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 (18.104.22.168) 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- These issues have been confirmed by two other people using Sky Cable lines.
- I had been trying to get Sky Cable to acknowledge this issue for nearly a year without anyone understanding what I’m talking about.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 🙂
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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):
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.