How I setup our user group Twitch streaming for under $200

When I was in Redmond (March 2019) for the Microsoft MVP Summit, I was invited to be on Jeff Fritz’s Twitch Stream where we discussed online and offline communities. One of my major takeaways from that discussion was to not restrict our tech communities to in-person only.

With that in mind, I decided to stream ONETUG meetups on Twitch.

The next challenge: obtain the necessary equipment to perform Twitch. So I consulted Orlando’s resident Twitch stream expert, Siva.

My requirements:

  1. Want to stream talks
  2. Definitely wanted to show slides and project speaker’s voice
  3. Speaker on camera was optional
  4. Wanted to give speaker flexibility, i.e. portable microphone of some kind
  5. Can’t be crazy expensive. My preference was to go the MVP route and evolve from there

After matching minds, budgets and extensive research, and following the principle of “jugaad“, we came up with the following list.

Equipment:

  1. Webcam: Research showed the Logitech C920 was the best starter camera for streamers.
    • Purpose: Capture the speaker live
    • Cost: $69.99 [Amazon]
  2. HDMI Capture Device: This is one of the items I had to roll the dice on a cheaper relatively unknown brand
    • Purpose: Intercepts the HDMI output from presenter’s laptop.
    • Cost: $69.99 [Amazon]
  3. HDMI Splitter 1 in 2 out: Again we had to roll the dice here and go with a cheaper relatively unknown brand. Note: if you don’t have to present to an audience in-person and only stream online, you can skip this one. But ONETUG needed to do both, present to an in-person audience and stream online.
    • Purpose: Takes the output of the HDMI Device and splits it into two. One of the outputs goes to the laptop. The other output goes to the venue projector.
    • Cost: $16.99 [Amazon]
  4. Lapel mic, transmitter and receiver: While most streamers suggest some version of the Yeti microphone ($120 and up) for streaming, we needed something that provided more flexibility to our users. This particular lapel mic has a clip version and headset version, the transmitter attaches to a belt or strap on the speaker’s person and the receiver is a USB dongle.
    • Purpose: Capture speakers voice and allow flexibility to move around (wireless)
    • Cost: $39.99 [Amazon]

Total: $69.99 + $69.99 + $16.99 + $39.99 = $196.96 before taxes

Other useful items:

  1. Tripod Stand to put your webcam on since a laptop may not provide enough flexibility or range for a webcam
  2. Power strips – while these streaming accessories can draw power from the laptop, it may not be a bad idea to use an actual power adapter plugged into a power strip, where possible
  3. HDMI cables of different lengths
  4. USB Hub – preferably powered. There are so many USB devices in this setup that having a dedicated USB Hub is highly recommended.

Laptop Setup:

I will not go into detail into the setup on the computer side except for listing the essential ingredients and configurations.

  • A beefy laptop with plenty of RAM and a good graphics card.
  • OBS Studio software for streaming – this is free, or at least we’re using the free version
  • Sign up for a Twitch account, get the streaming key and enter it into OBS Studio
  • Setup sources on OBS Studio – this is what my setup looks like:

The Product:

ONETUG’s Twitch Stream

ONETUG’s YouTube Channel – I simply export and download the videos from Twitch and upload to the YouTube Channel

Below is a live example of a Twitch stream from a recent ONETUG talk:

Lessons learned:

  1. You don’t need super expensive equipment to start streaming but do your research before you buy equipment. Don’t buy the cheapest equipment, buy the minimum viable solution to fix your problem.
  2. Your initial product will suck (in terms of suckage YMMV). The trick is to learn what works for you and grow.
  3. Make sure your venue has a decent high-speed connection.
  4. Your stream will lag live action.
  5. Keep at it, measure your output and evolve.
  6. Plugging in too many devices on an USB port or daisychaining cables will almost always cause some grief.
  7. Unless you have premium/elite Twitch account, your videos are gonzo in 2 weeks. Download your videos ASAP and upload them to YouTube (disable comments on YouTube).
  8. Don’t procrastinate on starting streaming, now is the best time.

As you can tell from our stream, we’re just getting started. So if I have any useful learnings along the way, I’ll either update this post or do a new one.

2 thoughts on “How I setup our user group Twitch streaming for under $200”

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