User Guide / Manual

VideoGhost

VideoGhost

Introduction

About the product

The VideoGhost is an intelligent hardware frame-grabber, compatible with DVI, HDMI, and VGA signal sources such as computers and laptops. It features a built-in JPEG compressor, and a high-capacity internal flash disk. Frames captured from the DVI, HDMI, or VGA bus will be compressed and stored to the built-in flash drive. The VideoGhost may be switched to flash drive mode at any time, and will pop-up as a removable disk, containing captured screenshots as JPEG files. The device is 100% stealthy and does not influence the operation of the computer, laptop, etc. No drivers or software are required, no configuration necessary, works out of the box!

Features

  • Compatible with all DVI, VGA, and HDMI devices
  • Supports resolutions up to Full-HD (1920 x 1080) and WUXGA (1920 x 1200)
  • Works with computers and external laptop monitors
  • No power supply necessary (power is drawn from the USB port)
  • Built-in JPEG encoder
  • High-capacity internal flash memory, accessible as a USB removable drive
  • Built-in time-stamping module with battery
  • No software or drivers required, Windows, Linux, and Mac compatible
  • Ultra-compact and discreet, mini-extension cable form factor
  • Transparent to computer operation, undetectable for security scanners

Requirements

  • Compatible DVI / HDMI / VGA video signal source (no HDCP encryption)
  • Standard resolution up to 1920 x 1200 and bandwidth up to 160MHz
  • Computer with standard USB 1.1 or 2.0 port
  • Operating system with USB Mass-Storage device support

Applications

Employers:

  • Monitor acceptable internet usage
  • Monitor employee productivity
  • Detect unauthorized access attempts
  • Save snapshots from slide shows, presentations, movies, surveillance cameras
  • Collect computer usage statistics

Parents:

  • Monitor your family's computer activity
  • Protect your child from on-line hazards and predators
  • Observe WWW, E-mail, and chat usage
  • Save snapshots of viewed documents, web-pages, movies

Investigators:

  • Monitor remote computers
  • Automatically store snapshots from security cameras
  • Retrieve snapshots of viewed documents, e-mails, web-pages
  • Collect computer-related evidence
  • Detect unauthorized use of computer equipment

Quick Start

This section contains concise information on basic video-logger handling. If you need detailed instructions, please refer to sections Recording screenshots and Viewing recorded data.

To record snapshots, connect the VideoGhost to graphics card output or the digital TV output.

DVI version

VideoGhost - Quick Start (1)

HDMI version

VideoGhost - Quick Start (2)

VGA version

VideoGhost - Quick Start (3)

Then, connect the output device (TV or monitor) to the other end of the VideoGhost. Finally, connect the USB connector to a free USB port.

DVI version

VideoGhost - Quick Start (4)

HDMI version

VideoGhost - Quick Start (5)

VGA version

VideoGhost - Quick Start (6)

Recording will start automatically on power-up.

To view recorded snapshots, connect the USB cable of the VideoGhost to a free USB port, then press and hold the push-button.

VideoGhost - Quick Start (7)

The video-logger will pop up as a removable disk, containing the captured screenshots as JPEG files (just like a digital camera). Browse the disk using standard image-viewing software.

VideoGhost - Quick Start (8)
VideoGhost - Quick Start (9)

Recording screenshots

Recording mode is the default mode of operation for the VideoGhost. In record mode, the device will silently monitor the DVI, HDMI, or VGA video signal and record a screenshot every few seconds. The screenshots will be stored as JPEG files on the internal flash drive.

Installation of the video-logger in record mode is quick and easy, no software or drivers are required. Connect the VideoGhost to the source of the video signal, such as the output of the graphics card, or the TV output.

DVI version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (1)

HDMI version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (2)

VGA version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (3)

Then, connect the output device (TV or monitor) to the other end of the VideoGhost.

DVI version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (4)

HDMI version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (5)

VGA version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (6)

Finally, connect the USB connector to a free USB port. Recording will start automatically on power-up.

DVI version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (7)

HDMI version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (8)

VGA version

VideoGhost - Recording screenshots (9)

Note: The USB connection is used for powering the device only. If no USB port is available, a +5V DC USB power supply may be used instead.

Viewing recorded data

Once screenshots have been recorded to the internal flash drive, they may be viewed on any computer, laptop, or TV with USB Mass Storage support. The procedure is very similar to restoring images from a digital camera.

Connect the USB cable of the VideoGhost to a free USB port, then press and hold the push-button.

VideoGhost - Viewing recorded data (1)

After a few seconds, the hardware video-logger will automatically get detected as a Mass Storage Device. The operating system will use the standard built-in mass storage driver (MS Windows in the following examples).

