Adding Ambilight clone system to your home theater just got a big price cut

Whenever we get a tip claiming a project is cheap and easy we raise a cynical eyebrow. But [Yonsje] isn’t telling us a story, his Amiblight clone really does boil down the complexity and slash the price.

For the uninitiated, this is a clone of the Philips Amilight system that has been an option with some of their TVs over the years. It puts RGB LEDs on the back of the frame, pointed at the wall. They are tuned to the edge colors of the display, linking the color of the ambient light in the room to the colors on the screen. We’ve seen a ton of clones over the years, just search our blog for “Ambilight”.

Like the others, this iteration depends on you playing back video from a computer. [Yonsje] is using an Arduino with his own shield to connect to the HTPC. NPN transistors in the shield drive the RGB LEDs. The real cost savings is in his lighting source. A Deal Extreme RGB LED bar costs just $11.30 including shipping, and can be cut into six different segments for even spacing around your television. Check it out in the clip after the break.

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LiveLight is an expertly crafted ambilight clone

[SunWind] developed his own version of the Phillips Ambilight system (translated) which he is calling LiveLight. We’ve seen more than a few of these hacks, many of them are based around Arduino, and most use LED strip lighting. [SunWind] is using strip lighting as well, but his design is clean and polished quite a bit more than anything else we’ve seen. In our minds this would be welcomed by even the most discriminating of A/V enthusiasts.

He found just the right size of project box and managed to fit everything in on a nicely milled PCB. The enclosure itself has also been milled to allow the mini USB B connectors for each of the nine RGB LED strips. But he didn’t stop there, the top of the enclosure has labels milled into it to help when hooking everything up.

An ATmega32 addresses the LED strips based on data pushed in from a computer. An on-board FTDI chip adds USB connectivity and [SunWind] used a hack to rewrite the EEPROM on that chip so that it enumerates with the name “LiveLight USB Interface”. A program called Boblight gathers the data from the currently playing video. You can see the final project in the video embedded after the break.

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Arduino Based ambient lighting improvements

[Simon] improved upon an existing hack by making this Arduino ambient lighting system that has four different color regions. He was inspired by [Roy's] processing-based setup which we saw a few weeks ago. That system used processing to determine the average color of the currently displayed image, then it displayed the color on a single RGB LED strip. [Simon] was thinking a little bit bigger.

He purchased a lighting strip that could be cut into different sections and then set out to develop his own software for multiple color regions. He had little or no experience with Processing so he went one abstraction layer lower and used Java to code his interface. It’s got a lot of nice settings where you can tweak how, when, and why colors are displayed. In the end he has four independently addressable color strip on the left, right, top-left, and top-right of the screen. The best part is that the Java suite he developed can be used on different platforms, having been already tested on Windows and Linux.

More ambient lighting monitor hacks

[Christian Pigeon's] first big project was to build this ambient light system for his computer monitor. This is based on the same concept as the Phillips Ambilight system which illuminates the area behind a television to match the color on the edges of the screen. We’ve seen clones before, but this is the first one we’ve come across based on Amblone.

With Amblone as a starting point [Christian] modified the code to work with the Arduino Duemilanove which has fewer PWM channels than its bigger brother, the Arduino Mega. No word on where he acquired the RGB LED strips that provide the illumination, but the driver boards are just protoboard with groups of resistors and transistors to switch the diodes on and off. Check out the video after the break to see effects he achieves with this setup.

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Ikea Dioder hack

[Joseph] wrote in to tell us about his Ikea Dioder hack. The Dioder is a lighting system with a silly name from Ikea. It is basically 4 RGB LED bars that are connected to a controller that will cycle their colors in different manners. They aren’t individually addressable, and at $50 aren’t really that great of a deal for people who could build their own. [Joseph] thought that maybe, if the features could be extended, it could be a decent lighting system. He bought it and began searching. Disappointed by the lack of hacks available, he cracked it open and began brainstorming. Ultimately, he decided to interface it with his computer. He can now control it with software, so making an ambilight clone shouldn’t be too difficult.

He does mention that he thought of making 4 independent drivers so that each light bar could be a different color. We agree that this would be the next logical step, possibly even rewiring for individual access to each LED.

Atmolight clone of an Ambilight clone

[Fun3] wasn’t satisfied with current methods for duplicating Philips Ambilight. He wanted a completely plug and play solution without soldering so he could expand upon it in the future. This meant Arduino, ShiftBright, and (it pains us to say this) pre-made cables. Some of you are cringing at the thought of no real ‘work’ being necessary, but remember, now this is much easier for your “I can’t change the VCRs clock” aunt to set up and enjoy. Plus it’s quick, easy, and most importantly – clean, something a lot of hackers have a problem with.

LED ambient light strips

[Shadow] sent in his ambient LED strip project. He picked up a ton of RGB (Red/Green/Blue) LEDs off of eBay and built several LED strips. To get up and running, he used an LED-wiz controller. With the off the shelf controller, this is a pretty easy project, and the ambient lighting effect looks great. Check out the video after the break or on the project page.

In 2006, we posted about [rafkep]‘s similar ambient lighting project.

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