TP-Link TL-R480T+ Policy Routing Not Working? Disable Fail over!

If you are using a TP-Link TL-R480T+ load balancing router and have been adding in Policy Routing rules only to find out that they don’t work, then you need to go into the Link Backup page and disable any fail over settings you have. A bit of a weird one, but it is the case nonetheless.

Sky Cable Philippines’ broken internet connection to Hong Kong and Singapore


I’ll open with this; chances are if you are reading this from a Sky Cable Philippines Broadband connection then it probably took well over a minute to load the page, that’s if the page even opened at all! The reason for this is that this website is hosted in the UK and to connect from your Sky Cable connection to this server you would have likely been routed via ae-13.r01.tkokhk01.hk.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.5.31) which amongst a growing number of other hops seems to grind to a halt. You would be forgiven in thinking “If this is happening outside of the Philippines then why are you singling out Sky Cable?”, the answer is because this ONLY happens with Sky Cable and not any other Philippines ISP, and this issue is starting to affect many other websites including Apple’s download servers, Amazon S3 Hosting, and even Sky Cable’s own website hosted in Singapore. All of these sites when served or routed through certain CDNs/Hops in Hong Kong or Singapore will not be able to serve you traffic above 20~100KB/sec, or in the case of Apple a slightly better max speed of about 300 KB/sec. That’ll take you well over 5 hours to download an iOS update!

Let me go into more details, and let me get some things out the way first, because I am sure there will be things you are thinking before we get to the end of this post.

  1. My current line speed with Sky Cable in the Philippines is 55Mbps which works out at around 6.875MB/sec when downloading files from the internet. If you do not know the difference between Mbps and MB/Sec then please go read this.
  2. I also have a 5Mbps PLDT line which maxes out with a file download speed of about 600 KB/Sec (Just over half a megabyte a second).
  3. That means the PLDT line is 11 times slower than the Sky Cable line, yet as you will see later on, the PLDT line can reach download speeds on problematic servers well above what Sky Cable can.
  4. All my tests are fully repeatable at ANY time of the day, there is zero argument for network traffic being the cause of these issues.
  5. These issues have been confirmed by two other people using Sky Cable lines.
  6. I had been trying to get Sky Cable to acknowledge this issue for nearly a year without anyone understanding what I’m talking about.
  7. Finally a month ago I started speaking with one of the head engineers for Sky Broadband via Facebook who initially acknowledged and confirmed the issues. I’ll be referencing some of my conversations with him later in the post.
  8. NOTHING has been done to fix these issues and I am sure they are affecting the majority of Sky Broadband customers in some way, the only reason why this has gone unnoticed for so long is because the median speed of Philippines internet users is so slow that everyone is used to things taking an age to download.
  9. I’m certain that if this was a UK or USA ISP that it would be all over Social Media, and in the USA you’d probably see a class action lawsuit or something due to the lack of coming anywhere close to providing a service to these servers that could be deemed reasonable.

Where did all this start? Why are Sky Broadband downloads from Apple so slow?

About a year ago I had noticed that downloads from Apple servers were going really slow at about 50 KB/Sec, I took to Twitter to see if anyone else had the same issue and sure enough there were a couple of posts talking about the same problem, so I responded…

Side note: Let me get one thing off my chest now. Sky Cable’s technical support is diabolical. They are very nice, they take the time to respond but they literally have no technical training whatsoever. It doesn’t stop at the support guys on Twitter though, even if you call them and have them send out a network technician you will end up with a guy coming round your house who has had about 2 hours on-boarding training and has been told that if things don’t work to “reset the router”. Reset the router will forever be burned into my eyes and ears as it is Sky Cable’s only solution to ANY problem. Having relationship issues? Reset the router. Got diarrhea? Reset the router. The devil has appeared in front of you and is about to cast you down to the depths of hell? Reset the router my friend 😉

Right, so back to Apple. As I mentioned I saw that the issue was only happening on my Sky Cable line but it was happening to ANY Apple download server. So that would be my Macbook updating, my iPhone updating whilst connected to my home Wifi, etc. Obviously when I took my iPhone off the home network and just using Globe’s LTE the downloads would fly down, how odd.

From there I thought that perhaps Sky Cable were being sneaky and were throttling traffic for some reason, so I loaded up my VPN and connected to a LA server. Sure enough the download speed from Apple servers ON THE VERY SAME LINE jumped up from around 50KB/Sec to about 3MB/Sec – over 60 times faster!

There is also a YouTube video that shows this very thing happening. Slow speeds to Apple, VPN on, Slow speeds go away.

I showed this to Sky Cable, I showed this to the technicians they sent to my house, and we went round and round in circles for about another month before I just gave up and hoped that somehow it would get fixed. How wrong I was, the issue was just going to get worse.

More websites start getting slower and slower.

So between late last year and now I noticed that more and more websites were getting slower, not just page loads but actual downloads. I posted in the Philippines Internet Facebook group but unfortunately my post was met with confusion and the majority of discussions are currently around Mobile Broadband, however it did catch the eye of a Sky Cable head Engineer (who we’ll just call “*Joe”) and we got talking about the problem and trying to troubleshoot it. The next thing that I found out about the problem was pretty confusing for me, it would seems that changing the DNS server used would have a direct impact on increasing download speeds, but some of these DNS servers would work for a little while and then stop working. I decided to test these DNS servers from my Sky Cable line and also test them against my PLDT line, which if you remember has a max speed which is 11 times slow than my Sky Line.

*Just a note about Joe, I’ve got to say that the guy has been more than nice in entertaining me when asking these questions. He could have easily just kept quite but he is at least reaching out to aide in some way. So if you ever read this, Joe, I do say thank you for your help despite my frustrations with Sky Cable as a company.

SkyCable Speed Tests

Click this image to see a full size version

Now the image above is pretty in your face, but it’s actually quite easy to understand, a few points…

  1. I tested the same set of servers on both my SkyCable line and my PLDT line 10 times
  2. Each test set was tested with the DNS settings changed. I used the 10 fastest DNS servers from my location as per a DNS tester.
  3. These test were done late at night around midnight, network traffic congestion at this time is almost none existent.
  4. The servers I tested were…
    1. Fast.com (This was a test control server to show full speed line capability)
    2. NVIDIA Driver download (This was a test control server to show full speed line capability)
    3. Apple update server (which seems to be hosted in Singapore)
    4. Put.io Hong Kong (a simple hop from the Philippines)
  5. I also included a couple of lines of the TraceRoute to see if there was anything obvious that was going on.

So what does this table actually show us? Well there are two things that stand out straight away.

