Streaming troop activities with OBS

We have been doing well for a couple of months having scouts share skills through presentations, or discussion, on our weekly virtual meetings. I wanted to go further and experiment with a live-stream of a demo: this would give an experience closer to that or a regular, in-person, Troop meeting.

This post covers the technical setup and experience in streaming a scout meeting live – it may be of interest or use to some!

Hardware and software required

All the hardware components I had at home as part of working-from-home or general home tech.

  • Laptop: MacBook Pro
  • Cameras: 2 x logitech webcams (one a B910, one a C920)
  • Camera mounts: 1 x old tripod from 1990, and 1 x wooden post with duct tape
  • Mic / Speaker: Bose Revolve

Software used was as follows

  • OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) – this is free, open source, and in wide use by the streaming community
  • Google Meet – but this approach should for Zoom, Skype, Teams, other web meeting tools as long as they can accept a webcam input
  • Virtual Webcam plugin for OBS – this is critical, and enables the OBS output to appear as a “webcam” on your computer

How-to

Physically setup your cameras as you wish, plugin them in, and make sure they are recongised by your laptop. Then install your flavour of OBS (in my case, the experimental pkg that included the virtual cam tool for MacOS).

Install the virtual cam plugin tool, or check that it is active under Tools > Start VirtualCam. At this point, i fired up meet.google.com and checked I could see “OBS Camera” as a video input option. If you can’t – restart Chrome, or your mac and try again.

For sound, I wanted to use a mic close to the presenter and the webcam mikes would have a lot of noise. So I bluetooth paired my Bose Revolve to the laptop and simply set the speaker and mic in meet.google.com to use this source.

At this point, you are into the realm of OBS setup – and definitely watch a few YouTube intro guides on OBS: I kept it super simple with a “scene” for each camera (one wide angle and one close-up) and using the Studio mixer to cut between the two as required,

OBS running on macbook pro, output using virtualcam to Google Meet
OBS with virtual cam plugin streaming to Google Meet

Results and lessons learned

The scariest thing was installing the un-signed pkg with the experimental inclusion of the virtualcam plugin for MacOS. I also turned of OBS auto-updates to stop the build breaking. I hope the main branch of OBS for MacOS gets this capability soon – it appears to be in progress in github.

It was fun to do, and I felt the combination of having the close-up and wide camera angles, and the quality mic / speaker near the presenter allowed for a much more natural Troop skill share. You can watch below!

Google Meet recording of the fire lighting demo, starts at 21m50s

YASP (yet another shed post)

Yes, the new shed is up and our gear was in. But it wasn’t in neatly! And a good Scout is organized and tidy, as we all know. So it was back in action for Yet Another Shed Day (YASD) this time getting shelving up.

A nimble cadre of adults and Scouts chopped, trimmed, screwed and hefted for 4 hours, after which we had all of one long side done, and the start of a short side. We were able to fill up the completed shelving and – wow – it is going to make a huge difference in accessing and using our Troop Gear.

One more session to go! (time to be confirmed)

CLICK IMAGE or HERE to see full Gallery

Weston S, Eagle Project

Another 260 Eagle Project has been completed. This time it was scout, and Troop Guide, Weston S making a new garden area for Olinder Elementary School, San Jose. The kids have two large, easy to reach planters (a Troop specialty!) and some large round half barrels that have transformed an otherwise underused and unattractive corner.

Weston is completing his final Eagle Rank stages this month in advance of ageing-out. Great job!

Weston Eagle Project
CLICK IMAGE ABOVE FOR GALLERY, or here

Eagles’ Nest expansion!

Troop 260 is gearing up to expand its Eagles’ nest, with a newly confirmed Eagle rank holder and 3 recently completed Eagle projects

Scout, and newly elected Senior Patrol Leader, Harris C received confirmation from the National Exec recently, making him the Troop’s 106th Eagle Scout. Congratulations Harris!

New Eagle and SPL, Harris C

We also have had three scouts undertake their Eagle projects over the past couple of months, which brings them all close to completing their highest level of scouting.

We are looking forward to the coming few months and seeing Tristan, Enzo and John advance through their final Eagle Rank stages.

Trip report: Mt Umunhum 1910

We had over 30 adults and youth take part in our annual venture to Mt Umunhum for shooting sports and archery. Our own range-masters Ray and Nic ensured a safe and fun exposure to a range of gun types and bow types.

As is tradition, we did a service project clearing scrub for the property owner, and after our second night camping got up for a sunrise hike to the “Umunhum Box” – all very 2001: A Space Odyssey in the dawn!

