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Do it yourself: Building your own Ambilight

Two guys stick Christmas decoration on a TV and hook it up to a mini PC named after a berry. An Ambilight is born. Just another day at the digitec office.

In theory, Ambilights are only available from Philips. At least that’s what I thought until Category Marketing Specialist and self-proclaimed do-it-yourselfer Quentin Aellen sends me a message.

Hey Luca. You’re the man when it comes to TVs, right? I’ve got a bit of a project idea. I want to turn every TV into an Ambilight TV.
Quentin

Obviously, I think the idea’s pretty cool:

Hell yeah! Sounds like a plan. Cool idea, Quentin.
Luca

Quentin is happy. He was expecting to put a lot of effort into persuading me and had even put together a solid set of arguments to explain why his idea wasn’t as daft as it sounded. After all, making a homemade Ambilight isn’t just a good story but genuine added value for any reader who decides to copy the experiment.

According to Philips, Ambilight adds another dimension to your TV by radiating light from the sides and filling your room with the perfect ambience. The colour of the light projected to your wall is matched to everything that is happening on screen. Depending on the Ambilight model, the lights are:

  • on 2 sides, to the left and right of your TV
  • on 3 sides with an additional one at the top
  • on 4 sides, i.e. on all sides

Let me give you an example: You’re watching Luke Skywalker being attacked by Tusken Raiders in the middle of the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine. The LED lights on your TV simultaneously project orange-yellow lights on your living room wall. Not bad, eh?

Quentin and I bounce a few ideas off each other about how this should work in theory, what material will be needing and how much time it will take us. Quentin adds:

It will be awesome. And easy to do.
Quentin

That last sentence echoes in my mind. «And easy to do», he said. I’m not too sure about that and must admit that I’m no do-it-yourselfer. But if anybody knows what he’s doing, it’s Quentin. I get my hopes up.

«It will be awesome», ambition whispers in my ear.

If Quentin manages to give me the knowledge I need to equip my TV with Ambilight-enabled Christmas lights, then I’m confident he can do the same for you – no matter how clumsy you may be. If you think you’re a layperson, worry not. Let us tread this path together. My aim is to inspire you to be a home cinema do-it-yourselfer. Sounds fun, right?

Let’s do this!

Here we go, and this is the plan

Here's the diagram we will be using. It shows how we connect the signal source, the Raspberry Pi and the LEDs.
Diagram: Stefania Krähenbühl

Before you sign up for this, let me explain in simple terms what we’re trying to build. Our Ambilight system consists of the following three cornerstones:

  1. The entertainment system: The signal source itself. E.g. your TV, Blu-Ray player or game console.
  2. The Raspberry Pi: The brain that receives and interprets the signals sent by the source. After all, somebody’s got to tell the LEDs behind the TV when they should change colour. For technological reasons, the brain cannot be the processor that’s inside the TV.
  3. The LEDs: We want to stick them to the back of the TV and they will shine in different colours.

To put it in a nutshell:

  • The entertainment system sends signals to...
  • ...the Raspberry Pi, which interprets them and...
  • ...tells the LEDs behind the TV what colour they should be projecting.

«It will be awesome. And easy to do», to quote Quentin’s mantra.

Before we start working on our Ambilight system, there’s quite a bit of stuff that needs to be ordered. I’ll be listing said stuff bit by bit to avoid overwhelming you with a list of products. And I’ll tell you what else you’ll need. Like your head or patience or a fat wallet.

Day 1: The first step with LED lights and juice

There’s quite a bit to do

We start with the difficult bit. This is the moment to summon my non-existent internal handyman. Plus we need:

  • A television to equip with Ambilight
  • The confidence to do a tiny bit of soldering at beginner level
  • About 150 francs
  • The following products:
APA102 (DotStar) LED-Strip 30 LED/Meter 5 Meter
CHF 136.–
OEM APA102 (DotStar) LED-Strip 30 LED/Meter 5 Meter

Availability

  • approx. 10 – 12 days
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

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Regelbare Lötstation - 48 W - 150-450 °C
CHF 24.60instead of 33.201
Velleman Regelbare Lötstation - 48 W - 150-450 °C
Minimum order quantity 1 pcs.
16

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 5 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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Lötkabel
CHF 15.40
OEM Lötkabel

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  • approx. 10 – 12 days
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  • DC Power Adapter Weiblich 2.1mm Buchse zu Terminal Block
  • DC Power Adapter Weiblich 2.1mm Buchse zu Terminal Block
  • DC Power Adapter Weiblich 2.1mm Buchse zu Terminal Block
CHF 6.–
SparkFun DC Power Adapter Weiblich 2.1mm Buchse zu Terminal Block
DC Power Adapter Female - 2.1mm female (5.5x2.1mm, center-positive) to Terminal Block / Female DC Power Adapter

