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28 August 2022

Use a RGBLink TAO 1tiny to connect a USB Webcam to an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO (or any ATEM mini)

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags:

During the COVID pandemic of 2020, online meetings took over my life and, in a search to find a good meeting presence, I accumulated an insane number of USB webcams. Cameras quickly became scare, and I tried everything from available $25 fixed focus cameras an eventual and brilliant $130 4K Logitech Brio.

After a day of virtual meetings, I spent the evenings building my YouTube channel using these same webcams with OBS Studio on my Mac. I’d use the Brio for the headshot and one of the cheaper models for a workbench view. It worked and got me started, but I quickly saw the need for a dedicated audio/visual/streaming platform and better cameras. This lead me to the ATEM Mini followed by the ATEM Mini Extreme Iso.

The ATEM Mini line, unlike my YoloBox Pro, does not support USB cameras. To connect cameras to the ATEM Mini, the camera must have a clean HDMI out connection. This requires pricey DSLR or mirror-less cameras. I chose the mirror-less Sony ZV-1 for my setup but there were many to choose from including other popular streaming cameras like the Lumix G7.

NOTE: I tried a Canon EOS M50 which is a great camera, a disaster with the ATEM Mini. It took hacks to keep the thing recording and autofocus has to be turned off to use clean HDMI out. The Sony ZV-1 eliminates all these issues.

Starting cost for these cameras is around $600 and if you want two or more cameras in your studio, it’s a pricey proposition. My solution won’t be better than the cameras I mention, but if you if you have a high-quality webcam, this option may work and save money.

In this blog post and companion video, I’m going to introduce you to a product that connects a webcam to the ATEM mini, the $170 RGBLink TAO 1tiny. Let’s see how it works.


Table of Contents


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Companion YouTube Video

Title: _‌Use the RGBLink TAO 1tiny to connect a Webcam to an ATEM Mini _

Video Errata

None as of 2022-08-28.

Below are the links I mention in this blog post and companion video. All Amazon links are affiliate links. I’d like to thank everyone for your support of the blog and the YouTube channel when you start your purchases here!

  1. RGBLink TAO 1tiny on Amazon
  2. TAO 1tiny Webpage
  3. ATEM Mini Extreme Iso
  4. ATEM Mini
  5. YoloBox Pro
  6. Sony ZV1
  7. Lumix G7
  8. Canon EOS M50
  9. Zoom Q2n-4K
  10. UNZANO HD650
  11. UNZANO HD600 with Lights
  12. Looca 4K
  13. Logitech C920
  14. Logitech Brio

Unboxing

Before I try the 1tiny, let’s see what comes in the small basic white box:

  1. The 1tiny UVC to HDMI convertor
  2. An instruction manual
  3. A USB-C to USB-C cable
  4. A USB-A to USB-C adapter

The 1tiny does not include a power brick. On the 1tiny are the following ports:

  1. USB-C Power
  2. USB 2.0 Connector (Firmware and Webcam)
  3. USB 3.0 Connector (Webcam)
  4. HDMI Out

There are no audio inputs on the 1tiny. The device does not support webcam microphones. With the 1tiny out of the box, let’s get it connected.

Connecting to the ATEM Mini (all models)

Connecting the 1tiny to the ATEM Mini is a breeze.

  1. Connect an HDMI cable from the 1tiny to an HDMI-In on the ATEM Mini.
  2. Select the correct input source on the ATEM Mini.
  3. Plug the webcam into either the USB-A port or the USB-C input port. If using USB-C don’t confuse it with the USB-C port that provides power. Double-check the top labels on the 1tiny.
  4. Plug the included USB-C cable into the USB-C power on the 1tiny and then plug the other end into a power source.

How does this differ from the my Sony ZV1 connection? Other than the brick, which is mounted on a vertical support bar, it doesn’t. There’s an HDMI plug to my ATEM mini and a power source for the 1tiny. It’s a pretty lean setup since TAO kept the unit as “1tiny” as they could.

Testing Webcam Compatibility

Once I made the connections and applied power, the first thing I noticed was the sound of a fan. The 1tiny has an internal fan and you can hear it! When you install this in your studio, be sure to keep it away from your microphone. I don’t suspect, with a good microphone, that your audience will hear it, but it surprised me that this tiny device needed a fan.

