Hacked Gadgets Forum

August 3, 2011

DIY PC Ambilight

at 10:12 pm. Filed under Computer Hacks, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


If you love the look of the Philips Ambilight system but would like to build your own? Have a look at this DIY Ambilight system that Instructables user Yonsje built. The biggest limitation it has is that it is for use with your computer and not a TV. These days this might not be much of a limitation though since many of us watch most of their video content on a computer system anyway, as I type this I am watching Security Now on a computer monitor to my right.

Thanks for sending this in Yonsj.

You will need:
– An arduino
– 3x 2k2 resistors
– 3x an NPN transistor, capable of switching 12Volts (I will be using a 2SD1062)
– A 12Volt adapter (wall wart)
– A barrel jack
– A 12Volt RGB (common anode) LED Strip (I will be using this one)
– Header pins
– Some prototyping board (I will be using some perfboard)



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13 Responses to “DIY PC Ambilight”

  1. Jabberwock Says:

    If you want to go a somewhat easier way (but still fun!), you can get LED Painter II from Brilldea:


    The advantage is that you have eight RGB channels (or more if you daisy chain).

    I am not associated with the site, I just bought the previous model (with great assistance from Timothy!) and it works just like Ambilight (patched behind my HTPC’s monitor).

  2. MasterFX Says:

    I like my DIY Ambilight more => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LBg9exWAhg

  3. Alan Parekh Says:

    Looks great MasterFX. Do you have a project page for this?

  4. MasterFX Says:

    No sry.
    But its quite simple. I used a ATxmega32A3 (which has 16 PWM Channels) and I send the Colour-Information via RS232 using the OpenSource Software Boblight.
    I bought 2m RGB-LED Strip on ebay for 10€ (30 LEDs/m). Each color-channel is drived by a BS170 MOSFET.
    In the Video I only used 3 RGB-Channels (left, top, right) but you can combine as many atxmega as you want to get more RGB channels.

  5. Radiant Says:

    MasterFX, could you possibly do a video guide on how to build one. I’m sure its simple for you but most of the instructions on the net don’t seem so easy to someone who is not familiar with Mega’s and what not. Thanks

  6. MasterFX Says:

    maybe it is easier to make a little project-page for it. I’ve holiday from the next week on, so maybe I’ll do it then..

  7. Radiant Says:

    Jabberwock how did you get it to work with Brilldea. I am thinking about going that route…Thanks.

  8. Jabberwock Says:

    For control I use PropBlade (also from Brilldea). However, as I understand it, the Mk. II allows use of other controllers.

    For direct control I use DMX from the computer. Color matching the screen with Send the Light:

    There is also another Ambilight-like software which worked well, but I cannot recall the name now. I’ve tested some other packages, e.g. to match light to music (e.g. commercial LightJams), but did not find it of much use. Most other OpenDMX packages work well, too.

    As we don’t watch TV that much now, when the screen is off I use very slow color shift (red to green and back) programmed directly into the controller as ambiant light.

    As for hardware, I used short adhesive LED RGB strips (three LEDs per 10 cm) with snap-on connectors and ribbons. I’ve soldered the other ends of the ribbons to goldpin connectors. I am not sure if there is quality difference between different LEDs – mine don’t do white very well and are a bit slow in response. The previous model of LEDPainter had 48 channels on one board (i.e. 16 RGB channels) – this plus the PropBlade located on the back of the monitor made the wiring somewhat tricky.

    Check the amperage – I wanted to use the board with much longer strips, which would probably burn it. But I think the new board allows for more. I am using two power supplies (one 6V for PropBlade and 12V for the LEDs, if I remember correctly), but I guess it can be arranged with a voltage regulator or something like that (I am not very experienced in the hardware area).

  9. Radiant Says:


    You wouldn’t happen to have a instructable or a video of your setup would you? Also how would I capture what’s going on on my TV while playing a movie or a PS3/X360 game? Is that possible? Lastly, I will be working with Tim from Brilldea so if you have any other extra information that could be very useful please let me know. Thanks a lot.

  10. Jabberwock Says:

    No, sorry! Now it would be rather hard to make, as the whole setup is tucked behind my monitor…

    As for the capture, for me it was easier as I only use the HTPC as output, so I can do it with PC software (mentioned above). There are some solutions for low-level capture, but they are rather complicated and do not work with HDMI.

  11. MasterFX Says:

    > and do not work with HDMI.
    I’m working on an HDMI Solution (1.4a including 3D Support and HDCP). I don’t know how much time I need to complete, but I think it would be this year. Price would be something about 30-40€ for the Hardware.

  12. Light-Pack USB Ambient Lighting System - Hacked Gadgets - DIY Tech Blog Says:

    […] saw a project earlier this month that worked like an Ambilight system but this open source Light-Pack USB Ambient Lighting System […]

  13. Arduino Ambilight - Hacked Gadgets - DIY Tech Blog Says:

    […] Howdeshell sent in this great Arduino Ambilight project. Sure seems like the Ambilight projects will continue to be popular. This one uses an Arduino at the core and ShiftBrite LED lights. You […]

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