VGA Capture Thread

Discussion about old graphics cards, monitors and video related things.

Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-2-28 @ 08:02

vvbee wrote:Datapath cards are pretty cool for being professional hardware starting at $20 on ebay. I also like the fact that they expose their c api so you can write your own capture software.

Yep, I'm also fiddling around rgbeasy API atm, mostly for debugging and figuring out what's going on with the signal with certain games and graphics cards odd combinations, like JJ1 been a little strange with its refresh rate switching and inexplicably resetting horizontal stretch.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby havli » 2018-2-28 @ 09:10

I presume the $20 ones are not the VisionRGB-E1, but something older? The cheapest one I can see on ebay is $50 + another $50 shipping.

Anyway if I understand it right, the VisionRGB-E1 can capture resolution 1280x1024 / 1600x1200 / 1920x1080 / 1920x1200 at 60 fps using DVI or VGA? If so, it seems like a good deal even for $100 total.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby appiah4 » 2018-2-28 @ 10:32

I’ve actually read the second half of this thread over again last night and today I am no wiser for it. 30 pages and no good cheap way of capturing dos gaming footage - mind boggling. Someone needs to get on top of this an fpga capture unit that can handle low res vga signals shouldnt be that hard..
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-2-28 @ 13:28

havli wrote:I presume the $20 ones are not the VisionRGB-E1, but something older? The cheapest one I can see on ebay is $50 + another $50 shipping.

Anyway if I understand it right, the VisionRGB-E1 can capture resolution 1280x1024 / 1600x1200 / 1920x1080 / 1920x1200 at 60 fps using DVI or VGA? If so, it seems like a good deal even for $100 total.

Probably cards vvbee mentioned might be single-channel VisionRGB Pros, I think, they're VGA only for PCI bus and tend to be cheaper than E1 as well seen as they're much older models. Most Datapath cards are either single or dual channels, meaning they can capture from one or two independent sources.

Tech specs from manufacturers is rarely of help and often is incomplete. They tend to list most common modern resolutions and their tech support is often unaware that cards can go lower. Just keep in mind that 320x200 will be listed as 640x400 instead, line doubling and all that. Default DOS text mode is 720x400. If a card specifies those two then most likely it'll handle most low resolutions. Refresh rate is another spec to look at, 70+hz listed might also be an indication of lowres support.

appiah4 wrote:I’ve actually read the second half of this thread over again last night and today I am no wiser for it. 30 pages and no good cheap way of capturing dos gaming footage - mind boggling.

Yep, the mind boggling variety of hardware pc has, various transition periods where standards gone through changes, and then some hardware don't play by the rules. The wider period you'll want to cover the more variety there will be. On top of that mess the late period has early digital video output support on certain cards where they either ignore EDID and do their own thing completely or force ugly interpolation and smoothing, ignoring aspect ratio. Last but not the least is software too, some of which did wacky stuff, then there are svga vesa/non-vesa modes. So yeah, it's pretty tricky, not easy to find capture card capable of doing it all. I have various cards and personally I think it boils down to Epiphan DVI2PCIe or Datapath VisionRGB (be it Ex(S) series for PCIe or earlier VGA-only Pro for PCI bus) cards. I also have Yuan-Tech cards (seem to be OEM for various models that StarTech, Micomsoft and few others produce) and resuls there vary depending on drivers, settings and so on, not really worth it compared to aforementioned two.

If you'll want to capture digital video there's another benefit to Datapath E1(S) cards and that is built-in EDID editor where you can change preferred resolution forcing scaler on Nvidia cards to scale image to what you want, which includes 1600x1200. Granted this will not affect built-in scaler interpolation, but at least it's something. On the other hand something like Number Nine's versions of S3 Savage4 with DVI output simply ignore EDID completely and output whatever generic resolution that would fit in original image.

Anyway if you have specific questions feel free to ask. I'm sure folks here who had got their recording setups can share their setups too.

appiah4 wrote:Someone needs to get on top of this an fpga capture unit that can handle low res vga signals shouldnt be that hard..

