Category Archives: Links

Tools: Digitize Your Old Videos

If like me,  you have a pile of old personal videos on VHS, Betamax, Hi-8 etcetera, why not move them to your hard drive or a DVD instead!

There is of course many ways to do this, but what we use is our old video tape machine, Kdenlive video editing software, and a simple USB video / audio dongle.

And there’s the rub. Finding a USB capture device that will work with the Linux video driver can be a challenge. I tried several, before settling on the Easycap dongle.  While I just linked to one, it turns out there are several versions of this capture device, and not all of them have the chip set required to work happy with Linux so it does take some digging.

Keep in mind that most of the sellers of these, ship directly from China, so don’t be in a huge hurry to get it!

Instead of rehashing what is already available on the topic, I’m going to send you off to the LinuxTV.org site on how to find the unit with the chip set you need.

I got lucky, because they are so inexpensive on Amazon, I went ahead and purchased a couple of these units, each from a different vendor. Of the two, one of them had the required Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd chip set.

Carefully read the above LinuxTV site for more information on choosing your capture device.

To see the specifications on your dongle once you have it in hand, and plugged into your computer, simply type the following in a Terminal window:

~ $ lsusb

Linux will then report the devices plugged into your USB ports, including your new USB video capture dongle, like this:

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 046d:c534 Logitech, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 05e3:0606 Genesys Logic, Inc. USB 2.0 Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd STK1160 Video Capture Device

Of course, once it’s all up and running, it’s a pretty simple matter to let Kdenlive do the capture, and then edit your personal video the way you wish, finally, encoding it as an mp4 video or for burning to a DVD.

 

Busy Few Days On The Farm

The last 4 days have seen us finish one project and start another. The first project, started in beginning of May,  involved us building a small 2 x 4 meter camper for my autistic adult son. It’s been a great project for the two of us to work on together. My 28 year old son functions on the level of about a 4 year old, but he was so excited with the project, he really enjoyed the process.

You can check it out on my son’s web page: Astrobunny.com

The second project is smaller but no less daunting. Once his camper was done, my son started moving some of his possessions in, and came to me with his 6 core laptop that wouldn’t turn on. A quick check found that the power input jack for the charger was completely broken out!

My manual dexterity is greatly diminished   from multiple sclerosis,  but there was no way I was going to afford a new laptop with the same specs as this one.

Take it apart, I did!

Son's broken laptop

Son’s broken laptop

It took the removal of almost 40 tiny screws and a number of ribbon cables to get where I could take out the charger input card.

The card also contains network, USB, and VGA output.

Once the card was out, and unsure where to purchase a single board for this machine, I stuck the PC board’s part number, into Amazon.com! Before I even got 3 of the many numbers in the part number, Amazon’s auto complete took me right to the exact part I needed. The best part, it was all of $15!

So provided I can get the silly thing back together in working order, the computer should be as good as new!