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).


23 thoughts on “Macetech Takes On Its Own Ambilight Clone Hack

  1. Excuse the double post. But,
    Whoa, those parts are expensive! I really like that it uses RJ25 jacks for the driver board and the LED boards. But the cost is pretty prohibitive. If you bought all the parts it would cost well over $300…ouch.

    Either way it’s a great looking/ performing ambilight clone.

    1. The bezel is irrelevant. Your eye’s ‘attention’ is completely immersed in the content itself. When you are using your computer or TV to play a game, do you see the bezel? I don’t.. Not unless I specifically break out of my entrancement and look or think about it. Hell, I even use 3 monitors as one via eyefinity on my computer and forget about the bezels sometimes. (although it’s much harder)

      These lights work on peripheral vision for actual immersion, and secondarily as a mood light. I think actually if there was no bezel, the brain would have a hard time figuring out where the screen ‘window’ ended, in turn appearing as though the screen grew or shrunk depending on the light output. nauseating maybe? It’d be a cool experiment.

    1. Using an RGB color sensor would not work very well because you have to physically place it on the screen, and you would need multiple sensors to make any kind of a decent ambilight clone. You may get the LEDs to light up but you wouldn’t be able to live with the resulting mess.

      That said, I’m still waiting for an HDMI hardware based ambilight driver, rather than having to use PC software.

  2. Props. DIY ambilight/amBX systems are far BETTER than the garbage put out by Philips and now amBX (the company) since Philips dropped the line and they went indie.

    Have piece of mind that your software is far more flexible, your LED array doesn’t randomly burn who colors out, and if you choose to use it for PC gaming.. the drivers don’t suck and cause other applications to crash. (if you own an amBX, you know what I am talking about. you’d be lucky if it even still works 100%.)

    amblight/ambx: Awesome technology and idea, bad software/hardware implementation. This however, is fantastic. The response time is excellent and works much better than the sets that came with TVs a few years back.


    And vonskippy, consider the cameras auto gain setting boosing the brightness? Your eye concentrates on the screen image anyways, it should not wash it out.

  3. Thanks for all the positive comments (and even the negative ones). The build is ~$300 because it’s a 58″ screen and we made it about 5 times brighter than necessary :) Sometimes (as often as possible) it’s fun to overdo things, even if they are somewhat impractical. Am I right?

  4. brad: it’s a Solder:Time watch from Spikenzie Labs. Sparkfun sells it too! It’s a kit.

    Bob: Thanks, if that really you :)

    rooster5105: It actually does add to the experience, especially action scenes and bright concerts etc. Almost like you’re there.

    Fallen: It’s not cheap, but isn’t that bad of a deal considering. It’s literally 50 times brighter than Don Howdeshell’s six-ShiftBrite version, but only 10 times the cost. It’s 12 times brighter than the Adalight kit, but only 6 times more expensive (18 instead of 25 edge pixels though).

    1. If scaled mine to use 24 ShiftBrites instead of the now 8 that I’m using (I added two since the writeup) then I could build the entire thing for $130 + the Arduino + the plexiglass that I used. That would come out to about $180. But you are using the Satellite Modules, not ShiftBrites and your rig is ‘insanely bright’. :)

      I do totally agree that more modules make for a much better effect, but at some point they can’t be at full brightness without becoming overwhelming. I’ve found that for my room and TV size that about 10 elements are going to be the absolute most that I can have (with regard to brightness) without it starting to take away from from the experience. Granted I’m not using a plasma display.

      This is an awesome video and the effect is top notch. Congrats on an amazing build!

  5. Dear Mike,

    Do you deliver complete off-the-shelf ambikits?
    If so, which price do you ask for?
    I’d like to have one for in-house use, but I am a complete noobie in DIY electronics.

    Btw: I live in The Netherlands-Europe :-)

    Greetz, thnx anyway.


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