Brian Singh

@briansingh

The Best TV Experience: DIY Philips Ambilight

April 3rd 2017

Phillips Ambilight is an immersive lighting system built into some of their televisions. There are LEDs around the TV that cast the on-screen colors onto the walls behind it in real time.

This product is not available in all countries and can be quite expensive. But thankfully there is a DIY version.

Introducing the Ambilight clone. This effect is made possible by using a raspberry pi, some LEDs and the power of some free software.

The Parts (~$150)

The parts used here make the system capable of using any HDMI source. If you only want to sync the lights to what the raspberry pi shows, then the cost is a little cheaper. ~$110.

I used 3m double sided adhesive to secure all of these parts to the tv
  • Raspberry Pi 2/3 as well as a micro SD card at least 8gb in size and a 2.5 A power supply. ~$45.00
  • WS2801 LED Strip. I purchased the 5m 32LED black IP30 set from AliExpress. Protip: checkout using the AliExpress mobile app for a little discount on any purchase you make. I bought 5 meters for a 40-inch tv and have plenty left over. ~$30.00
  • A 5V 10A (6A for up to 4m of LED strip) Power Supply for the LEDs. You can go a couple of routes with powering the lights. If you get this type of power supply you need to also buy an adapter for the connection to the LED strip. ~$22.00
  • Female to Female Jumper Wires. You can buy these for much cheaper from China if you’re willing to wait a little longer. ~$0.90
  • HDMI Splitter ~$9
  • HDMI to AV adapter~$7
  • Video Grabber ~$10
  • 2 HDMI Cables ~$10
  • Soldering Iron (I linked a soldering kit here, but all you need is the soldering iron and some solder) ~$15(solo) - $25(kit)

How It Comes Together

The first step is to measure out the layout of the LED strip around the TV you plan on using.

I decided to include the lights along the bottom of the TV as well, but It still looks great without them if you run short.

After you have cut them to size, carefully solder the strips together making sure you have them connect to each other in the correct direction (there is an arrow that runs down the side, just make sure they connect going in the same direction). When you provide power to the LED strips without any software controlling them some LEDs may not light up. This does not necessarily mean they are not working. Wait until the software is installed before making the conclusion that they’re busted.

The next thing to do is to set up the raspberry pi and install OpenELEC operating system. At this point, it is time to install the Hyperion App on your computer and ssh into your raspberry pi to install the software to control the lights.

Links to Tutorials

These links explain in detail the process of installing the software and connecting all of the parts. The good thing is there is a pretty great community surrounding this project and many places for you to find answers to any problems you may come across.

Tips

  • The settings you choose for the Hyperion app are going to vary from setup to setup based on your TV. Following someone else’s settings might not always produce great results on your setup. There’s a handy phone application Hyperion Remote app that lets you easily connect to your system and fine-tune the lighting effects to your liking as well as use preset lighting modes.
  • When changing the settings on desktop Hyperion App you can easily take a screenshot of what your video grabber sees within the app to help you figure out what colors aren't translating correctly or what parts of the screen are being cut off.

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