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  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
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  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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  • Netzteil AC/DC-Adapter 5V DC 2000mA 5.5mm*2.1mm
  • Netzteil AC/DC-Adapter 5V DC 2000mA 5.5mm*2.1mm
  • Netzteil AC/DC-Adapter 5V DC 2000mA 5.5mm*2.1mm
CHF 29.–
Fuyuang Netzteil AC/DC-Adapter 5V DC 2000mA 5.5mm*2.1mm
Power supply AC/DC adapter - Input: 100 - 240v - 50/60Hz 0.2A Output: 5V DC / 2000mA (2A) High quality Fuyuang brand power supply with CE and TüV/GS mark and green status LED Cable length 1.8m

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  • Only 3 piece(s)
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  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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We lay out all the parts. Even those we will be needing later on.

«Whoa, that’s quite a lot», I goggle.

«That’s normal», Quentin replies calmly.

We start with the LED tape. The LEDs will be stuck around the TV at a later stage. As the strips can’t go around corners, we need to precut them. Two for the sides and two for the top and bottom. We use sidecutters to snip them into shape.

Knock one or two centimetres off your measurements so nothing sticks out

The cut is made between the so-called connectors. They serve a very particular purpose: The upper connector (vcc) stands for volt. This is where the power goes to give the LEDs enough juice to shine brightly. The lower connector is the earthing or grounding to let the power escape. The Raspberry Pi sends it signals through the two middle connectors – clock and data. These signals tell the lights in which colour and how bright they should shine.

The four bronze points are the connectors.

«Are you good at soldering?», the self-proclaimed do-it-yourselfer asks.

«No idea. Maybe. I can play the piano?», I reply in an attempt to camouflage my soldering virginity.

«Meaning?», he insists.

«I’m on the “basic-beginner-I’ve-never-touched-anything-like-it-help” level», I reluctantly admit.

Quentin smiles. He tells me not to worry and predicts that I will soon fall in love with the sweet smell of burnt tin. He gives me a big grin. I’m telling you, he’s a true handyman.

Heat the soldering tin…
...let it drip onto the contact point and immediately stick the cable in.

The reason for all the questions is that we need to reconnect the four pieces of LED strip. To do so, you need to hold the hot soldering iron against the soldering tin and let it drip onto the contact points. Quickly stick in the cable before the silver liquid solidifies again. The order of the LED strips is as follows: short, long, short long. I watch the expert before giving it a go myself.

Five minutes later, I’m surprised I haven’t set light to the table.

Yup, we can do this.

All it takes is a little more soldering and the LED chain is complete. We solder together all four connectors between two strips – volt, data, clock and ground. Quentin and I make sure the drops of tin and soldering cables don’t touch each other. My imagination runs wild and I picture everything blowing up in our faces if they did.

I decide not to push my luck.

We start with red for the volt connector and alternate with black.

We’ve reached the last strip and only solder one soldering cable at the upper (vcc) and lower connector (ground) without connecting it with a further LED strip. We’ve ignored the two connecting points in between. Why? Because we still need room for the Raspberry Pi. If we were to close the circle, there would be no input point for it.

The first...
...and last LED strip.

But for now, it’s all about power. For the first and last strip, we take the soldering cables through which the current will flow (vcc), twist the ends together and stick them into the positive pole of the adapter that will later be hooked up to the power supply. Using a screwdriver, the screw is twisted tight to avoid the cables slipping out. We repeat the procedure for the two earthing cables – the only difference being that they go into the negative pole of the adapter.

Twisting the cables of the first and last LED strip…
...and sticking them into the adapter.

Now for the first test. We connect the adapter with the power supply. If we’ve done everything properly, the LEDs should shine brightly.

Nothing happens. The LEDs stay dark.

«I probably messed up the soldering», I say apologetically.

«I don’t think so», he answers calmly, «it looks impeccable. Maybe the LEDs aren’t getting enough juice».

Indeed, the power supply is too weak. As it doesn’t have enough ampere, it’s not providing enough watts of power. We get ourselves a new one.

Day 2: We’ve got the power. Time to configure the Raspberry Pi.

This is what it should look like once the LED strips have been stuck to the TV. The circuit starts at the bottom right.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Quentin and I are excited. We replace the power supply and are relieved to see that the LEDs are doing their job. Finally, we can stick them to the TV. We start at the bottom right with the first short strip and keep working counterclockwise. Above, you can see how we’ve done that.

«The hardest part is already behind you», Quentin says encouragingly. Little does he know what obstacles we have yet to overcome.

There’s nothing else at hand so we use duct tape to attach the LEDs. My personal tip for you: use something else.

And now for the second elemental pillar and brain of our system: The Raspberry Pi. The RasPi is basically a mini computer that can do everything a big computer can. It’s equipped by default with Linux and now we need to configure the Raspberry Pi so that it can later process the signals from the source.