Click the image below to open the full photo gallery

Trip report: Skyline to Chesebrough

Photo gallery

This past weekend, an 18 strong group (11 scouts and 7 adults) enjoyed the dappled shade and warm Bay scents of the Skyline to Sea Trail.

We arrived at the glorious new Castle Rock State Park entrance just before 0800. With 90 spaces, 6 bathrooms, a ranger station, electric car charging, WiFi and landscaped grounds with water and picnic tables, this upgrade is immense. It really opens up the Park compared to the old cramped area (which is now the overflow / secure overnight parking zone).

From the carpark we had a gentle down slope for about 5 miles until arriving at Camp Chesebrough for lunch shortly after noon. We had a number of scouts or adults that were new or returning to backpacking on the crew, or taking their first weekender with the Troop. All of them did well, settling in with their gear, adjusting straps, putting moleskin on blisters.

The campsite (Shingle Mill Point) was reasonably exposed, but there was enough shade in the trees and around the side to keep us comfortable. Scouts T and M did some orienteering / geo requirements and M also got a cracking campfire going early.

Dinner for the scouts was beans and sausages. The adults had rice and tuna/chicken. Both were enjoyed.

The return journey had a bit more uphill, but mostly just the first part from camp to the trail. We arrived back at the (fabulous) Castle Rock entrance around 11:30 for lunch.

Mountain Safety Council 2 minute skill videos

So, another shameless plug for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC). However, I hope you’ll forgive me as they offer a fabulous library of short (~ 2 minute) videos covering over 30 aspects of getting outdoors across planning; expedition; and campcraft.

Whilst some bits of the advice is country-specific, the vast majority is applicable here. There are a great way for scouts and adults alike to check / update their knowledge.

While YouTube list here

You will find your own favorites. Some of mine are about sleeping well

and travelling as a group

Explosive growth for spring 2019!

Maybe it’s been the wet and warm winter and spring that we’ve had around San Jose, but it isn’t just the flowers that are blooming: Troop 260 has welcomed 15 new scouts (boys and girls) to its roster in the past few months!

Many have come directly from cub packs, bridging over in key transition ceremonies. [see some pictures of these events below]. Others have joined directly. We welcome them all and look forward to the adventures they will have, and the leadership opportunity they open to our older scouts.

A huge welcome also to the families and guardians of these new Scouts. There are many adventures for you also ahead! Scouting is a family enterprise and we need and expect active family engagement to continue the vitality of our program.

Ten essentials

Not all of us have caught Mr Nic’s 10 Essentials briefing (with associated stories!) But the scouts did cover 10 essentials a few months ago on a Troop night.

Generally, in Troop 260, your “10 essentials” means a compact kit focused on personal well being and survival that you can keep in a big pocket or stick in a day pack without it taking up too much room.

Of course, the most important thing about your ten essentials is… having it with you! (cough cough senior scouts on the Pinnacles NP 10-miler)

There are lots of resources out there, here are a couple:

A 10 essentials kit is a great thing to start small and cheap, and then gradually build up over time. If you buy one, make sure you know exactly what is in it – and add to it as needed.

Next time we are out somewhere, ask a Scout to show you their 10-essentials kit to get some ideas.

Trip Report: Elkhorn Slough / Sunset Beach

We decided to repeat our enjoyable December trip and headed back to Elkhorn Slough and Sunset Beach this weekend. The short drive in the winter is appreciated, as is the chance to have an actual fire at the State park campground.

The weather was magnificent again, with partially cloudy skies, a warm-ish day, not too much wind and a cool but not cold overnight.

The tide range and timing meant that this time we did canoe skills first after putting in at Moss Landing. Then after an hour of so of increasingly successful straight line paddles (putting aside the SPL / ASPL combo beaching themselves!) we headed up the Slough about 4 miles.

We couldn’t find a decent place to land for lunch. So much of the waterfront is protected or private land, so we headed back to almost the entrance and stopped at a lovely sandy beach for lunch before heading back to the marina and packing up and heading Sunset Beach. (Note for the future: turns out there are no sanctioned landing/beaching spots *at all* in the Slough apart from Kirby Park – see map )

At the Beach, we did a Scoutmaster Challenge in two parts: use compass bearings to draw a shape in the sand, and then use pioneering skills to build a bridge across the gap. The scouts did a great job with an ingenious design – and one that was strong enough for the Scoutmaster to travel across safely!

Campfire and birthday cake were on the list for the evening – both much appreciated. And several Scouts got multiple requirements ticked off for their ranks.

click below for the picture gallery