hdmilight-1
I’ve seen lots of clones of the Philips Ambilight system that extend a TV picture out onto the surrounding walls by shining coloured LEDs out from the back of the TV. I wanted to do the same with my TV but all the clones out there seemed to be software based, requiring a PC to be producing the TV picture which they then grab frames from, analyse to get the light colours and drive the lights. My TV picture comes from MythTV, so I already have the PC running permanently, but I was worried that the extra load might cause problems when watching blu ray rips. I also wanted to have a lot of LEDs and I didn’t want the lag that is often seen between the TV picture and the LED output.

So I thought I’d try making a completely hardware based Ambilight clone that directly takes in a 1080p HDMI signal.

Click here to jump to the demo videos.
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RAKO PILL Dimmer
Most of the lights in my house are incandescent bulbs controlled by RAKO PILL dimmers. These dimmers fit into the back-box behind the light switch and have the advantage of keeping a normal looking light switch in addition to adding dimming and wireless control, which makes for a very invisible system, which I like. The actual light switch is swapped out for a momentary switch instead of the traditional rocker and becomes press once for on, press again for off, press and hold to dim up, press and hold again to dim down.

My kitchen light however is a flourescent tube. I wanted to be able to control this in exactly the same way as the other lights in the house, including keeping the normal looking light switch. After a bit of research I found that this is possible by using a DALI electronic ballast in combination with a controller from Tridonic (DALI GC-A) that fits in the light switch back-box in exactly the same way as the DALI PILL does for the incandescent lights, and also has exactly the same press on, press off, press and hold to dim control method.

The DALI control system operates on a shared bus and can have multiple lights and multiple controllers on the same bus and RAKO make a RAKO wireless to DALI bridge, so it looked like I could combine a DALI balast and switch controller from Tridonic with the RAKO DALI bridge and get seamless and invisible control of my flourescent light. I was almost right, but once I’d bought all the components and set it all up on the bench for a test there was one small flaw…
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