Build a periscope; stream video to the web

This weekend I had a chance to attend Darwin Day at our local university. It was a fun event and a chance for me to try out Ustream.tv. This site allows you to broadcast video to the web instantly. All you need is a webcam and an Internet connection.

My Wi-Fi connection at Darwin Day wasn’t as strong as I had hoped but I was still able to broadcast the event and Ustream.tv even stored the video for later viewing. Below you can see Brian Bartel (from explodingsink.com) kick-off the event.




I mentioned that you can use a webcam to capture the video. My MacBook has an iSight camera built in however I wanted to look at the screen while it was recording. Using a Cheez-it box, a mirror and the directions found here, I made a periscope for my webcam. Below are a few pictures from the process. I suspect with a little trial and error, you could make one of these for any laptop.

mirror p1010926.JPG p1010928.JPG
p1010934.JPG p1010933.JPG

You will need to use software to flip the image since the mirror creates… well, a mirror image. I used the trial version of iGlasses from Ecamm.com. For only ten dollars, iGlasses will also allow you to zoom and pan, adjust brightness and change the colors.

If you’re not in the mood to build your own brackets and cut up mirrors, Ecamm sells the Huckleberry. The Huckleberry has durable plastic mounting brackets and an acrylic mirror. It sells for twenty dollars and comes with iGlasses. (I would have purchased this myself if it wasn’t out-of-stock when I needed it.)

Many camcorders will work with Ustream.tv too. A camcorder will give you a high quality video and it’s perfect if you’re planning to broadcast regularly from a fixed location—like a classroom! Below is video stream from Brian Bartel’s class last week on what he calls Combustion Day.




Lastly, I should mention that Ustream.tv lets users chat with other users who are watching the live video. This would be great for an evening event that only the teacher can attend. The teacher could broadcast the video while the students are watching online and holding a discussion via chat.

2 thoughts on “Build a periscope; stream video to the web

  1. This is fantastically geeky! Now if you can figure out a way to cheaply and effectively get better sound quality, that would be great. Your mac isn’t bad, but Brian Bartel’s video is a bit hard to hear. maybe somehow string a mic to the desk at the head of the classroom so you aren’t picking up all the kids?

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