Making an ‘Ambilight’ with WS2812B LEDs and Adalight: Proof of Concept

As I do more and more coding for the Footwell NeoPixels project, my mind started to wander with ideas of what else I could use addressable LEDs for. One such idea is to create an ‘ambilight’ – a backlight for a TV or LCD monitor that reads the color data onscreen and creates a glow around the bezel which matches or ‘extends’ the color to the surrounding wall. The idea is that it adds ambiance (hence the name), though it also helps with eye strain by reducing the contrast between the bright screen and the dark wall behind it. I had put a strip of single-color white LEDs behind my previous monitor and it helped tremendously with eye strain, but I figured if I was going to do the same I may as well take it up a notch.

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Color Matching with NeoPixels

I keep getting distracted by other projects and ideas, but I wanted to post a brief update on the footwell NeoPixels project. I’ve been working on the data structures and color patterns, but today I wanted to cover something simpler.

For the time being I’m not planning on changing the color of the tC’s interior lighting, which is a nice burnt orange. I’ve toyed back and forth with the idea of replacing the tC’s cubby light and adding a few lights to the cupholders, which on a default setting should match the rest of the lighting. This gives us today’s problem: how do we match the NeoPixel’s color with the other LEDs?

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Getting Started with the Adafruit NeoPixels library

Although Adafruit has an excellent guide on getting started, I thought I would include a short post on using their library for RGB or RGBW strips. This already assumes you’ve got your strip hooked up to an Arduino and have successfully run one of the library’s example sketches. If not, read up on Adafruit’s basic connections tutorial.

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FastLED vs Adafruit_NeoPixel for RGBW LEDs

Multicolor LED strips generally come in two flavors – solid color and addressable.  Solid color strips, as the name implies, have all of their LEDs display the same color.  Addressable strips on the other hand allow you to control the color value of every individual LED in the strip.  The most popular individually-addressable LEDs on the market at the moment are Adafruit Industries’ NeoPixels, based on the WS2182 chipset.  They come in a variety of physical packages including strips, rings, and matrices.

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