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Using Analog Camera as Webcam on XP

Posted on 2010-01-10
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-08
I have an NTSC signal I want to stream from an older PC running XP using webcam server software.  The PC has no FireWire ports, but does have a free PCI (not PCIe) slot.  The way I see it, I have three options:

1) Buy an external analog encoder with a USB interface.
2) Put a video capture card in the PCI slot.
3) Put a FireWire card in the PCI slot and use the external analog to DV encoder I already have.

Given that I want to minimize the burden on this older PC and keep things running as smoothly and quickly as possible, what would be the best option?

Question by:shacho
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LVL 13

Assisted Solution

GuruChiu earned 1000 total points
ID: 26278407
I will suggest get a external encoder w/ usb interface in most cases. It have a lot to do with the format you choose to stream the video.

While you already have analog to DV encoder, it is using DV bandwidth. Unless you have some way to transport and you really want to stream DV over the network, it is taking up too much bandwidth you probably end up using that poor PC to encode something like h.264, mjpeg or mpeg format.

I prefer usb over video capture card because your investment can carry forward in case you decide to retire the old PC or it break. If you look for replacement PC with the same PCI slot, it will limit your selection. USB will be avaialble for most new PC for many years to come. Also there are external USB encoder that can do many wonderful things that do not exists in PCI capture card.

Author Comment

ID: 26279714
That seems logical.  Do you have a particular product in mind?
LVL 25

Assisted Solution

kode99 earned 1000 total points
ID: 26281696
The thing to watch for is how much processing the card/usb device actually does.  The lower priced units offload much of the actual work to the PC with the drivers it uses.  Price is a bit of a indicator but you want something that actually gives you technical details.  If it does not say 'hardware encoder' or says its 'software encoder' the PC will most likely end up doing all the work.

Another option you may want to consider would be to just eliminate the PC and buy a IP video encoder that can stream in the format needed.

Heres a unit that is usually in the $200-225,
The newer 8102 model does h264 but costs roughly $100 more.

Axis also have a small unit that does h264 that is priced a bit over $300 or so.

It quickly gets to a point where just going to a IP camera that you can stream from directly is pretty cost effective.   The electricity savings of running a old PC 24/7 vs a IP encoder may cover the extra cost of the encoder in a couple of years.

If your existing firewire unit has a hardware encoder buying a firewire card would be the cheapest route.  A PCI firewire card can be had for less than $20 so not really much of a loss if you use it for any length of time,


LVL 13

Assisted Solution

GuruChiu earned 1000 total points
ID: 26281744
There are many. You can start by looking at this link:

You are better off check w/ the streaming video vendor and ask them what do they support.

Accepted Solution

shacho earned 0 total points
ID: 26283715
In the process of researching this I found a webcam that does everything I need it to do, quality color sensor and optics, infrared LEDs for pickup in the dark, audio, and UVC output.  I hate the inelegance of using two cameras but I can't fight with the economics.  The camera cost $25, free same day delivery.  None of the above solutions will cost less than that, and each of them might just not work.  So I bought the camera and it works perfectly.  But this was educational, so I thank you for your suggestions.  If you're interested in the camera I bought, it's here (Japanese only but you can see the specs): http://www.digitalcowboy.jp/products/ncr13u/ 



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