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on the internet about how to set everything up, the information is fractured, brief, confusing, and a lot of times out of date.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