DIY Ambilight

And now for something completely different… A DIY ambilight system.

After our move to a new house (at least for us it was new), my wife spoke the famous words “maybe we need a bigger tv”. So the next day I got a new 55″ Samsung that replaced our old 40″ Philips tv. It looked fabulous but there was one small detail I overlooked… It had no ambilight. And that was a big w.a.f. (wife acceptance factor). Hmm…

I didn’t want to return the tv so I decided to build my own ambilight system. There were plenty of examples on the internet so I started with a shopping list.

 Raspberry PI 2      5V 10A Power Supply

 WS2801 RGB LED 3m       HDMI splitter

HDMI to RCA converter  RCA Video Capture device

So the idea is as follows: the HDMI source goes into the HDMI splitter and one output goes to the tv. The other output goes to the HDMI to RCA converter. The RCA signal is then fed into the RCA Video Capture device which is plugged into the Raspberry. The Raspberry drives the RGB LED strip. Sounds easy right?

  1. Configuring the Raspberry
    The first step is to load the correct software onto the Raspberry. I used a very simple instruction found here. After the installation of Kodi the software for controlling the LEDs (Hyperion) can be installed. SSH into your Raspberry and fire off the following commands:

    curl -L --output --get
    sh ./

    After Hyperion is installed you must configure it using a simple Java program called Hypercon. Hypercon uses SSH to connect to the Raspberry and upload the configuration file you saved locally.

    After this step you should have a functional system that you can test using an app on your phone. Search for Hyperion Free in your appropriate app store.

    If you need a more comprehensive explanation you can have a look at this site. It gives you a very detailed plan of all the steps you need to take. It helped me a lot.

  2. Connecting the rest of the system
    At this moment I am still waiting for some parts to arrive so I will continue this post when that happens.