Well, there's Micomsoft XPC-4, but it's a quirky product. Sure, you'll get decent results, in fact better than scalers like old Startech's VGA2HDMIPro, and then you can capture scaled digital video (1080p with black bars or 1600x1200 with correct aspect ratio) with most common digital-only capture cards. But it is a very expensive unit and there's no english translation (it is entirely in japaneese). I have it but don't have much use of nowadays for plain DOS machine, I suppose it's more useful for those japaneese nec/sharp PCs for which it was primarily made and their quirks to handle.

Unlike most retro setups people have here I actually don't have good ol' CRT and my primary display (ASUS PG279Q) doesn't handle VGA either, so I have to route video to capture card anyway. And after dealing with a few initial setup hurdles it had become pretty convinient, retro box is just another window on my screen while keyboard/mouse handled via basic KVM with PS/2 and USB ins and outs. Kind like best of the worlds, in my personal opinion, no emulation and real hardware.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Pingaloka » 2018-2-28 @ 14:39

Tree Wyrm wrote:
Pingaloka wrote:Hi Guys, I have been reading the whole thread and can't really figure out what would be the best for what I want to do.
Any help would be highly appreciated.

Basically I want to record gameplays from my Pentium 133mhz using a S3 Trio +64 and post them on youtube. I don't want to use emulation and quality doesn't have to be amazing, but at least better than S-video.
Any ideas on how to setup this nicely and without it being too expensive?

I'd say Datapath VisionRGB E1(S), while used ones still available on eBay. If you're not bothered by not-pixel-accurate image you can even just use basic Vision utility that comes with it, set it to output into fixed resolution and then record its window via OBS.

This is captured from analog output of S3 Savage4 card.

Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

edit: There are of course some quirks, but then no card I had was flawless. Still less than others. Certain video cards you'll capture from might be better than others for capture card to switch between resolutions. One downside is that you'll have to route audio capture separately, this card does only video.


Well, thanks a lot for the answers guys.

I finally found a "cheap" StarTech Professional VGA to HDMI Video Converter, VGA2HDMIPRO. (http://bit.ly/2ovwh5a) I'm going to try my luck with it after watching some of Phil's videos on Youtube.
I'll let you know with the result. AS I stated before, my idea is to record full gameplays of MS-Dos games, focusing on Graphic Adventures.
BTW, the channel is going to be in spanish language.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-2-28 @ 17:19

Tree Wyrm wrote:Probably cards vvbee mentioned might be single-channel VisionRGB Pros, I think, they're VGA only for PCI bus and tend to be cheaper than E1 as well seen as they're much older models. Most Datapath cards are either single or dual channels, meaning they can capture from one or two independent sources.

It's not often that you need a dvi 1080p 60 fps capture card to capture dos vga footage at 60 or whatever fps. The most tangible benefits of the e1 in that will be pci-e instead of pci and drivers for newer systems. If you can work around those limitations then you'll have saved some money. I remember you mentioning some issue with the e1 capturing vga that I didn't have on the older pro2.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-2-28 @ 17:52

Pingaloka wrote:Well, thanks a lot for the answers guys.

I finally found a "cheap" StarTech Professional VGA to HDMI Video Converter, VGA2HDMIPRO. (http://bit.ly/2ovwh5a) I'm going to try my luck with it after watching some of Phil's videos on Youtube.
I'll let you know with the result. AS I stated before, my idea is to record full gameplays of MS-Dos games, focusing on Graphic Adventures.
BTW, the channel is going to be in spanish language.

I had that scaler unit before, but sold it eventually. It's dead simple to use but the quality just isn't great. It doesn't do rgb24 so there'll be color degradation as well as ringing effect. As I'd remember it has slow re-init on resolution change, basically it's gonna be annoying in games that frequently switch between different resolutions (let's say a game mainly uses 320x200 but switches to 640x480 for inventory screen, menus or something like that) or refresh rates. It handles some cards better, some cards worse where it may have noticeable line flicker and such. Depending on input/output resolutions it is possible to brick it into no signal, in that case there's factory reset with some combination of buttons when plugging power cable (think it was menu button). Btw that unit is just a scaler, it only converts analog video signal to digital and upscales it to output resolution, you'll still need a capture card. Granted you can use pretty much any of them that got hdmi input.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Pingaloka » 2018-2-28 @ 18:04

Tree Wyrm wrote:
Pingaloka wrote:Well, thanks a lot for the answers guys.

