DIY Streamdeck Helps You Professionalize Your Twitch Show

The one thing that separates the pros on Twitch from the dilettantes is the production values. It’s all about the smooth transitions, and you’ll never catch the big names fiddling with dodgy software mid-stream. The key to achieving this is by having a streamdeck to help control your setup, like this straightforward design from [Electronoobs]. (Video, embedded below.)

The build relies on an Arduino Micro, which is a microcontroller board perfectly equipped to acting as a USB macro keyboard. It’s paired with a Nextion LCD touchscreen that displays buttons for various stream control features, like displaying a “Be Right Back” screen or cuing up video clips. The build also features bigger regular buttons for important quick-access features like muting a mic. It’s all wrapped up in a 3D printed housing, with some addressable RGB LEDs running off another Arduino to add some pizazz. The neat trick is that the build sends keycodes for F13-F24, which allows for the streamdeck’s hotkeys to avoid conflicting with any other software using conventional keyboard hotkeys.

It’s a useful tool that would be of use to anyone streaming on Twitch or other platforms. Alternatively, you could repurpose an old phone to do a similar job. Video after the break.

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Quick Hack: The Phone To Stream Deck Conversion

What do you do with those old Android or iPhone phones and tablets? You have plenty of options, but it is pretty easy to build your own stream deck with a little off-the-shelf software. What’s a stream deck, you ask? The name comes from its use as a controller for a live-streaming setup, but essentially, it’s an LCD touchscreen that can trigger things on your computer.

The software I’m using, Deckboard, is a server for Windows or Linux and, of course, an Android app. The app is free with some limitations, but for under $4 you can buy the full version. However, even the free version is pretty capable. You can use an Android phone or tablet and you can connect to the PC with a USB cable or WiFi. I’ve found that even with WiFi, it is handy to keep the phone charged, so realistically you are going to have a cable, but it doesn’t necessarily have to connect to the host computer.

Linux Setup

Setup is very easy. The biggest hurdle is you might need to set up your firewall to allow the server to listen on port 8500 with TCP.  There are a few small issues when installing with Linux that you might want to watch out for.  There are 32-bit and 64-bit versions in deb, tar.gz, and appimage format. There’s also a snap. The problem with the snap is it is sandboxed, so without effort you can’t easily launch programs, which is kinda the entire point. I finally removed it and installed the deb file which was fine.

There were still two other wrinkles. First, while Deckboard offers a way to launch programs, it must be a program from a list it reads from your system. That would be acceptable, but the list wasn’t complete. I never did figure out why some things show up on the list and others don’t. For example, GIMP which shows up on my application menu was absent. Yet other things that were fairly obscure did show up.

I thought this might be a dealbreaker until I found that Deckboard has a well-developed plugin system and one of those plugins lets you run an arbitrary command line. I guess it is a little less convenient, but it is much more flexible since you can launch any program you want and provide options to it as well.

The only other complaint I had is that when you run the program, it shows its configuration interface and puts itself in the system tray. That’s great the first time you run it, but on system startup, it would be nice to just have it quietly start. If there’s an option for that I haven’t found it. I’ll tell you how I solved that later, but, for now, just live with it.

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Homebrew Stream Deck Pedal Emulates The Real Thing

Pedals are a great way to control functions on your computer. You’re rarely using your feet for anything else, so they can handle some tasks, freeing up your hands. This Elgato Stream Deck controller from [DDRBoxman] does just that.

[DDRBoxman] wanted to control Elgato Stream Deck much like the offical pedal sold by the company. Thus, some hacking was in order. Using Wireshark with the Elgato pedal helped to determine the communication method of the real hardware.

Once the protocol was figured out, it was just a task of getting the Raspberry Pi Pico to replicate the same functionality. With the help of the tinyusb library, [DDRBoxman] was able to emulate the real Elgato device successfully. Paired with a 3D-printed footswitch design from Adafruit, and the project was functional and complete.

We’ve seen great foot pedal devices over the years, from a simple macro device to a super-useful page turner for sheet music. If you’ve been hacking away at your own nifty input devices, be sure to drop us a line!

Sparkpad Sparks Joy For Streamers

The best streamers keep their audience constantly engaged. They might be making quips and doing the funny voices that everyone expects them to do, but they’re also busy reading chat messages aloud and responding, managing different scenes and transitions, and so on. Many streamers use a type of macro keyboard called a stream deck to greatly improve the experience of juggling all those broadcasting balls.

Sure, there are dedicated commercial versions, but they’re kind of expensive. And what’s the fun in that, anyway? A stream deck is a great candidate for DIY because you can highly personalize the one you make yourself. Give it clicky switches, if that’s what your ears and fingers want. Or don’t. It’s your macro keyboard, after all.