This is what our mini computer, the Raspberry Pi, looks like.

What we need:

  • A Raspberry Pi
  • A mouse and keyboard to operate the Raspberry Pi
  • A second laptop / PC, to configure the software before it’s sent to the RasPi
  • About 80 francs
  • The following products:
3 Starter Kit (ARMv8)
CHF 56.–was 73.–2
Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit (ARMv8)
97

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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  • 16GB MicroSD Karte mit Noobs (Various)
  • 16GB MicroSD Karte mit Noobs (Various)
CHF 29.–
Raspberry Pi 16GB MicroSD Karte mit Noobs (Various)
20

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Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
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Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: 5 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: Only 2 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: Only 4 piece(s)

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HDMI High Speed Cable m. Ethernet (0.50m, entry)
CHF 8.–
HDMI High Speed Cable m. Ethernet (0.50m, entry)
254

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  • More than 10 piece(s)
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Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: Only 4 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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To explain how we set up the brand-new RasPi would go beyond the scope of this article. Fortunately, Senior Editor Dominik Bärlocher already explained how it is done a while back. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. To set up the Raspberry Pi, we use an HDMI cable to hook it up to the TV that will later be equipped with Ambilight. The mouse and keyboard are connected to the RasPi through a USB port.

<strong>Raspberry Pi</strong> – a gateway drug for do-it-yourselfers
DIYNews and trends

Raspberry Pi – a gateway drug for do-it-yourselfers

Heads up, here comes the critical bit. There’s a lot of «click here» and «check box there». We have to bite the bullet.

We download the programme Hyperion to our second laptop. It’s kind of a configuration software for our Ambilight. We open the jar file with a right click, «open with» und «Java». It’s just like an Exe file. The only prerequisite is that Java is pre-installed.

Quentin clicks on the «SSH» tab at the top left, selects «all systems» under system and enters the destination IP address of the RasPi. He found out the IP address by clicking on the «control» window on the Raspberry Pi desktop (the icon that shows a small black monitor at the top left). While he was at it, he activated the SSH on the RasPi. To do so, he clicked on the raspberry at the top right, then on «Raspberry Pi Configuration» and finally on «Interfaces». For the SSH he checked the «Enable» box.

IP address? Click on the control window...
...and there’s the IP address of the RasPi.

Back to Hyperion. As regards user name and password, we’re not changing anything. Instead, Quentin clicks on the «Connect» button. It takes a few scary seconds for Hyperion to connect with the RasPi. Several buttons and tabs open in the programme. Quentin clicks on «Inst./Akt. Hyperion» to make Hyperion install itself on the Raspberry Pi. A white window opens and for a long time nothing happens.

«Is that normal?», I ask after five minutes have gone by.

As always, Quentin is totally zen: «Totally. The programme did warn us after all».

True. «Be patient» was mentioned at some point.

Looks more complicated than it is. Keep your eye on the tab at the top left and do exactly what I say in this article.

Finally, something’s happening. A line that roughly reads «done» pops up. So in summary, we’ve connected Hyperion with the RasPi and installed the programme on it. Now it’s time for the configuration, which we also do from our laptop.

Quentin goes back to the «general» tab. Under «type», we select the LED type that we are using for our Ambilight. In our case it’s the «APA102». The next step is to specify how many LEDs are attached horizontally and vertically to the back of the TV. For our 49-inch Samsung, there are thirty LEDs that run horizontally and seventeen that run vertically. Hyperion numbers the LEDs automatically. That’s from zero to 93 in our case.

You’ll mainly be using the tabs «general» and «SSH».

Hyperion wants to know two more things:

  • In which direction do the LEDs run when you’re looking at the TV from the back?
  • Where does the circuit begin. In other words, where is the first series of LEDs located that is connected to the RasPi?

The first question is easy to answer. Quentin selects «counter clockwise». As regards the second question, he needs to click through the numbers under «LED start» until the preview picture shows the «zero LED» in the bottom left corner or: «LED start» on «-17».

With this, we’ve done a rough configuration. Now, Quentin and I have to directly connect the LEDs with the RasPi. The LED tape comes with soldering cables on the data and clock connectors ex factory. As a quick reminder: They are needed to receive signals from the Raspberry Pi and send them to the LEDs.

The blue cable (clock) goes in the 12. pin from the right in the bottom row. The green cable (data) goes in the 10. pin from the right in the bottom row. Then there’s the black cable (ground) of the power supply itself that is in charge of earthing. That one goes in the 3. pin from the right in the upper row.

The pin rows are at the top left of the Raspberry Pi. The pins marked with arrows are the ones that are used.

«Another test?», I ask impatiently. I’m dying to see this thing in action!

Quentin opens the Internet browser of the Raspberry Pi and goes to YouTube. He opens a video in full screen mode – the LEDs glitter and gleam. Quentin and I high five each other. The bandwidth of the RasPi isn’t good enough to play the video smoothly; the LEDs match this with a lazy light display.