I finally found a "cheap" StarTech Professional VGA to HDMI Video Converter, VGA2HDMIPRO. (http://bit.ly/2ovwh5a) I'm going to try my luck with it after watching some of Phil's videos on Youtube.
I'll let you know with the result. AS I stated before, my idea is to record full gameplays of MS-Dos games, focusing on Graphic Adventures.
BTW, the channel is going to be in spanish language.

I had that scaler unit before, but sold it eventually. It's dead simple to use but the quality just isn't great. It doesn't do rgb24 so there'll be color degradation as well as ringing effect. As I'd remember it has slow re-init on resolution change, basically it's gonna be annoying in games that frequently switch between different resolutions (let's say a game mainly uses 320x200 but switches to 640x480 for inventory screen, menus or something like that) or refresh rates. It handles some cards better, some cards worse where it may have noticeable line flicker and such. Depending on input/output resolutions it is possible to brick it into no signal, in that case there's factory reset with some combination of buttons when plugging power cable (think it was menu button). Btw that unit is just a scaler, it only converts analog video signal to digital and upscales it to output resolution, you'll still need a capture card. Granted you can use pretty much any of them that got hdmi input.


Shit! I thought this is all I needed. So I need an internal capture card? But do I also need the scaler? I'm completely lost now.....
Ok, I have searched in a Spanish kind of Craiglist. Could you guys help me out? Would any of these work? I can see many of them just have S-video as MAX output capibility.

https://www.milanuncios.com/accesorios- ... 443402.htm
https://www.milanuncios.com/otros-compo ... 671328.htm
https://www.milanuncios.com/accesorios- ... 552889.htm
https://www.milanuncios.com/tarjetas-gr ... 595118.htm
https://www.milanuncios.com/otros-compo ... 917443.htm
https://www.milanuncios.com/accesorios- ... 078046.htm
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-2-28 @ 19:39

Nope. What you need for VGA2HDMIPro is a HDMI capture card since the scaler unit outputs digital signal via HDMI. The good news most modern consumer capture cards do have HDMI input. Avermedia, Startech and Elgato (something like used elgato game capture hd) would do. I think I've seen some chineese noname capture cards popping up on ebay, but I haven't tried them and I'm not sure what their specs are anyway, chances are they max out at 1080i/30fps or something. The bad news, ironically, you may end up paying wee bit more with this scaler+capture card route. But with a decent HDMI capture card you'll get yourself a neat and relatively simple solution for retro setup, plug and pray for signal.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Pingaloka » 2018-2-28 @ 20:33

Tree Wyrm wrote:Nope. What you need for VGA2HDMIPro is a HDMI capture card since the scaler unit outputs digital signal via HDMI. The good news most modern consumer capture cards do have HDMI input. Avermedia, Startech and Elgato (something like used elgato game capture hd) would do. I think I've seen some chineese noname capture cards popping up on ebay, but I haven't tried them and I'm not sure what their specs are anyway, chances are they max out at 1080i/30fps or something. The bad news, ironically, you may end up paying wee bit more with this scaler+capture card route. But with a decent HDMI capture card you'll get yourself a neat and relatively simple solution for retro setup, plug and pray for signal.


Ok, but the question is, how am I going plug it on a Socket 7 board? Most of these cards are PCI express
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-2-28 @ 20:54

Pingaloka wrote:
Tree Wyrm wrote:Nope. What you need for VGA2HDMIPro is a HDMI capture card since the scaler unit outputs digital signal via HDMI. The good news most modern consumer capture cards do have HDMI input. Avermedia, Startech and Elgato (something like used elgato game capture hd) would do. I think I've seen some chineese noname capture cards popping up on ebay, but I haven't tried them and I'm not sure what their specs are anyway, chances are they max out at 1080i/30fps or something. The bad news, ironically, you may end up paying wee bit more with this scaler+capture card route. But with a decent HDMI capture card you'll get yourself a neat and relatively simple solution for retro setup, plug and pray for signal.