  1. With the problematic servers my PLDT line (11 times slower than the Sky Cable line remember) almost ALWAYS maxed out at around 500 KB/Sec whilst the Sky Cable line could barely get above 90KB/Sec in some cases.
  2. Simply changing the DNS server used on the Sky Cable line can result in much faster downloads if you manage to get the right DNS server. However I can tell you from my own experience that this solution doesn’t tend to last very long.
  3. The DNS Server switch might just be a red herring for Apple servers. I think there is perhaps two separate issues which is everything Apple (~200KB/Sec), and then everything not Apple (< 20KB/Sec)

So with the above data I went back to Joe (the Sky Cable engineer) and showed him what was going on. I asked a couple of questions…

Why are Apple Downloads so slow with Sky Cable? and How come PLDT aren’t having the same issues? This was his response…

We’ve escalated the issue with Apple. we can get more bandwidth through multiple connection. seems that they are limiting our connection.

I followed up on this and asked for some clarification and was told…

For Apple, seems that they have limited the speed per stream. And the updates are http. We can go as high as 2.5mbps per tcp connection. Or about 10mbps for 4 tcp connections. We also think that PLDT has a transparent caching for http traffic that’s why you can have the full bw. For other sites we are looking at direct peering with thier respective CDNs in HK or SG.

Ok, so a response at least and Sky are looking into it. However here is a question, why on earth would Apple limit the download speed to a national ISP? Especially when Apple make billions of dollars through their App store and iTunes stores. What possible sense does that make?

Secondly, if PLDT have this so called transparent cache then why don’t Globe and Smart have the same issue that Sky Cable have? The issue is only with Sky Cable, not with any other Philippines ISP.

When asked about the DNS, i was told…

Pointing to our DNS ensures that the CDN will point to the nearest node. if that node is congested, then we may experience low bandwidth.

Unfortunately my further questions went unanswered so I decide to conduct some more tests and collect a little more data to more websites.

Click for a larger version

Now what I have done here is expand the test to 13 total servers, and as I mentioned in the intro we have some heavy hitters here like Amazon S3, Reddit, and Sourceforge. I’ve not bothered to test these against the PLDT line because you can take my word on it and see from everything I have written above that there is no issue with any other ISP.

So what does the above tell us?

  1. My two control servers, Fast.com and Nvidia are still pumping out max download speeds.
  2. More and more websites are being pulled into this Sky Cable issue.
  3. The average download speed from these servers is 91.27 KB/Sec or a line speed of 0.72MBPS, these speeds are reminiscent of dial up internet from 25 years ago!
  4. The slowest connection which is 5.5 KB/Sec is 1,250 times slower than the line is capable of, and must be hundreds of times slower than the average delivery speed described in Sky Cables’ contract.
  5. That 5.5KB/Sec speed means it takes 30 minutes to download a 10.8MB file. It’d take you 3x longer to download three Spotify songs than it would to listen to them!
  6. A 73MB file (probably about the average iOS app store App) takes over 2 hours!
  7. At this speed it would take you around 101 hours to download an iOS update from Apple.
  8. Doing traceroutes to each of these servers shows that they are CDNs serving from Hong Kong or Singapore.

Whilst not in the list Sky Cables own website is hosted in Singapore and can be affected by this issue, let’s have a look at the Traceroute for their own site from their own line…

traceroute to mysky.com.ph (54.251.113.26), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
1 192.168.0.1 (192.168.0.1) 3.056 ms 2.510 ms 2.353 ms
2 130.105.48.1 (130.105.48.1) 14.490 ms 18.795 ms 19.823 ms
3 ge-1-5.sj1.skybroadband.com.ph (114.108.192.145) 18.360 ms 15.155 ms 23.655 ms
4 130.105.0.30 (130.105.0.30) 8.130 ms
130.105.0.28 (130.105.0.28) 18.952 ms
130.105.0.82 (130.105.0.82) 14.599 ms
5 130.105.0.48 (130.105.0.48) 34.346 ms 15.106 ms 16.821 ms
6 ix-xe-2-1-0-3-0.e453.net (116.0.93.217) 43.291 ms 41.665 ms 42.000 ms
7 if-ae-16-2.tcore2.svw-singapore.as6453.net (116.0.93.142) 72.434 ms
if-ae-32-2.tcore2.svw-singapore.as6453.net (180.87.15.80) 92.321 ms 78.678 ms
8 180.87.15.206 (180.87.15.206) 77.894 ms 74.093 ms 72.200 ms
9 * * *
10 * * *
11 203.83.223.15 (203.83.223.15) 65.758 ms 100.979 ms
203.83.223.74 (203.83.223.74) 70.910 ms
12 * * *

It all looks to be ok with hops times that should be fine, but I suspect the issue is around ix-xe-2-1-0-3-0.tcore2.hk2-hong-kong.as6453.net (116.0.93.217) because it seems that tcore1 or tcore2 for HK or SG always causes issues. For Singapore I have also found that Equinix also has major issues, 13335.sgw.equinix.com (27.111.228.132) 41.833 ms 54.802 ms 49.804 ms.

So I gave all the info to Joe, and basically what I got back was this…

We are now correlating the destination IP. there must be a common choke point somewhere.

We will also be connecting to a major IX in the US and EU this 3rd Qtr. Lets see how will this improve our connectivity.

Yes Joe there must be a choke point somewhere, why have Sky been unable to fix this despite it being an issue for over a year? Are we really just supposed to cross our fingers and hope that some new IX will solve this issue? Why do you not know what is causing it right now?

Joe also had this to say about Equinix…

We are looking at our Equinix connection. we just activated our 2nd 10G in Singapore early this year and it’s not balanced.

Why has this not been addressed yet? It surely couldn’t have been connected correctly in the first place?

After writing this entire post I did ask Joe again about the ix-xe-2-1-0-3-0.tcore2.hk2-hong-kong.as6453.net (116.0.93.217) hop which is NTT owned.

Our NTT link are down since last July, most of the traffic are routed to pccw now.

So we are starting to get somewhere now, it is all still a bit of a mystery but here are some facts that have been confirmed by Joe and are obviously having an impact on Sky Cable’s ability to deliver international network traffic into the Philippines…

  1. Sky cable know there is an issue connecting to Apple servers but have been unable to resolve it.
  2. They have an issue with a line to SG Equinix “earlier this year”, but again have been unable to resolve it.
  3. They have a completely down line link to NTT since July and claim that traffic to Hong Kong is being routed to PCCW, but obviously this isn’t the case else the hops to this very website wouldn’t be showing in the traceroute. Again, they have been unable to resolve this.

Over to you for your help.
I have tried to get this issue resolved and I have tried to get other people to understand that there is an issue but I have hit a brick wall and I need your help.

  1. If you are using Sky Cable could you please open this Google Spreadsheet.
  2. Enter your name on a new line, then click each of the links in the header row.
  3. These links will open downloads, save the downloads and then open your download manager which is usually CTRL(CMD)+J for Firefox or CTRL(CMD)+Shift+J on Chrome
  4. You can then see the download speed that is shown in the download manager. Simply enter this into the spreadsheet.

Hopefully with enough data we can get some exposure on this. Maybe it turns out that it is just my line that has an issue, maybe it is just a set of customers in a certain area, but maybe it is an issue which is affecting a lot of people and instead of us all moaning about Philippines internet speed, we might be able to do something to fix an issue that a 8.7billion revenue per year company just hasn’t been bothered with.

