Build Your Own Ambient Lighting With the Raspberry Pi




Posted in TechnologyRaspberry-pi

Introduction: Build Your Own Ambient Lighting With the Raspberry Pi

About: Awesome Electronics Tutorials, Projects and How To´s

I wanted to build an Ambient Lighting System for my TV ever since i bought the Raspberry Pi one year ago. After I finally managed to order the necessary special WS2801 LED strip, I started the build and everything went better than expected.

This is a tutorial which I splitted in 3 parts for endurable video length and clearer structure.

In the first part I talk about the led strip, how to position it and how to solder it. Also I install the Raspbmc on the SD Card and get everything ready for the Boblight plugin.

The second part is the most complicated one. It is all about configuring the Boblight plugin and connecting the GPIO headers to the strip. After this part you will be able to recreate the project.

The third and final part is all about optimizing. I modify the case and made everything much compacter and user friendly.

Step 1: Watch Part 1!

I think part 1 is very simple and there is not much explaining to do. Just be sure to get the right parts and you can download Raspbmc with this link:

Step 2: Order Your Parts!

Here is a small list of things you will need.

Raspberry Pi:

Raspberry Pi Kit:

WS 2801 LED strip:


WS2801 LED strip:



Female headers:

Male headers:

Shrinking tube:

5V 3A Power supply:

WS2801 LED strip:


WS 2801 LED strip:
Raspberry Pi:



Female headers:

Shrinking tube:

5V 3A Power supply:
WS2801 LED Strip:


WS2801 LED Strip:

Raspberry Pi:



Female headers:

Male headers:

Shrinking tube:

5V 3A Power supply:


WS 2801 LED strip:

Step 3: Watch Part 2!

This time it is more about the software aspect. Get the necessary software in the next step and configure your Ambient Lighting.

Step 4: Download the Software!

Download the BoblightConfigTool right here. And you can also download my boblight.conf file to use it as a reference. You can download PuTTY and WinSCP with the links:



After this part 2 your project is done. But be sure to check out part 3 to optimize the Ambient Lighting.

Step 5: Watch Part 3!

Take a look at the next step to find more information about the "wire" part.

Step 6: Get the Connections Right!

I did not create a schematic for this. But I took a lot of picture so look carefully to get all the connections right.

Step 7: Success!

You did it ! Your very own Ambient Lighting. I hope you liked this project.

Feel free to check out my Youtube channel for more awesome projects:

You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for news about upcoming projects and behind the scenes information.



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    I keep getting the message 'This add-on requires a bynary library'. I installed '' in the usr lib folder but it doesn't work. Hyperion works and connects etc. But boblight keeps hurting my feelings ;p. Anybody who can help me please?

    Looking over the WS2801 strips, there are 2 models, One is $60, one is $35, I cant tell the difference, Is the $60 one much better and how ? The ebay one is $25 but, is only for 1m (3.3 feet), so that wont do.


    Username and password are different in OSMC. So if you use putty use this information.

    Username: osmc

    Password: osmc

    GreatScott, maybe you can edit your instructable and mention this?


    Hey guys i wanting to make this for my PC dual monitor setup.

    just wanted to know that do i need exactly this same components sine it will be connected to my PC not TV?

    I'll make this project when I have individually addressable LEDs and my Orange Pi (I will hopefully receive it next week). BTW, you should have soldered the strips before pasting them on your TV.

    Nice project. But how do get the video into the raspberry pi? or are you using the raspberry pi to play the video?

    Hello, I want to do this project, but I do not understand some things, okay the raspberry pi 3 model b? LEDs are fine WS2812B? Best 60 LED / m or 144 LED / m? the system is the same for TV 4k? The system is independent and works with both tv that with the PC?

    Does anyone know if this is the same led strips just updated? 1m WS2812B RGB LED Strip, 60 Addressable Pixels, 60 per metre, DC 5V

    1 reply

    Will this work with a Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) Model B?

    I have followed your instructions. Great tut. However, I am using Kodi now and a 50" TV with all 4 sides with LEDs. I am also using PiB+. So, almost everything is slightly different, but theoretically should work. Problem is, I only get the first LED to light. Sometimes red, green or white. I have tested that 5V is going all the way to the last LED so I know it has power. Any ideas?????

    9 replies

    hello,did you sort it out? I am having same problem here! I am kind of desperate please help me

    Do you have a 5V buffer driving the I/O? If not, I would reckon that the 3.3V RPi I/O is just is not enough for the first WS2801 chip. If you have a buffer, check that your refresh rate (clock frequency) does not exceed WS2801 specs.

    Anyway, an oscilloscope is always useful in debugging off-chip signals.

    I followed the instructions in this video and the refresh rate is what is stated there and in the boblight wiki.

    OK. I fast-forwarded through the videos, but did not see any mention of an output buffer. Thus, the system described here will work only by accident, i.e., depending on the length and thickness of the wires from RPi to the 1st WS2801, process variations, Vcc levels etc.

    The WS2801 specs state that Vih=0.8*Vcc...Vcc, i.e., the lowest input voltage that is recognized as a logical one is exactly 4V with a 5-volt operating voltage. As your RPi has (apparently, I have only RPi2) an I/O voltage of 3.3V, the first WS2801 will correctly recognize '1' only by sheer chance. Getting erratic lighting functionality and the inability of the 1st IC to regenerate the input would very much fit an I/O voltage problem.

    You can try reducing the Vcc for the LED strip until 0.8*Vcc is somewhere near 3.3V, but this would be rather stupid. I recommend using any 5V buffer IC that has a 3.3V-compatible input (or a lower 'high' threshold). A logic level converter would obviously also work, but I reckon a single 74-series IC harvested from an old junk PCB would be the best DYI solution.

    Could you provide the easiest way to install Or set up a 5v buffer. Thanks

    single transistor should do the trick

    Unfortunately, that won't work. You need a path to drain the charge too. I reckon the absolute minimum would be 4 transistors (two inverters in series). Then again, constructing CMOS pairs with discrete components is risky at best.

    See, now i'm a little bit smarter. Thx

    Do you have 'eco parts' lying around? I used a 74ACT240PC as it was the first suitable IC i picked up from my stash. Obviously, I had to connect two of the eight buffers in the IC in series, as the function is inverting. Anyway, as I wrote earlier, the only relevant criteria here is the minimum high level input voltage, which is listed in the component's datasheet. The IC does not have to be a buffer, you can e.g. connect two NAND gates in series and get a non-inverting function.

    If you have no used components to work with (or interest for a DYI build), I recommend buying a logic level converter, a.k.a., a level shifter. These run at about a dollar a piece shipped. See e.g.