Note: During the first switch to flash drive mode, the operating system can ask for drivers. In such case choose automatic driver installation (usually default option).

VideoGhost - Viewing recorded data (2)

The flash drive will contain the captured screenshots as JPEG files, grouped in folders named 001, 002, etc. Depending on the device configuration, the images may have burned-in time- and date-stamps. Use any image-viewing software to browse the JPEG files, such as the default Windows Photo Viewer.

VideoGhost - Viewing recorded data (3)
VideoGhost - Viewing recorded data (4)

Switching back to record mode can be achieved by a safe software removal of the flash disk. Use the systems standard disk removal procedure. For MS Windows, left-click on the Safe Removal icon in the system tray and select the appropriate drive. Then reconnect the VideoGhost to the USB port.

Configuration options

The VideoGhost may be configured through the file CONFIG.TXT, placed in the flash drive root folder. Use any text editor to prepare such a configuration file, containing the following text:

Interval=300
Resize=50
Timestamping=Image

Copy this file to the root folder in flash drive mode. The new configuration will be loaded on next power-up.

VideoGhost - Configuration options (1)

The following list presents the most common configuration options. All variable and value strings are case insensitive.

Interval sets number of seconds between successive screenshots. Please note that compressing and saving an image takes several seconds (depending on the image size and quality), so this may become the limiting factor for low values of Interval. Default value is 300.

Resize sets the resizing factor for storing screenshots. Allowed values are No (no resizing), Auto (automatic resizing factor based on image size), 75 (75%), 67 (67%), 50 (50%), 33 (33%), and 25 (25%). Default value is No.

Timestamping configures the built-in time- and date-stamping module. Allowed values are Yes (timestamping active, but limited to updating the modification time and date of JPEG files), Image (timestamps burned into JPEG image content), and No (timestamping disabled). Default is Image.

Quality sets the quality factor for JPEG compression. Allowed values are from 1 (lowest quality, smallest file size) to 10 (highest quality, largest file size). Please note that setting a high quality value will result in longer compression times and increased disk space usage. Default value is 7.

DisableLogging allows to disable screenshot logging. Allowed values are Yes (logging disabled) and No (logging enabled). Default value is No.

Encryption enables flash disk encrypting. Encryption will ensure full confidentiality of the stored data, even if the device is physically tampered with. Allowed values are Yes (encryption enabled) and No (encryption disabled). Default is No.

Important: toggling the encryption setting will format the entire flash disk. All data will be lost, including the configuration file!

An example configuration file contents is shown below:

Interval=200
Resize=25
Timestamping=Yes
Quality=5

Clock configuration

It is necessary to configure the built-in clock module for getting correct date and time-stamps. To do this, a text file named TIME.TXT should be prepared with the following format:

Year=2019
Month=4
Day=1
Hour=12
Minute=34
Second=56
Format=PM

VideoGhost - Clock configuration (1)

The fields should contain the current time and date. The field Format allows distinguishing between A.M., P.M., and 24-hour time (use the value AM, PM, or 24). After the file has been prepared, switch to flash drive mode and copy the file TIME.TXT to the root folder of the flash disk. The device should be switched to flash drive mode.

VideoGhost - Clock configuration (2)

After copying the file, safely remove the flash drive. The new clock configuration will be loaded during the next power-up.

The clock configuration file must be named TIME.TXT and must be placed in the root folder. Variable and value strings are case insensitive, however they must match the options listed below.

  • Year sets the clock year value. Valid range is from 2000 to 2099.
  • Month sets the clock month value. Valid range is from 1 (January) to 12 (December).
  • Day sets the clock day value. Valid range is from 1 to 31. If the specified day exceeds the maximum number of days in the specified month, the next valid day value will be chosen.
  • Hour sets the clock hour value. Valid range is from 1 to 12 for 12-hour time (A.M./P.M.), and 0 to 23 for 24-hour time.
  • Minute sets the clock minute value. Valid range is from 0 to 59.
  • Second sets the clock second value. Valid range is from 0 to 59.
  • Format sets the time format. Valid values are AM, PM, and 24. If AM is chosen, the 12-hour format is selected and the specified hour is treated as before noon. If PM is chosen, the 12-hour format is selected and the specified hour is treated as afternoon. If 24 is chosen, the 24-hour format is selected and the specified hour is treated as 24-hour format.

