My Streaming Setup

I have been asked several times over the past few weeks about what kinds of equipment I use for doing live streams from my home. I’m writing this as a way to share that knowledge broadly, but also as a way to evaluate whether I might be making this more complicated than it needs to be. I will write a companion post about the software I use in the near future.

The Hardware

I use quite a selection of hardware, from lights to cameras, PCs, desks, LEDs, mice, keyboards, and other controllers. We’ll go through each one of them, what they are, where you can get them, and what purposes they serve. I’ll also list pricing when I can. All of the prices are in USD.

Lighting – Elgato Key Light ($199)

The key to good video quality starts and ends with lighting. Yes, a good camera can help, but if your lighting isn’t good, it won’t matter how good your camera is. I use the Elgato Key Light. It is incredibly bright, has adjustable colors from warm to cold white light, and is controllable via an app on my PC and my phone. It also comes with its own mounting arm, which many other lights do not include. I actually have two of these, but one should be sufficient for nearly every application. You’ll also find, as I go through this list, that I am quite happy with the Elgato line of products. They make a second, less expensive light called the Elgato Key Light Air, but it is half as bright, and still costs $129. If you really want to keep your costs down, I’ve also had good luck with the NEEWER USB Dimmable LED Video Light ($44.99). You get two of them in the pack, which is more than enough light, and they’re small, so they’re a great choice if you’re taking your stream on the road!

Camera(s) – Sony a6000 DSLR ($648), Logitech BRIO ($199), Logitech C922x ($129)

I actually have several cameras as part of home office streaming setup, but for most people that are just starting out, I would recommend using the Logitech C922x. It’s significantly cheaper than other options, and it’s an excellent webcam. That being said, let’s talk about why I have several cameras in my setup.

Main CameraSony a6000. This camera is amazing, but it also costs WAY more than a regular webcam. Using a DSLR will make a remarkable difference in your video quality, but it also comes at a price. In addition to that price, it is unfortunately designed to run on rechargeable batteries. This isn’t ideal for a static streaming setup, but thankfully they make a power supply cable (for another $139.). There seem to be generic versions of this cable available, but the official Sony version is expensive. Finally, there’s the connection from the camera to your PC. For this, I use a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable ($10.99), which plugs into an Elgato CamLink 4K ($129).

I use this camera as my primary angle focused on my face. A DSLR gives so much more depth to the video than you can get with a standard webcam, and I think that once you have an audience, this should be your first upgrade. (That being said, this is close to $1000 in total for everything.)

Sony a6000

Overhead CameraLogitech BRIO. This is the best sub-$200 webcam I’ve found, and I’ve used (and purchased!) plenty. Like most webcams, it plugs into my PC via USB directly. No additional devices or cables necessary. I currently have this mounted in a unique “top down” angle in my studio, which is very useful for when I’m doing things with my hands, like building hardware (or Lego!), or sorting baseball cards. This is most certainly not a required angle for any streamer, but it’s a fun way to mix things up when it makes sense. I’ll cover how it is mounted in the “Camera Accessories” section.

Logitech BRIO

Office CameraLogitech c922x. This is a workhorse of a camera for the price. You will not regret this purchase in the slightest. I’ve had one of these for years, and it has never failed me. It is currently my resident “wide angle” shot in my office studio, and does a great job of capturing the entire environment I’m streaming from. It’s a fun, unique way to show people exactly how I’m streaming, and it feels a little “behind the scenes.”

Logitech c922x

Your iPhone or iPad – I’m currently using the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but literally any Apple phone or tablet made in the past 5 years is sufficient. The key to this camera is to use a small tripod or mount, and a USB connection to your PC. There is a fantastic app called OBS Camera that will easily allow you to grab the live video feed from your phone as a camera input for your stream. It’s a camera you already own, and it’s probably better than any webcam option you can find.

Camera Accessories

With cameras comes accessories. You need mounts, tripods, power supplies, and extension cables. This section covers all of those extra parts and pieces.

Elgato Cam Link 4K ($129) – This is the device that connects my DSLR to my PC over USB 3.0. It can take any HDMI connection and connect it to your PC as a video input.

