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  #21  
08-14-2019, 09:56 AM
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jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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Nice

I was hoping there was another Micronas AVF dongle out there.. I'd like to see one.

-- merged --

The EyeTV Hybrid seems to come in a 2008, 2014 and US version according to those sources.

The 2008, 2014 are EU version with the Micronas.. the US version has the TI chip instead.. sad..

[13 GB being DV encoding ]

I think this is probaby the case, the compressed settings seem to be chosen with thought as to what was popular for that platform.

On Windows the DV codec was either included free.. or there was no royalty for its use on the PC.. so while grating.. it was free.. i think it was the preferred codec for Moviemaker.

On OS X the Apple Intermediate Codec was their preferred iMovie codec for capture, editing and storage.. so no surprise there.. no royalty.. and it was the default setting for capture.

Only the Uncompressed option could be reliably played back and edited on either Windows or OS X.. but it scarfed down hard drive space like an all you can eat buffet.

All rational and predictable choices.

I like the Grass Valley AVDCmini.. no doubt.. but it seems a rare device to find.. and it seems in the recent past even on eBay its fairly priced in the 60 to 80 dollar range. Its not going to be an option too many people can pursue.

That its limited to Mac OS X (only) might detract from it even further.

I can "wish" some wacky driver find might make it usable on a Windows PC.. but lets get real here.. the TI tvp5150 is a lot easier to find and in enough products that it can be found with a little careful searching. That doesn't mean every device with a TI chip will be a preferred choice.. its just one ingredient in the soup.. but its a good start. Many other variables could make a capture dongle good or bad.

The ADVCmini will simply be my personal preferred capture device on a Mac.

-- merged --

[13 GB being DV encoding ]

I checked and the LT Video Quality, the one compatible with Windows OS, is MJPEG (Motion JPEG) 4:2:2

So the three qualities are:

LT - MJPG 4:2:2
CT - AIC 4:2:2
RT - Uncompressed 4:2:2

Q. Does ADVC Capture and its device drivers work on OS X other than 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard)

A. Yes, it works on OS X 10.12.6 (Sierra) on my office MacBook Pro.

So its been confirmed to work on

10.6.8 Snow Leopard (2010)
10.8.5 Mountain Lion (2012)
10.12.6 Sierra (2016)

It works best on Snow Leopard, still really good on Mountain Lion, but gets a little cranky on Sierra.. OS X 10.12.6 is the new Windows 8.0 its an awful operating system.

Funny thing.. this goes along with everything "flaky" with OS X 10.12.6 - the Installer ran in a schizophrenic Kanji + Korean font.. but completed like it should and the app seems to work without issue.. except the operating system reports miraculously.. some how.. this device created its own USB 3.0 hub and port.. on a machine with no USB 3.0.. go figure. I rarely step near a machine running Sierra.. you need a necklace of garlic and a cross... it sucks time like a vampire.
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  #22  
08-21-2019, 02:02 PM
Bogilein Bogilein is offline
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I just could grab the Grabster AV350MX cheap.

Here is a picture which chips it use.


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File Type: jpg Grabster AV350MX Inside.jpg (182.4 KB, 5 downloads)
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  #23  
08-21-2019, 03:49 PM
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jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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I stared at the Grabster AV350MX long and hard.. and then studied up on the usage patterns of the EMPIA bridge chip in combination with all of the Terratec Grabster models up through G4.

Then pulled the trigger on a G3 last night.

Basically the AV300MX is well known and not worth the effort.. the decoder is.. well lets not talk about it.

The AV350MX has the well known TI 5150 found in the ATI 600 USB.

Chips are one thing, but other things can make it a great buy, or a poor choice.. in this case I've experience with the form factor of the AV350MX since its identical to the Grass Valley ADVCmini. The "mini" has a different set of chips in it but the format factor is a skeleton on the corners of heavy duty "real" brushed aluminum with a matte texture it it. The interior panels are made of lucite or some plastic. Disassembly is four screws under the rubber feet and it literally falls apart in your hand when you turn it upside down... in a good way. The panels come loose and the top comes out so the board is easily removable with no effort or damage.

This matters if the connectors get loose or worn out.. its not that far a stretch to de-solder and replace the connectors and keep going.. but its already tight and well made. Those are full sized connectors and hold on tight. There is no reason to jump right to taking it apart.. its a beautiful form factor to use as it is.

The "Gx" series are same design with "gold" contacts on all the connectors, and an anodized or black frame with black panels.. otherwise it looks the same.

I chose the G3 over the AV350MX due to cost and availability. the AV350MX is mostly only available from Germany at this time, but the Gx series are still being sold from the UK. Still German made... just easier for me to import.