Feel free to comment below, and if you have knowledge in the network field then I am happy to try any other tests. I appreciate you reading such a long post 🙂


Update 1:
There was a little bit of traction from a Reddit submission in /r/Philippines which meant that some users added their line test speeds to the Google sheet above. Around the same time I got confirmation from a Sky Cable service rep that Sky Cable Guarantee a delivery speed that is at least 40% of the line speed. So in my case on my 55Mbps line, all traffic should be delivered to me at 22Mbps or 2.7MB/Sec. We can quite clearly see that this isn’t the case for both myself, but also for the vast majority of others who added in their test speeds. So Sky Cable aren’t just delivering a crappy service, they are in breach of their own contracts!

I also decided to document a “day on the life of Sky Cable” for a day, this honestly is no hyperbole.

Check video recap from last night at http://optionalpha.com/ – 20KB/Sec
Login to internet banking with HSBC – 20KB/Sec
Check Facebook – 200 KB/Sec (woo!)
Check Twitter – 20 KB/Sec
Download iOS app update – 250 KB/Sec (Woo!)
Load Reddit – 500 KB/Sec (Woo!)
Load images from imgur – 500 KB/Sec (Woo!)
Load images from i.reddit.com – 200 KB/Sec
Check this blog post – 9KB/Sec – Unloadable, have to switch to PLDT line
Do some work which involves looking at a selection of about 100 websites or so, at least 30% will have the 20~200 KB/Sec issue.
Download some podcasts – 100 KB/Sec
Try to listen Calm Radio – 20 KB/Sec – unusable, switch to Glove or PLDT line.
Watch YouTube 2MB/Sec – works for the most part with 1080p
Watch a streaming soccer game – Almost all streams buffer due to Sky issues, switch to PLDT.

So in a typical day there are 8 websites that I visit all the time, and all 8 of those have issues with Sky Cable, issues which basically make them unusable. How is that remotely close to 40% speed, and how is it justifiable paying 4,000PHP per month for broadband?

Update 2:
I knew it was a waste of time doing this, I know it would just get me angry, but I did it anyway. I sent an email to SkyServes@mysky.com.ph…

Here is is below, images have been removed as they are just copies of the ones above.

Date: 8/31/2017 6:33:00 PM
Subject: Letter of complaint due to breach of service contract by Sky Cable

Hello,

Please let me preface this long letter of complaint by saying that it should find its way to the correct person within Sky Cable who 1) Has the technical knowledge to understand the points being made, and 2) Can process complaints and action remedies to them. What I do not expect is a front line customer service rep to email me back asking to restart my modem or to book a engineer to come to my house, and nor do I expect to be ignored.

Account Number: XXXXXX
Line Speed: 55Mbps

I am writing to you today to voice my continued issue with Sky Cables broadband service which is in breach of your own service contract which states that you will guarantee 40% of the line speed. This breach of contract is not only affecting me personally but is also affecting a wide range of Sky Cable customers and is due to international routing problems that your network has when connecting to CDNs in both Singapore and Hong Kong. Large websites such as Apple, Amazon S3, HSBC, and even your own SkyCable.com.ph website are all affected by this network issue and in cases will NOT load at speeds higher than around 20KB/sec. The 20KB/sec speeds that these websites are consistently loading at are around 0.8% of my line speed, well below the supposed guarantee of 40%.

Not only have these speeds been recorded by multiple customers, I also have quotes from one of your own engineers that admits there are fundamental problems with the Sky Cable network and how it connects to Singapore and Hong Kong.

A lot of the data I am going to be referencing has already been covered in a blog post that can be found here – http://www.chewie.co.uk/general/sky-cable-philippines-slow-broken-internet-service/

So as I have mentioned at the start, the problem seems to be that when Sky Cable connects to a web server which uses a certain CDN in Hong Kong or Singapore then the speeds at which it connects at become unusable. You can see a sample of websites which uses one of these CDNs in the table below…

Inline images 1

Now what this table shows us is that with a 55Mbps line we are getting 4% of the line speed or less when connecting to 11 of 13 test servers. These speeds are so low that it takes over 2 hours to download a 75mb file. This speed is 0.14% of the line speed and is nowhere near acceptable. When connecting to these servers the issue can be replicated 24 hours a day, any day of the week, this is NOT regular network congestion, its an issue with your traffic delivery.

I have also tested connections to these severs using different DNS settings alongside connecting to them on a 5Mbps PLDT line….

Inline images 2

As per the image above you can quite clearly see that the PLDT line which is 10x slower than the Sky Cable line has no problem whatsoever in reaching full speed to these test servers.

At this point I want to let you know that I have been doing everything I can to bring this to Sky’s attention and get the issue fixed. I started by connecting you about this issue with Apple over a year ago, and the past three months I have been sending data on this problem to one of your engineers, NOTHING is being done to rectify the issue despite my good faith.

I am sure that you will be assuming that this is just an issue with my line, and is localised, but this is simply not the case, multiple users are documenting the same problem…

Inline images 3

The above image clearly shows that out of 84 tests to these servers only 5 of them will connecting at a guaranteed speed of 40% or higher. The other 79 test conducted are speeds that are so slow they are unusable. This issue is replicated time and time again with your service in cases such as having to switch to Globe LTE to stream music on a cell phone, or having to use the PLDT line to download an Apple update, the issue is affecting every aspect of internet browsing and you are simply not delivering on what you say you will in your contract.

Now I have quotes from a Sky Engineer that state you know of issues…

“We are looking at our Equinix connection. we just activated our 2nd 10G in Singapore early this year and it’s not balanced.”

“Our NTT link are down since last July, most of the traffic are routed to pccw now.”

But these issues are not fixed, and data that is being sent to you by your customers is being ignored.

So to recap here are some facts about the situation…

1) My line speed of 55Mbps costs me 4,000PHP per month
2) The guaranteed speed that you have in your contract to provide for that 55Mbps line is 22Mbps, this is a transfer speed of 2.75 MB/Sec
3) The charts above show connections to large companies like Apple and Amazon are hundreds of times slower than that speed, and in cases are over forty times slower than your supposed guaranteed speed
4) There has been no effort to fix this issue despite information being given to you
5) There has been no compensation or act of goodwill from Sky Cable for breaching the contract and not delivering a service that you say you will

As such, I do expect a response from you about how this is going to be fixed. I have been paying for a premium internet service for the past year and a half and you simply have not been delivering it. The speeds shown in the test above are so ridiculously slow that they would not even be acceptable 20 years ago in dial up!

If I do not receive a satisfactory response from you then I will be seeking legal advice, and I shall also be contacting local digital and print publications to gain more exposure on this issue.

Thanks

Now a reply from the most incompetent company in the world…

Date: 9/01/2017 2:56:00 PM
Subject: Re: Letter of complaint due to breach of service contract by Sky Cable

Hi Dean,

Our apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you.

Please be advised that your request for a service visit is already facilitated and we will send to you our serivce technician within 48 to 72 hours.

