Hacking the Oculus Rift: the Oculight

Our Oculus Rift finally arrived in the mail. I’ll spare you my thoughts on the item itself other than to say it is amazing. There are tons of videos to choose from that show people’s thoughts and reactions, and Ifixit has their usual detailed teardown as well.

The mod I decided to tackle first was the horizontal peripheral vision lights. The shape of the Oculus means that it feels like you are wearing a skii mask, or diving mask. There are big black borders at the far edges of the sides. It would seem that a simple mod would be to add some RGB LEDs and run a simple ambilight clone.

I downloaded the Adalight code and plugged in an RGB LED strip I had sitting around. The rift has some mesh areas at the 4 corners to allow air to move around in there. I took advantage of this so I didn’t even have to cut into the rift… yet. I simply strapped the strip to the rift with the proper LEDs shining through the holes.

The result was decent. Since the LEDs are further back in your peripheral vision than the edge of the screen, it looks like maybe a little light from the surroundings is just “leaking” into the headset. It gives the impression of seeing things that are far beyond the edge of the screen.  A better installation, allowing lights all the way up the left and right sides instead of just the corners might yield even better results.

Ikea Dioder ambilight hack

kidea-dioder-ambilight-mod

There are a lot of hacks out there for Ikea’s Dioder LED light set. [Lambertus] wanted to create an easy and affordable ambilight while keeping the hardware modifications to a minimum. He also wanted anyone to be able to easily duplicate his work. He recently wrote in to share his successful solution.

The customizations boil down to three main steps: solder the ICSP connector wires to the test points on the Dioder PCB, connect a PIC programmer to the ICSP port (and reprogram), and attach a 5V RS-232 device to the ICSP port. The software was the most difficult part of the procedure for [Lambertus]. The PIC16F684 didn’t contain the required UART and PWM controllers, so he had to get crafty. Fortunately he’s done all the work for us, and lists the necessary .hex file he created on his site.

By adding support to boblight, his new ambilight is working with his media center very nicely. There’s a little demo video after the break.

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Simple ambilight clone is just a few transistors

The Ambilight system – built in to high-end Phillips TVs – is a neat system to add a bit of ambiance to regular television viewing. With this system, a series of RGB LEDs are mounted to the rear of the TV to respond to whatever is currently being displayed. [Lovro] came up with a very simple way to add an ambilight system to his computer monitor using only a handful of components.

Unlike other Ambilight clones we’ve seen controlled by custom software or a Processing sketch, [Lovro]‘s system uses a few transistors wired to the red, green, and blue pins of his VGA cable. Each of these lines is connected to an RGB LED, so the intensity of each color is determined by the amount of the respective color on the screen.

There is a down side with this setup: a second video output in a mirrored mode is required for this hack to work. Luckily, [Lovro] has a dual-monitor graphics card, making setup a (relative) breeze.

You can check out [Lovro]‘s videos of his Ambilight clone in action after the break.

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Macetech takes on its own Ambilight clone hack

[Garrett Mace] decided to beef up his 58 inches of plasma with 60 Watts of LED lighting. After seeing a ton of Ambilight clones using his LED modules, he’s built his own powerful system. Not surprisingly, it’s nothing short of professional-grade work.

Kudos to [Garrett] for showing the entire process in the video after the break. We’re talking about his planning stages, which are so often left out of build logs. He first measures the back of the television, and does some testing for distance and angle of the Satellite LED modules to establish how many should be used and to estimate the optimal spacing. From there he modelled a framing system before getting down to the actual build.

The wood frame is made up of a box with a horizontal crossbar serving as a place to mount the drivers. Around the edges, tilting rails were added to make the angle of the LED modules adjustable. As with many other Ambilight clones, [Garrett] uses the boblight software to drive his system and we appreciate it that he included his configuration file for reference. Once up and running the effect is breathtaking (and possibly blinding).

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Adalight: Ladyada’s ambilight

The latest and greatest ambilight clone, the Adalight, comes from the fruitful mind and cluttered workbench of the sometimes Hack A Day contributor [Phil Burgess].

We’ve seen a few clones of the Philips ambilight tech, but [Phil] knocked this one out of the park. The hardware is a string of 12mm RGB LEDs connected to the Arduino of your choosing. After attaching the LEDs to the rear of the TV using anything from, “laser-cut acrylic to nothing more than a pizza box,” it’s on to the software.

The Processing sketch performs a series of screen captures and averages the pixels around the perimeter of the screen. Reportedly, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos looks fantastic with the Adalight but there might be a better option.

[Phil] used 25 LEDs on his Adalight, more than the usual 6-10 we see on other Ambilight clones. Check out the video after the break to see the Adalight in action.

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Ambilight clone built from Arduino and ShiftBrite modules

[Don] put together a guide that will help you build your own Ambilight Clone for about $40 plus the cost of an Arduino. He’s using it with the HTPC seen above, and utilized modular concepts in building it so that you can easily disconnect your Arduino board when you want to use it for prototyping.

For RGB light sources [Don] grabbed six ShiftBrite modules. These are fully addressable cascading modules which make for very easy hardware setup. Instead of buying a driver shield he built his own using an LM317, heat sink, and wall wart to source enough current to drive all of the modules.

We really enjoy the mounting scheme used. Each module is attached to a piece of acrylic which is then mounted using the standard threaded VESA mounting holes on the back of the monitor. As with other Ambilight clones this one uses the Boblight package to get color information from the video as it plays.

Adding USB control for Ikea RGB LED strips

Here’s an altered PCB that gives USB control to an Ikea Dioder. This is a $50 product that comes with four strips each containing nine RGB LEDs. The stock controller has a color selection wheel and a couple of buttons. [Rikard Lindström] wanted to use it to match ambient light to the colors of his computer monitor — yes, it’s another ambilight clone.

Since he already had a bunch of AT90USB162 chips on hand he chose that route. These chips have native USB support (he’s using the LUFA package which is a popular choice), but no on-board ADC. That means no need for the potentiometer from the original controller because there’s no easy way to read its value. Removing it made plenty of room for his add-on PCB. He also depopulated the PIC microcontroller that originally drove the unit, soldering to the empty pads in order to connect is own board. The finished product fits back in the original case, with the addition of a USB cable as the only visible alteration. Now he can dial in colors using a program he wrote.

In case you’re wondering, it looks like this is a newer version of control circuitry when compared to the original Dioder hack we covered.

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