«It’s not like you’re going to watch TV with your RasPi», Quentin says reassuringly. «All the mini computer will do is be in charge of thinking on behalf of the LEDs. It won’t be generating the video signal».

The picture you see on the TV is generated by the Raspberry Pi.

Makes sense. I think we’ve done enough DIY for today.

Day 3: The moment of truth is nigh

It’s still quite early but Quentin’s wide awake and ready to go. First, he tells me what steps are ahead of us.

«The video signal comes from an external system such as a video game console or a Blu-ray player». He reaches for a Switcher by Marmitek and says «the video signal needs to be split so we can send it to both the TV and the RasPi. After all, we don’t just want the TV to show videos but the RasPi to interpret the signals and tell the LEDs what to do».

What we need:

  • An external source (PC, Blu-ray player, video game console, receiver)
  • About 150 francs
  • The following products:
  • Split 312 UHD
  • Split 312 UHD
  • Split 312 UHD
CHF 60.90
Marmitek Split 312 UHD
11

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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HDMI High Speed Cable m. Ethernet (0.50m, entry)
CHF 8.–
HDMI High Speed Cable m. Ethernet (0.50m, entry)
254

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: Only 4 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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  • Connect HA13 - HDMI auf RCA / SCART Converter (Digital -> Analog)
  • Connect HA13 - HDMI auf RCA / SCART Converter (Digital -> Analog)
  • Connect HA13 - HDMI auf RCA / SCART Converter (Digital -> Analog)
CHF 57.90
Marmitek Connect HA13 - HDMI auf RCA / SCART Converter (Digital -> Analog)
8

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Mail delivery

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  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
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  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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  • Audio und Video Grabber USB 2.0 (USB 2.0, analog TV signal)
  • Audio und Video Grabber USB 2.0 (USB 2.0, analog TV signal)
CHF 15.50
LogiLink Audio und Video Grabber USB 2.0 (USB 2.0, analog TV signal)
3

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Mail delivery

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  • Basel: tomorrow at 12:30
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 14:00
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 12:30
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 13:00
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:00
  • Wohlen: today at 18:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:15

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You may have noticed that I listed a «splitter» in the above list even though Quentin was waving a «switcher» about. What can I say. We failed the idiot test and tried to split the video signal with a switcher. Obviously, that doesn’t work. Don’t be like us. Buy a splitter right away. It will save you money and energy.

I insert the same diagram as above but zoom in a little. This should make the following line of text easier to understand.

The signal coming from the entertainment system is sent through the splitter, the AV converter and the USB grabber to the RasPi.
Diagram: Stefania Krähenbühl

The signal is sent from the entertainment system, e.g. your Blu-ray player, to the splitter. The latter sends the video signal to both the TV – «Out 1» – and the RasPi – «Out 2». There’s a problem: The RasPi doesn’t have an HDMI input. The only HDMI port the mini computer has is an HDMI output. In other words, it can send signals via the HDMI cable but can’t receive signals. The HDMI video signal needs to be converted.

To do this, we use the «HDMI to RCA» converter. This converts the HDMI signal to an AV signal – which stands for audio and video. We set the switch on the HDMI to AV converter to «PAL». Then we hook up the «audio to video» grabber. This converts the AV signal to a USB signal. Lastly, we plug the USB plug into the USB port of the Raspberry Pi. Voilà: the external system is connected to the RasPi.

«But Quentin», it suddenly dawns on me, «what about those HDMI to USB adapters? Why don’t we just use one of those?»

«Because Hyperion is simple software. The DIY kind of brand», the do-it-yourselfer replies, «the grabber needs to send the right signal and that can’t be done with an HDMI to USB adapter».

His explanation is good enough for me. Oh and by the way, we’ve finished.

From the signal source to the HDMI splitter, from the splitter to the AV converter, from the converter to the USB grabber and from there to the RasPi.

We put it to the test and use the laptop we used for configuring Hyperion as an external entertainment system.

It probably goes without saying that it didn’t work straightaway.

And why should it? It’s not like things were made easy for us. We re-check all components. As already mentioned, we first found out that the switcher is incapable of splitting. That’s annoying. And then Quentin discovers another mistake: The AV grabber we first used is not Linux-compatible. But our RasPi runs Linux.

«That was my fault», Quentin apologises.

«I wouldn’t say so», I reply, «after all, I ordered the goods without double checking.»

Quentin and I lick our wounds, order the new items and postpone the final test to the next day.

Day 4: Here we go!

«Are you ready?», Quentin asks.

«Damn right I am!», I reply.

We start putting up our TV with its DIY Ambilight in a conference room so we can get it as close as possible to a wall. This will help us see the LED effect. One last time, Quentin checks our new hardware: The splitter is splitting and the grabber is grabbing. Excellent. May the test begin.