Ok, but the question is, how am I going plug it on a Socket 7 board? Most of these cards are PCI express

You don't. Capture card goes into your main modern PC. VGA cable from your retro PC goes to VGA input port of your VGA2HDMIPro scaler unit, on its other end is HDMI output which you'll connect to capture card via HDMI cable. On your main PC is where you setup recording/streaming software like OBS or whatever else. If you're on a laptop then look for capture card that connects via USB like Elgato Game Capture HD, Startech USB2HDCAP, etc.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Pingaloka » 2018-2-28 @ 20:56

Tree Wyrm wrote:
Pingaloka wrote:
Tree Wyrm wrote:Nope. What you need for VGA2HDMIPro is a HDMI capture card since the scaler unit outputs digital signal via HDMI. The good news most modern consumer capture cards do have HDMI input. Avermedia, Startech and Elgato (something like used elgato game capture hd) would do. I think I've seen some chineese noname capture cards popping up on ebay, but I haven't tried them and I'm not sure what their specs are anyway, chances are they max out at 1080i/30fps or something. The bad news, ironically, you may end up paying wee bit more with this scaler+capture card route. But with a decent HDMI capture card you'll get yourself a neat and relatively simple solution for retro setup, plug and pray for signal.


Ok, but the question is, how am I going plug it on a Socket 7 board? Most of these cards are PCI express

You don't. Capture card goes into your main modern PC. VGA cable from your retro PC goes to VGA input port of your VGA2HDMIPro scaler unit, on its other end is HDMI output which you'll connect to capture card via HDMI cable. On your main PC is where you setup recording/streaming software like OBS or whatever else. If you're on a laptop then look for capture card that connects via USB like Elgato Game Capture HD, Startech USB2HDCAP, etc.


Oh Lord...that just shows how lost I am!!! hahahah....thanks a lot Tree Wyrm, mate!
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby havli » 2018-2-28 @ 21:00

vvbee wrote:It's not often that you need a dvi 1080p 60 fps capture card to capture dos vga footage at 60 or whatever fps. The most tangible benefits of the e1 in that will be pci-e instead of pci and drivers for newer systems. If you can work around those limitations then you'll have saved some money. I remember you mentioning some issue with the e1 capturing vga that I didn't have on the older pro2.

I'm interested in capturing very wide range of gaming machines - starting with Pentium + DOS games, then early 3D accelerated games running on Voodoos, Riva TNT, Rage,etc (all connected via VGA)... and also more modern DX8/9/10 games running on appropriate GPUs (using DVI). The plan is to also make some kind of AA/AF comparison and running this at 60 fps certainly helps.

It is most convenient to have just one recording PC - my main rig, which is limiting my choice for pci-e capture cards only. The VisionRGB E1 (or rather the S variant as it seems to be better suited for higher resolution @ 60 fps) looks very good and even has windows 10 compatible drivers. You mention some problems with VGA capturing on the E1? I could set up extra recording PC just for the RGB-PRO and use that for VGA capture if I really had to, but if possible I'd prefer not to and keep things simple using just one capture card in one PC.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-3-01 @ 02:11

The guy earlier was looking for pure dos capture and for that the pro is the highest quality for the lowest $ you can get. For modern resolutions you'd look at more expensive options. With 32 bit color the pro does 60 fps at 640 x 480, 45 at 800 x 600 and about 30 at 1024 x 768. You can ask the hardware to downscale nearest neighbor to 640 x 480 and you'll get 60 fps up to 1280 x 1024, aliased image though obviously.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby havli » 2018-3-01 @ 14:08

Yeah, for DOS is seems to be good.
I will probably go for the E1S. With some luck my VGA videocards will work with it and if not, I can always get the older PRO later and try that instead.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-3-01 @ 15:52

