VGA Capture Thread

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

Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby xjas » 2018-5-22 @ 07:50

Couple questions for those of you running the VisionRGB cards (especially the "old" PCI version) - how's the latency? Is it useable for 'live' gameplay using the capture window, or do you need to split the output to a second monitor?

Also, I know at least some versions support component (YPbPr) through the "DVI" port. Does it handle 240P over component? (E.g. when playing Playstation 1 games on a PS2?) It seems all three of my Elgato EyeTV devices can't cope with this.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-5-22 @ 16:53

Low enough but ymmv.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby xjas » 2018-5-22 @ 23:57

^^ can your utility capture two simultaneous streams from a dual-input card? I'm looking at options for some real-time video mixing stuff actually. :)
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-5-23 @ 02:50

Not in the same window. For that you'll want to look at obs etc.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-5-31 @ 21:49

I am confused. I am looking for a solution that allows me to capture VGA from BIOS bootup to playing fairly standard games from the 80s and early 90s. I have a cheap HDMI converter from Nadalan and a not so cheap but atill cheap HDMI USB 3.0 grabber that works fine with OBS.

The Nadalan is this:

https://www.amazon.de/Nadalan-Konverter ... B076DTSBCY

It has drawbacks in that it does not center the text mode picture and can’t be configured at all. Picture quality is probably dubious as well. Hence I want to replace it.

The options I have found:

* OSSC: open, reliable, actively developed. Cons: line scaler. No 70Hz to 60Hz conversion.
* Startech VGA2HDPRO2. The first rev is no longer available. Drawback: supposedly does not support 400 lines resolutions
* epiphan av.io HD: drawback high price. Not sure about video mode support.

Did I miss any options? I did like the Startech, but I read that the new one does not support most DOS video modes anymore.

I would consider buying the epiphan, if I knew that it would solve my problems. Same goes for the OSSC.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-6-01 @ 11:58

As mentioned before a few times in this thread I'd recommend DataPath Vision cards above all else. Yes, they do not work well with OBS but that's not a problem because whether you use provided Vision tool or vvbee's VCS (which has a lot more useful functionality), you can always direct OBS to capture borderless window. Latency is low enough I play all games through capture window.

I've tried several other solutions, including VGA2HDMIPro, a much more expensive Micomsoft XPC-4, Epiphan cards too, and ultimately I've settled with Vision E1/S. Every other option has some form of a drawback you can't get around, be it very slow mode switching, incorrect aspect ratios, incorrect colors, filtering and even noise. OSSC has a rather different target - it aims primarily at retro consoles and their quirks, while retro PC presents a whole different set of quirks.

Startech VGA2HDMIPro2 doesn't support low resolution modes, including text mode. VGA2HDMIPro, previous version, does but suffers from slow resolution switching, color bleed (particularly reds). Startech USB3HDCAP supports low resolutions only in custom unsigned drivers.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-6-01 @ 12:52

Hm. Sounds like a dire situation. I just want to do this for fun. Currently I have an iMac and my 286 rig. And although I am ready to spend 200-300€ on capture hardware I do not want to build a Windows machine or one with PCIe slots just to do this. I was hoping for a USB or HDMI based solution (or even Thunderbolt) for that matter).
So basically the DataPath solution is out of the question, as is the USB3HDCAP.

this leaves me still with OSSC, a used VGA2HDPRO first revision or the av.io, expensive though it might be.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby NJRoadfan » 2018-6-01 @ 13:04

root42 wrote:* OSSC: open, reliable, actively developed. Cons: line scaler. No 70Hz to 60Hz conversion.
* Startech VGA2HDPRO2. The first rev is no longer available. Drawback: supposedly does not support 400 lines resolutions
* epiphan av.io HD: drawback high price. Not sure about video mode support.


The OSSC has a passthru mode that will simply digitize the video and not upscale it. You won't find any device that does 70 to 60Hz conversion though. If it "converts" chances are its dropping 10 frames per second and introducing judder. The latest firmware adds some vintage PC friendly features as well like a 640x400 preset.

Tree Wyrm wrote:As mentioned before a few times in this thread I'd recommend DataPath Vision cards above all else. Yes, they do not work well with OBS but that's not a problem because whether you use provided Vision tool or vvbee's VCS (which has a lot more useful functionality), you can always direct OBS to capture borderless window. Latency is low enough I play all games through capture window.


