A Weekend with GStreamer

Gstreamer LogoThis weekend was dedicated to learning and experimenting with Gstreamer – an open source library and framework for constructing audio and video processing pipelines. Despite the weekend being spoiled by lots of bad luck (power outages, Internet down, etc.) I managed to beat the hell out of Murphy and get some work done!

My hidden agenda is of course finding a good audio/video library to accompany a software defined radio created using GNU Radio and the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP), and to eventually be able to transmit real time high definition video over the air. While GNU Radio and the USRP can take care of everything related to software radio and RF, I am still looking for a good framework for flexible audio/video processing.

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A simple way to get video in and out of GNU Radio

One of the things I want to do with GNU Radio and the USRP is video transmissions over radio. For this purpose I need a way to read video sources – including files, webcams and other video capture devices – and to display or save it on the other end.

I suppose the right way to do this is to create specific signal sources and sinks for GNU Radio. This can be done either by “direct access”, i.e. read the UVC device directly, or by using a higher level library like libvlc or the ffmpeg libraries (libav*). The latter has indeed been used for audio and the code is available from the Comprehensive GNU Radio Archive (CGRAN) under Mediatools.

For this experiment, however, I decided to try something simpler that that I can try and conclude within an evening: Use VLC as capture  and playback applications and connect to GNU Radio using either the TCP or UDP interfaces.

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