I think the AV350MX is Windows only.. up through Windows 7.. and perhaps not Mac compatible.. I'm confused on this however because I've read that it is.. it may be a matter of sourcing your own Mac capture application.

The G3 has capture apps for both Windows XP, 7 through Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.5 and above.

I've looked at the software for both operating systems that comes with it.. The windows software I think I will avoid and simply use it with with VirtualDub. The Mac software is a re-branded version of EchoFX VideoGlide.

I'm beginning to think on the OS X side.. VideoGlide is as close to VirtualDub as we can expect.. but its not nearly as simple and useful as the Grass Valley ADVCmini and its software.. but that device appears to be very hard to find these days... its well worth a good deal however if you find one laying on the sidewalk.

Before coming to this choice.. I spent a lot of time looking at the VC500 capture dongles (I have one) and the ATI TI 507 based eyeTV dongles, and ATI 750 (which uses the T507 chip too).

The problem with the VC500 is its quite variable, they have had multiple hardware versions in the same shells, and multiple software driver releases that are not backwards or cross hardware compatible.. only the specific driver for your specific "hardware version" that looks identical on the outside.. will work. And the EMPIA bridge chip makes it hard to figure out which hardware version you have.. so basically you keep swapping drivers.. or only use the cdrom with the driver that came with your device and don't try downloading any driver update.. there are none.. only more versions of the drivers for different hardware.. in the same case. Ugh.

Since VideoGlide is exiting the market place on the Mac platform after Apple abandons Quicktime this year.. EMPIA seems to be releasing their own versions of VideoGlide's software.. at least it has the EMPIA logo and EMPIA hyperlinks sprinkled throughout. As a practical matter I think they will stop making these dongles once Apple locks them out of the ecosystem... at least for Mac.. they may continue to produce them for Windows 10..

The dongle format also has a problem with signal cross talk at the "neck" of the connector where everything intersects with the body of the dongle.

I first noticed this with the ATI 750.. I had to spread the wires out as far as I could to minimize the hum and video instability being picked up.. it wasn't the length or a specific S-Video cable.. only wiggling the "neck" of wires at the choke point could minimize it.. it was "infuriating".. then I noticed.. every single one of these dongle form factors (no matter the brand) had the same problem to varying degrees.. I just didn't notice it until I had a very bad case of it with an ultra thin and cheap "choker" cable connector.. now I see it on every one.. wiggle the neck and the picture and sound vary widely.

The eyeTV hybrid was the best made.. but still it gets hot.. and its a nest of inelegant wires to deal with hanging off a USB port.

So I ran back to the ADVCmini boxee form factor.. which the Terratec Grabster line shares.. the "Grabster" name is rather "jokey" sounding in English.. but its heavy, stable, easy to set down and run standard RCA, S-Video DIN or SCART cables to.. and the TI 5150 decoder means the picture will be nice. The G3 uses the EMPIA 2680 for the bridge chip.. which doubles as the audio capture chip as well.

At first I didn't think much of the little "hockey puck" shape of the Grass Valley ADVCmini form factor.. I figured it was a painted plastic box. But it turned out to be a real metal (and heavy) exoskelton with plastic panels. Which serve a purpose.. they make it heavy and make it stay put.. and if you want.. they make it possible to stick some double sided heavy velcro to them to make it even "more" semi permanent.. and if you wanted to dissassemble them and drive mounting screws through it and put it back together without damaging the circuit board in the box.. you can do that.

It has no fan.. but seems to run cool.. it has no hardware encoder.. or Tuner or RF demodulator to generate lots of heat. It also doesn't have an SDRAM chip for a TBC or extra big 3D Comb filter.. but the TI 5150 does have something called a "VLLST" (I think thats the spelling) which stood for "variable line length stabilization".. which means its basically got a Line-TBC built into the chip.

Comb filters don't matter to me since I don't plan to use the Yellow Composite input.. I will use the S-Video input.. or my own external box for splitting the Chroma from the Luma. So thats less to worry about. And it makes the box run that much cooler for not having a big "hot running" SDRAM chip.

It is a 9-bit decoder, not 10-bit (Micronas) and not 12-bit (ATI) but that's better than a straight 8-bit (EMPIA).. and it captures in full 720x480 mode.. not the 640x480 common to EMPIA solutions.

Its also USB line powered.. which is kind of convenient.. though not a must have feature for me.

I think the TT G3 will be nice, and that the TT AV350MX would also be nice since they are still semi-available on Amazon and eBay for Import... and they do both NTSC and PAL.. also nice.

