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on the internet about how to set everything up, the information is fractured, brief, confusing, and a lot of times out of date.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 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!

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.

A little comic based story about negative SEO

I just had the pleasure of speaking at MORCON 2015 on the subject of Google Manual Penalties, part of my presentation was a little bit of fun about how someone may go about running a negative SEO campaign on a competitor. Now arguments aside whether or not it is actually worth doing, I figured it might make a nice little web story if taken in the light hearted way it is meant to be.

Sit back and relax. Grab some Milk and Cookies, or a Whiskey and Coke (whatever takes your fancy) and let’s listen to a tale

It's Story Time

There once was a guy called Chewie. Chewie was a friendly chap and had a wonderful girlfriend by the name of Angelina, along with the bestest of friends named Jerico. They all hung around together and drank, and just generally had a great time.

Chewie had a dream, and that dream was to open a cupcake shop. For some reason he absolutely loved cupcakes and wanted to use his SEO and Internet knowledge to open up and promote the best cupcake shop in town.

However, Chewie got some bad news so he had to leave the country and fly back home 🙁

Comic 1

During the time that Chewie was away, Jerico and Angelina became closer and closer. After some time they fell in love and got married in a grand ceremony.

After becoming wed, Jerico and Angelina stole Chewie’s dream of opening a cupcake shop. Chewie hears of this and is extremely upset 🙁

Comic 2

Jerico’s cupcake shop, and the dream that he ruthlessly stole starts to really take off. People are talking about it all across town and he’s starting to dominate the SERPS for high traffic cupcake related terms.

Comic 3

Whilst Jerico and Angelina are living the high life off the back of their dream stealing escapades, Chewie returns!

Comic 4

And Chewie wants his revenge!

Comic 5

So how is Chewie going to get his revenge? With a Negative SEO campaign of course, let’s see what he has planned!

Comic 6

So he enacts his plan, but did it work?

Comic 7

Thanks for reading 🙂

The End

How to use an Apple (Mac) Remote with Plex running on Windows through Bootcamp

Plex

I recently acquired a new A/V receiver as I have been watching quite a few films lately. So I hooked the bad boy up and sat down to watch something or other only to find that OSX EL Capitan on a Mac Mini (mid 2011) would not work correctly (and it wouldn’t work when I rolled the Mini back to fresh install of Yosemite either). Basically the screen was flickering black every 5 seconds or so. I tried a different HDMI cable with no joy but connecting the Mini back to the TV directly fixed the issue… however there was little point in that as I wasn’t getting the surround sound that I bought the damn A/V receiver for.

After lots of searching I found that the 2012 mini had an issue with HDMI handshaking and CEC which resulted in this very same problem. Whilst Apple had released a firmware update to fix this in the 2012 models the problem was never corrected in the mid 2011 models. My only solution to fix this was to either buy a new Mini, or install Windows through Bootcamp and turn the Mini into a Windows box. I ended up being fine with the latter solution, as it would soon come to my attention that Apple do not allow Atmos Bitstream audio to be passed through the OSX operating system anyway, meaning that new movies with Atmos audio wouldn’t have worked whilst running under El Capitan… you can thank the late Steve Jobs for the “My way, or the high way” Apple method of thinking.

So I install Windows 7, it all works fine after taking about 6 hours to get setup in the way I want, and then I go to use Plex. Of course I am sat there clicking the remote and nothing is happening despite a) Bootcamp installing the remote IR drivers, and b) Plex natively support Mac remotes (but no go on Windows).

Just before I continue, I did submit a feature request to Plex to support for the Apple remote on Windows, since in my mind it should be fairly trivial. However, it would seem that not many people want to see the same thing as the post got no replies at all… which actually makes me wonder why I am even bothering to post this guide if nobody actually needs it :/

Whatever though, I needed it, so it might help someone.

Now, there is a forum post where people have done this for Kodi, and that is where I got my initial information to make this work. My method changes the key mapping to work with Plex Home Theatre and Plex Media Player, and also supports button presses from the Apple MC377 remote.

First things first, you are going to have to go and download EventGhost which has flavours for both X32/X64 versions of Windows. EventGhost is a nifty little program that takes the input from almost any peripheral you can think of and then executes actions on those inputs that you assign. So, I dunno, you can make the button press of a remote send an [Escape] key command to the operating system. You see where this is going?

I’m going to do the next part as a step by step how-to, follow along carefully now!

  1. After you have EventGhost installed, you need to change the way the Mac IR receiver is ‘seen’ by Windows. At the moment anything you do will be intercepted and the remote will only be able to control iTunes which is no good. You will actually have to go and change the drivers in Windows (you can easily change them back). Open up Control Panel, and go to System-> Device Manager. From there, expand the “Human Interface Devices” box, and right click on the Apple IR Receiver. Go to Properties->Driver->Update Driver. From here, choose “Browse…”, then “Let me choose…” Now, choose USB Input Device. You may, or may not have to restart Windows (I didn’t).
  2. You now need to open up EventGhost, fire that bad boy up!
  3. Now the general idea is that you need to capture each button press and assign it to the action, but Chewie’s got your back and I have Pastebinned the XML file which you can open in EventGhost to have this all done for you. So copy and paste that Pastebin into a new Notepad file, and save that file as PlexRemote.xml. Then open it in EventGhost.
  4. EventGhost will now look something like the image below…

    Click for Full View

    Credit to jhsrennie on the Kodi forum for the image

  5. With EventGhost open, go ahead and launch Plex Home Theatre or Plex Media Center. If you are using the same model remote as my good self then the remote should be working straight away and you can use Plex with your remote to your heart’s content.

“But Chewie” I hear your cry, “I don’t have the same model remote, what the hell is this?”.

Well my friend, in that case you will need to capture your remote buttons and assign them to each of the events.

  1. First of all, make sure that each ‘Folder’ in EventGhost is expanded.
  2. Find each instance of HID.1234546 . 123456 denotes the input from the remote. You will need to change these for your remote.
  3. Click the button on the remote that you want to assign, this will now be saved to the last input in EventGhost and appear in the left panel.
  4. You should then be able to ‘Configure’ the HID.123456 ID by right clicking on it which will then allow you to select the last remote input pressed.
  5. Go through each of the actions and assign your button, making sure that straight after you press the button on the remote you configure the HID element.
  6. There is one thing that is confusing. Both quick presses and long presses appear to have the same HID ID, but they are different by a single number, e.g…

    Thanks to perezbalen on the Kodi forum

    Thanks to perezbalen on the Kodi forum

  7. So if you find yourself assigning an input only to test it and have Plex jump up or down (or left or right) twice then it is because you have used the “Long Press” HID.

So yeah, there you go, it is pretty straight forward once you get the hang of it. There is a command which I have muted to launch Plex using the remote as it doesn’t work correctly with Plex Media Player due to the weird way it is doing full screen. You’ll be able to unmute this and test yourself by disabling the red X on the specific event HID.

If this helps you out, and you’d like to see Plex enable native Apple remote support on Windows then please comment on the Plex Feature Request and let me know how you got on in the comments.

Update:

I have updated the original EventGhost script so that the menu button on the remote now launches Plex.

I also recently bought a Harmony 950 remote from Amazon (which is awesome btw). I then taught it the commands from the Apple remote and it now works flawlessly with EventGhost, so if you are looking to get your Harmony Remote working with Windows and Plex, then the above is a solution for you as long as you have an IR receiver/port on your computer.