Kindly keep your lines active to accommodate a call from our team to informed you regarding the schedule.

Thank you and best regards,

Cherry Panerio
SKY Office Support
Customer Care Division

Nice one Sky Cable, nice one!

How to get Lightberry to output 4K 60fps with HD Fury Linker

You may have read my previous guide on how to setup and configure the Lightberry HD and come across a line where I said…

If you are a 4K user, then you will want to purchase the 4K kit from Lightberry instead as it uses a different HDMI grabber. If you are thinking “Well, I might upgrade to 4K in the next five years and will buy the 4K kit for future proofing” then don’t bother, get the Lightberry HD kit. If you are unsure of what you need, get the Lightberry HD kit!

At the time I was using my Lightberry HD with a standard 1080p TV so there was no real need for me to push the Lightberry 4K as it is a little overly complicated and also limited in what it can handle. So fast forward to October of last year and I bought myself an nice shiny new LG 65″ E6 OLED which obviously supports 4K. Hmmm, now what am I to do with my Lightberry HD since i’ll now be feeding it some 4K content? Should I upgrade to the Lightberry 4K version?

Well unfortunately, upgrading to the 4K version wasn’t really an option and this is due to a limitation with the Lightberry 4K hardware. Basically the HDMI port on the 4K Grabber is limited to HMDI 1.4, this means that it can only support 4K at 30 frames per second (FPS). Now whilst this is entirely fine for most Movies and TV Shows which are 23-25 fps it is obviously an issue when it comes to PC Master Race 4k 60 FPS gaming, or future 4k 60fps video. After searching the internet I came across a device that should help me out. Enter the HD Fury 4K Linker.

Now what does this strange looking device actually do I hear you cry? Well my friend, the 4K linker is a pretty neat bit of kit and what it does is supposed to do is take a 4K feed and then allows you to down-sample that feed into 1080p or lower. Not only does it do this, but it also sends a fake signal to the rest of your HDMI equipment in your chain to pretend that it is a fully 4K capable device. This is important because of the way HDMi works, basically your highest resolution can only be as large as the lowest resolution in the chain. In English please? If you have a 1080p only device connected to any part of a HDMI chain the the max resolution to be passed along that chain is 1080p, so your lovely new 4k TV will not switch into 4k resolution!

“But wait Chewie, you said you bought this back in October, what have you been doing for the past 8 months you lazy piece of crap?” A fair comment, but it has not been down to laziness that I haven’t posted about this, it has been down to the fact that the Linker just wouldn’t work in the way I needed it to. The problem I had was that the Linker was incapable of down sampling a feed which changed the resolution or FPS on the fly. So this would mean that going from my 4k 60fps desktop to opening Plex and playing a 4K movie at 23fps would cause the 4K linker to freeze making it useless. Thankfully though, the linker has had a firmware update and it now handles live display switching without any issues.

So I am still using my original Lightberry HD system but now it can interpret 4K at 60 FPS, and the chain looks something like this…

  1. Marantz SR5010 taking input from 4k PC (Gaming + Plex), 1080p Cable, 1080p Nintendo Switch, 4k PS4 Pro
  2. Marantz SR5010 OUTPUT 1 connected to my 4k 65″ LG E6 OLED TV
  3. Marantz SR5010 OUTPUT 2 (mirroring output 1) connected to the HD Fury 4K Linker
  4. HD FURY 4K Linker is down sampling any 4K content into 1080p 60fps (or leaving existing 1080p feeds alone)
  5. Which is then going into the HDMI Grabber (which admittedly only captures at 720p)
  6. Which is processed by the RasPi running Kodi and Hyperion
  7. Which sends the data out and controls the LEDs

So there you go, the 4k Linker should solve all your issues and although it is a little steep at $179 it does mean that you can enjoy all your content no matter what the source with your Lightberry setup.

Oh, and for the record I still feel the Lightberry HD pack is less hassle than the Lightberry 4K pack when using a 4K Linker.

Also, Black Border detection on Hyperion still sucks absolute ass. The constant mis-detection on movies with black borders is driving me crazy.

Gimme a shout in the comments with your experience or any questions.

Lightberry HD Review

How we watch and use our TV has changed so much. I still remember the time of VHS and being grateful that I could even watch my favourite films at home. Now technology has advanced so far that watching a film at home can be more immersive than going to the cinema. Ambient light TVs are one of the latest technological advances for your television creating the illusion that the light from the screen carries on beyond the edges of the TV.  Lightberry HD allows any TV to have this technology using a HDMI cable.

Lightberry HD

Picture taken from Lightberry.eu

The first thing to say is that the Lightberry really enhances the viewing experience.  I ran the kit off of my Sony Bravia 55” TV and was amazed at the results. It is a really immersive way to watch films adding extra atmosphere. I tried the kit out with several genres of films and it worked well for all of them. I suggest the first film you try it out on is an effects heavy film such as Star War as you really notice the difference. I also tried the Lightberry HD out with my PlayStation 4 and it was just as good if not better than the films. I think this is because games have less cut scenes so the changing light seemed a lot smoother.

The only downside to the Lightberry is the setup. The official site states that Lightberry HD is easy to install and configure, yet it took me over an hour and several attempts to get everything sorted. You are going to need to fiddle around with the setup options to get everything perfect and this does require quite a bit of trial and error.

Thankfully, I have written an in depth Lightberry HD buyers/setup guide that covers everything you need to get setup and configured quickly.

Overall this will revolutionize how you enjoy watch films, and play games. I recommend this product for anyone looking upgrade their TV without buying a new Ambient TV. The only downside is that despite being promoted as easy to install it is, at times, complicated and you need a little technical know how and a decent amount of patience to get it perfect.

4-stars

4 out of 5 Stars for this product.

How to setup and configure Lightberry HD with Hyperion & HyperCon

I recently purchased a Lightberry HD so that I could get the cool ambiilight colours with my TV. Despite there being information on the internet about how to set everything up, the information is fractured, brief, confusing, and a lot of times out of date. This guide aims to walk you through everything you need in regards to pre-purchasing, physically setting up, and finally configuring the software (Hyperion) to get the best from your Lightberry. If you are just simply looking for a quick review about the Lightberry HD, then golly gosh, I have one just here for you 🙂

Lightberry HD

Picture taken from Lightberry.eu


This guide is pretty long, so I have created a little table of contents to help you jump ahead to anything…

  1.  What to buy/What do I need?
  2.  Setting up and connecting the Lightberry HD Kit
  3.  Configuring Lightberry HD and Hyperion using HyperCon Calibration
  4.  Troubleshooting Lightberry HD and Hyperion
  5. Lightberry HD Hyperion Demo Videos

1) What to buy/What do I need?

Exactly what you need will depend on what you want to achieve and your current home theatre and TV setup. I’ll run through the absolute must haves to actually get things working, and then we’ll talk about the different types of Lightberry kits which can be used depending on if you want standard 1080p video or if you are a cutting edge 4K viewer. If you already have all the kit then you can jump ahead to the setup part of this tutorial.

