DIY Ambient lighting for PC (WIP)

DIY Ambient lighting for PC (WIP)

Apologies, due to time constraints, this is a work in progress guide, and I’ll get back to finish it as soon as I can find the time!

This isn’t an exhaustive guide, just a place to gather the raw ingredients so that you can work out how to build one of these. None of this is my own work, just drawing from the awesome community out there doing great stuff. You’ll need the following to get going:

  • Prismatik software for interpreting the screen
  • An Arduino (recommend this or similar)
  • Arduino IDE for loading code to the board
  • USB cable
  • LED strip ( WS2812B  strip, like this )
  • Arduino code (“Adalight with FastLED“)
  • RGB LED strip
  • Soldering iron and wire OR 90-degree strip connectors
  • Power supply (depends on the length of strips, I used this, but shorter strips need less current. Needs to be 5V DC)

The system is fairly simple; the Prismatik software communicates via serial to the Arduino board (if you’re unfamiliar, these are cheap development boards for doing all kinds of stuff), and the Arduino runs the FastLED “Adalight” code sketch, which assigns the LED colours.

You can choose any kind of LEDs, but it’s recommended here to keep it simple and known, and use WS2812B based strips. You buy these on a spool and just roll them out and cut them to the lengths you need. They come in different densities, which will give you different light resolutions – I started by choosing the 60/m strips, but honestly, that is overkill and doubles your power requirements (I have 84 LEDs already!). You can also buy diffuser strips to mount over if you need to, but you don’t really need it if your monitor is more than 20-30 cm from the wall.

Next is mounting the strips. They’re self-adhesive and easy to mount honestly, but make sure the monitor is dust-free and not covered in any polish/cleaner. Sticking the strips is straightforward, they have cut-points along the strip where you can scissor them.

The LED strips mounted on the monitor & temporary arduino mounting (forgive the kitchen building site!)

Edge connectors are a little trickier potentially. I opted for soldering them, but there are 90-degree connectors available. I’m not sure how good these are, but I know they take up a little space at the corner so you might lose light right in the corners. I don’t honestly think this would be noticeable.

Some fairly clumsy solder joints on the corners

Powering the lights is a little tricky. You need a good 5 V supply, and enough current to drive all the LEDs. This means taking your LED count, and multiplying it by 50 mA, which is the typical current per LED when driven at full brightness white. The Prismatik software can actually current-limit these for you, but you’d lose brightness this way and it’s a bit untested.

\[I = 50 mA \times N\]

To be continued!

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