I've thrown all sorts of odd analog RGB video at the Epiphan DVI2PCIe card and its usually captured it after tweaking settings manually. Its generally hands off with VGA and VESA resolutions. It'll capture 240p video, but only after extensive tweaking. I've since switched to using the OSSC for 240p video in combination with the card which tolorates the non-standard output of sources like the SNES. The OSSC supports custom profiles now and its easier to adjust settings in real time with it.

root42 wrote:Hm. Sounds like a dire situation. I just want to do this for fun. Currently I have an iMac and my 286 rig. And although I am ready to spend 200-300€ on capture hardware I do not want to build a Windows machine or one with PCIe slots just to do this. I was hoping for a USB or HDMI based solution (or even Thunderbolt) for that matter).
So basically the DataPath solution is out of the question, as is the USB3HDCAP.

this leaves me still with OSSC, a used VGA2HDPRO first revision or the av.io, expensive though it might be.


I don't know if the av.io is as flexible with input formats vs. the DVI2USB 3.0 unit. I know the DVI2USB 3.0 unit will not accept 240p video directly like the PCIe cards do. Macs are generally terrible at this type of capture work anyway.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-6-01 @ 14:46

NJRoadfan wrote:
root42 wrote:* OSSC: open, reliable, actively developed. Cons: line scaler. No 70Hz to 60Hz conversion.
* Startech VGA2HDPRO2. The first rev is no longer available. Drawback: supposedly does not support 400 lines resolutions
* epiphan av.io HD: drawback high price. Not sure about video mode support.


The OSSC has a passthru mode that will simply digitize the video and not upscale it. You won't find any device that does 70 to 60Hz conversion though. If it "converts" chances are its dropping 10 frames per second and introducing judder. The latest firmware adds some vintage PC friendly features as well like a 640x400 preset.


Well, that sounds pretty useful. If my HDMI capture device takes the 70Hz, I would be fine. So maybe I go with the OSSC, they have an explicit one month return policy. That would be good to try out if I can make it work.

NJRoadfan wrote:
root42 wrote:Hm. Sounds like a dire situation. I just want to do this for fun. Currently I have an iMac and my 286 rig. And although I am ready to spend 200-300€ on capture hardware I do not want to build a Windows machine or one with PCIe slots just to do this. I was hoping for a USB or HDMI based solution (or even Thunderbolt) for that matter).
So basically the DataPath solution is out of the question, as is the USB3HDCAP.

this leaves me still with OSSC, a used VGA2HDPRO first revision or the av.io, expensive though it might be.


I don't know if the av.io is as flexible with input formats vs. the DVI2USB 3.0 unit. I know the DVI2USB 3.0 unit will not accept 240p video directly like the PCIe cards do. Macs are generally terrible at this type of capture work anyway.


I will test the av.io only if i can get it used for cheap...

The Macs are usually fine with video, but of course this is a niche. The two devices that I do have work surprisingly well though, together with OBS, and without the need for any drivers.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby Tree Wyrm » 2018-6-01 @ 17:14

Should have mentioned iMac as host capture system, that would have narrowed choice to very few options. But yeah, in general capture hardware fit for this niche task is very limited and most are very expensive, unless you find it second-hand at a reasonable price. A vast majority of modern capture devices are digital only, or in a few exceptions would accept component input, but nothing as varying in combinations of resolutions and refresh rates as PC VGA output can be. Referring to specs might not be indicative of whether a device supports low resolutions, because some actually may work despite what tech specs claim, while others are too finicky (like they wouldn't accept refresh rates above 60hz) despite being on sheet. It's a hit and miss really, probably the reason why this thread is this large too with people sharing their experience and setups that work.

@NJRoadfan: Yeah, I have Epiphan DVI2PCIe as well, it's a nice card but there are a few quirks I've encountered and while the software ain't bad it's not well fit for this particular niche use and dealing with its quirks. Like it can incorrectly detect input resolution, trying to treat 640x400 input as 720x400 because it simply detects 400 lines and therefore applies whatever comes. While it will work you may also notice little shimmering around pixels when zooming in because it incorrectly reads line input and of course phase isn't aligned and is all over the place. It had become my sort of backup card, though I haven't encountered much problem with DataPath cards to begin with.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby elianda » 2018-6-01 @ 23:06

The trick with the DVI2PCIe is to use the mode list in the utility.
Though the horizontal number of pixels sampled can be freely chosen, so you can as well go for 1280x400 as long as the container aspect ratio stays 4:3.
Also (shameless self advertising incoming) my tool for the card adjusts the phase automatically.
It has means to measure the source signal video bandwidth as well...
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-6-14 @ 08:51