The absolute "best" I've used so far have been:

Windows - ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0
Mac OS X- Grass Valley ADVCmini

Runners up would be the AJA IOLA, and Matrox O2, or the AGP and PCI, PCIexpress cards.. but those carry a lot of baggage that can be hard to set up and maintain over time.. more a pro-shop type solution.

I have slowly.. come to "appreciate" the Pinnacle 500, 700 capture boxes.. but I would not recommend them.. I often use them as monitor tools through Windows GraphEdit and they aren't for the casual user. Again their form factor comes into play.. the 700-usb is USB powered, runs cool, captures at full 4:2:2 and its made of solid metal or steel.. it stays put.. cables are not a tangled mess. 500-usb less so, its a plastic box and useful.. but not that much.

I have a love hate, regret thing going on with Magewell PCIe and USB capture solutions.. in theory they are great.. and I got them at bargain prices.. but.. boy could they be improved. Not for the impatient or faint of heart. I tend to think of them in the same league as the Hauppauge or AverMedia solutions.

These Terratec Grabsters could be the next best thing to sliced bread.. but only time will tell..

I should stress.. I'm a "youngster" compared to the experienced crowd on this forum.. so my opinions do not count for very much.. I'm just exploring.. and these are my current opinions.

Last edited by jwillis84; 08-21-2019 at 04:44 PM.
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  #24  
08-21-2019, 04:45 PM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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Quote:
but the TI 5150 does have something called a "VLLST" (I think thats the spelling) which stood for "variable line length stabilization".. which means its basically got a Line-TBC built into the chip.
Where did you read that? Not seeing anything about it in the datasheet. The now-discontinued higher-end TVP5160 had a line-TBC function though, but it's called Line-Based Time Base Correction in that one (have not seen any capture device use it unfortunately). Analog devices uses the name ADLLT (adaptive line-length tracking) for the line-TBC function in their chips, maybe you confused it with that?
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  #25  
08-21-2019, 09:58 PM
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Your probably correct, I probably confused it with the Analog ADV chip in the Elgato eyeTV HD box.. Analog does have a trademake on:

"Adaptive Digital Line Length Tracking (ADLLT™), signal processing, and enhanced FIFO management gives mini-TBC functionality"

The only things in the I2C registers are for TV/VCR line stability or chroma stability.. and some "mysterious":

"patented technology for locking to weak, noisy, or unstable signals"
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  #26  
08-23-2019, 12:27 PM
Bogilein Bogilein is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post

I chose the G3 over the AV350MX due to cost and availability. the AV350MX is mostly only available from Germany at this time, but the Gx series are still being sold from the UK. Still German made... just easier for me to import.
It's off-topic, but why is it easier to import from the UK?
I bought the grabster 350 for 3,- Euro and one day before one grabster was sold for 5,- Euro.

The G3 is still sold for ~ 50,- Euro.
Could you upload a picture from the chipset when you receive your G3?
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  #27  
08-24-2019, 02:59 AM
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jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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I didn't mean anything by it. It cost less from the UK store than from a Germany store to the US with shipping.

It sounds like you can get them for far less than I could.

My G3 arrived tonight, but its too late to take apart and I have a trip in the morning.. maybe later this weekend.

Its brand new and tightly packed in a nice box in shrink wrap. Pretty darn dense.. its heavy.

I see the G3 has a Video/SCART switch on the side that the ADVCmini does not have and I don't think the AV350MX had. This addresses the one downside I read about other models, that of "auto-switch" between composite, s-video or scart based on signal detection.. this tended to fail when capturing a weak or poor signal and would switch the input or stop the capture prematurely.. and drive people nutty when capturing poor quality video. The switch probably addresses at least the difference between composite/s-video or SCART. Although a TBC would also probably address that by duplicating or freeze frame output to maintain signal continuity.. not everyone would have a TBC, could afford a TBC, or could find one.

Nicely says in plain print - For PC and Mac

I love the "form factor" of the chunky box, "hockey puck" shape.. and the solid "thick" metal case. The connectors are solid and stable nothing cluttered or flailing like the dongles. I didn't think it really mattered that much if the signal was okay.. but the cheapness of the "choker" cables has come to grate on me.

I have collected a lot of dongles at this point.. so I didn't have a bias against them.. they all ran hot.. but realizing that "choker neck" connector has a cross talk problem is simply annoying. In some the choker connector is on the end rather than the side.. don't know where I am on those.. in some the choker cable is part of the body of the dongle.

I do think it was the "mini" composite to HDMI or other "adapter" boxes that put me off seeing the G3 or AV350MX or ADVCmini as a possibility. I (was) biased against the hockey puck form factor.. I guess prejudice can cause you to make bad decisions prematurely.