Raspberry Pi 3:

Raspberry Pi 3B

The Raspberry PI is basically a credit card sized computer, and this little guy is going to be doing all the processing of your picture to then send the information to the LEDS and make them light up all pretty like. The PI 3 is a quad core 1.2ghz computer which will run flavours of Linux from a micro SD, it has 4 USB ports along with a HDMI port to connect to your TV, and thankfully the model 3 does have onboard Wifi. You can buy the Raspberry Pi 3 direct from Amazon.

If you already have a Raspberry Pi, then you can use that, but the Pi 3 – model B ensures you have enough computing power to light the LEDs as smooth as butter.

Raspberry Pi 3 Power Supply:

Raspberry Pi Power supply

The Pi 3 (or any other version for that matter) doesn’t come with a power supply. As above, you can buy an official power supply from Amazon.

Raspberry Pi 3 Case:

Raspberry PI 3 Black Case

It’s probably a decent idea to get a case for the Pi 3, just make sure that you put the Pi into the case WITHOUT the Micro SD card inserted, else it will snap. I went with this case that fits perfectly, again from Amazon.

Lightberry HD Kit:

Lightberry HD Kit

Lightberry HD Kit

Lightberry HD Grabber

Lightberry HDMI Grabber

Lightberry LED Controller

Lightberry LED controller

If the Raspberry Pi is the brains of this operation, this Lightberry HD kit is the heart. This kit includes everything that you need to get up and running (except the parts listed beforehand), the components of the kit are…

  • HDMI Grabber (2nd image above) – This is a smallish box which takes the input from a HDMi cable and then passes it to the Raspberry PI via USB. It also has a HDMI out port so that the image from your HDMI source can still be passed through to the TV. It also includes a physical switch to well, switch the HDMI between PAL and NTSC formats.
  • Lightberry LED Controller AKA level converter (3rd image above) – This is another little box that connects to the Raspberry PI via USB (or GPIO pinout) and also to the LED lighting strip. This box, as you can probably guess, takes the data that the Pi has analysed and turns it into signals that are sent to the LED strip to light up your world.
  • LED Lighting strip – The model of this lighting strip is APA102 (this is important to note later), and comes in 4meter and 5meter versions. For my 55″ TV I have the 5M version which resulted in a bunch of extra LEDs, but that’s cool as we will configure it so that they are simply always turned off. Also note that the 5M version requires power from the start of the strip and also from the end, whilst the 4M version only requires power from the start of the strip, the 4m version also allows you to cut away any excess lights you don’t need (don’t do that with the 5M version).
  • Power cables and Hooks – Hopefully you know what power cables do. The hooks are used to stick to your TV so that we can run the lights around it. It’s worth noting that you are going to need 3 spare power sockets to plug everything, 1 for Raspberry Pi 3 (not included in this kit), 1 for the HDMI Grabber, and 1 for the LED controller which will also split into powering the end of the 5M LED strip.

You can purchase all these parts separately, and you can go for the older “non HD” model, but the best solution (and what this guide uses) is the Lightberry HD + HDMI FullHD bundle direct from Lightberry.

Lightberry HD purchase Options

I recommend buying the 5 meter USB version of the kit.


If you are a 4K user, then you will want to read this new blog post of mine about getting true 4k 60 FPS with lightberry. If you are thinking “Well, I might upgrade to 4K in the next five years and will buy the 4K kit for future proofing” then don’t bother, get the Lightberry HD kit and read my latest post. If you are unsure of what you need read about Lightberry and 4K first.

Pre-Loaded Micro SD Card:

Lightberry Micro SD Card

Fist off, let me say that you can use any Micro SD card and that I will show you how to set everything up with your own SD card later in the guide. However, for ease of use and for “Plug and Play” I suggest that you just purchase a pre-loaded Micro SD card from Lightberry. The card that they sell is 8GB and comes loaded with OpenElec which boots directly into Kodi. I shall cover OpenElec and Kodi and what they do later, but basically this is the operating system that will be plugged into the Raspberry Pi and make everything work. You must have an SD card to make this work, you cannot load any operating system directly onto the Pi without an SD Card!

HDMI Splitter/Switcher (Optional):

HDMI Splitter

Whilst the Lightberry HDMI grabber will take a single HDMI input, send that to the Raspberry Pi via USB, and then pass through the HDMI source to the TV, you may need a HDMI splitter to allow you to pass multiple HDMI inputs to your setup. Let me try and explain that a different way, if you have your Sky/Cable, your Bluray, your Apple TV etc all plugged into the back of your TV then as it stands you can only choose one of those to plug into the Lightberry HDMI Grabber and have the LEDs light from that source. If you want ALL of your devices to feed through the Lightberry HDMI Grabber then you are going to have to plug them into a HDMI splitter first so that the splitter/switcher takes all those inputs and outputs them as a single source into the HDMI Grabber.

If you have a Home Theatre system or AV receiver then you do not need a HDMI splitter as you can just use the single HDMi cable output from your receiver to your TV. Just to be crystal clear, AVR’s work perfectly fine outputting all sources through a single HDMI cable into the Lightberry HDMI Grabber.

You can get a 3 port HDMI splitter from Amazon.


2) Setting up and connecting the Lightberry HD kit

Ok, so we have everything purchased and delivered and it’s now time to physically set everything up. One thing to note here, I am actually writing this post about a week after setting up my own setup so I didn’t get chance to properly take photos of everything. I’ll try and note everything as clear as I can though, so it should be fairly easy to work out what you are supposed to do.

Lightberry HD Setup Diagram

 

The image above is a very basic representation of how all the kit goes together. If you are using an AV receiver then it would replace the [HDMI Switch] part, or if you are simply using a single input (like an Apple TV) then you may not have a HDMI switch at all. Also note that the Raspberry PI doesn’t simply just connect directly to the LED strip, it actually connects via USB to the LED controller. The HDMI Premium kit as labelled in the above image is actually the Lightberry HDMI Grabber and is connected by HDMI to the TV and USB to the Raspberry Pi.

If you are here because you want to know how to configure the software and Hyperion then you can jump to that part of the guide.

Plugging in and connecting the Lightberry HD Kit:

I’m going to assume that you are doing a dry run of the setup and that you aren’t going to tidy everything up into it’s final position as soon as you are done. We are covering the physical setup here so you will still need access to the Raspberry Pi in order to add/remove the SD card, connect a USB keyboard, and also potentially jiggle the LED strip a little bit. Also note, don’t turn any of the power supplies on until the end of the setup.