Elgato Cam Link 4K

Sony ACPW20 Adapter ($139) – This outrageously overpriced power cable for the Sony a6000 allows it to run continuously without replacing batteries. It’s unfortunately totally worth it for your streaming setup the first time your battery dies mid-stream.

Sony APCW20 Adapter

Amazon Basics Lightweight Camera Tripod ($18.58) – Initially, I had my camera mounted on top of my monitor. But I found that every time I bumped or nudged the desk, the monitor would move a little, which would also shake the camera. It was like I was recording myself during a bunch of minor earthquakes. Using a tripod gives me the stability I’m looking for (especially using a DSLR), and also gives me more choices for height and angles.

UTEBIT C-Clamp Camera Mount ($25) – This has become my go-to for most of my camera mounting needs. It can adjust to nearly any size shelf or tabletop, and offers three different mounting positions. It is incredibly well made, lightweight, and easy to install.

C-Clamp Mount

Ulanzi Aluminum Phone Tripod Mount ($14.95) – There are plenty of phone tripod mounts out there, and most of them are plastic, with a spring-based tension system. I really liked this one for the durability of aluminum, and the ability to tighten it manually.

Elgato Stream Deck XL ($250) – This is like the command center for streaming. Each of the individual buttons can be programmed to perform a number of tasks, from opening apps or websites, to changing your camera angles and scenes of your stream. You can even hook them up to IFTTT to make all sorts of things happen! This is the 32-button configuration, but there is also a 15-button and a 6-button option for smaller budgets.

JACKYLED Power Strip Tower ($38.99) – This is an amazingly helpful power strip. It contains 12 well-spaced power outlets (for those bigger plugs), and 5 USB charging ports. For most streaming setups, this is the only thing you need.

JACKYLED Power Strip Tower

JACKYLED 6-port Power Strip ($23.99) – Another well-spaced power strip. I have two of these mounted under my desk with 3M strips as a great way to conceal many of the wires that are running between me and the PC.

JACKYLED 6-port Power Strip

Anker 10-port USB 3.0 Hub ($52.99) – It doesn’t matter how many USB ports you think you need on your PC, you will need more. This device can connect 7 additional USB 3.0 devices to your PC, and has enough power to charge 3 more.

Anker 10-port USB 3.0 Hub

Vari Single Monitor Arm ($125) – I actually have two of these, but they are super strong, easy to install, and easy to use. I have one for each of my two monitors. It also has an adjustable height, which was not common on most of the monitor arms I looked at.

Vari Single Monitor Arm

3.5mm Audio Switcher ($23.99) – If you’ve ever wanted to seamlessly jump between your speakers and your headphones, you’ve probably looked for one of these. I simply run the audio output from my PC to this little switch, and then plug in both my speakers and my headphones to the two outputs. Pressing the toggle button will allow you to switch between them instantly without messing with cables or software. It also has a dial for volume, making it much easier to adjust on the fly.

The Desk

I teetered between a number of great choices, but I ended up landing on the Autonomous Smart Desk 2 ($379). It’s a motorized adjustable standing desk that comes in a variety of colors and finishes, and was remarkably easy to assemble. I actually have my entire setup oriented “long-ways” to give me the depth I need for everything to fit on the desk. I have the model shown in the photo, which is white tabletop on white legs.

SmartDesk 2 - Home Office -
Autonomous Smart Desk 2

The PC

Last, but certainly not least is the PC I’m using for streaming. This section includes the keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, mouse pad, and all of the internal parts, including the processor, video card, and capture card that I’m currently using. Be prepared for LOTS of RGB lights.

FLOPAD RGB Large Mouse Pad ($29.99) – To protect my desktop surface from wear, I wanted a large mouse pad that could hold my devices, but also look cool. This one hits the mark. It’s got a dynamic LED strip around the entire edge, and lots of modes to suit your mood. Also, it’s HUGE. At 32″ wide, it’s actually a little wider than my desk.


Aukey LED Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Blue Switches ($69.99) – If you like that “clicky” sound from your keyboard, this will be a winner for you. A very satisfying click from a very colorful keyboard. Aukey really made a nice tool here, and the software for it gives you infinite control over how it illuminates. I absolutely love this keyboard.

