[TBA]: Low-cost match archiving boxes

Every year there is a struggle to archive video of all of the matches, and it seems we haven’t been keeping up with the growth of regionals. In response to this, I wanted to toss out this idea for consideration:

What if we (as the FRC community interested in seeing every match archived) built a set of boxes to automatically record video? They could consist of an old-ish laptop with a cheap USB video dongle, and some software to parse the incoming video stream in real time. My thought is that these would be plugged into the network and video feeds, and then any configuration work could be done remotely by one or two people.

There have been several attempts at automatic match parsing, so I suspect this is nearly a solved problem. Uploading the video to YouTube should be straightforward with their API. With a little work, we could link videos to TBA in real time.

I don’t know if we could get FIRST to ship these with the fields, but if we made them small and self contained, there might be a chance. Even if that isn’t a possibility, it should be possible to ship the hardware around relatively inexpensively.

The hard part is still having someone on site to plug the box in and make sure it’s connected, but maybe this would lower the barrier enough that we could get all of the regionals recorded?

Questions for discussion:

  • Would this help us archive more regionals, or is this solving the wrong problem?
  • Would you plug in a box at your regional?
  • Would you help develop software for the box?
  • Would you sponsor/purchase a box?
  • Suggestions for hardware or software we could work with?

This does sound like an interesting solution, but I think an easier solution is for people to start using services like justin.tv or other streaming sources that will automatically record and store the entire event. Now, this will not parse the video into matches, but you can create a link to a specific time in the video that you can link to on TBA etc.

Although they take forever to get your hands on one, a Raspberry Pi ( http://www.raspberrypi.org/ ) would be a perfect board for something like this. One could probably ship the board, with a 8gb usb stick and have a cheap recording solution.

Yes, this would be easier. For those that have done this, is the quality on par with the incoming video feed?

A few updates on other pieces:

This would be great to build! We can build hooks into TBA to catch requests to link new YouTube videos once you’ve got things up and running. :slight_smile:

I don’t think it’s necessary to add more hardware to solve the problem. Since we know that most if not all events are webcasted, and it isn’t too difficult to divide a long video stream into matches, the missing link is actually storing the webcast after the event. It’s really just a matter of getting the people running the webcast to arrange to save the video somewhere, and making it available to parse the matches and upload.


How do i use your code? I am intrigued by the concept of what this code could do. And as one of the longtime recorders of the competition it would make my life a little easier!

Oops, I thought I had responded to this back in January… Sorry!

The code uses Python and the Python bindings for OpenCV, which you should be able to download for whatever OS you use. Right now, the code just reads a video file and does a template match with a sample of each number to try and find what the match timer says. It doesn’t work particularly well yet, but I can send you the sample files if you’d like to give it a spin.