I was eager to test compatibility with webcams. Does this 1tiny work with all the webcams I own? I have a good selection of webcams that includes, from what I consider lowest to highest quality:

  1. UNZANO HD650
  2. Looca 4K
  3. UNZANO HD600 with Lights
  4. Logitech C920
  5. Logitech Brio

NOTE: TAO recommends a cool camera to use with the 1tiny; the $170 OBSBOT Tiny Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Webcam paired with the $40 OBSBOT Tiny Remote Control. I don’t have this device, but would love to give this a try. If it works and the camera quality is good, I could move around my studio with a setup much cheaper than a PTZ camera alone.

In the video, I try each one and provide a tag at the bottom of the page to identify the webcam in use.

Upgrading the Firmware

Out of the box, my 1tiny was a few firmware versions behind. Luckily, TAO makes it easy to find the firmware and upgrade. Here are the steps from the instructions:

  1. Visit the TAO 1tiny web page.
  2. Scroll down to the Details area and click the Downloads header.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the XPOSE & Firmware area.
  4. Click the word Firmware and the file will download to your computer.
  5. Locate the download and decompress it. A folder with a name similar to TAO 1tiny_Firmware_V1.21.5.30_EN_20220715 appear.
  6. Click inside the folder to find two PDF files and another folder called Upgrade File. Double-click the folder.
  7. Inside the folder is a file with a name similar to tiny4kfirmware-v1.21.5.30-release-rgblink.img. Copy that folder to a FAT formatted USB drive. The instructions recommend there not be any other files on the USB drive. I concur with them.
  8. Unplug the USB-C power cable on the 1tiny but leave HDMI and the webcam plugged in.
  9. Plug the USB drive into the 1tiny.
  10. Plug the USB-C power back into the 1tiny. The device will boot and soon two successive screens appear to indicate the upgrade status.
  11. Once complete, the 1tiny will reboot and display the old and new firmware upgrade versions. That’s a great feature. I wish more devices did this to show the upgrade path.
  12. The webcam will appear on the ATEM Mini.

The whole process takes about 5 minutes.

Testing the Upgrade and Fan Noise

The upgrade README lists a quieter fan feature. I noticed a slight difference. The upgrade was not as impactful as I hoped.

I was curious if after the upgrade, all the cameras worked. They did.

The Value

Is the TAO 1tiny worth $180? If you add a $130 Logitech Brio, your total cost is for a high quality, auto focus, 4k camera is $310. I have two $200 Zoom Q2n-4K. These portable cameras have great sound and are great outdoor cameras that struggle in low light; however, their flexibility and inclusion of a micro-HDMI connector made them attractive. My plan was always to upgrade these to a mirror-less camera on my ATEM Mini setup and then use these cameras as part of an on-the-go studio with the YoloBox Pro.

The Zooms are setup in two locations, one as a studio camera, where it works well, and another a top-down camera for my desk where it performs poorly. I know the camera isn’t for top-down views; however, I’ve radiated my desk with a ton of light and for unknown reasons, the camera will not give me the quality I need.

Replacing the top-down desk camera with the TAO 1tiny and the BRIO that is a huge upgrade. The BRIO performs better in low light and has autofocus. A camera that would get close to these functions is $500 and up. In my case, a person with a spare webcam and using Amazon affiliate revenue to cut the cost of the TAO 1tiny in half made this a good value proposition. My total cost for the setup, at the time of purchase, was $100. That’s a heck of a deal!

Final Recommendation

I’ll admit, the TAO 1tiny has an initial sticker shock; however, it does everything it says and as the time of this writing is the only device I’ve found that allows you to use a webcam with your ATEM Mini. This device includes support, but since mine worked, I can’t vouch for their customer service.

However, if you have a specific reason, you need to connect a USB webcam to your ATEM mini, or have a decent quality webcam lying around the studio and want to incorporate it into your ATEM Mini setup or another other HDMI in source, this is the device for you! It’s small, easy to set up, and receives firmware upgrades. What more could you ask for?

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