Aukey LED Mechanical Keyboard

AOC CQ32G1 31.5″ Curved Frameless Monitor ($319) – Finding a curved monitor at this size that was also compatible with a VESA mount was more difficult than I expected. Several Samsung models appeared to work, but when they arrived, they didn’t have any mounting holes on the back of the monitor. This screen is huge, beautiful, and can handle everything I throw at it.

AOC CQ32G1 31.5″ Curved Frameless Monitor

Razer Nommo Chroma Speakers ($149) – Initially, I got these for the LED rainbow glow underneath them, but these are also fantastic speakers. I have been asked to turn them down on a number of occasions, so I think they’re sufficient. They also connect via USB or 3.5mm audio cable, which is nice.

Razer Nommo Chroma

Rode Podcaster Studio Microphone ($299) – This microphone was one of my first purchases for this entire kit. You can actually get the microphone by itself for $229, but the boom arm and cage will prove invaluable to you almost immediately. Every time you touch your desk to type, or just to rest your elbows, a microphone sitting on that surface will get bumped and make a sound. By elevating the microphone into the air, and putting it in an elastic cage, you get the perfect serene sound of only your voice. It should also be noted this is a USB microphone, not an XLR. If you get an XLR microphone (which is what most every high end mic uses), you will also need an additional device to import that audio into your PC. A USB mic makes it just slightly easier, and still has a premium sound.

Rode Podcaster Studio Microphone

Glorious Model O Gaming Mouse ($98.75) – I’m a bit surprised by the price on this mouse, because I don’t remember spending close to $100 for it. That being said, it is absolutely the best mouse I have ever used. Incredibly responsive, great responsive clicks. Even the scroll wheel is satisfyingly good.

Glorious Model O Gaming Mouse

Lian Li Lancool II White ($84.99) – Never mind that I clearly love white devices with RGB lighting, this case won me over with its magnetic hinged doors. Nearly every other case I looked at used some kind of screw to hold the doors in place, and this one was brilliant enough to add hinges and magnets to make it super easy to open and modify. It also runs super quiet.

Lian Li Lancool II

G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series 32GB DDR4 3200Mhz DIMM ($139) – I don’t really have much of a preference for brands of RAM, but these were pretty.

G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series RAM

Elgato 4K60 Pro Capture Card ($235) – This fancy piece of hardware lives inside my PC, but its job is to capture the output of another HDMI device, like my MacBook Pro. This allows me to plug any device into the machine, and capture its output. There is also a non-4K version of this device, but it’s not significantly cheaper.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800x ($450) – The newest generation of processors are incredibly hard to find because flippers are buying literally ALL of them and selling them for 2x on places like eBay and Amazon. That being said, this is unquestionably the fastest machine I have ever used, for gaming, programming, or anything else. It’s remarkable.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Review | TechPowerUp

MSI GeForce RTX 3070 ($539) – Ah, the GPU. The card from where all of the graphical goodness flows. I know nothing about video cards, or tweaking performance, or any of that. I DO know that I can run every single game I own at full specs, though, so that’s cool.

MSI GeForce RTX 3070

Enermax ETS-850 Air Cooling Fans ($65) – Another product I bought more for the look than the name, these white fans have more lights in them, and as such, were a winner in my book. They also run very quietly, however. My machine is practically silent.

The Backdrop

I actually get just as many questions about the items in my stream’s backdrop as I do about the hardware I stream with. So here’s a list of the items I have lighting up my background.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sony-a6000.png

NanoLeaf Shapes – Mini Triangles Smarter Kit ($100) – NanoLeaf has a very solid product on their hands. These lights can be controlled by Alexa, but you can also toggle them to respond to music and sounds, and all sorts of different modes and colors. The beginner kit only comes with 5 triangles, but the expansion kit includes 10 more for the same price. They even have an online tool to decide what shape you want to configure them in!

Nanoleaf Shapes - Mini Triangles Smarter Kit (5pk)

LIFX Beam ($149) – First, these are sold out everywhere, and if they aren’t, they’re being sold at incredibly inflated prices. That being said, these are the highlight of my wall. They animate, can make millions of colors, and have tons of great pre-created themes to choose from. Alexa is capable of managing these lights at a far more granular level than most lights I’ve seen. Each set is one shelf in my setup, and as soon as they are back in stock, I’ll be picking up a third set for the top shelf.


