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For a long time, I have researched the issue of digitally capturing the video/audio signals from old video game consoles, for the purpose of being able to make compilations and longplays. I sadly cannot find anything of value anywhere.

What I need is a little affordable (and actually sold!) box of some kind which does nothing but:

  1. Takes either RF, composite or SCART input (it should support all three, but in the worst case I can accept if it only does composite and SCART).
  2. Records this automatically to some kind of efficient but high-quality video files on a memory card or 2.5" disk. (Whichever makes the most sense.)
  3. Outputs the video/audio via SCART to the actual (CRT) TV, so that I can play while it's recording, as if there were no box in between at all. (Must have no added lag!)

Ideally, it should be making files with automatic timestamps such as:

2022-12-25 12.00-14.26.mp4
2022-12-24 13.00-17.52.mp4
2022-12-23 11.00-13.18.mp4

If the memory card is full, it should display a little warning light. I understand that it cannot capture lossless video/audio as this would take too much storage space, but it would be nice if it at least supported this option, "for future use", when big memory cards become much cheaper.

I have seen many people stream live from actual retro consoles, but they very frequently have various issues such as "forced widescreen" (seemingly with no way to turn it off), etc.

My consoles are not modded in any way, nor would I want "RGB" on a console which did not originally support this. I personally think that my requirements are very reasonable and it seems strange to me that I can't find a single thing that can be ordered. Some devices sound good at first, but then you look deeper into them and they are nothing like what you first think. Frankly, I can't understand what the purpose is of many of them.

Also, there are a many different products for capturing modern consoles, but that has nothing to do with this. Those VCR capture things also don't work, plus they only have composite and are depending on a separate computer to work.

I really want this to be self-contained, although if there is no other way, I guess I would also be interested in the same thing, except instead of capturing to its own memory, it passes the data on via USB to a separate computer which in turn can record the stream.

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    Does a product you specified exist? I think we can safely just answer "no".
    – Justme
    Dec 25, 2022 at 20:56
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    How many people do you think would actually buy this device? I'm guessing a few hundred world-wide, which is not much of a market. You could build such a device out of a Linux PC with a video capture card, but given what you've already said is unacceptable, I'm confident this will not satisfy you.
    – John Dallman
    Dec 25, 2022 at 22:26
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    Personally, I would use an old VHS/Betamax, or (possibly) a HD/DVD, recorder which still has a RF input, and then use the SCART to get an RGB output on playback to thereafter digitise the output elsewhere... Or use an old Mac/SGI/PC with a video capture board and some old Avid software, or similar, to edit. Retro devices often need a semi-retro solution as a halfway house to get useable data into a current format that is useable in the modern world. Dec 26, 2022 at 3:49
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    Personally I would use the following commercially available stuff: 1) a scart duplicator (sending signal both to monitor and to next in chain). 2) a scart to hdmi converter (probably less then USD 50). 3) some way to record hdmi in my laptop (high priced example is Elgato Camlink but there are several lower priced ones on amazon).
    – ghellquist
    Dec 26, 2022 at 10:44
  • Well, it doesn't even let me delete this question. Probably because it has an "answer".
    – D. Loiacono
    Dec 26, 2022 at 11:34

1 Answer 1

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I know you are looking for an all-in-one solution, but as Justme said that may not exist.

My solution is nowhere near as convenient as you want, but if you can find one still, try to find a second hand DVD/Hard Disk recorder with an analogue TV tuner and/or SCART input. Record to Hard Disk and transfer to DVD (or go straight to DVD) then rip the DVD on a PC.

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  • That would take a ton of physical space and require an insane amount of work and wasted money for DVDs... Completely unacceptable.
    – D. Loiacono
    Dec 25, 2022 at 21:53
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    They were not (are not) that big. Use a rewriteable DVD. Not even that much work.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 25, 2022 at 22:16

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