I am straddling a thin line here, I still "prefer" the ATI TV Wonder USB2.0 (XP only) or the ADVCmini (Mac only).. but the idea of a "non-HDTV" and "non-USB3.0" Uncompressed capture box that works with either Windows or Mac and has Windows 7 x64 or Mac 10.12 compatibility is alluring.

Its also pretty cool you can still get these "new" from some places.

I don't know if I trust the Terratec G4 however. The G3 supports up to Windows 8 x64 which gets into that area where the OS basically did a pretty poor job of handling the import of video data and specialized in h.264 playback with hardware assist... tablet OS capability.. for much more expensive hardware. At a minimum I know they dropped support or didn't test with XP or older Macs.. and I feel using hardware that has a wide compatibility range is important.


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Last edited by jwillis84; 08-24-2019 at 03:26 AM.
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  #28  
08-26-2019, 09:18 AM
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Interesting note about the TVP5150AM1 used in the AMD/ATI 600 USB, the AV350MX and probably (based on one circuit board photograph, the Terratec G3).

There is a Linux kernel driver with source code available, it enumerates the Chroma GAIN control register, but there is also an analog signal AGC GAIN control register.

From the datasheet:

Automatic gain control (AGC)
00 = AGC disabled (fixed gain value)
01 = AGC enabled (default)
10 = Reserved
11 = AGC frozen to the previously set value

So since the device driver does not tweak this setting (by default) the default of the chip is left at AGC "on", however it is available for control. And it is documented.

The specific device driver may or may not make it available to the user.. but it is available.

Since the device driver source code is available in Linux I would think it a simple matter to add this control. It is not exposed by default.

Looking towards the AV350MX and the G3, which has a proprietary Directshow device driver for it, and an EchoFX Video Glide device driver for it.. there are two more possibilities that it is available.

Looking towards the AMD/ATI 600 USB capture stick/tuner, which also has a Directshow device driver.. there is a third possibility.. plus the Linux option thats four chances the AGC and Chroma AGC could be "fully" exposed.

I don't know any other video capture chips with as modern an OS compatibility that grant complete control over this feature. (in theory)

It would be great if we had this level of knowledge over the T200, T550 chipsets.. but as far as I know that information is only available by NDA with AMD.. and neither ATI nor AMD ever released that information to the Linux user community to write drivers.

TI rocks.. not even EMPIA releases this level of detail.
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  #29  
08-26-2019, 10:20 AM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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I think that is a feature of most Video decoder chips. The SAA7113H used in some older empia devices has the same feature in the datahsheet. I have not managed to find the datasheet for the conexant chips used in e.g the VC500, but the linux driver seems to reference some AGC function, and other conexant video decoders (like the cx2388xx for PCI devices) has it listed.

In linux you can communicate with the video decoder chip in most dongles directly via i2c over the command line, which allows you to change register settings directly even though there isn't an exposed driver control. I've tested it with the older Empia + SAA7113H-based VC500 Mac and the normal VC500, I assume it's possible with the TVP5150AM-based empia devices too. I think it's possible to access the empia chip too, but I haven't found the full datasheet for any of the empia chips anywhere.

Doesn't seem to be doable in windows, at least not withouth messing with the driver, but they are not open source. I know the older DScaler application was able to do funky stuff with bt878 and philips-based PCI video capture cards like changing the capture window, but I'm not sure how it was done.

I wish more manufacturers eagerly listed datasheets on their websites like TI and Analog Devices do.
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  #30  
08-26-2019, 12:54 PM
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jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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There is an interesting idea in Directshow I'm thinking about exploring, its similar to layered .so library files in Linux.

Under windows its called Upper and Lower "filters" but the idea is to chain load device drivers so their IRBs pass from one to the other.. in that way.. if I'm not mistaken, you can "hook" a communications chain and "splice in" a control.

The formal idea back in 2009 was to "enhance" device drivers by adding to them, shimming in additional features on top or below existing device drivers.

If I could get this right.. then adding in an AGC control for any Directshow device driver "stack" would be a matter of loading the "shim" and then referring to it in the device driver registry entries.

Its way above my pay grade and I've never really written a standalone device driver.. but a "filter".. maybe.

Its near impossible with Windows 10 since Microsoft has all but withdrawn hardware vendor support unless your a 1 Billion dollar hardware company. They are taking it all in-house, or jettisoning that hardware device type from the entire operating system. If it were a plant.. Windows 10 is withering away.. it will be little more than a phone app in a few years. But on older Windows like Full power Windows 7 or Super powered XP.. the hardware support is way over built by real programmers.
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