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The ultimate home customisation hacks

In this article, we will help you build your own ambient lighting hack for your TV, and also give you a few pointers and links to some articles we have done online, which will help you stream media all over your house and automate your home by turning dumb devices into smart ones.

Home Customisation
TVs with ambient lighting look very good when they can sync with the content on the screen

Make your own Ambilight

Back in the day, when the first LED TV’s appeared, Philips came out with a great feature: Ambient TV lighting, which they called “Ambilight”. Ambilight consisted of lights that would project on to the wall behind your TV, matching the colours being displayed on the TV. Thus, if the majority of the screen was red, then the light emitted would be red, and so on.

Over the years this has been refined to multiple colors, matching small parts of the screen, and the aim is to make the TV watching experience even more immersive than it is already. It’s a feature that most people like, but some might not, but it never fails to wow people the first time they see it. Tell them you built that yourself, and they’re going to be even more impressed! Of course, you could also just buy a Philips Ambilight TV, but what’s geek about that?

REQUIREMENTS
What we Need

  • Raspberry Pi 2 or 3
  • Sd Card 8GB Class 10
  • Arduino Uno
  • HDMI splitter
  • HDMI Selector
  • HDMI2AV Converter (1080p supported)
  • USB Grabber
  • 5V 10A power supply
  • HDMI Cables
  • WS2812B RGB LED strip
  • Wires

Software

  • Raspberry Pi 2 / 3 Disk Image
  • Arduino Sketch
  • Hypercon.jar
  • Arduino NeoPixel Library
  • Win32 Disk Imager

Configuring the LEDs

Start from the bottom left corner, place the LEDs counterclockwise around the border of the TV and connect them at the corners (except the first one, obviously) with conductive wire – make sure that you connect the corresponding terminals on each LED correctly.

Power supply

It is important to connect the GND from the Power supply to the Arduino

The connection to the Arduino is:

  • LED Din to Arduino Pin (as configured in the Arduino Sketch)
  • Power Supply GND to Arduino GND

Note: Count the number of Vertical LEDS and make a note of this.

Home Customisation
The Arduino Uno will control the lights behind this setup

The Software bit

Arduino

  1. Open the Arduino Sketch and change the number of LEDCOUNT to match the total number of LEDS we noted earlier.
  2. Also in the line: const char prefix [] = {0x41,0x64,0x61,0x00,0x57,0x02}; we need to change the last two bytes. (0x57 and 0x02) to match your setup.
  3. For this take the total number of LEDs on your system and subtract 1.
  4. Convert this number to HEX (use Google calculator or any online decimal to hex converter) and replace the first byte (0x57) to 0x?? to match yours in the sketch.
  5. Now go to XOR converter (xor.pw) and enter the following:
  6. In the first Line enter 55
  7. In the second line enter the byte you calculated in the above step (0x57 in our case )
  8. Click Calculate XOR
  9. Replace the last byte of your line by the Output you get. Make sure to include “0X” before the number (0x02) as this is represented in HEX format.
  10. Also, note down the Baud rate – 500000 in our sketch.
  11. Now connect the D10 pin on the Arduino to the Din of the LED – the third wire from the LED strip.
  12. Download and include the Neopixel library (see box Requirements) by going to Tools > include Library > Add Zip file in the arduino software.
  13. Save the sketch and compile for any errors, and then upload to Arduino.

Installing the Image on the Raspberry Pi SD card,

  1. Unrar the OSMC_Pulse_setup_all_working.rar provided with the link.
  2. Put your SD card in the PC or card reader (make sure it is at least 8 GB Class 10 )
  3. Install and Run the Win32DiskImager.exe as administrator, select the image file to write to the SD card,
  4. Click “Write” to write it to the card
  5. Insert the card into your PI

Connecting all the equipment

  1. Plug the Arduino Pin 10 into the LED astrip data line and Arduino GND pin to V- of the power supply,
  2. Plug the USB of the Arduino into port 1 of the Raspberry Pi.
  3. Plug an HDMI cable from the HDMI splitter output 1 into your TV’s HDMI-in
  4. Plug the output of the HDMI Selector into the input of the HDMI splitter
  5. Plug another HDMI cable from the HDMI splitter output2 into the HDMI2 AV converter.
  6. Plug all the Devices into HDMI selector
  7. Plug the video (yellow) cable to the USB grabber video connector (yellow).
  8. Connect the USB grabber on the other port of the Raspberry Pi as it draws more power.

Home Customisation

Power up the Raspberry Pi and setup the Wi-Fi in the OSMC

  1. Navigate to Programs > My OSMC
  2. In the setup menu, you can configure the network settings and select wireless. From the list of available networks, select your network and configure it to connect to the network.

This configures the KODI media player and lets us stream content onto the screen.

Note: the IP address of the PI on the network, we will need it later.

Home Customisation
The KODI media player is a great option for staying up to date with the latest and best shows.

Configuring Hyperion

  1. Run Hypercon.jar
  2. In the Hardware Tab configure these:
    – Type: adalight
    – Output: /dev/ttyUSB0 (need to check the USB number if this doesn’t work)
    – Baud rate: 500000 (from the Arduino sketch)
    – Direction: Clockwise
    – Select the left, right, horizontal, offset to match your setup from the table we noted above.
  3. Click Save
  4. Make sure that the correct USB device is selected for the USB grabber in the grabber tab.
  5. Now under the External Tab make the setup as shown and click Save
  6. Now Click on “Create Hyperion Configuration” and save this.

Final Steps

  1. Go to the SSH tab
  2. Enter the IP address of the PI in the Target IP field
  3. Make sure Port is 22
  4. Enter username as osmc password as osmc ( if you haven’t changed the default settings.)
  5. Click Save
  6. Click Connect and you should connect to your PI
  7. Then click “Send Config” and wait for it to Upload
  8. Click Save
  9. Click save hyperion file, will help in later use
  10. Reboot your PI

If everything has gone well your Ambilight setup should now be working with your TV!

Stream everything!

With high-speed broadband and decent FUPs becoming commonplace, the days of downloading content are long gone. Be it your favorite TV shows, movies or your entire music collection, streaming is the way to go. And there are tons of ways to do it as well. For example, Plex is a popular solution for sharing media over a local network.

Although there are features behind certain paid subscriptions, there are also free alternatives that work just as well. As an intelligent server software Sonarr is pretty much all you’d need. Whereas Sickrage, a fork of the Sonarr alternative Sickbeard, also covers pretty much the same things in a much more organised and sleek way. Also, check out our ultimate streaming guide to sort out pretty much all of your streaming needs.

Home Customisation
The Oakter kits are pretty easy to use

Automate your home

Even though IoT devices have been quite popular globally over the last few years, it is only recently that India has seen consumer grade IoT devices show up in its markets. And with these devices, you can customise your humble abode or grand palace to be smarter and respond to your needs much better.

Take the Oakter home automation kits, for example. Comprising of smart switches and a central hub, it’s an easy to use plug-and-play solution that works seamlessly with its mobile app. You can use it for pretty much any device that requires a plug-point and needs to be controlled remotely. It features scheduling as well.

Check out our detailed feature on home automation which covers multiple aspects to get started with automating your home.

This article was first published in the May 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

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