Sample TIME.TXT for 12-hour time:

Year=2019
Month=10
Day=25
Hour=5
Minute=51
Second=43
Format=PM

Sample TIME.TXT for 24-hour time:

Year=2019
Month=10
Day=25
Hour=17
Minute=51
Second=43
Format=24

Troubleshooting

The VideoGhost will not work in the following cases:

  1. Internal laptop screens
  2. Devices protected with HDCP, such as most Blu-ray players
  3. No USB port for powering the device
  4. Non-conformant DVI/HDMI/VGA interfaces

No video signal at the monitor or TV

Please check the following:

  1. Is the VideoGhost connected firmly to the signal source, such as the graphics card?
  2. Is the monitor/TV connected firmly to the VideoGhost?
  3. Is the USB cable connected?

The VideoGhost does not switch to flash drive mode

Please check the following:

  1. Are you pressing the external push-button for several seconds?
  2. Does the operating system support removable USB flash disks?
  3. Have you checked the drive list?
  4. Have you tried on a different USB port?
  5. Have you checked on a different computer?

I can’t find any screenshots after switching to flash drive mode

Please check the following:

  1. Have you powered the device from the USB port while recording?
  2. Have you checked in the subdirectories, such as 001, 002, etc.?
  3. Did you properly configure the device through CONFIG.TXT?
  4. Have you checked with a different screen resolution?

The VideoGhost always shows up as a removable drive

Make sure the push-button is not pressed, and nothing is blocking it.

The screenshots show no contents, just noise

You are probably trying to acquire a HDCP-protected video signal, such as a Blu-ray or DVD player. The VideoGhost is not a device intended for breaking the HDCP copyright protection.

Problems with time-stamps

Set the correct time by creating a clock configuration file TIME.TXT. Make sure you have not disabled time-stamping. Refer to the Clock configuration section for detailed instructions.

Screenshots are not logged as fast as I would like

Change the Interval parameter in CONFIG.TXT to a smaller number. If this doesn’t help, it means that the JPEG compression time is the limiting factor. Reduce the image size by reducing the Quality parameter in CONFIG.TXT. Finally, change the Resize parameter to 50, 33, or 25.

I’ve checked everything, nothing helps!

If you are still experiencing problems, please do the following:

  1. Check if the problem appears with a different screen resolution.
  2. Check if the problem appears on a different computer or video source.
  3. Check if the problem appears using a different USB port.
  4. Contact the dealer you have purchased the device from. Please supply all necessary information (hardware type, model and manufacturer, OS type and version, and a short description of the problem).

Specifications

VideoGhost DVI VideoGhost HDMI VideoGhost VGA
Power supply 4.5 V – 5.5 V DC 4.5 V – 5.5 V DC 4.5 V – 5.5 V DC
Max. power consumption 500 mA (2.5 W) 500 mA (2.5 W) 500 mA (2.5 W)
Data retention 100 years 100 years 100 years
Interface support DVI-compatible video source,USB 1.1 or 2.0 with MSD support HDMI-compatible video source,USB 1.1 or 2.0 with MSD support VGA-compatible video source, USB 1.1 or 2.0 with MSD support
Max. video bandwidth 160 MHz 160 MHz 160 MHz
Max. video resolution 1920 x 1200 1920 x 1200 1920 x 1200

Typical JPEG encoding time in seconds2:

VideoGhost DVI VideoGhost HDMI VideoGhost VGA
Frame size 50% Resize Auto Resize No Resize 50% Resize Auto Resize No Resize 50% Resize Auto Resize No Resize
640x480 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
800x600 2 3 3 2 3 3 2 3 3
1024x768 2 5 5 2 5 5 2 5 5
1280x720 3 5 5 3 5 5 3 5 5
1440x900 4 5 7 4 6 8 4 6 8
1280x1024 4 5 7 4 5 7 4 5 7
1680x1050 5 6 9 5 6 9 5 6 9
1600x1200 5 7 10 5 7 10 5 7 10
1920x1080 5 7 11 5 7 11 5 7 12

The VGA version supports the most common resolution and refresh rate combinations:

50 Hz 56 Hz 60 Hz 70 Hz 72 Hz 75 Hz 85 Hz 100 Hz 120 Hz
640x480 X X X X X
800x600 X X X X X X
1024x768 X X X X X X
1152x864 X X X X X
1280x720 X X X
1280x768 X X
1280x800 X
1280x960 X X X X
1280x1024 X X X X
1360x768 X X X
1440x900 X X
1600x900 X X X
1600x1200 X X X X
1680x1050 X X X
1920x1080 X X
1920x1200 X X

1 Limited to standard resolution and refresh rate combinations.

2 Encoding times may vary depending on image contents.

Legal disclaimer

No responsibility is taken for any damage, harm or legal actions caused by misuse of this product. The user should follow the guidelines contained in this document, otherwise no liability will be assumed. It is the user's responsibility to obey all effective laws in his/her country, which may prohibit usage of this product.