Govee Dreamcolor LED Light Strip ($49) – I have tried and sampled dozens of different types of LED strips, and these are hands-down the kings. Great app, lots of options, works with Alexa, responds to sounds and music. It also has the best adhesive of any LED strip I’ve found. I still recommend using these strip clips for mounting them, but the ones in my office aren’t clipped. Govee makes many different types of LED strips, so make sure the box actually says “Dreamcolor” on them or you might be buying something a little lower quality.

IKEA Bergshult / Granhult Combination ($59) – I have six total shelves holding all of those Funko Pop figures, and they’re just simple shelves from IKEA. The nickel hardware looks great, and reflects the lights quite well. They even offer a connector bracket to put two shelves next to each other.

BERGSHULT / GRANHULT Wall shelf combination, white/nickel plated, 31 1/2x7 7/8 "

LaMetric Time Wi-Fi Clock ($199) – This is the dynamic little display that lives just over my left shoulder. It has lots of apps that you can configure for your social channels, and you can even create your own. Mine currently loops through stock prices, the date / time, my Twitch followers, TikTok followers, YouTube followers, GitHub followers, and Twitter followers. It’s a fun, dynamic device, but the price is a bit high.

Introducing the Smart Deck

We recently renovated our 15-year old wooden deck, and I wanted to share with you how we created a smart deck.  Here’s what it looked like before we started this project (we had already cut the benches up before I took the photo):


This video illustrates how it has changed pretty well.

The technology behind everything is actually pretty simple.  For the floodlight, it’s a standard floodlight hooked up to a WeMo Light Switch.  I’ve had this switch installed for about three years now, and it’s still the perfect solution.  We have 6 more of these throughout our house.

For the colored lights in the deck itself, I took a chance on a set of LED lights that I found on that were listed in the “Works with Alexa” category.  They’re made by a company called FVTLED.  Could not be happier with how they turned out.  Each 10-light kit costs about $100, but has a wi-fi module, a remote control, and an outdoor power supply as part of the kit.

You couldn’t see them in the dark (and I didn’t want to turn them on and wake the neighbors), but there are two speakers connected to a Bluetooth receiver mounted above the deck as well. This allows me to pair an Alexa device, or my phone, to the receiver, and play music through the speakers.

The Grace Digital receiver is small.  Maybe 6 inches wide, and 10 inches deep.

Grace Digital GDI-BTAR513 100 Watt Digital Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Built-In AptX Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Receiver

The Yamaha speakers are pretty standard outdoor speakers.  I had to run speaker wire to them, and they don’t require any additional power to run them.

Yamaha NS-AW150WH 2-Way Indoor/Outdoor Speakers (Pair, White)


Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out.  I don’t actually expect that I’ll be running techno dance parties with flashing colored lights, but I love that I have the option.  Most of the time, I expect to be running standard white (or off white) colors.

Have you done anything cool to improve your outdoor living space?  I’d love to see it!

Circle Solves THAT Problem

Last week, I had several conversations with other parents at my son’s school about technology, smart home stuff, and our kids.  They were telling me about how they had a “Circle with Disney“, and how that made it so much easier to manage their kids’ time online.  Normally, in a conversation like this, I tend to be the one sharing the merits of some technology (software or hardware) that is somehow simplifying my life.  This time, however, I was on the other side of the conversation, and it was weird.

I’d never even heard of this device.  (What is a Circle with Disney?  I imagined it was a wi-fi router with Mickey’s ears that had simplified software for non-technical folks to understand.)  Even if I haven’t tried something, I’ve usually heard of it, or at least the category.  This one completely caught me off guard.  So I checked it out.

It. Is. Awesome.


It’s about the size of a can of soda, and it manages and reports all of the activity and devices that are on your wi-fi network.

You’ve probably seen clever images like this making the rounds on your social media:


The idea behind changing the wifi password every day seems brilliant.  “Kids, do your chores, and I’ll give you today’s password.”