I finally got a sufficiently good setup that satisfies my needs. The hardware setup:

* OSSC 1.6
* Generic USB 3.0 HDMI capture card
* Suntac 80286 board @12MHz with 1MiB of RAM, 1 GiB CompactFlash
* DIY AdLib clone
* Trident TVGA 9000 with 512KiB of RAM

The VGA and the AdLib are going into the OSSC AV3 inputs. The OSSC has been flashed to 0.81 firmware. I still needed to adjust the advanced timings, until the whole screen was visible. An auto adjust feature would be really nice here... ;)

I made a YouTube video about this setup as well, capturing a play session of SpaceQuest 3. I will make a more detailed video about my setup using the OSSC some other day.

Links:

OSSC: https://www.videogameperfection.com/pro ... converter/
USB HDMI: https://www.ebay.de/itm/HD-HDMI-zu-USB- ... ber-Card-für-Laptop-PC/332592248871
YouTube video: https://youtu.be/vY_ervrTTAM

Here are some still images grabbed from the video, so there are compression artifacts. I still need to tweak the capture setup a bit and try to get non-lossy grabs as well. Not sure if the capture card supports those. But for streaming and YouTube the setup is quite nice.

76A25FE5-27FF-46EA-B030-7520CF01616E.jpeg


C241CF75-0F0A-490B-BD29-011BF49B1036.jpeg


5C313D76-EF3B-4FD3-AB0F-E051EE537ECC.jpeg
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby elianda » 2018-6-14 @ 11:28

Also the black background appears grey and white, like the menu bar in SQ3 is grey. These are not compression artefacts.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-6-14 @ 12:34

elianda wrote:Also the black background appears grey and white, like the menu bar in SQ3 is grey. These are not compression artefacts.


Yes, the dynamic range is sub optimal. I think this is due to the VGA card. Currently I am capturing with default settings. I might play around with color settings later. I did turn OBS to automatically determine color space, but then the blacks in the OSSC test image will be crushed. But again: I am capturing from a 28 year old cheap TVGA card, so I do not expect the best image quality to begin with...

Maybe with some careful adjustments I can get the black to be darker and the white to be brighter. The colors are also a little bit washed out, so there is some room for improvement as well.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby NJRoadfan » 2018-6-14 @ 12:44

Looking at the image, both horizontal sampling rate and sampling phase need to be tweaked. Don't rely on the OSSC test image for accuracy when calibrating the levels on the capture card, use a test pattern from your source. Its very likely the capture card is needlessly converting the input video's color space to 4:2:2 YUV from 4:4:4 RGB, which is going to screw up blacks anyway.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-6-14 @ 12:52

NJRoadfan wrote:Looking at the image, both horizontal sampling rate and sampling phase need to be tweaked. Don't rely on the OSSC test image for accuracy when calibrating the levels on the capture card, use a test pattern from your source. Its very likely the capture card is needlessly converting the input video's color space to 4:2:2 YUV from 4:4:4 RGB, which is going to screw up blacks anyway.


Oh yeah, I had to completely tweak the advanced timing parameters. It would show only a fraction of the image before. I am open to hints and suggestions! But I am already very happy with the results I am getting. It is so much better than my 10 EUR converter I had before. ;)
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby XCVG » 2018-6-15 @ 19:50

I've been meaning to post about this for a while, but kept forgetting. I've been meaning to put together a capture setup for months now and finally did so over the past couple of weeks. I've captured some footage but it's still very much a work in progress.

This was meant to be a short post but kind of blew up into a mini review.

I use a laptop as my main PC and I really don't have space for a dedicated capture rig so I wanted a USB capture device, which unfortunately eliminated the cheap and effective DataPath VisionRGB cards as an option. That meant going with a normal consumer capture device and some kind of scaler, which is not entirely a downside as it means I can capture HDMI sources and other sources with different converters as well. I was drawn towards the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable line in particular because they can record to an SD card with no computer at all. I figured that would be very handy especially since my setup is a bit flaky.

I ended up with the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus. I call it the Toblerone, because, well, it's shaped like one! It's a very nice unit physically; well-built, well-designed, and smaller than expected. It records up to 1080p60 using the H.264 codec at up to 50mbps connected to a PC or 20mbps to the SD card. It has HDMI in and out with 4K passthrough (though I'm not sure if it can downscale and record a 4K source), microUSB (only 2.0), a microSD card slot, and some kind of audio loop connection for recording voice chat or something. It has a volume rocker (though I'm not sure which volume it adjusts), a nice clickly mode switch (PC recording, PC-free recording, or USB mass storage), and big light-up button to start and stop recording. The box is very nice and it comes with several cables, which is a nice addition.

