As a visualist I have an incessant appetite for gear. The inaugural Plug N Play Brisbane on Tuesday reminded me that it doesn’t have to be this way, however. While I rocked up with bags and boxes of computers, cables, cameras, controllers and hardware, others arrived with a single laptop, and of course were able to put equally compelling material on the screen. Or, to be perfectly honest – more-compelling material, as I struggled to remember which icons were required to get 3L‘s automation chains working.

cheap security cameras-1.jpgDebilitating addictions aside; everyone present was interested in my source for cheap security cameras, BNC converters, HDMI cables and other necessary items, so I’m guessing that the rest of the community may also enjoy: DealExtreme (disclosure: Affiliate links used, if you buy stuff I get a cut).

DealExtreme has a huge range of, basically, ephemera: iPod batteries, LED torches, cable converters, chargers… The type of things you’d get for $20 in a local shop, or you could find on eBay for $2 plus $15 shipping. DealExtreme matches those deceptively cheap eBay prices, and then proceeds to not charge shipping, which puts everything into the category entitled “Ridiculously Cheap Stuff”.

The range is large and varied. This coupled with a not particularly intuitive search and categorization of the site has resulted in me wasting many hours paging through, but along the way I’ve bookmarked plenty of things which may be useful to the average VJ:

RCA-BNC Adapter – useful for those who have recently upgraded to a V8.
HDMI Cables – For some reason these always seem to be approaching $100 in Australian stores. Goes beautifully with your HD camera and Blackmagic Intensity card.
Video to VGA Converter
4-Channel USB DVR – Security style, perfect for use with:
A range of cheap CCD cameras – perfect for creative live feeds (more on this soon)
Various weird and wacky webcams.
Possibly scary composite video recording hard drive enclosure (and its friends)
Rare Earth magnets.
Velcro and cable ties
Various USB game devices.
Weird and wonderful LED strip things.
SLR Cable Release.

Unfortunately those most-useful of VJ items – S-Video and RCA cables, Firewire cables, preview monitors etc. don’t show up, but this might save you money on the might-need-them-occasionally items, or bits and pieces for your next physical computing project.

As with any other source of cheap gear, sometimes you may find that it’s not quite what you asked for, or it may just plain Not Work. Fortunately there’s a reasonably robust feedback and review system (users get affiliate points for writing reviews or uploading images), so you can at least make a partially informed decision, and if that $12 security camera doesn’t work out, you probably won’t feel too bad about hacking around inside it.

  • Nice find. Very nice find. That 4 in CCTV dongle sounds interesting – im tempted to buy it just to see if it works on the Mac at all…. Great stuff! Those are some of the best prices ive seen on those small cameras as well. I have 4 of them, they are much fun..

  • Thanks Vade. Glad it's going to be useful/detrimental to someone else. I'd be very interested to see how the 4 CCTV thing works too – would love to do some virtual-pan and scan with a source like that in VDMX etc.

    I have 16 of the small cameras inbound, from another slightly more complicated source, which I shall reveal if and when these arrive intact.

  • 16? Damn. What are you building?

  • Building? Nothing! I'm just very security conscious 🙂

  • MFO

    I'm although very interested in CCTV cam look. Especially in what different distortions can be produced.
    I already bouth one spycam myself, but was a bit disappointed about the very analog look of the distortions – i'm searching for a more digital look.
    So some kind of overview about different kind of cams would be great! Parameters could be fps, mounting, interface, price, possible modifications (the easy-to-do ones) and the look of distortions …

  • Hi MFO. Good idea, those two cameras pictured aren't actually going to be used by me, as they're NTSC and I can't mix them with the other sources I have (I didn't realise, but it makes sense that a mixer will only operate in PAL or NTSC, not both).

    So I'll pull them apart, put my mixer in NTSC mode and see what I can do with them.

  • MFO

    And there are much more types of cams worth a checking out to examine there particular look. Network/wifi cams, usb webcams, cams with own sender/receiver parts and so on.

    But i guess i takes a lot of time and money to figure out, which are suitable for live-usage and what kind of look they create. (And how much you can modify without breaking those)

  • Couldn't find any PAL equipment – I'm in europe, so it's PAL land. Anybody know anything to get around this?

  • Here's the source I found for PAL cameras. I haven't received them yet though, so I can't vouch for this supplier. They also don't do the free-shipping trick, so for a small order they are considerably more expensive.
    For 16 cameras I think they cost around $12 each, which I'm very happy with.

  • This.Site.Is.Win.
    I think you really should have a specific project in mind when you visit this site, because if you don't I believe you've shown me the source to my new internet timesuck. Amazing, and thank you.

  • Thanks, especially for the PAL cams. Just one more question: Is the scanconvertor really a scanny or rather – as they claim – a vid to vga converter? Also handy, but something completely different. Could I use it in PAL land?

  • @christian: That's why I gave a nice list of VJish things to start with, the navigation and search is a bit unintuitive, so it took me ages to find those items.

    @vjwunderkind: Good point. It's not a scan converter. I have one of these (from another source) which I've used to convert analog outputs to VGA, which I could daisy-chain between projectors.

  • eric

    i love it it. email me let me know where i can get a few!

  • we have a case. What would this do to my seistr? Would she be dropped from her homeowner’s insurance. I don’t want to do anything to hurt her, but I have to prove that she was negligent?

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