We are happy.

The LEDs are doing what they should.

Over the moon.

They’re doing an amazing job. We’re impressed.

And now for the ultimate test. Is our self-made Ambilight in the same league as the Philips original?

I ask Patrick Eugster, Deputy Store Manager in Zurich. There’s an Ambilight TV on display in the store.

Hi there. It’s me again about our Ambilight project. It worked :D!! Now we’d like to compare it to the real thing. Any chance we can borrow the Philips from our showroom for a few hours? :)
Luca

Sure we can. Patrick is cool.

Ciao Luca. The showroom doesn’t look great without the TV :P. But I’ll have it ready for you to collect tomorrow as long as you return it the same day. Thanks ;)
Patrick

Patrick, in case you’re reading this: Here’s another big thank you to you and your team for helping us transport it. You shop people are awesome!

Day 5: Showdown at the studio

For a week now, Quentin and I have been tinkering, soldering, complaining, cursing, cheering and celebrating. We stuck LEDs to a TV, hooked up a mini computer named after a plant belonging to a subspecies of the rose family and created an Ambilight. Just another week at the digitec office.

I promised to tread this DIY path with you. To the bitter end. And here we are, all ready for that one final test. If you’ve come this far without giving up, you have more than deserved to see the final result. So without further ado, here’s the result.

The big test. DIY vs. original. May the best win!

Conclusion – was it worth all the effort?

With great equipment comes great responsibility.

You may be asking yourself if our DIY project is really for beginners. I asked myself the same thing at the beginning and can now say: Yes, it’s ambitious but it’s doable. Sure, I had Quentin, but now you have this manual. Soldering is not a big deal and neither is the Hyperion configuration. However, I can’t promise that you’ll never mess up. Like if the LEDs are flickering instead of glowing. That can happen if the power current isn’t flowing evenly. And it usually means that you did a sloppy job of the soldering.

Sure, there will be moments when you throw up your hands in despair and ask yourself «but why?». But that’s what all DIY projects have in common, right? If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. The Internet is jam-packed with crazy, extremely helpful people.

Let’s take stock of the effort. We were working on our project for about two hours a day and day five mainly consisted of the video shoot at the studio, so I’m not counting that. So four times two hours make eight hours of work. In other words, you need to invest a full weekend if you want to build an Ambilight. No more.

As regards finances: Quentin and I spent about 380 francs. Frankly, that’s more than I had expected. The expensive bits are the LED tape, the Raspberry Pi starter set, the splitter and the grabber. Then there are all the other bits and bobs. They don’t cost much, but it all adds up.

What about the actual Ambilight?

None of it is any use if the picture doesn’t look good. Thankfully, that is not the case for us.

The Philips Ambilight shines brighter and further than our DIY Ambilight. That is because the Philips LEDs are mounted at an angle and don’t illuminate the wall directly. By contrast, our Ambilight has more LEDs, making the projected light more matched to the image on the screen. The video shows this quite well from 1:28. The DIY Ambilight shines precisely where it should. The dark areas remain dark and are not outshined by LEDs that are close. I actually think it’s a good thing that our Ambilight doesn’t illuminate the entire wall – it’s less distracting and you focus more on the actual content.

Whether it’s worth the effort depends on how much time and money you are willing to invest. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Ambilight. Maybe that’s why I prefer our more subtle and precise DIY Ambilight.

I hope you enjoyed our video and now I hope you enjoy having a go at this project yourself!

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User
I'm an outdoorsy guy and enjoy sports that push me to the limit – now that’s what I call comfort zone! But I'm also about curling up in an armchair with books about ugly intrigue and sinister kingkillers. Being an avid cinema-goer, I’ve been known to rave about film scores for hours on end. I’ve always wanted to say: «I am Groot.»

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User gamerrici

Finde es interessant zu sehen, das die Philips Variante dunkle stellen nicht wirklich beachtet, während der Eigenbau das macht. Sieht, meiner Meinung nach, sehr gut aus. Weitere Pluspunkt: Der Fernseher kann irgendeiner sein und sich auch beliebig austauschen lassen. Jetzt sowas für den PC.....

11.04.2018
User peterbigler

Hyperion hat soweit ich weiss ebenfalls eine "Black border detection" Funktion. Wenn diese aktiviert ist, holt sich das Programm die nötige Farbe beim ersten farbigen Pixel und ignoriert damit die schwarzen Balken. Welche Variante einem besser gefällt ist natürlich Geschmackssache :)

11.04.2018
User Luca Fontana

Die «Black Border Detection» Funktion war bei uns standardmässig schon aktiviert. Sonst würde man bei uns nur seitlich die LEDs sehen, und nicht auch noch oben und unten. :)

11.04.2018
User peterbigler

Danke fürs Feedback :) Eine kleine Frage hätte ich dazu noch:

Bei euerm Eigenbau bedeutet ja schwarzer Bildbereich = ausgeschaltete LED. Beim Philips dagegen bleibt immer ein vollständiger "Lichtkranz". Kommt das nur von den streuenden, angewinkelten LEDs oder leuchten diese auch dunklen Bildbereichen zumindest schwach weiss? Danke vielmals!