Recording quality is quite good, even in the more limited PC-free mode. I haven't noticed any compression artifacts- I'm sure they're there, but they're not perceptible. PC-free mode has worked a little better for me than PC mode; I've seen a few glitches in the latter and the framerate isn't entirely steady (though it could be my flaky setup). And... now we're getting into some of the downsides of the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus.

Namely that the documentation is basically nonexistent and the software is mediocre at best. It comes with a page on how to hook it up and a link to the manual for the software, but if there's any information on things like what the light means (solid red is bad, solid blue is ready to record, blinking red is recording) or how the SD card needs to be formatted (FAT32, gleaned from another user's experience with a previous version of the device) I couldn't find it. The RECentral software is slow, unintuitive, and offers a dearth of options, although it does seem to work okay. Also, OBS Studio can be used as an alternative though I only tested it briefly.

The other big downside is that there's too much latency to actually play games through the preview window. If you're smart, you'd use the passthrough to an HDMI monitor. If you're me, you'd split the VGA signal before it gets converted.

In general, though, the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is a good little unit. If you're willing to spend the money (it's not a cheap device) and just want to hit a button and record, it's an elegant solution.

Okay, with that out of the way, on to what didn't work. I bought a cheap VGA to HDMI scaler off Amazon. Some people have had success with other cheap units (notably the Sewell Manta), but unfortunately the Portta unit can't do 720x400. It works fairly well in "normal" resolutions, with surprisingly good output quality. It does stretch the image to 16:9 and sometimes adds borders which would suck for live gameplay, but can be fixed easily in post. It also mixes in analog audio, and despite having the cheapest feeling jack I've ever seen, does a good job of it. It supports 720p and 1080p output but there's no indicator on the unit which is currently selected, and the same button is also used for auto-adjust.

I thought about returning it, but decided to keep it around. It works well for what it's advertised to do, it just won't do DOS resolutions. I've used it to record some higher-resolution footage, mostly from my cheap P4 (the GF2MX has much better output quality than the Mach64+Voodoo2 in my Pentium box). I have a bit of a wiring mess on the VGA side so I can play on an actual monitor at the same time, which adds some noise and darkens the image.

Here's an example of Quake 2 at I think 800x600 on the P4.

I've got a used Startech VGA2HDMIPRO on the way. I know it's not perfect, and I did look into other options, but I ultimately settled on this one for a few reasons. It's relatively compact (unlike, say, the Extron boxes) and uses a 5V power supply (I eventually plan on running the whole capture stack off a USB adapter). It has a proper HDMI output with audio mixing (I don't want to record separately or add an injector). And it's cheap on the used market, slightly cheaper than the Atlona version.

Fingers crossed that it'll work better than the Portta.

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Lazarus: P133, Mach64+Voodoo2 [Win98SE]
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-6-16 @ 18:31

Won't be long until (more) people are building era correct capture pcs to house suitable hardware. A core cpu, windows xp, ssd, and some cheap thing like the visionrgb-pro and you're golden.

That said, vcs may become paid software for the next set of updates, which aren't being developed at the moment, or at some time before that. N.B. if you rely on it.
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby root42 » 2018-6-18 @ 22:21

I have tweaked the OBS settings (not so much the OSSC, apart from disabling scan lines) and now the image is much better. I ramped up brightness and contrast, which led to a much better picture. SQ3 is not looking pretty good. 640x480 60 Hz games still have a bit missing at the top, e.g. Eric the Unready. Even though the 0.81 firmware has a preset for this. So I need to dig deeper into this. Maybe my Trident VGA card is a bit wonky. Are there any resistors or caps that could be bad and influence this? Or is this all down to the RAMDAC and/or the TVGA IC?

Bildschirmfoto 2018-06-19 um 00.16.01.png


Bildschirmfoto 2018-06-19 um 00.16.20.png


Bildschirmfoto 2018-06-19 um 00.16.40.png


Video Footage of me playing SQ3 with improved picture:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqGWSDM4FfY
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Re: VGA Capture Thread

Postby vvbee » 2018-6-19 @ 09:20

Once you can't abx capture from a good source and a screenshot you're solid on the capture side.
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