  • Take everything out of the boxes right now and lay it out in front of you. For the Rasperry Pi you should hook it up to the power supply and also connect a HDMI cable from it to a port on your TV. Just to be clear, the Raspberry Pi HDMI out should go directly into the TV and NOT connect into the HDMI grabber. Unless you plan to use the Rasperry Pi as a media player (more on that later) then we’ll only be needing the Pi connected to the TV for the setup portion and it won’t be permanently connected to the TV.
  • Take the HDMI Grabber and connect it via USB to the Raspberry PI
  • Take your HDMI source and connect it into the HDMI IN port of the grabber. If your HDMI source is an AV receiver then just take that output cable and connect it into the HDMI grabber. If you are using a HDMI switch for multiple sources then hook those up and connect the output of the HDMI splitter/switcher into the input of the HDMI grabber.
  • Hook up the power cable of the HDMI grabber so it is ready to go, but don’t turn it on.
  • Now take the Lightberry LED Controller and connect it via USB to the Raspberry Pi
  • You should now be left with the LED light reel and an additional power supply. Go ahead and connect the power supply into the Lightberry LED controller, and note that this power supply has a splitter that turns one power output into two power outputs. Since you have just connected one power output into the LED Controller, the second power output is going to connect into the end of the LED strip, which is currently hidden in the middle of the LED reel.
  • Take your hooks out of the bag and prepare to get behind the TV to stick them all on it. They are going to look like this….

Lightberry Hook Locations

The above is good for a 55″ TV

  • Now, one thing about the hooks. I recommend you just use them as a “shelf” for the LED strip which means that all the hooks are facing downwards. The LED strip is sticky so there is almost zero chance of the strip moving outward from the “shelf” part of the hook and falling off. If you point them upwards and an LED is behind the hook part then you are going to create a shadow against the wall. Long story short, you should place the hooks face down towards the floor in my opinion.
  • The hooks are super sticky, if you don’t get it stuck in the right position off the bat it is a pain in the ass to get it off. Take your time in working out where you want the hooks to go. Mine are positioned about 1 inch from the outer edge of the TV, almost exactly like the diagram above. Remember, I have 55″ TV and the above worked perfectly without any dipping or drooping from the LED strip. If you are rocking a 65″ or higher set you may want to add an additional hook along the horizontal positions.

Positioning and securing the LED Strip to your TV:

After you have worked up a sweat getting all the hooks stuck on correctly, then it’s time to run the LED strip onto the hooks and around the TV, and really get the underarm juices flowing.

  • You can run the LED strip from almost anywhere as the configuration file that we will make later will allow us to tell it where we started, but I recommend starting from the bottom left of the TV (facing the TV) and working around clockwise. Since you are going to be behind the TV doing this, then you will be starting from the bottom right and working your way counter-clockwise.
  • I actually ran the strips from the bottom left (behind the TV) and ran it clockwise and had no issues at all, but was confused by the config as it’s initial positioning is calculated from facing the TV.
  • Facing the back of the TV you want to take the first LED on the strip and have it facing outwards to the right at the very bottom right of the TV, work your LED strip up to the top right and then along the top of the set to the top left. Run it down the left side and then along the bottom until you get back to the bottom right. If you have some spare LEDs then double the strip back over the top of the bottom LEDs with your spare LEDs facing upwards.
  • Remember that the LED strip has a sticky back, but you have to peel that off. I put all the LEDs in place first and then peeled of the sticky part to get it to stick to the hooks.
  • For the bottom row lights, I actually had them “hanging” from the underside/bottom of the hooks and then the excess lights that i didn’t need ran back across the top of them and allowed the stickiness to stick both together holding up the strip. If you just try and stick the single outward facing bottom LEDs to the underside/bottom of the hooks without the excess LED strip running back across the top, then I am almost certain that they will end up falling down.
  • If you want a reference, my strip ran 38 LEDs across the top and bottom horizontals and 22 LEDs up the left and right verticals. That’s on a 55″ TV remember.
  • Now that your strip is in place, there are two last connections we need to make. The start of the LED strip (bottom left facing the TV, bottom right behind it) should be connected to the Lightberry LED Controller. The end of the strip (where ever that may have ended up) needs to connect to the second power supply output (with the first split power supply output already having been connected to the Lightberry LED controller).
Lightberry LED Strip Setup

Your LED Strip should end up looking something like this

Phew, you should be entirely connected and setup now. Let’s get ready to power everything up (don’t do it yet), but first we need to get the SD card for the Raspberry Pi ready to rock.

  • If you purchased the pre-loaded micro SD card direct from Lightberry then you can skip this next step. Just go ahead and insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi for now and skip to the first run section.
  • If you have your own SD card and you need to load OpenElec onto it so your Raspberry actually boots and becomes useful, here is how to do it…

Burning an OpenElec system image to an SD card:

Before we actually go ahead and get everything loaded on the SD card, let’s just have a quick look at what exactly OpenElec is…

OpenELEC is an embedded operating system built around Kodi, the open source entertainment media hub. Home Theatre PCs are known to be hard to install and configure, and  it can take a massive amount of time to keep them running. OpenELEC, on the other hand, is designed to be as lightweight as possible in terms of size and complexity, meaning your HTPC becomes no harder to configure than your satellite box or DVD player. With its small footprint, OpenELEC is also ideal for today’s small form factor systems, so you won’t need a big desktop computer in your living room!

So basically, OpenELEC is bootable linux operating system which immediately starts into Kodi. There is no traditional computer like GUI, you simply boot it up and then you are instantly using the Kodi Software. So what is Kodi you say?

Kodi® (formerly known as XBMC™) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media center for playing videos, music, pictures, games, and more. Kodi runs on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.

So basically, it is a media player. What the above description doesn’t tell you though is that that you can write plugins for Kodi, and Hyperion (the software which controls the LEDs) is actually a plugin for Kodi. Don’t worry about working out the Hyperion plugin though, it is part of the system image we will download.

One further thing I will say about Kodi is that if you are currently someone who watches movies through a USB connected to your TV then you are going to want to plug that USB stick into your Raspberry Pi and use Kodi as the player. Not only will Kodi allow you to play a million more file types than your TV can, but it will actually natively send the image information to the LED strip. If you watch any content directly through the TVs USB ports then you will never be able to get the Lightberry to ‘read’ that image. Only images from the Raspberry Pi or anything connected into the HDMI grabber will be processed by Lightberry.

  • Right, so onto burning an OpenElec image onto the SD card.
  • First off, go to the Lightberry Home page and click or scroll down to “Download”.
  • You want to download the latest version of the Lightberry OpenElec image, at time of writing the latest version is OpenELEC 7 beta3 for RPi2 / RPi3 – If you are coming here weeks or months after this guide was published then look for the version with the highest number, as that will be the latest.
  • Only download OpenElec, and make sure that you actually save the Zip file. Do not open or uncompress the Zip file.
  • Do not worry about downloading anything else from that page.
  • Next we need to download the SD card ‘burning’ software to ‘install’ the system image onto the SD card.
  • Mac users should download ApplePi Baker, and Windows users can use Win32DiskImager – both are free.
  • The next part shows you what to do for ApplePi Baker, but it’s almost identical for Win32DiskImager except that you MUST run Win32DiskImager as administrator (right click > Run as Administrator)

ApplePi Baker

  • Stick your SD card into your computer, and fire up ApplePi Baker.
  • Your SD card should appear on the left part of the screen.
  • On the right side of the screen, click [Restore Backup] and then select the OpenElec image that we downloaded earlier.
  • Once the progress bar is complete then ApplePi Baker should eject the SD card and you can remove it from your computer.
  • Slide the SD card into the Raspberry and get ready to fire everything up.