In practical use, however, your kids aren’t the only ones using the wifi in your home.  Your phone, your laptop, your television, your Xbox, your light switches, your lightbulbs, your thermostat, your garage door, maybe even your refrigerator are using it too!  Nobody is going to change the wifi password on all of those devices every day, just to get their kids to do a few chores.

Circle solves that problem by giving you the ability to turn access to the Internet on and off for every single device (or person) on your network without any effort.  This means you can set specific limits for each person or device in your home.

Setting Up Your Circle

When you first set up your Circle, you go through a quick five minute setup, and then the work really begins.  You are presented with a list of every single device that is currently connected to your network.


I’d love to tell you that it automatically knows the name of every device on your network, and you won’t have to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat to figure some of them out, but I’d be lying to you.  I know my home is far beyond the average, but I have 44 devices on my network currently.  This includes:

  • 4 iPads
  • 3 iPhones
  • 3 computers
  • 2 light switches
  • 2 Amazon Dash buttons
  • 1 Garageio
  • 1 Fitbit Aria Scale
  • 6 Amazon Echo devices (Dot, Tap, Echo)
  • 1 Nest thermostat
  • 3 Rokus
  • 2 Xbox Ones
  • 1 Wii U
  • 2 webcams
  • 2 Apple TVs
  • 2 Nintendo DSs
  • 2 Amazon Kindles
  • 2 wi-fi printers
  • 2 televisions
  • 1 Logitech Harmony remote
  • a few wi-fi lightbulbs

Very few of them were obviously named, so I had to compare the MAC addresses to the Circle app to make sure I had the right one.  Even the iPads only identified as an iPad, so I had to make sure I knew which one was which.  Once you’re done with your sleuthing, however, it is magical, as you’ll see in the next section.  (My recommendation is to go to your router’s home page, and turn a device completely off.  If it disappears, that’s the one you were looking for.  Turn it back on, and mark it accordingly.)

What Circle Can Do

To start, you set up all of the people that live in your home.  For me, that’s my wife and my two children.


You’ll notice on most of the screens of the app, there’s a prominent PAUSE button available.  This turns off Internet access for all of the devices in context.  In the screenshot above, that would pretty much turn off everything that I’m managing with Circle.  (You can have a list of “unmanaged devices” as well, that aren’t affected by your actions in Circle.  This makes sense for things like your thermostat, which you’d never want to shut off unless your kids find a way to watch YouTube on it.)

You can also manage access on an individual level.


You can see above that I currently have five devices, and I don’t have many restrictions.  I’ll take you briefly through each of the sections.


Insights is for seeing data.  How much time a person was online, how much they used a certain app, etc.  Here’s a screenshot of my activity today:


I can open each of those sections and dive into websites visited, time spent at each, etc.  The downside to this, at least in my situation, is that if you have a browser tab open, it seems to count that as “activity.”  It’s especially prevalent when that tab auto-refreshes, because even background activity will be considered activity.  It is only monitoring the traffic from these devices, it isn’t checking to see what the traffic actually is.


The devices section just shows you all of the devices you’ve assigned to a specific person.  It’s entirely up to you how you assign devices, but my personal rule was to classify anything that has one unique user to a person, and things like the Xbox One, which many people use, to my Home group instead.


Opening a specific device gives you the MAC address, as well as a place to edit the Device name.  In most cases, the Manufacturer field will be filled in accurately, but not always.  I wish they would allow you to edit the Manufacturer field as well, but they don’t.  This is also where you can change where a device is assigned, or pause the access for this specific device.  (Circle manages your wi-fi access. It does offer an add-on program for $10/month that can also manage your cellular access.  I’m not using this, but I could see it being handy if you have a child that overuses data or spends time at school playing instead of learning.)


Filter Level

Filter level is simply some default settings for people of different ages.  When the Circle detects a user trying to access content that isn’t appropriate for their filter level, it will present them with a webpage that lets them know the content has been filtered.  It also restricts the apps/websites they can use, but you can customize all of it to fit your family’s needs.


Time Limits

As you’d imagine, Circle lets you set time limits for your users, and also by specific apps.  Many children need access to the Internet to do their homework, but they don’t need to be on YouTube while that’s happening.  This would allow you to limit their access to YouTube to 30 minutes a day, but their total time available could be more like three hours.



