Hey Pixel Pack! If you’ve been tuning in for the last few weeks, you know that we’ve been streaming games in our Mobile Gaming Unit live from Times Square every weekend. While we are now able to reliably stream most Fridays and Saturdays (weather permitting), the journey to this point was not without it’s hiccups. We thought you might be interested to hear about some of the trials and tribulations we’ve overcome on our way to becoming the first fully autonomous live-streaming studio to ever grace the streets of New York.
Now, as you might have noticed, we had this issue problem pop up just as we were preparing to debut in spring of 2020. While the quarantine summer allowed us some time to polish the shine on our dear little MGU, We really needed some field tests to determine what exactly it would take to make this project work. It seems like so long ago my brothers and sisters and I were ensconced in this brand-new game called Valheim that was on it’s way to becoming the biggest-selling game to hit Steam. Did they ever release the Hearth and Home update? Who knows…
About the middle of March we woke the MGU from her winter slumbers and found she was no worse for the prolonged power-down. One problem that had dogged us since we bought her was the starter battery losing it’s charge, requiring a jump any time we wanted to move. It seemed ironic since we had three perfectly operating solar-powered batteries just a few feet away from the engine, and by installing a Noco Genius GENmini 2 we were able to wed our very high-tech, clean power system to our decidedly old, dirty combustion engine. Problem solved!
One of the first upgrades we made was the addition of a forward facing nigh vision camera to capture the street scenes unfolding in front of the Rig. While this allowed us to bring the lights of Times Square in all their glory to our online viewers, there was some juggling of camera shots that needed to be managed in OBS in order to make the transition more smooth. Now we can bring up the Big Apple at the touch of a button on our Elgato Stream Deck.
Our first 2021 stream from Times Square took place on Saturday, March 27. We immediately ran into an issue with the second computer that turned out to be a lose wire in the case. Turns out that motion vibrations are not factored into a standard desktop build! Fortunately, they make locking wire connections that took care of that problem.
Soon after our first stream we reached out to KatKaishi, whom we met through our dearly-departed friend MacDizzleNYC. Kat was enthusiastic about streaming with us, and has introduced us to the agony and ecstasy of League of Legends. We’re very happy to have her aboard! The very next weekend we caught the eye of IPlayedMajor walking by, and he’s joined us with his dulcet baritone voice which you might recognized from such games as Borderlands 3 and DragonBall: Xenoverse, not to mention on Broadway as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin! Major’s been streaming from the guest chair every Friday since.
So everything was running more or less through the first part of April, but unbeknownst to us a big problem was lurking just below the surface. It all came to a head when we attempted to install a second inside camera to cover the area just in front of the window. It proved to be the proverbial camera that broke the camel’s back. Everything went dark and we got the dreaded blue screen of death.
The power supply in our gaming computers were rating for 550 watts. One tiny, wafer-thin camera was all it took to tip the needle into the red. We ended up having to totally reinstall Windows, all the games and hardware controllers, the settings of which we failed to back up. Let our experience serve as a lesson to you all: Back your settings up! Do it right now! We’ll wait! We also upgraded the power supply to a Focus GX Gold with a substantially increased 850-watt capacity. Now we’re cooking!
Perhaps our greatest issue has been the amount of data we use. While the actual act of streaming uses a fairly manageable 1 gig per hour, we found that having two different cellular carriers was kind of like having two spouses who definitely aren’t into sharing. It was impossible to get them to seamlessly pass the torch after one sim card was finished, even though we have multiple card ports in our receiver. In the end we broke up with both of them (it’s not you—it’s us!) and found a much better match with Mint Mobile — that Ryan Reynolds, what a dream boat!
So finally (fingers crossed!) all the pieces are starting to fall into place, and we’ve sustained several concurrent weekends of perfect weather and perfect streams. If you happen to be walking the streets of the city some weekend this summer, please let us know—we’d love to have you drop by the Rig and say hello. Otherwise, we look forward to having you along in our Twitch stream. You just never know what will come up, so tune in, lovers. That is all