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The Best TV Experience: Philips Ambilight Clone

Phillips Ambilight is an immersive lighting system built into televisions. The lights around the TV match the color at each edge of the screen. This product is not available in all countries and can be quite expensive.

Introducing the DIY Ambilight clone. This mesmerizing effect is possible due to a particular type of LED strip behind the television 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 use the lights on the raspberry pi 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 this item. 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)

The How

The main components of this build are the individually addressable LEDs and the software involved in controlling those LEDs.

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 this is optional if you don’t have enough strip length.

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. It is very important to test them at this stage to make sure the LEDs are in working condition before continuing to adhere them to the TV. 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. Unless you see the entire strip not working at this stage, wait until the software is installed before making the conclusion that they’re busted.)

The next thing to do is to setup the raspberry pi and install the 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 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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The Best TV Experience: Philips Ambilight Clone was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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