Members | Sign In
All Forums > Hardware and LBE construction

Hailing another bridge using webcams

posted Oct 22, 2012 02:22:13 by JonathanPreston
We play every thursday with 2 or sometimes 3 bridges here, since 2 are permenatly installed rooms that have been re-arranged to fit the Artemis layout nicely. My question is, how hard would it be to get Comms to push a button that would change the main view over to a given webcam address? That way the two (or three?) bridges could speak, especially at the begining or wrap up of a mission. Also great for the annoying "are you ready yet?" yelling between up and downstairs. Currently we have the comms officer on teamspeak, but it would be super awesome to have an actual main screen chat with another ship. I've cross-posted this in the dev section to see if there's any desire to be a feature added, but my main question is has anyone done it? My current thought is for the comm officer to have a HDMI switchbox that would switch the inputs from the viewscreen computer to a computer playing the other bridge's webcam, but that is inelegant for 3 or more bridges. The other thought is to simply have a seperate monitor for cross-ship comms, and give the captian or comms a mute button so it's not blaring all the time, and put all ships in a conference webcam mode. Any thoughts?
page   1 2 next last
27 replies
kwadroke said Oct 22, 2012 03:13:38
For our last convention, we used Mumble voice chat to connect the two bridges. Something like this might work for you until we get video chat.

I'm trying to come up with a video chat program to do something similar to what you're talking about, but I haven't had much time to spend on it lately.
RobertJacoby said Oct 22, 2012 07:04:24
even i dont have a crew i builded my own little brige hopping finding a crew around my place. Iam using skype for comm. Mainscreen and comms are the same commputer just 2 seperate monitors. So now if i get a video call my comm can easy move it to mainscreen and maximise the video call so i got the Video call on a mainscreen. To keep it simple for my comm skype he just presses a button and everything is on main screen. Comm it self will be using teamspeak to communicate until a video message is inbound.
So Teamspeak is on his headphones, and skype uses webcam/mic and small speakers.


P.S. sorry for my bad english ;)
[Last edited Oct 22, 2012 07:07:54]
PurplePenguin04 said Oct 22, 2012 14:43:14
Google has an API for their Google+ hangouts. I'm no programmer so I have no idea if it would be possible but perhaps there's a way to use that to get the bridge to bridge video chats working.
kwadroke said Oct 22, 2012 14:49:57
I'd like to see a video chat that doesn't require an Internet connection. This is why I'm working on one myself. When Cmdr Brandr and I take Artemis to conventions, we're not guaranteed a stable connection, if a connection at all. For people who run it at home this isn't usually a problem.
Cmdr.Brandr said Oct 22, 2012 16:48:54
I keep thinking that the Raspberry PIs might provide a solution to this. One of my plans right now is to use Raspberry PIs as webcam servers for display purposes since I use a flat screen TV as a main display I can switch the display to one of its different inputs, namely the webcam client. I figure that will be the most likely way to prevent the screen swap from giving errors with the server program. Also, keeps the resources down.
Commander Brandr
Commanding Officer of the ship Calamitous Intent

Check our crews adventures at
kwadroke said Oct 22, 2012 17:32:50
Actually, it might be easier to have a 2 Port HDMI switch to handle it. My TV has 4-6 different settings for video in (can't remember the exact off the top of my head). Yes, It's an additional expense. This way when you only have 1 or 2 buttons, it would make it easier to switch instead of hitting Input 4-6 times (if you don't miss it the first time).
Something like this would work: For less than $12, I may hack the select button and make it remote.

I'm hoping to get video chat working in Python. That way it can run on the Pi (and other Linux distros), Windows, & OSX. I've got something that might work, but I'll have to dig into to it more tonight.
RobJosephson said Oct 23, 2012 00:32:44
we ran google+ hangout with two remote crewmen, and broadcasted ourselves. While it worked fine for audio, as soon as you aded video, we had lag on the chat AND the game. Definaely should be a toggle, and not on all the time, but I would like to see this for multi-ship games.
Mike_Substelny said Oct 26, 2012 16:58:13
kwadroke, The first time we ran multiple bridges at my house we used X-cams and televisions to do the 2-way video. I was mostly happy with how it worked out. It's an inexpensive solution for two bridges in the same building.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
kwadroke said Oct 26, 2012 17:33:49
Mike_Substelny, how were you handling audio? The cameras don't support those, do they?
MichaelMesich said Oct 26, 2012 21:53:06
I'm going to try testing SSuite's FaceTime IP-to-IP video chat client with autohotkey overlaying it with transparency over the comm window to see if it'll work for our two bridges at our events over the next few weeks.

I'll report back.
Hissatsu said Nov 05, 2012 13:45:54
This would be fucking awesome...

- Capitain, we are being hailed.
- Onscreen
- *Other bridge is shown, with capitain in the middle, speaking*

Mike_Substelny said Nov 06, 2012 15:22:44
kwadroke, the X-cams do support audio. To prevent an audio feedback loop I placed both cameras in styrofoam boxes, with the camera lenses and microphones pointed at the two captains. This looked a bit silly but worked very well.

We were using two bridges, Artemis and Intrepid, located two floors apart in my home.

In combat aboard the Intrepid, I could very clearly see and hear the captain of the Artemis as she shouted, "We have friendlies in the area! Hold your fire!" Then she realized her Weapons Officer had already fired, and I could see her look of helpless horror as Artemis's nuke blasted my ship to smithereens.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
KyleHuffman said Nov 22, 2012 07:28:10
Couldn't you set up a central computer as a dedicated server for something like that? I mean just about any cheapo computer can act as a server for a lan network. The only thing you may need to do is beef up the ram depending on how many people you do have in the parties. Also, a dumb terminal situation might work perfectly for something like that too with access to only a shared folder with the programs like vent or what ever inside. However, if you do go that route you may need a computer with a board that can handle all those connections at once, or disperse it over a few computers or something.
Flynnicism said Dec 17, 2012 00:55:05
Is it at all possible to have Skype be always on top and being in a window in a corner on the mainscreen? if you get a video call (or hail.) you could have a hotkey to answer it or even minimize or fullscreen the window.
drspacemonkey said Dec 29, 2012 23:11:36
Here's the solution I came up with for our last flight between two ships:

- Webcam on top of LCD TV

- Google+ Hangout running on main viewscreen in the background in full-screen mode

- AutoHotKey script that toggles 100% window transparency on Artemis (done this way to avoid the Direct3D error message), as well as muting of the Google+ hangout, microphone, and Artemis via NirCmd

- Wireless keyboard connected to the main viewscreen and placed next to the Comms officer, but no reason that couldn't be done with damn near anything. Arduino & bluetooth is a possibility just for fun

- Comms officers wired in to each other via Mumble and PTT

So here's how it works in practice:

Captain: Comms, hail the USS Failboat

Comms: Aye Captain. <talks to other ship via Mumble> Sir, I have the USS Failboat

Captain: On-screen

Comms presses the spacebar on the wireless keyboard, and presto. Full-screen video of the other bridge, captain in the middle, ready for epic spacechat. When done, press the spacebar again and Artemis is brought back, Google+ Hangout is muted, and everything is back to normal.

It worked great.
Login below to reply: