Ambilight Clone Has Meaningful Amount Of Resolution


We don’t have an Ambilight clone on our own home theater, but seeing this one in action makes us wonder if we shouldn’t add it to the ever-growing list of projects we need to tackle (right below that POV display we’ve been putting off for years). [Falldeaf] built the colored light augmentation system using a set of WS2801 controlled LED pixels. There are a lot of them, and this results in the ‘meaningful resolution’ we mentioned in the title. The image on the screen is the opening to a James Bond film. You’ll remember that the camera shot down a rifle barrel follows him as he walks across the screen. There’s enough LEDs here to have to the light follow him across the screen as well. This is a nice touch that we don’t see in every Ambilight clone project.

A frame of fake-wood angle bracket holds each LED pixel in place. The entire assembly attaches to the VESA mounting holes on the back of the television. An Arduino addresses the lights while the Boblight package processes the video to acquire the lighting instructions. We think the hue is a bit off, but otherwise it’s a solid offering.

We’re still hoping the Microsoft IllumiRoom becomes a thing.

37 thoughts on “Ambilight Clone Has Meaningful Amount Of Resolution

  1. The corners aren’t lit well, some thing you see in most projects. I’ve used a strip with 128 WS2801 LED’s on the back of a 52 inch screen. Works with the same software as discribed above. The spacing is much more narrow but scince my TV isn’t wall mounted yet the colours blurr in to each other a bit.

    If you start building it, the prefix is the most important thing to get right, is it is flase only a few LED’s will light up.

  2. I have a TV with Ambilight built in. The details in this thing are beautifull (in a technical way, great that they can achieve this), but not fun in reality. Ambilight makes it that my eyes don’t get tired when wathcning a movie. It should change this much, that doesn’t add anything to make the overall picture for the eyes more relaxing.

  3. Not very well implemented:

    1) The effects lag according to what is being displayed on the screen.
    2) The ambient light does not mitigate very well what is being displayed in the borders of the screen.
    3) The ambient light seems too strong, distracting the user from the main content.

    It certainly looks cool but it is not very useful to mitigate the screen borders.

  4. These are a fun project and it’s fun to play around with the settings in the software. If you don’t enjoy lighting projects it won’t do anything for you, if you think everything has to be serious, have a purpose, be executed perfectly and represent a professional finished good then it’s probably not for you along with much of the enjoyable things in life.

    1. I’ve never been a fan of Ambilight, although I’m one of the ones that prefers watching TV or movies in a dark room. While my wife always wants a light on in the corner which distracts me. It is a cool build nonetheless. I could see using it with a relaxation video like an aquarium, fireplace, running water. Having the fire or water bouncing off the wall behind would just add to the ambiance.

  5. Thank you for the post, Mike!

    Thought I’d answer a couple questions and concerns:

    Mike is right about the Hue, it’s taken a bit of fiddling to get it to this point and still needs some more. The good news is that if you’re using Boblight, it’s easy to fiddle with.

    The lag that some folks have mentioned is a Boblight setting. I prefer it but you can change that if you like.

    If you’d prefer it to be dimmer, that’s a simple software change. In your /etc/boblight.conf file, under the [color] sections (there’s three of them) change the RGB FF’s to something lower.

    I agree that the corner’s could look better with an LED pointing in the diagonal directions. I may have to revisit this point!

    To Jack’s point that is just looks like the screen is bleeding out of the edges, well, yah. There’s not really a good counter-argument to that. I think it looks cool and dramatic, but I could see where it might not be your cup of tea.

    Thank you for having a look at my setup and for all the comments and suggestions!

    Also, if you’re interested in the wood working portion at all, check the comments for Bill Jackson’s post, he made a correction about my terminology and also took the time to post some excellent information.

  6. I don’t get the ambilight, i would much prefer a good steady light source behind the TV just to light up the wall, maybe dimming it slightly when the source material has long dark passages but i wouldn’t want any colors or directionality. Imo. it’s there to lessen the difference in contrast between the TV and the background, not to “make the screen bigger”

  7. Not too badly done but for movies very distracting, even without the lag mentioned in the comments, it’s just that the more precise thing actually makes it more distracting too.

    But hey there are music videos and games and what not.

    And thinking of uses I wonder if you could use it in an OS as an additional action-indicator, if you do it right that might be nice.

  8. Teensy 2.0 would get rid of the lag. My ambilight has over 140 leds and an arduino couldn’t keep up. I switched to a teensy 2.0 and it is much more responsive.

    1. You’re saying get rid of the AVR for another AVR. Even at 8Mhz an AVR running off proper interrupts could do this faster than your eyes could detect. Yes ditching the Arduino IDE for something that can hook into more of the micros potential where timing is important will help though!

        1. Ah okay thanks for explaining that out, serial is a pretty huge issue, I wish it’d vanished with the Due rather than them start emulating a USB to serial bridge.

          On that note I wonder if anyone has tried to implement a lower latency protocol between the two AVR’s on the Due? but probably not since the design/implementation is a tad impractical as it is.

  9. It’s the high tech version of the old TV lamps. If you’re 40+ you may remember when TVs came in wood cabinets, built like a piece of furniture, and sat on the floor. The big thing was to have a dim lamp sitting on top of the TV. If you’re younger, ask your parents or grandparents about TV lamps. Oh look, a website all about TV lamps,

    Pop a few RGB LEDs into one of those and add it to your Ambilight system.

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