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 Forum index » House Training » HOWTO ( Solutions )
How to capture VCR output
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Joined: 19 Apr 2009
Posts: 405

PostPosted: Mon 15 Dec 2014, 15:10    Post subject:  How to capture VCR output  

This post results from my experience muddling through the process of video capture. I hope it will be useful to someone and that people will add corrections, improvements and modifications for other devices if needed. Assuming I'm not the last person on earth with VHS tapes.

I'm using a Diamond vc500 usb video capture device to capture the output from a VCR. The system sees it as a video device, so I think this ought to work with any brand of usb video capture device. Thanks to B. Pinker who answered this question on Amazon: (link)
Will [the Diamond VC500] work in Linux / ubuntu 14.04? Sep 28, 2014
Yes, but with difficulty. The packaged software is worthless. Open VLC and go to > Media > Open Capture Device. Set Video device name: /dev/video1. Set Audio device name: hw:0,1. Set Video standard: NTSC. That should allow you to view the input stream. You may be able to capture/record the input with VLC, but I don't think you will be able to record and view (preview) it live...
After some trial and error to get the video and audio device numbers right, this worked in Fatdog 700b2 and Tahrpup 6.0. Slacko 5.9.3 seems to lack a necessary driver.
There are at least 2 options to record in VLC, neither of which yielded a usable file.
1- press the record button on the VLC gui . This recorded the entire tape to a 60 Gb file which I could neither convert nor play
2- use Media/Open Capture Device/Convert. This stopped recording after a few minutes--possibly because my computer is too slow to keep up.

I finally had success using ffmpeg, but only if the computer was fast enough:
# ffmpeg -f v4l2 -i /dev/video1 -f alsa -i hw:2,0 -target ntsc-dvd ouptutfile.mpg
This worked on my wife's 1.8GHz dual-core 64-bit atom processor running Fatdog 700b2 and produced a valid file of ~5Gb.
On a 1.6 GHz dual-core 32-bit atom processor running Tahrpup (which has avconv instead of ffmpeg but takes the same syntax), it dropped below 30 fps and froze after about 30 min.
To burn the dvd, I used instructions here and here
EDIT: I just found this gui by plinej and updated by Rocket to rip, shrink author & burn videos.

The VC500 comes with Windows software, which worked (XP on the 32-bit atom netbook) for the majority of my VHS tapes. (I have fewer than 600 of them Smile ) Two tapes had too much shaking of the image to bother burning to dvd. Tracking adjustment did not help. When I looked at the same tapes on linux, the image was perfectly stable.
EDIT: corrected typo in ffmpeg command Embarassed Edited for clarity

Last edited by Wognath on Wed 18 Feb 2015, 14:34; edited 8 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec 2014, 19:43    Post subject:  

Assuming I am correct, you did NOT use any of the software which came as it was Windows software. thus, you provide us with a true Linux solution to capture of VCR content to electronic media.

From the appearance of the cabling for the capture would either of these also work?Thoughts requested.

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Joined: 10 Mar 2010
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Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec 2014, 20:48    Post subject:  

Smokey has started a page describing how he captures video with a USB stick

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Posts: 405

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec 2014, 21:39    Post subject:  

@ gcmartin
My guess is that both gizmos you linked would work since both have red, yellow and white plugs. The vc117looks just like mine.
Regarding the bundled Windows software, I did use it for some tapes, but for others (my wife's favorites) it gave very poor picture quality (quivering of the image). For some reason, the same movies worked fine when viewed in VLC for Linux and those I captured as described using only Linux.
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Joined: 20 Jan 2008
Posts: 960
Location: Asturias_ España

PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan 2015, 14:25    Post subject: pinacle dv130  

I have a Pinnacle DV130 ever I got it to work on Linux, when you connect your video capture file /dev/video1 appears, but when I connect the video capture nothing appears in the /dev

Very interesting your command line.

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