LiveLight Is An Expertly Crafted Ambilight Clone

[SunWind] (Edit 2018: who now goes as [nerdaxic]) developed his own version of the Phillips Ambilight system 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. [Nerdaxic] 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 [nerdaxic] 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.


[Thanks Lauri and Jussi]

(2018 Edit: The old forum post, which details the development of this project, can be found here.)

30 thoughts on “LiveLight Is An Expertly Crafted Ambilight Clone

  1. Looks very impressive! Would have loved to test this myself :)

    Hate sounding like a ****, but the only gripe with all these excellent ambilight projects is that most require a PC-based program to feed data to the system. Playing most movies from PS3 etc. myself, are there any alternatives? Is the only solution to build a HDMI pass-thru to analyze picture and colors? That sounds too hard…

  2. I want one. How much do I have to pay for it? I don’t care to do the build work myself besides just the soldering if need be. But I definitely want one.

    Respond with an email address of how I can order one and the cost and I will pay up for it right away. This thing is great.

  3. @panq;
    The ps3 stops outputting composite when it outputs hdmi – or at least it used to (may have been an update)
    …I’ve wanted to make one of these for my projector for years – I just picked up some addressable led strips and they’d be perfect, but again, the problem is in getting the data. I was tempted to install a webcam that just WATCHED the projected image and built the colour wash accordingly.

  4. @espie and others – I second the HDMI passthrough idea – this is a great attempt but I don’t think it would ever reach the home user market if you had to use a PC running a secondary program… not that I think they’re aiming for a home user market, but with a product like this I think they could/should……..

    Also, unrelated but The Lion King was probably the greatest possible test movie! :-D

  5. The problem with HDMI passthrough is HDCP; AFAIK, the PS3 won’t play BD’s (not sure about games) through HDMI without an HDCP monitor.

    What about some unobtrusive (fiber coupled?) light sensors at the edges of the screen?

    Another idea: tap into the data going to the panel (for LCD/Plasma). (In fact, I just realized that would be a fairly easy way around HDCP…)

  6. One way, might be able to use a simple R/G/B sensor pointed at the screen to pick up the “average” color of the screen, and transfer that to the LED driver.

    Lets see…. possibly even one RGB LED could do the job as sensor. A little lens… I think the issue would response time, flicker, etc…

    Not a great solution, but it’d get rid of the PC.

    But the project itself is a fantastic build. Great box, nice finishing touches, nice PCB. Very good quality work done here.

    I’d like to see more work from this user. Man, sure is nice to see a quality job, over those rats nest wiring jobs from hacks.

    Really, it doesn’t take that much longer to do some nice wiring. You don’t have to have milled enclosures, just a nicely done project.

  7. Nice work! But I wonder what the price difference is between that Sony TV plus the PC plus the hardware plus the nice box plus plus plus, versus a Philips TV with the feature already in it ;-)

    By the way: Philips only has one ‘L’.


  8. Apologies if this double posts – I posted earlier and it hasn’t shown up.

    I built something like this, but I wanted it to work with all my sources, including HDCP encrypted digital ones, and thus the PC based solution wouldn’t work.

    I opened up my video processor (which is external to the TV in my case) and found the pin-out for the HDCP decoder. I tapped the digital signal from that before it gets re-encrypted for output.

    It works great, even on PS3.

    What it doesn’t do, is give me different colours per-edge. That’s going to be v2.0 :)

    Sensors pointing at the screen are probably never going to work very well due to the difficulties of getting accurate colour, ambient lighting and reflections in the screen, and general overhead and lag.

    If I rebuilt this, I’d probably try to either hack an off the shelf HDCP stripper (or an HDMI splitter/sender which has hackable internals) or else try to build an HDCP decoder in an FPGA…

  9. It would be nice if it could read ahead and then anticipate and change gradually.

    Right now, it’s impressive but you can really notice the slight delay. The colors on screen change and then the backlight radically alters to match – with a slight delay.

    It’s not very subtle.

    What camera was used to record that youtube video? Seems like it might work well in a movie theatre :D

  10. mhmmm seems quite good but this kind of system is all well and good but you need a dedicated pc to run it and even then….. it looks a bit laggy for a cinema enthusiasts taste (mine included) really these projects need some sort of hdmi passthrough for this to be useable/cost efficient for 99% of people again this includes myself ive spent well over £2500 on my cinema setup but another £500 to implement a backlight? id rather not…. but hey rome wasnt built in a day and commendable effort guys the colour rendering looks great and definately rewflects the on screen action quite well, id like to see it operating on a fast cut action scene though to see how it can cope with fast transitions.

  11. HDMI passthrough will never work…. Why? because hollywood is a bunch of morons. the brain dead HDCP that protects NOTHING is required on a lot of garbage that makes such devices impossible.

    Unless people STOP buying HDCP required content and HDCP enabled equipment and screams at the manufacturers about it it will only get worse.

  12. The HDFury is a fairly inexpensive dongle that will convert HDCP-protected HDMI to VGA. So going from an HDMI source to a splitter, then to the TV and HDFury. The HDFury would then be connected to a VGA based version of this thing.

    One of the main problems with doing the VGA processing is you don’t want to just average the scene but average the color in quadrants around the edges. I think it’s probably a job for an FPGA but I have never really looked into it.

  13. @John Laur
    What about something cheaper like this?

    Do you think that would be good enough to get a decent VGA output for external processing? I think that might be the best idea for my setup, since my receiver switches all HDMI sources into one output, so I could use it with all my content. Of course I would have to design a board to decode the VGA and average the colors.

  14. I will use a specific STB with linux enigma2 and so on …. so i will have the output from the STB and with the lights …. :)

    I am very bad at soldering :S how much will cost the whole bunch done? (i want only to freak with something …. i am not sure if my girlfriend will let me to put that in the TV :) )

    I have seen something done with RGB strips (shiftbarts, rgb brites) …. that could be done by me … but this seems better (at least …. cheaper :S)

    Thank you :)

  15. @espie: I was just thinking the same thing. If you stuck with YPbPr (component) cables, you could do this fairly easily, the only difficulty would be filtering out the sync signal on the Y channel, but you could do it all on an analog level, without even needing a microcontroller, let alone a PC.

  16. Couldn’t you mirror the video signal and just stick an old monitor/LCD screen behind the TV showing the same video? Seems a lot simpler to me and old flat screens are getting pretty cheap nowadays. Maybe use mirrors to direct the light outwards.

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