11.04.2018
User Luca Fontana

Bitte :)

Ja genau, beim Philips-Ambilight ist selbst hinter den dunklen Bildbereichen noch Licht zu sehen. Meiner Meinung nach hat das vor allem zwei Gründe:

- Wir haben mehr einzelne LEDs hinter dem Display, was eine viel präzisere Steuerung des Lichts zulässt
- Unsere LEDs sind so angewinkelt, dass sie die Wand viel direkter anleuchten und Licht so weniger streut

Beispiel: In einem Bildbereich, wo es zwei Lichtquellen hat und dazwischen nichts, haben wir drei LEDs. Die beiden äusseren LEDs machen Licht, dasjenige dazwischen nicht. Beim Philips hast du für den genau gleichen Bildbereich nur zwei LEDs. Und diese beiden LEDs streuen das Licht auch noch über die gesamte Wohnwand – statt nur unmittelbar hinter dem TV.

11.04.2018
User nabossha

Philips schaltet meines Wissens die dunklen Bereiche (leider) auch nciht ganz aus damit der wahrgenommene Kontrast besser ist. Ist Ambilight ganz aus dan sieht man selbst bei den teuren LED-Modellen von Philips noch "Lichtkränze" der Panel-Hintergrundbeleuchtung. Bei OLEd ist das natürlich was anderes, dort weiss ich nicht ob Ambilight vollständig dunkel ist, schön wärs...

11.04.2018
Answer
User nstohler

Ich hab mir vor 2 Jahren das die Lightberry-Komponenten (lightberry.eu/) bestellt. Läuft immer noch tadellos. Preislich bin ich damals auf ca. 300.- gekommen. Kein löten, nur die Komponenten richtig verbinden &konfigurieren.

Hier mein Demo Video: youtube.com/watch?v=LVeoh3s...

11.04.2018
User antoniusmaximus

Danke Luca und Quentin, tolles Projekt. Funktioniert das Ambilight auch, wenn Ihr eine Blueray abspielt? HDCP verschlüsselt ja das Signal

11.04.2018
User Luca Fontana

Gerngeschehen :). Ja, das funktioniert. Das Videosignal im Video kommt zufälligerweise von meiner Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Blu-ray.

11.04.2018
User antoniusmaximus

Sorry, habe den Marmitek Connect HA13 übersehen

11.04.2018
Answer
User AntiRSI

Leider funktioniert das nur mit externen Quellen :(

11.04.2018
User fabrizio1988

Ja genau, wenn du netflix mit TV-App schaust, gehts leider nicht...

11.04.2018
User quentinsane

Mit der Netflix app auf der Horizon Box zb gehts :)

11.04.2018
User walla

Dafür gäbs auch eine Lösung: ambivision.tv/
Diese Jungs bieten ein Produkt an, welches das Fernsehbild per Kamera aufnimmt und davon das Ambilight berechnet. Damit ist man völlig unabhängig von der Quelle.
@digitec - vielleicht könnt Ihr das ja ins Sortiment aufnehmen?

13.04.2018
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User tobifree25

Ein Youtuber hat ein ähnliches Projekt gemacht für umgerechnet etwa 150.- mit dem Raspi Zero:
instructables.com/id/Make-Y...

11.04.2018
User Acid1978

Hihi, wenn ich seine Skizze anschaue, kommt mir diese auch seeehr bekannt vor.

13.04.2018
User beguelin

Ich würde auch sagen, dass die beiden Digitecler beim Youtuber abgeschaut haben, wenn man sich die Grafik (= Kopie) anschaut.

13.04.2018
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User nextron

Sehr geil! :)

11.04.2018
User vangtec2010

Interessant :-)
Mein AV- Receiver hat 2 HDMI Ausgänge, dann brauche ich kein Splitter oder?

11.04.2018
User Luca Fontana

Hm, gute Frage! Nach meinem Verständnis hätte ich jetzt auch darauf getippt, dass der Reciever zu Signalquelle und Splitter gleichzeitig wird.

Ich freue mich schon darauf von dir zu hören, ob es funktioniert hat :-P

11.04.2018
User quentinsane

Vorsicht da, dies ist kein AV Receiver sondern ein Umwandler. Ich denke da brauchts trotzdem noch den Splitter, den gibt es allenfalls auch in günstigeren Varianten

12.04.2018
User vangtec2010

Sobald ich Zeit habe probiere ich es mal aus. Ich denke das ich gar kein Splitter brauche da ich schon 2 identische Hdmi Signale habe direkt aus mein Receiver.
1 zum Fernseher. 1 zum Umwandler.

