Lifestreaming Rig

Since I began lifestreaming I’ve dreamed of having a high-end personal streaming setup that would enable me to broadcast to all my channels, even from behind the great firewall of China, with the lowest possible delay between myself and my audience.

As I explored options to take my show on the road, I came across Gunrun’s backpack for IRL streaming. At first glance I was fairly impressed, but I found myself balking at the hefty pricetag. Surely, there had to be a better way of attacking this problem…

Overview

Lifestreamers today flock towards Gunrun’s backpack, a rig built around the LiveU Solo, and introduced at E3 in 2017. The LiveU Solo (Amazon.com) supports up to four internet connections (with LiveU Reliable Transport [LRT]) and has a single HDMI input. It allows users to encode and transmit an RTMP feed from the field. Most choose to push to a GPU-enabled VPS in the cloud, from which they broadcast to the world. A much smaller number push the feed back to their own broadcasting rig at home.

Problem

Gunrun’s backpack is heavy, hackish, and horrifically expensive to set up and keep running.

Heavy

The LiveU Solo weighs 518 g (1 lb 2.27 oz) – this may not sound like a lot, but every ounce counts

Hackish

Because the LiveU Solo outputs an RTMP feed, users are confronted by the myriad issues associated with OBS and RTMP sources:

“There are currently issues with desync and recovery in case of network issues with RTMP sources, and there can be some significant delay issues with RTMP as well. It’s simply not designed to be used that way, and I don’t think people should try using it that way.”
dodgepong, https://obsproject.com/forum/threads/suggestion-built-in-rtmp-server.76115/#post-322279

psynaps has written thousands of lines of custom code to overcome these issues

Expensive

Gunrun’s rig and the technological stack surrounding it aren’t cheap – I hope you have deep pockets 😉

Startup Costs

Gunrun estimates that his rig costs $1800 US in parts alone, putting it outside of the reach of many would-be lifestreamers

Operating Costs

LiveU Reliable Transport costs $45 a month or $450 a year, and is a required expense if you want to leverage the full networking capabilities of the LiveU Solo

psynaps’s GPU-enabled VPS starts at $94 a month, with a $50 setup fee. Unless you are highly proficient with technology, you’re better off paying for him to spin up an instance for you rather than reinventing the wheel. Even if you provision your own GPU-enabled VPS or pipe the RTMP feed back home, you’ve still got the headache-inducing issues with OBS’s handling of RTMP sources

How can we improve upon this initial idea?

Build Philosophy

A superior solution to the current gold standard must be:

Flexible

You should be able to bring your own devices to customize the system for your particular use case

Minimal

You should not need to purchase more of what you already have – why purchase a dedicated camera when you’ve already got one?

Lightweight

You should be able to bring the system comfortably into the field for an entire day

Secure

You should retain control of your most valuable information as a broadcaster: your stream key

Approachable

There should be no new systems to learn

Solution Overview

I sought to create a modular system that provided a solid foundation upon which others could build to suit their needs

It must match or exceed the LiveU Solo for less money

Intel’s Compute Stick (Intel) is a suitable backbone for any lifestreaming rig.

Featuring Bluetooth and 802.11ac, we can handily match the connectivity of the LiveU Solo by adding a simple USB 3.0 Ethernet hub and the right software.

If you’ve used a Windows 10 machine before, then you know how to drive it. Everything is plug-and-play.

Technical Capabilities

1080p30? 720p60? No problem.

Pound for pound, the Intel Compute Stick outperforms the LiveU Solo, meeting or exceeding its capabilities.

Benefits

By focusing on providing the base stack, and letting individuals bring their own devices to complete the kit, this rig shines over the previous gold standard.

Reduced startup and operating costs

Save at least $500 up front, and watch the savings continue to add up over time!
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Reduced equipment weight

Save your back, and go further
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Space to carry a change of clothes and toiletries

The smaller footprint means there’s no more need to carry additional luggage for short excursions
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No need to carry a separate computer for basic productivity needs

Simply connect your Intel Compute Stick to any HDMI display, and you’re ready to work after the day is through

Options

There are two Intel Compute Sticks of interest: one powered by the Intel Core m3 6Y30 (STK2m364CC), and the other powered by the Intel Core m5 6Y57 (STK2MV64CC, Intel, Amazon).

The m3 6Y30 unit is available at slightly higher cost with Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit pre-installed (STK2m3W64CC,Intel, Amazon). It may be worth paying if you want to avoid the hassle of installing your own OS, but power users would do well to consult the full list of compatible operating systems.

Build Ideas

Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

Camera

Android

DroidCam dev47apps.com/droidcam/
Low latency, but requires payment in order to unlock 720p. No 1080p available.

iOS

NDICam

HDMI

Transmitter and receiver

Next Steps

You’ve got all the information you need to go out and piece together your own setup at this point.

I can make myself available for tech support at my nominal rate.

The world is yours 😎

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