Powering everything up for our first run:

Ok, so after all this setup let’s get everything powered up and running. Turn stuff on in this order…

  • Raspberry Pi (make sure USB keyboard is connected)
  • LED Controller and LED strip power supply
  • Lightberry HDMI grabber power supply (ensure the PAL/NTSC switch is in the PAL position)
  • Switch your TV to the HDMI input that the Raspberry Pi is directly connected to

Hyperion (first run) Initial Configuration:

  • Once the Raspberry Pi has booted up then you should see it load into Kodi, you will be presented with a screen similar to this…
Kodi Menu

You wont have the TV icons on your version

  • Setup your Wifi connection by using this quick 1 minute guide
  • After Wifi has been setup, hit the Escape key on your keyboard a few times to get back to the main menu
  • Using the keyboard you need to navigate to [Programs] > [Add Ons] and hit enter.
  • Hyperion Config CreatorNow select Hyperion Config Creator, hit enter and it should load the config system. If it asks you for an update, then ALLOW THE UPDATE.
  • Hyperion LED OptionIt will first ask you to select the LED type, select the top APA102 option if you are using USB, or the bottom APA102 option is using GPIO.
  • Hyperion Number of LEDsNow when it asks you to select the number of LEDs, count the LEDs both horizontal and vertical and input those numbers separately.
  • Hypercon download settingsNext up the config will ask you to download the best settings, I went with [YES] as we’ll just overwrite it during Hypercon configuration later anyway.
  • LED Chain starting positionIt will ask you where the LED strip starts, the starting position should be calculated from you facing the TV (bottom left if you followed this guide).
  • Grabber detectedThe config should also say that it has detected a grabber and should it use it? Obviously you should select yes. If no grabber can be found then double check you have everything connected properly!
  • Hyperion config test patternThe config should then inform you that the strip will show a rainbow, if you do NOT see the rainbow then don’t worry, we’ll fix this below. If you did see the rainbow, then…
  • It will show you a 4 colour image so that you can ensure the LED strip is showing the right colours. If your colours are slightly off or slightly in the wrong position then don’t worry as we will fix this during the Hyperion config part later in this guide. However, if your colours are completely off then you will need to rerun this config and 100% ensure you input the correct number of LEDs both vertically and horizontally.

Lightberry LED strip is NOT working/is black or blank/no Rainbow:

If your LED strip didn’t show the rainbow properly during configuration (as per the video above), or it keeps lighting up in completely random ways then you need to update the firmware on the Lightberry LED controller (level converter). Thankfully this is pretty simply, so go ahead and disconnect the LED controller from the LED strip and Raspberry Pi and then connect it to your PC/Mac via USB. Once you are all hooked up follow this very simple guide on the Lightberry site and update the firmware.

Once you are all updated, hook the LED Controller back up to the Raspberry Pi and LED strip and re run the hyperion configuration tool again. Everything should work this time providing you select the correct LED strip version from the Hyperion Config. If your LED strip still doesn’t light up then use trial and error to test each of the other LED options, if you still can’t get it to work after trying them all and you are 100% sure that the firmware on the LED controller update correctly then you will need to contact Lightberry Support via email.

Everything is working, what next?:

Now at this point you have a choice to make. If you want to start playing your movies from a USB stick inside Kodi then you should leave the Raspberry Pi hooked up to the TV via HDMI. However, if you don’t expect to use this setup for anything other than inputs that go through the HDMI Grabber then you can pretty much go ahead and unhook the Raspberry Pi from the TV and leave it running “Headless”.

We can, and will be using SSH to connect to the Pi in the future. As of right now you can pretty much kick back and enjoy the lightberry for what it is, but to really get the most out of it then we are going to have to configure and calibrate Hyperion to get the LED levels and timings correct, let’s do that in a second, but first I want to show you where the Hyperion configuration is saved on your Raspberry Pi.

The Hyperion Configuration File:

If you set up Wifi on your Raspberry Pi then you should already see it on your home network. On Mac/OSX you can open finder and you should have a network share called OPENELEC, on Windows you may have to find this manually but it’s super easy as you just type //openelec into the Windows Explorer bar and it will open the network share.

OpenElec Network Share

You can see there is a folder called Configfiles, inside this folder is a text file called hyperion.config.json – This file is where all the configuration of your LED positions, LED controller & Grabber, and Light settings amongst others are kept. You can actually go ahead and open this file through the network share to familiarise yourself with it. It will look a bit funky in Windows, but if you are using OSX then it retains the spacing and formatting. You can also search around the internet and find configuration files from other people, but you do not want to just copy and paste their file or overwrite yours because their LED numbers, positions, and other information will be completely different and you are likely just going to break your setup… and this is why we are going to use the HyperCon tool which will overwrite our file after we have calibrated everything correctly.


3) Configuring Lightberry HD and Hyperion using HyperCon Calibration

Whilst the Hyperion Kodi plugin works well for getting the Lightberry setup and working, it is very basic and it won’t correctly calibrate the colours against your wall or allow you to grab more of the picture. We are going to walk through using the HyperCon tool to do this.

What is HyperCon?:

HyperCon Logo

HyperCon is a tool that is written in Java and it basically just builds a hyperion.config.json file based on the GUI settings that you set. It gives you much more ability to really make you Lightberry setup shine and is actually pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it.

Where can I download HyperCon?:

HyperCon can be downloaded for both Windows and Mac/OSX from the HyperCon Sourceforge page. Be sure that you have the latest version of Java installed before you download HyperCon and note that HyperCon is not going to be installed on your Raspberry Pi, install HyperCon on your laptop or any other computer which is on the same network as the Raspberry Pi.

HyperCon

Calibrating HyperCon:

So now you should have HyperCon open on your computer, and it will look like the image above. For this next section of the guide I am going to send you off to the official HyperCon setup guide as they have covered almost everything despite it being in somewhat broken English. I’d suggest you keep this guide open at the same time as there are a couple of things that are worth noting below…

Hardware Tab:

  • In the Hardware tab, the device is the model of your LED strip. If you bought the Lighberry HD kit around the time this guide was written then the “Type” will be AdalightApa102, the “Output” will be /dev/ttyACM0, and the “RGB byte order” will be BGR – it is a decent idea for you to actually open your hyperion.config.json before you go using Hypercon so that you can a) Back it up, and b) double check that current working setup type matches what I have just typed above. If it does not, then make sure you use WHAT IS CURRENTLY WORKING FOR YOU.
  • A note about this tab also, for some reason despite [Save]’ing the config data if you close HyperCon then it will reset the device Type and Output each time. Be sure to select your setup again if you tweak anything after closing and reopening the program else your LEDs will not light up.
  • LED Direction and number should be obvious, LED offset allows you to position the first LED correctly.
  • Image Process commands how much of the screen will be used for colour analysis, I have mine set quite deep but you will want to play with this to get it right for your setup. Do set the Overlap to 20 though, as it will create a much smoother transition between frames.
  • Blackborder Detection: This detects any vertical or horizontal borders in the image, and acts a bit weird. If you are playing your movies and TV shows directly from Kodi on the Raspberry Pi then you can use a low setting here, something like 0.2 or 0.5, HOWEVER if you are watching your movies on something like an Apple TV or another computer which is sending the image through the HDMI Grabber then you are going to have to ramp this number up to something like 70 or even 80. Keep the mode on default.
  • I must admit, Blackborder detection is annoying me somewhat. It does work on my setup which is a Mac Mini running Plex sending the image through the HDMI Grabber, but it can take a while to kick in on frame changes leaving the LEDs off for a noticeable amount of time. If you know much about this, please shout me in the comments.

