I’ve recently had another shipment arrive from previously mentioned purveyors of cheap gadgetry, DealExtreme (disclosure: Affiliate links used, if you buy stuff I get a (tiny) cut). Last time I write about the site, I noted that super-useful VJ things such as preview monitors weren’t available.

The $42 LCD Monitor

They are now.

As you can definitely tell from a larger shot, this 3″ (seems to be around 390×260 pixels) monitor isn’t going to win any awards for image quality or resolution. The manufacturers have also managed to label the AV and Line In ports around the wrong way. However, if there was an award for “super cheap, light, and tiny” monitors, this one would win hands down.

It supports both NTSC and PAL, but it doesn’t come with a 12V power adapter, so you’re going to have to find a separate source of electrons. Fortunately DealExtreme comes to the rescue here too, with an array of power adapters joining their lineup (I’ve found the smaller, cheaper ones are able to power this monitor just fine).

Since I last talked about VJ-specific monitoring solutions (back in 2007), things don’t seem to have changed much. Numark’s triple-screen VM03 has been discontinued Numark are still selling the VM03 MKII, and the cheaper, knockoff version is still costing several hundred dollars per screen. As the volume of cameras mounts up, I think it’s quite likely that several more of these are going to make it into my rig.

Alongside this monitor (and it’s slightly smaller, cheaper, 2.5″ sister), some new visualist-friendly stuff has hit the catalogue since I last wasted an evening trawling through it. Here’s an updated list of things which may be useful to pixelmongers:

Disclaimer: I haven’t purchased or tested all of these items. Most of the stuff I’ve received from DealExtreme has been fine, but if things break, melt, or electrocute your cat, I’m not responsible.

IP Camera with remote pan and tilt control: $109
USB to MIDI cable device: $17
Waterproof* security camera – PAL and NTSC: $22 (*May only be waterproof for a very small value of “water”)
Tiny NTSC security camera: $13 (the PAL version of this was used for various Vixid experiments)
Wireless, underwater camera with monitor and recorder: $250
8 composite over CAT5 video baluns: $37 (like a composite version of these previously mentioned on CDMo. These will require BNC-RCA conversion for most video tasks though. Anyone have a source for cheap BNC-RCA converters? DealExtreme’s ones are the wrong gender)
USB S-Video/Composite AV Capture dongle: $16 (I used one of these for the NetLag broadcast. Works fine on PC, Mac drivers don’t seem to exist)
4-channel, security style USB capture dongle: $19
SATA Hard drive enclosure, video recorder and player: $84 (
160 degree fisheye lens for security cameras: $6.40
2.8-16mm, 6 lens set for security cameras: $15
Tiny webcam: $11
Gorillapod knockoffs of various sizes: $6-15
Video Glasses: $133 (and a version with media player and tuner: $179)
Wireless AV transmitter and receiver set: $52
Video to VGA converter: $41
VGA to Video converter: $35
USB touch screen film: $57
Triple RCA joiner: $1.50
Single RCA joiner: $1.30
Velcro cable ties: $2.50
Composite and S-Video AV cable for Sony DV and HDV cameras (useful for multi-screen projection spanning): $4
DIY RCA cable plug: $1.40
1000 cable ties: $11
USB cable A-B: $3.80

And other, less VJ-centric (yet still enticing) bits:
White 75-LED strip: $12.50
SMD 12-LED Strip and power connector cable: $9 and $1.6.
RGB, 54-LED strip: $11
SATA to USB2 adapter with PSU: $15
PC fans 12cm and 8cm: $5ish
3-Fan speed controller: $7
2xRCA to 3.5mm Stereo plug: $1.20
100 spherical NIB magnets: $20
USB over CAT5 cable extender: $18
USB LED light: $5

I’m sure you’ll be able to find lots more use[ful/less] (delete where applicable) stuff as you get sucked into the DealVortex. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments, or to discuss sources for that all important stuff we spend so much time lugging around and plugging in.

  • mzo

    This was a pretty damn useful post! You did lots of slogging around through DealExtreme so we didn't have to. Well worth giving you a tiny cut ;)

  • http://beatfix.com beatfix

    I've had one of those mini-monitors for a couple years now – tried using it as a preview monitor for my V4 (mounted right on top) with mixed success. It works, but only if you hunch over it – I ended up going back to a portable DVD player with A/V-in (and a 7" screen). Still, for short-term use in an ultraportable setup it's pretty slick.

  • http://www.heart2beat.com vjwunderkind

    I keep thinking about buying one of those ptz cams but I wonder whether they can be used on a stage – lights, quality, speed are my main concerns here, apart from the fact that I don't know yet how to get a webcam stream into vdmx…

  • http://www.heart2beat.com vjwunderkind

    AND I just had an idea: one could use this usb-touchscreen thingy to control the position of the ptz cam

  • http://elevated.tv elevated.tv

    good preview out for DVJs and travel rigs. Nice find!!!!

  • http://www.mitchcohen.com/ Mitch Cohen

    The Numark triple-LCD panel wasn't really discontinued, just replaced with a newer model, the MkII:
    http://www.numark.com/vm03mkii

    No major differences from the last version. Push-button instead of slider for switching between inputs. Brightness/contrast adjustments too, which I don't use, but I suppose could be handy for some folks.

    I've installed several of these (old and new models) for cable PEG operations. Good stuff. I wish they used BNC instead of RCA connections, otherwise no complaints.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    @MZO: Glad to be of assistance :) I love looking at all the weird and wonderful stuff available from DX. Definitely going to revisit them from time to time and document the good finds here.

    @Beatfix: Yes, it's definitely very small, and the colour isn't really good enough for "critical" tasks. I'd consider it a "what input do I have routed in right now" preview, or "is that camera pointed somewhere useful", rather than "how is my colour blend looking" :)

    @vjwunderkind: I'd say there's a good chance you could somehow translate input from something into pan/tilt, but it might not be a simple task. If you're going to get hacking on something like that, might as well get some servos and a midi control board and put together your own pan and tilt system like Josh Cardenas did for the Hard Sell tour.

    @Mitch: Thanks for the fact check! I did actually talk about the VM03 MKII in the 2007 article, but then managed to get to the original VM03 when I was googling for this one, and the Numark site doesn't link to the new model from that page.

  • http://www.heart2beat.com vjwunderkind

    Hmm yeah thanks for the reminder – I did have a look at that when you first posted it. TBH I'm not a great DIY guru – au contraire. But I get more and more gigs where I'm faced with live cams plus visuals or only livecams and getting a cam operator at budget level is quite hard. Most PTZ cams you find on ebay and the like are webcams. I keep wondering how to get their input into a mixer? Anybody have experience with that?