Ambientlight frame with Raspberry Pi (Raspbmc + Hyperion or Boblight)

Let’s start with the finished project. A video demonstrates the system in action and a picture shows the frame with the RGB-LED’s.

Finished frame with 50 WS2801 RGB-LED’s

Requirements:

  • 2 x 850mm aluminum L-profiles
  • 2 x 450mm aluminum L-profiles
  • 2 x 450mm aluminum square bars
  • 4 x M4 screws (40mm x 40mm) + locknuts to connect all frame parts
  • 4 x M8 screws (80mm x 60mm) + sealing rings for the Vesa Mount
  • 100 x plastic clamps
  • 1 x Raspberry Pi
  • 50 x WS2801 RGB LED’s (I used 50 pieces for a 40 inch screen)
  • 1 x DC-Power Adapter with at least 1,5A at 5V.

Construction

The frame was built with the help of Ivan L., the design is inspired by Dominic C. For the frame we used aluminum as material, it is light, robust and looks nice. The goal was to mount the frame using the Vesa mount system. Measurements of the Vesa mount on my TV are 200mm x 200mm from screw hole to screw hole.

Note: I mounted the LED’s anti-clockwise, there is no good reason to do this, the configuration is done anyway in software.

Aluminum square bar and L-profile

_DSC0007

L-profile connected with a M4 screw/nut

Cutting the wire trellis

Assembling of the wire trellis and the L-profile. Fixing the wire trellis with plastic clamps

Finished frame but without LED’s

Cold beer FTW!

Cold beer FTW!

Top of the frame showing the connection between the L-profile and the square bar

The Vesa-mount M8 screws

M8 Screw including a sealing ring

RGB-LED’s fixed with plastic clamps to the wire trellis

RGB-LED’s in the edge of the frame

First test, it works!!

Connect the LED’s with the RasperryPi as it is shown here.

Software

You can use Boblight or Hyperion, in principle they do the same thing, compute the color for each LED and address them using SPI. Originally I used Boblight, but recently I switched to Hyperion. Hyperion is much more efficient (by the factor of 10) and provides a nice set of tools.

I use the distribution Raspbmc, install instructions for Hyperion can be found on their wiki.

Observations

  • To avoid playback stutter with high quality videos (e.g. 1080p H264 video and 7.1 HD-DTS audio) you need to overclock
    • Best option for me is to install Raspbmc not to the SD-card but to a USB stick (to avoid SD-card corruption when overclocking)
    • I use the following options (this will not void your warranty):
    • arm_freq=1000
      over_voltage=4
      core_freq=500
      sdram_freq=600
    • You need to use a good DC power supply, I obtained good results with an iPad USB power supply. Important is that the power supply can keep the voltage at about 5V while providing high current (~1 ampere).
  • Boblight related:
    • If you experience flickering LED’s, try to set interval in bobligt.conf to 60000 or 120000. In a previous boblight.conf file I used a too low value, which caused flickering with boblightd (Speedy’s version).
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22 thoughts on “Ambientlight frame with Raspberry Pi (Raspbmc + Hyperion or Boblight)

  1. Thomas says:

    Great post, i was wondering how to attach everything to the tv and thanks to you i found a nice and easy way to do so!! I have exactly the same setup as you do so i used your bobligth.conf. The problem I have is that if there is some red on the right of the screen it’s the leds of the left of the screen that shine red. So i might have a reverse configuration. I don’t really know how i should change this in bobligth.conf? Thanks

    Thomas

    Ps: I am french so tell me if there is anything that you don’t understand in what i said! 🙂

    • Hi Thomas,
      thx for your comment! My boblight.conf is for clockwise mounted LED’s, have a look at: https://michaelrogger.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/dsc0040.jpeg
      This picture shows the frame from behind. The cables at the left side are attached to RPI and the cables on the right side to the power supply. Therefore my first LED is on the left bottom and then counted up clockwise.
      I guess you mounted the LED’s anti-clockwise, check http://blog.nadnerb.co.uk/, as far as I know he build an anti-clockwise boblight.conf.