Process Tab:

  • Notch the Update Freq. [Hz] to 40
  • Do NOT skip colour calibration, it is a bit of a pain, and it takes a little while but it will really make your colours stand out. For the most part, my colours were about right except that I had to reduce a lot of Red in the Whitelevel.

Grabber Tab:

  • Internal Frame grabber is for anything you run on Kodi, I just left this as is.
  • Grabber V4L2 is your HDMI Grabber. You can keep the width and height at -1 as it is supposed to use the max available, or you can hard lock it at 720p x 576p which is the actual resolution the HDMI grabber uses.
  • Video Standard is whether your are sending a NTSC or PAL video. To be fair this is a little defunct in this day of age as most people watch TV shows and movies across a wide spectrum of standards. However, to be on the safe side if you are in the UK then you want to set this to PAL, and it’s NTSC for my American or Filipino friends. Be sure that the physical switch on the HDMI Grabber matches what you put here.
  • You will need to use the cropping as there will be black borders on the grabber image. You’ll have to follow the instructions on the Grabber guide so you can tweak this for your setup.
  • Red/Green/Blue signal threshold: Set this to 0.2 for both Red and Green, and 1 for Blue. This will ensure that the LEDs are fully turned off when your HDMI source is turned off. If you leave this at 0 then i’m 99% sure you will not be able to get the LEDs to turn off when you switch everything else off.

External Tab:

  • Leave everything as default but ensure Kodi Checker is enabled. For whatever reason, my setup will not light up the LEDs if this option is disabled.

SSH Tab:

  • These are the settings that let HyperCon communicate with Hyperion of your Raspberry Pi, make sure these are correct. For your setup (if you followed this guide and are using OpenElec) you will need…
  • User: root
  • Pass: openelec
  • The IP Address is whatever IP address DHCP (Your Wifi router) assigned to the Raspberry Pi.

With everything setup and connected, this is pretty much the process that you will go through to get the config file on the Pi so you can test things…

  • [Save] – Saves the settings inside HyperCon
  • [Create Hyperion Configuration] – The actual Hyperion Configuration file which is called hyperion.config.json
  • SSH Tab > [Stop] – Stops Hyperion running on the Raspberry Pi
  • SSH Tab > [Send Config] – Sends the Hyperion configuration file to the Raspberry Pi
  • SSH Tab > [Start] – Restarts Hyperion using your just loaded config file

Phew, and with that, we are done! Hopefully you will end up with something that looks similar to the YouTube video below. Keep on reading if you need to troubleshoot anything or want to see some other Hyperion Demo videos at the end. Please do let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for this guide, or if you tweaked something to make it work better on your setup.


4) Troubleshooting Lightberry HD and Hyperion

I am not seeing the rainbow swirl during initial setup/power on:

If your LED strip didn’t show the rainbow properly during configuration, or it keeps lighting up in completely random ways then you need to update the firmware on the Lightberry LED controller (level converter). Thankfully this is pretty simply, so go ahead and disconnect the LED controller from the LED strip and Raspberry Pi and then connect it to your PC/Mac via USB. Once you are all hooked up follow this very simple guide on the Lightberry site and update the firmware.

Once you are all updated, hook the LED Controller back up to the Raspberry Pi and LED strip and re run the hyperion configuration tool again. Everything should work this time providing you select the correct LED strip version from the Hyperion Config. If your LED strip still doesn’t light up then use trial and error to test each of the other LED options, if you still can’t get it to work after trying them all and you are 100% sure that the firmware on the LED controller update correctly then you will need to contact Lightberry Support via email.

Lightberry LED strip is NOT working/is black or blank:

In the Hardware tab of HyperCon, the device is the model of your LED strip. If you bought the Lighberry HD kit around the time this guide was written then the “Type” will be AdalightApa102, the “Output” will be /dev/ttyACM0, and the “RGB byte order” will be BGR – it is a decent idea for you to actually open your hyperion.config.json before you go using Hypercon so that you can a) Back it up, and b) double check that current working setup type matches what I have just typed above. If it does not, then make sure you use WHAT IS CURRENTLY WORKING FOR YOU.

A note about this tab also, for some reason despite [Save]’ing the config data if you closed HyperCon then it will reset the device Type and Output each time. Be sure to select your setup again if you tweak anything after closing and reopening the program.

My LEDS do not turn off/LEDs are all blue when HDMI is off:

Red/Green/Blue signal threshold: Set this to 0.2 for both Red and Green, and 1 for Blue. This will ensure that the LEDs are fully turned off when your HDMI source is turned off. If you leave this at 0 then i’m 99% sure you will not be able to get the LEDs to turn off when you switch everything else off.

This setting can be found be found on the Grabber tab of HyperCon

LEDs wont light up when watching a movie with borders:

Blackborder Detection: This detects any vertical or horizontal borders in the image, and acts a bit weird. If you are playing your movies and TV shows directly from Kodi on the Raspberry Pi then you can use a low setting here, something like 0.2 or 0.5, HOWEVER if you are watching your movies on something like an Apple TV or another computer which is sending the image through the HDMI Grabber then you are going to have to ramp this number up to something like 70 or even 80. Keep the mode on default.

Blackborder detection is found on the Hardware tab of HyperCon

Where is the Hyperion Config file located?:

If you set up Wifi on your Raspberry Pi then you should already see it on your home network. On Mac/OSX you can open finder and you should have a network share called OPENELEC, on Windows you may have to find this manually but it’s super easy as you just type //openelec into the Windows Explorer bar and it will open the network share.

You can see there is a folder called Configfiles, inside this folder is a text file called hyperion.config.json – This file is where all the configuration of your LED positions, LED controller and Grabber, Light settings are kept.

How to control Hyperion through SSH:

ssh root@IPaddressofPi

killall hyperiond

/storage/hyperion/bin/hyperiond.sh /storage/.config/hyperion.config.json


5) Lightberry HD Hyperion Demo Videos




The following two videos are old version of a setup guide from a guy called EvilBoris.


Thanks for reading, please do comment below to let me know if I missed anything or this helped you.