12.04.2018
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User Anonymous

Wichtig ist zu beachten, dass Hyperion mit den neuen Version von Raspbian probleme hat! Daher setzt die Version Jessie ein und auf keinen Fall Strech oder Noobs

12.04.2018
User bobby66k

Kurze Frage. Kann man Hyperion gut mit einer PI 1B+ verwenden oder sollte es min. eine PI 2 sein?

20.04.2018
Answer
User SlimPress

Ich habe mir vor 2 Jahren genau das gleiche Setup gebaut, ist ein super Hingucker. 3. Nachteile gibt es aber:
- kein 4K, kein Hdr
- Interne Quellen wie die Youtube oder die Netflix App vom TV gehen natürlich nicht
- Das analisierte Bild ist analog - dunkle bereiche leuchten immer leicht grün

12.04.2018
User philbre

Sehr cool! Habe mich auch mal damit befasst aber noch nicht aufgebaut. Gibt diverse günstige Alternativen zum Eigenbau für alle die (wie ich...) die Leidenschaft&Zeit für einen DIY nicht aufbringen :-) Vielleicht mal was fürs Sortiment bei Digitech?

ambivision.tv/
dreamscreentv.com/
insanelight.de/
ambiscreen.tv/
lightberry.eu/

17.04.2018
User Anonymous

Hallo Miteinander. Danke für den super Beitrag. Ich bin auch gerade dabei ein Ambilight zu realisieren und habe dazu noch ein paar Fragen die mir hoffentlich jemand beantworten kann.
Was für eine Stromleistung brauch ich, wenn ich einen 65 Zoll Fernseher mit 60 LED/Meter betreiben will? Wie dick müssten dann die Stromkabel sein die zu den LED führen? Ist es besser jeden LED Streifen mit der Stromquelle zu verbinden?
Ich habe bereits die APA102 (60LED/Meter) gekauft.
Vielen Dank für die Hilfe :D

11.04.2018
User HalaMa

Kommt drauf an, was für LEDs du genau gekauft hast. Es gibt solche mit viel mehr Leistung als andere. Wenn du sowas gekauft hast: OEM APA102 (DotStar) LED-Strip 60 LED/Meter 5 Meter kannst du mit ca. 60mA pro LED (je 20mA pro Farbe) rechnen. Bei deinem Fernseher max. 1m Band = 60 LED. Dies bedeutet ca. 3.6A.

Die Spannung ist normalerweise 5V, sprich du benötigst ca. 18 Watt. Dies ist jedoch nicht ganz korrekt, da sie wohl mit PWM

11.04.2018
User HalaMa

angesteuert werden. Dieser LED Stripe wird zum Beispiel mit 14.4W angegeben und dieser hat 5m: play-zone.ch/de/apa102-dots...

11.04.2018
User Anonymous

Ja es sind Apa102 mit 60Led/Meter. Kann leider nichts Genaueres dazu sagen. Natürlich würde ich alle 4 Seiten des Fernsehers ausstatten. Ich mach mir nur sorgen, dass ich zu dünne Kabel verwende um die Stribes anzuschliessen. Hab mir ein 20A 5 V Netzteil besorgt. Dieses sollte hoffentlich ausreichen.

11.04.2018
User HalaMa

Das Netzteil reicht sicher aus, bei ca. 4A reichen 0.5mm2 Kabel wenn sie frei verlegt werden locker (0.34mm2 würde wohl auch gehen). Damit das Ganze korrekt ist, eine Schmelzsicherung vorher verwenden. Bei 20A (ohne Sicherung) bräuchtest du 1.5mm2.

11.04.2018
User Anonymous

@HalaMa
Danke für die Antwort. Es sind aber nicht nur 4 Amper sondern etwa 16 Amper. Ich verwende ja mehrere Meter. Ich würde aber jede Seite Einzeln anschliessen mit je 2 Kabel (Plus und Minus).
Was würdest du mir dann für eine Grösse vorschlagen?
Gruess Yves

11.04.2018
Answer
User Barresi7

Finde witzig dass ihr bei euren Falschangaben eurer Produktbeschreibung selbst reinfällt und es dann nicht korrigiert. Wenn die Stromangabe stimmt reichen 7.2W nun mal nicht aus für 5 Meter.

11.04.2018
User Anonymous

Kommentar überflogen... Moment.. Kommentar gelesen.. Name angeschaut: Fumo bist dus Junge? - Ahh ne doch nicht..

12.04.2018
Answer
User peterbigler

Wer nur eine Quelle (z.B. ein HTPC Mediencenter mit Libreelec) nutzen will, kann sich den HDMI-Splitter etc. u.U. sparen:

Die LEDs lassen sich nämlich je nach Hardware auch direkt bzw. mit einem Arduino als "Übersetzer" ansteuern. Hab's selber noch nicht ausprobiert, aber vor :)

Siehe hier:
blog.sengotta.net/diy-ambil...