      • Thomas says:

        Hi, thanks for the answer and sorry to reply a bit late. Yes I did mounted the LED’s anti-clockwise. I finally took your configuration file and reversed it manually, it was not that difficult 🙂

        The result is really amazing!! I did not expect such a great result!

        Once again thanks for your post, and for your help.

        Thomas.

  2. Great write up. Good to see lots of practical details as well. Can you explain why you chose to arrange the LEDs in the order you did? If you were building this again, would you change the LED layout e.g. more LEDs on the bottom?

    • Dear Colin,
      In my case, if I would build it again, I would build it exactly as I did. The LED’s on the bottom are barely visible, mostly because the socket of the TV is in front and the LED’s are mounted in a 45° angle to shine backwards (to the wall). If you plan to mount the TV to a wall, then I would place a lot more LED’s on the bottom and distribute them more equally.

  3. igor says:

    hello!

    very nice! i like it! i am having trouble in finding a solution that allows me to generate a conf file that supports leds starting at the bottom center like oyu have. all conf file generators that i found start from any corner but none from the center like oyu have.

    did you make the conf file by hand?

    regards

    Igor

    • Hi Igor,
      I had the same problem, the only solution was to make it manually. This process is easy but time-consuming, so when you finished creating it, don’t forget to make a backup 😉

  4. Sebastian says:

    Very nice, but i got a question. I got a bigger TV screen and wanted to make the LEDs around the whole screen, so i’m going to need more than 50. Are more LED’s more work for the Pi and could he handle this or doesn’t that matter?

    • Yes you are right, more LED’s means more work for the PI. I used the software boblight for the ambientlight, but recently a much more optimized (for the RPI) software Hypherion is available. I guess you will have no problems to run 100 LED’s, maybe even without overclocking. For 50 LED’s I have a CPU usage of below 3 % on average.
      For all the details go to https://github.com/tvdzwan/hyperion and their wiki for instructions.

      • Sebastian says:

        Thank you!
        I got another Question. Does the Pi or the software only can handle Signals that come from the Pi, like when it’s playing movies, or could he do the same when he gets the signal from the amp? Because i’m using a PS3 to show movies.
        (I hope you can understand the question. I think you already noticed that english is not my native language 😉 )

        Greetings

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Sebastian, you can look at this page https://github.com/gkaindl/ambi-tv
      boblight only outputs from something like xbmc so will not work with PS3 plugged into TV… the link I attached allows you to have ambilight effect on anything with HDMI output, meaning you can plug your PS3 into a splitter as per the github page and then play games on TV with light effects.

      • Sebastian says:

        Thank you.
        Hyperion isn’t able to use HDMI signals too?

        In the link you’ve posted he used a HDMI-Composite adapter and a USB video grabber. Is plugging the HDMI cable right from the splitter impossible or did he had other reasons for that?

  5. Trevor says:

    Hi there, great work on the frame.

    A question on the power supply, I was wondering how bright the LEDS are, I chekced out the WS2801s and they have a 0.3W draw, meaning 50 would be 15W (in other words) needs at least a 5v 3amp power supply?

    Does the 1,5 amp power supply not get really hot and shut off?

    I am not by any stretch of the imagination an electrical engineer, but I am even worried using an old ipad charger which is 2amps (10W)

    • Hi there,

      you are right, the specification for the WS2801-LED’s I use (http://r.ebay.com/zGrEac) says the power consumption is maximum 0,3W per LED, but only if they are used with white light at full brightness. I measured about 3-4W for all LED’s, which is perfectly well within the spec for the power supply with 10W (5V,2A). I guess the brightness is set by the LED driver to a lower value, resulting therefore into less power consumption.

  6. j0nnymoe says:

    Hi Michael,

    What measurements are your profiles/bars? Currently looking at them on screwfix.
    Looking to do it this weekend as velcro hasnt really worked for me!

    Cheers

  7. Hi. Great tutorial!
    I was wondering with which Raspberry pi will your method work?
    I’m looking to buy either a Raspberry pi model B, or the model B+, will this tutorial work with both Pi’s? Thanks.

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