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

COVID-19 response: keeping the Troop truckin’ – virtually

COVID-19 response: Troop policy (effective immediately)
COVID-19 response: virtual scouting – a guide
Virtual Scouting resources

As the outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County continues to accelerate, BSA Scout Troop 260 has established the following policy. It is effective immediately, as of March 14 2020. Troop 260 has put in place this policy and associated guidelines to keep scouts and adult volunteers safe during Troop 260 activities as well as be socially responsible in support of limiting the spread of the virus.

Troop leadership (uniformed adult leaders and committee members) is following guidance and recommendations set forth by local and national health authorities. Where ambiguity exists, we are erring on the side of caution.

COVID-19 brings unprecedented and challenging changes to our normal routine. However, there is a determination by troop leadership to keep our Scouts BSA program by using virtual means!

We encourage scouts and adults to read, understand and – where required, suggest improvements to – this policy and the virtual scouting guidelines. At the same time, we challenge scouts and adults to show their scout spirit in adapting to what we all hope will be a relatively short disruption.

— Troop 2/260 Scoutmaster and Chair

New library page

Hi all – the Forms page is now the Library page with a bunch of expanded content.

Stuff for scout meetings, like meeting plan templates, games and activity resources. Also admin forms you need for medicals and expenses.

This section of the site will grow over time.

New Year – new website

For almost a decade, stalwart T260 supporter Nic Matulich had been building and maintaining out website. After indicating recently that he was keen for someone else to take a turn, I thought it would also be a good chance to refresh the site.

Some stuff changes, some starts the same. The site is still hosted using an online service (but today it is called ‘the cloud’ 😋). By switching to WordPress I hope to provide better separation between content and Infrastructure. This will enable Scouts and parents to contribute content (posts, page edits) without needing access to the underlying site.

The sure also uses a theme that is designed to scale from desktop to smartphone – something that wasn’t a consideration even 10 years ago.

More to come. Stay tuned.