11.04.2018
User lionel.peer

haha. hab vor zwei monaten das gleiche gemacht, auch mit hyperion. bei mir hat's aber nur 4 stunden gedauert ;)

11.04.2018
User patrickobe1

Dies gibt einfach Einschränkungen bei 4k mit HDCP 2.2, wie zum Beispiel mit UHD Blu-rays. Ich glaube es gibt geeignete Splitter, aber meines Wissens verstossen die gegen die HDMI Richtlinien. Falls ihr eine Swisscom 4k TV Box habt oder einen UHD Blu-Ray player würde mich der Test wunder nehmen.

12.04.2018
User n6n43hix

Hab das Ganze genau so seit 2 Jahren im Einsatz. Läuft top.

Sollte vllt demnächsten Splitter + Grabber gegen 4k taugliches Material tauschen :D

Aber alle staunen immer über das Ambilight am Samsung TV beim Playstation spielen.

Ich war preislich bei ca. 150-200.-

13.04.2018
User bobby66k

Kurze Frage. Ist der pben verlinkte Video Grabber der korrekte? Auf der Herstellerseite steht eben nur kompatibel zu Windows XP-10.

15.04.2018
User Raphael1998

Ich finde eure Beiträge super, aber als Fachkundiger läuft es mir bei eurer "Elektronik "Fachsprache"" aber kalt den Rücken herunter und ich muss des öfteren schmunzeln ;-)

15.04.2018
User Durahl

Hier ein Beispiel mit meinem 75er und 318 LED's allerdings nicht wie im Artikel beschrieben mit einem Raspberry Pi sondern mit einem Teensyduino - Viel detaillierter geht's nicht mehr.

26.04.2018
User Durahl

Link anhängen wärs halt noch: youtube.com/watch?v=oCoPgSw...

26.04.2018
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User Anonymous

Ich bin begeistert! Super gemacht! Ich sehe nur ein Problem. Wenn ich Netflix auf meinen SmartTV schauen wirds ja nicht klappen

23.05.2018
User Anonymous

Coole idee
Arbeite gerade an einer budgetvariante mit möglichst wenig zusatzteilen, ich versuche es mit einer billigeren led leiste von ikea und Versuche das bild mit möglichst wenigen zusatzgeräten hinzukriegen ich probiere mal das bild auf den raspberry zu streamen... Ich meld mich wieder.

11.07.2018
User Manuel55

Sieht sehr cool aus :D Aber geht es nur mir so oder ist die Reaktionszeit der LED's zum TV Bild relativ gross/auffällig?

26.07.2018
User gguyaz

Excellent! Dès que les finances me le permettent, je me lance pour la fabrication de votre ambilight! Bravo!

02.08.2018
User Anonymous

Da ich 50% direkt über den TV schaue, ist dies leider keine Option. Daher habe ich einfach einen stink-normale LED streifen mit Fernbedienung (25.- bis 50.-) gekauft. Wenn ich Fussball schaue schalte ich z.B. auf Grün. Da bewegt sich natürlich nix, fühlt sich aber gleich an wie Ambilight. In 5'!

12.04.2018
User oliverschm6

Wer braucht so was ? Wenn man einen Film im Kino geniesst, flackert hinter der Leinwand auch nicht ständig eine Farbe auf. Wenn das so toll wäre, hätten die anderen Hersteller es schon längst gebracht...aber das ist ja nur ein kleines Nischenprodukt.

18.04.2018
User bobby66k

Die Idee hinter Ambilight ist, dass die Bilder eine intensivere Wirkung haben. Durch die Farbprojektion auf die Wand, sollten die Bilder bzw. das Gesamtbild grösser wirken. Das kam dann, wo nicht jeder einern min. 55" zu Hause stehen hatte. Zudem hat Philips meines Wissens Ambilight und die nutzung im Zusammenhang mit TV schützen lassen, weshalb sonst niemand ausser Philips diese Technik verwendet. Ich glaube wenn Samsung dürfte, würden die das gleich verbauen.

20.04.2018
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User EMkaEL

4K möglich?

11.04.2018
User Ph.Thalmann

ja, mit entsprechendem Splitter und Switch.

12.04.2018
User oli

4K via PC ja.
Via Settop-Box/Konsole: nein.
Jedenfalls nicht mit dem oben aufgeführten Splitter. Der kommt gemäss Anleitung bei HDMI nur mit max 1080p/60 klar.
Für UHD brauchst du so einen teuren Splitter von PureLink.

12.04.2018
User schlaubi88

Gibt es einen Splitter welcher die Features 4K, HDR, 60Hz, HDCP 2.2 unterstützt?

17.04.2018
Answer