Bedtime is just another way to manage access times.  You can set a time that everything shuts off for a specific person, so then when they’re supposed to be in their room sleeping, they’re not sneaking in another four hours of Netflix.  Obviously, you can take the devices out of their rooms (as we do), but on the weekends, we tend to be a bit more lax.  This lets you be as lax as you want.



Overall, the Circle is an amazing device for my home.  Not only can I manage, view, and control what my children are accessing, but I also get this control for any additional devices that wander into my house, like the tablets and phones of their friends.  It gives me the peace of mind that they’re not going to venture to places I don’t want them going.  I don’t need angry neighbors asking why their child was watching something inappropriate at my house.

I get notifications every time a new device appears on my network, so there’s no way to sneak your way past the Circle, either.

Finally, I have to mention the Disney angle.  I mentioned that this device is called Circle with Disney.  It wasn’t obvious to me how Disney was even involved, other than the name.  They basically provide a portal on your network at  If you go to that page from any of your devices, it will tell you the specifics about the controls on that device (bedtimes, time limits), as well as a bunch of Pinterest-style photos and links to Disney content.  This seems to be the only real involvement by Disney, which is fine.


My Frustrations with “Smart Home”

That’s not a fair title.  I LOVE the smart home movement.  I love being able to open/close my garage remotely.  I love having rooms light up as I walk into them.  I love concocting recipes on IFTTT to mash-up my smart devices into even smarter experiences.  I love telling Alexa to control my home with only my voice.

“If it is 10:30pm, and the garage door is open, close it.”

What I don’t love, however, is that much of the experience and joy that is meant to be created by smart devices seems to have been created exclusively for one person that lives by themselves.  Let me give you a few examples:

Smart Bulbs

Lifx Color 1000

Smart lightbulbs can be controlled by my phone.  They can change colors, be turned on and off, and even dance to my music.  Amazing, right?  Where this story falls apart quickly, however, is the traditional light switch.

If I turn the bulb off from my phone, the light switch becomes non-functional.

If I turn the bulb off with the switch, I lose all of the “smart” features.

If I am a single person living by myself, I can consciously make a decision to only control the bulbs from my phone, and everything is harmonious.  Once you introduce roommates, like a spouse, or even worse, children, this entire experiment falls apart.  The consistency that you require evaporates instantly.

Smart Plugs


WeMo Switch


This is another example of power management that has so much potential.  Plug this into the wall, and now you can control a lamp, a stereo, or really anything else that requires power.  You can even set timers, so it’s an incredible way to manage those random lamps you have around your home!

That is, until someone turns that lamp off in the traditional way.


Now your smart plug is a $40 brick that can control nothing.  It’s incredibly frustrating, and most of the frustration comes from the fact that our homes are not constructed with the idea of a smart home in mind.



Geofencing might be one of the coolest ideas around when it comes to smart home functionality.

“When I pull into my driveway, open the garage, turn on the lights, set the thermostat to 71F, and turn on my favorite music.”

“When I am gone for more than 18 hours, set the entire house to away.  Light bulbs on timers, thermostat as low energy as possible, all doors closed and locked.”

If I lived by myself, This. Would. Be. Awesome.  Instead, it becomes an incredible way to scare my entire family to death as I dramatically announce my home arrival.  There HAS to be a better way.


In short, I love smart home stuff.  But as a software developer, my brain wants more.  Today, in our homes, we basically get the equivalent of a solitary IF statement.

IF I pull in the driveway, THEN do this stuff.

In order for this smart home stuff to be truly impressive (and accessible) to everyone, we need to be able to add as many conditions as we possibly can.

IF I pull in the driveway AND my family is home, THEN open the garage.
ELSEIF my family isn’t home, THEN open the garage AND turn the house up to eleven.

Smart home is still really in its infancy for consumers.  If we want to make it more accessible, we need to be able to provide this level of customization in an easy to use format.  IFTTT and Stringify have made huge strides here, but we still have a long way to go.

I, for one, look forward to the very near future.  This stuff is amazing, even if it’s also frustrating sometimes.