For the datapath vision line and especially the pro you'll also want the capture software I made for it. Granted it's not available right at this moment and needs a rewrite, but one day it'll be out again, open sourced and the best thing there is. Depending on how starved for projects I am.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby havli » 2018-3-01 @ 19:59

Looking forward to try your capture SW. :happy:
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby SquallStrife » 2018-3-07 @ 05:05

Tree Wyrm wrote:I have various cards and personally I think it boils down to Epiphan DVI2PCIe or Datapath VisionRGB (be it Ex(S) series for PCIe or earlier VGA-only Pro for PCI bus) cards. I also have Yuan-Tech cards (seem to be OEM for various models that StarTech, Micomsoft and few others produce) and resuls there vary depending on drivers, settings and so on, not really worth it compared to aforementioned two.


For latency and image quality, the Yuan-Tech cards are just fine. You're right that the drivers leave a lot to be desired. If someone did some custom drivers I think they'd instantly become phenomenal value for money.

My setup is a VGA2HDMIPro with a Startech PEXHDCAP2, and I can capture anything from Atari 2600 to PS4 in console-land, and everything Mac and PC I've thrown at it computer-wise. The scaler is really only used in instances where V-refresh is over 60Hz.

The bigger issue, I think, is availability and cost. The Epiphan card is not cheap, the older VisionRGB cards don't come up often (I was waiting months before I caved and went for the PEXHDCAP), and the newer ones are also quite expensive. Yuan-tech cards are less expensive, more widely available new and used, and the flexibility trade-off seems acceptable to me.

If someone just wants to capture PCs (doesn't care about 15kHz sources), then a VGA2HDMIPro with a cheap Elgato/Avermedia/Happauge card will do just nicely.

WRT appiah's "cheap good" question, I think the answer is that there's no silver bullet for capturing vintage hardware. You either need to compromise on quality, spend a lot of time and effort, or spend a lot of money.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-3-09 @ 19:13

Well, with VGA2HDMIPro any HDMI-capable capture card would do. I'd guess the woes of finding a working configuration is when you're trying to capture direct analog output and finding capture card not just capable of that but also compatible with weird quirks some of the old hardware had. I wasn't able to get a direct analog video reliably for SC512N1-L (which I believe is the same thing as Startech's PEXHDCAP60L), which I guess comes down once again to driver oddities.

Yeah, Ephipans ain't cheap, I wasn't particularly after it but quickly snatched one when it showed up relatively cheap on ebay, couldn't pass that one.

Also when it comes to VGA2HDMIPro the quality just wasn't good imo, noticeable ringing around reds and I'm pretty sure it reduces colorspace. Though I was more annoyed with slow switching even when it's not resolution but merely refresh rate, some games did that, like automap in Descent and Jazz Jackrabbit.

Well there's yet another route: nvidia pci/agp card with dvi output and capture card which lets you configure EDID can actually be another alternative, set preferred resolution in EDID to 1600x1200 and there it is in proper aspect ratio, no need to mess with overscans, phasing and any of that analog stuff. Yeah, there'll be scaler filter you can't toggle off (and neither VGA2HDMIPro filter too) but at least colors will be better. Although this probably excludes popular consumer capture cards, I don't think any of them allow you to alter EDID, at least not directly. There's another way though and it is to use EDID ghosting devices which sit between and merely inject/alter EDID. Or Savage4 AGP with DVI output which doesn't do filtering and ignores EDID completely, but that one also suffers from slow resolution/refresh rate switching.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-3-11 @ 08:09

Those that want to beta test the new version of the vcs capture utility for datapath can do so with that: (beta's done). I rewrote the interface, capture works faster, has a bunch of new features. Mainly aimed at the visionrgb-pro (non-hd) and its quirks but should work with the entire vanilla vision range (pro/x/e/etc.). There's no documentation with this beta file but you don't need to be in mensa to run it. I'll put out a proper release later.

The overlay feature has html parsing but you should refrain from linking in any online content. The overlay gets updated at the rate of capture so you'd likely be hammering the server. Although I've only run the program in offline virtual machines so can't be sure.
Last edited by vvbee on 2018-3-12 @ 05:46, edited 1 time in total.
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