[Patrick Thomas] and [James Wood] teamed up to build the perfect stream deck for [James]’ Twitch channel. We like the way they went about it, which was to start by assessing a macro pad kit and use what they learned from building and testing it to design their ideal stream deck. The current version supports both the Arduino Pro Micro and the ESP32. It has twelve key switches, a rotary encoder, an LED bar graph, and an OLED screen for choosing between the eight different color schemes.

If you’d rather have dynamic screens instead of cool keycaps, you can do it cheaper by making non-touch screens actuate momentaries.

A Useful Macro Pad For Microsoft Teams

Working from home has now become de rigeur for many more people around the globe. With it, has sprung up a desire for better controls for streaming and conferencing software. There are plenty of streamdecks on the market, of course, but this isn’t BuyADay, it’s HackADay. Thus, you’ll want to check out this great build for Microsoft Teams by [Build Comics].

The build consists of a series of Cherry MX Silent Red key switches in a 3D printed housing, dedicated to muting audio, switching video, and making and hanging up on calls. Naturally, they’re marked with their individual functions and lit with RGB LEDs for obvious feedback. The keys are read by a Raspberry Pi Pico, which handles USB communication with the PC. AutoHotKey is then pressed into service to make the final link to the Microsoft Teams software. [Build Comics] also worked on a 3D-printed busylight that indicates when they’re on a call; however, thus far it isn’t quite working properly. Jump into the conversation on Github or comment below if you’ve got insight on the problem.

It’s a build that likely saves a lot of hassle when you’re on several calls a day. The mute button is a sure-fire jobsaver on some occasions, and it’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. We’ve featured work from [Build Comics] before, too – like this excellent vintage meter restoration. Video after the break.

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Lighted Raspberry Pico Stream Deck Is Easy As Pi

Whether it’s for work, school, fun, or profit, nearly everyone is a content-creating video producer these days. And while OBS has made it easier to run the show, commanding OBS itself takes some hotkey finesse. Fortunately, it just keeps getting easier to build macro keyboards that make presenting a breeze. That includes the newest player to the microcontroller game — the Raspberry Pi Pico, which [pete_codes] used to whip up a nice looking OBS stream deck.

Sometimes you just need something that works without a lot of fuss — you can always save the fuss for version two. [pete_codes]’ Pico Producer takes advantage of all those I/O pins on the Pico and doesn’t use a matrix, though that is subject to change in the future. [pete_codes] likes the simplicity of this design and we do, too. You can see it in action after the break.

In reply to the Twitter thread, someone mentions re-legendable keycaps instead of the current 3D-printed-with-stickers keycaps, but laments the lack of them online. All we can offer is that re-legendable Cherry MX-compatible keycaps are definitely out there. Maybe not in white, but they’re out there.

If [pete_codes] wants to go wild in version two and make this macro keeb control much more than just OBS, he may want to leave the labeling to something dynamic, like an e-ink screen.

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FreeTouchDeck Upgrades Its Hardware And Its Name: ESP32 Touchdown

With many folks continuing to work from home for far longer than they ever thought, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing the rise of small DIY devices to make that video call or virtual presentation a little easier. [Dustin Watts] was interested in the functionality of the Elgato Stream Deck — a macro keyboard where each key is its own screen. But that kind of fancy hardware comes with a formidable price tag. So he built his own, and made it open source!

His first iteration — FreeTouchDeck — was built using commonly available modules but has since evolved into the ESP32 Touchdown which does it all with a single PCB. It’s a highly-customizable touchscreen macro keyboard which provide easy access shortcuts and macros for quick actions. Need a quick mute button, want to switch camera views on OBS, or maybe you want smarter shortcut keys for your CAD of choice. This will can get you there.

There a few key differences from the first version (FreeTouchDeck). The ESP32 dev board was ditched for a tidy PCB the directly integrates the module. This one has a capacitive touch controller (FT6236) rather than a resistive one as the capacitive screens deliver a far nicer user experience. A built-in battery and charger circuit (which the FreeTouchDesk didn’t have) allows for the extra bit of flexibility to stream from anywhere (within wireless range of course). Multiple case designs are available in STL form that allows it to be placed on a wall or desk with ease.

Datasheets, gerbers, kicad files, BOMs, and example firmware is provided on GitHub. The software is easily configurable so it can be set up to do any sort of macro, key combination, or action. This isn’t just limited to emulating a Bluetooth keyboard as there are examples showing how to connect to Home Assistant. All in all, this is a wonderful example of continued iteration on a project.

Thanks [Timothy Gregory] for sending this one in!