
http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-6-Inch-Component-Breakout-Adapter/dp…

Personal Voice Recorder Option

Personal Voice Recorder with audio line out - $160
Zoom H2n Handy Recorder
http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-H2N-H2n-Handy-Recorder/dp/B005CQ2ZY6/

Zoom APH2n Accessory Pack for H2n Portable Recorder - $40
AC adapter, case, wired remote, tripod, and other goodies
http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-APH2n-Accessory-Portable-Recorder/dp/B005CQ3…

3.5mm audio cable - $9
FRiEQ® 3.5mm Male To Male Car and Home Stereo Cloth Jacketed Tangle-Free Auxiliary Audio Cable (4 Feet/1.2M)
http://www.amazon.com/Jacketed-Tangle-Free-Auxiliary-Samsung-Android/dp…

32MB SD Card - $17
SanDisk Ultra 32GB SDHC Class 10/UHS-1 Flash Memory Card Speed Up To 30MB/s
http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Frustration-Free-Packaging--SDSDU-032G-AF…