Give Your HDTV the Philips Ambilight Effect on the Cheap




Introduction: Give Your HDTV the Philips Ambilight Effect on the Cheap

I love those Philips Amiblight HDTVs - you know, the ones with the rear backlight that projects colours onto the wall behind the TV? Not only does it look pretty, but if you're gaming or watching a film in low-light conditions then the backlight reduces eye strain.

I do suffer from eye strain. Mainly because I watch DVDs or game with only a lamp on. After an hour I'll start to get a headache. Problem is that the lights in my living room are too bright.

I'm perfectly happy with my Hyundai 32" HDTV and don't want to shell out for a Philips one... so it's Ikea to the rescue and you can get a similar effect for under $40.

Step 1: Get the Lighting From Ikea

OK, first up we need lighting. The lighting is called TRETTIOEN which comprises of 4 LED light strips, the mains adapter and some bendy wires for corners. It's available from all good Ikea stores.

I live in the UK where it costs £21 for the set which come in White, Green or Blue.

Step 2: Mounting the Switch

The lighting strips come with a mains adapter that has a rocker switch for easy access. If (like me) you've got your TV standing on a TV cabinet, simply use some of the leftover adhesive strips and stick it to the rear of the cabinet. It'll allow you to easier manage the cabling as well as turn the lights on/off with ease.

Here I've got the switch running parallel to (but lower than) the top of the cabinet. It's out of view but I can easily reach it.

Step 3: The Finished Result

That's it! Please bare in mind that due to cabling issues, my cabinet isn't stood right against the wall. If it were then the light would be a lot brighter... plus I took really quick shots with my camera :)

Step 4: The Finish #2

Here you can see it in action with a Wii. (Please note that the lights are much brighter... due to the light from the screen and no flash on the camera, the light is a little dimmer than it really is - but you get the idea).

Now there you go - it took 20 minutes and trust me, it does reduce eye strain. I prefer to play Wii Sports or Xbox Live with only a lamp on and this lighting system does help.



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    32 Discussions

    Nice, simple fix to reduce eye strain, but you're only going to get white light this way -- not like the Philips Ambilight displays, which adjust the lighting according to what's on the screen. Fortunately, if you've got some technical aptitude you can get the same effect on any TV.

    The use of an Arduino to control a string of colored LEDs has been pretty well documented -- search "ambilight arduino clone" or look up Amblone. The only problem is, most of these projects were designed for ambient lights on your monitor, based on software that runs on your computer. If you want to do this for a cable box or a Playstation, for example, you'd have to run the display through your computer via a capture card.

    please, visit my web site -
    i developed ambilight for dvi,hdmi,display port

    This is a good idea no matter how you look at it. I'm used to CRTs and just got a 26" HDTV and it was great when it's light out but as soon as it got darker I'm like "wow this thing is crazy bright". I could turn down the brightness but it looks better as is. I happen to have a coil of rope lights I got from home depot but never used. They are easy strung around the TV or behind it and they are less than $20. Having more light behind or around the TV is better than having a light on for the whole room imho. The changing ambilights on the Philips TV is havoc on those of use who are easily sickened from things like that. :)

    2 replies

    To try it out, you should try a basic lamp pointed from behind your monitor to the wall behind it.

    I did this, except with green cold cathodes meant for computer lighting @

    I have purchased today a blister of "dioder " at ikea store with the change of colors ,and assembled on my Toshiba LCD 32". In Italy a blister of "dioder" cost 59.90 euros,but the effect on tv is cool ! I prefer watch tv with led trimmed light blue or violet. Thank you for this Instructables

    I did this in an even easier fix simply by purchasing a string of LED xmas lights (blue color), then plugging them into the usb port on the back of the tv, and taping them on the back of the screen using masking tape. Its an easy fix, comes on when the tv turns on, and goes off when the tv goes off. Only costed a dollar, and 100% removable.

    Theoretically, if you have an RGB or VGA output on your video source, you could build a simple circuit to drive each of 3 light strings. The brightness would be based on the average level of each color line between vertical sync pulses. With high impedance inputs it wouldn't even interfere with the display. It would be a much more complex circuit to do it with component outputs (P Bg Yg) and even more complex with composite, but still possible.

    8 replies

    Did you ever figure this out? IKEA sells a dioder now that can do RGB for $50. I am currently trying to find out how many I can hook up to one control unit. I am also going to take one apart one to see if there is a way to connect it to a computer to control the light output. Then it would be sweet to put together a box like you are talking about to make a ambilight device. maybe a thing that plugs into s-video and outputs to the dioder?

    You had me confused there for a minute. I didn't know what a "dioder" was! For others; It's an LED lighting strip.

    A link to it would have helped...

    Looks pretty cool... It would be fun to play with.

    sorry, meant to include a link. I've tried to find some specific "dioder" hacking but all I come up with is people taping them to the back of their TV. I've looked into making my own array for a while but it is still pricey and a pain. The IKEA set is $50 and comes with 4 9"strips that can be arranged in many configurations. I bought 4 sets to mess around with because I'm trying to make a wall light up with 14 strips hung under 14 shelfs. The problem is I don't think the controller can handle all 14 together. So I'm looking into beefing up the power supply.

    I've been looking for a device that does this, but so far have come up short. I'd bet that there's a good number of people that would love to have something like this. I'm a software, not a hardware guy... Any chance of a pointer to get me started.

    I've been thinking on this for a couple of months. I have a few ideas, but haven't brought them together yet. I imagine a PIC will be necessary to count the results of D/A of each line to generate the final color. I think an average would be sufficient and would be used to decide the brightness of each of the 3 colors. It would have to be rather fast to get a better average across the number of scan lines, as many as 1080 per 60th of a second (US). Currently tri-color LEDs are out of range for practical use, but it would be just as practical with ultra-brights of each of the 3 colors.

    No, averaging the signals wouldn't work. You'd need to sample the video, count all the different colors, then pick the one with the most samples. Anything else would just average on most content to grey.

    You could actually avoid counting the sync pulses all together, and just average the input on each the r g and b pins (I'm not sure how RGB signals are formatted though. Then using a pic and a calibration dvd that shows black and white you could figure out a linear transform for the inputs to generate the lighting signal. P Bg and Yg would only require the proper adjustment in color space so that the reading system would be the same, and then the PIC would calculate the proper RGB signals.

    You'd want to keep track of the sync pulses to ignore the center of the screen. The ambient lighting would be most effected by the outside of the picture.

    This is quite nice. In the USA try using a rope light you can get at any big box hardware store, or better, use a small set of white Christmas lights since they put out much less heat.

    1 reply

    Or - along the same thread - At christmas time - grab a string of LED christmas lights at your local drug store. Same thing, but less heat and less electricity used.