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October 6, 2006
about 10 years ago
Hi EE Noob, These lights use an 'i2c' (read "i-squared c") or "2-wire" (clock and data) interface, which is actually 4 wires (clock,data,power,ground). You need something that will translate serial into i2c commands. An arduino seems like the standard Sparkfun tinkerers approach, but a quick google of 'usb i2c' shows a cool little board that lets you control i2c directly from a program on the computer.
Hey, Sparkfun guys, you should carry these! http://www.robot-electronics.co.uk/acatalog/USB_I2C.html
Just got a strand of these in to try them out. They're cheaper than bliptronics, so my expectations were a bit low. I was pleasantly surprised. They're bright, show great color and appear to be well constructed. They fit in a 1/2" hole and have a little barb around the edge of the light to help hold them in the hole.
I didn't think to order a 3-pin connector, but I just cut the connector off the trailing end to use instead. Anyone buying these should also buy a female barrel connector for the power. The Arduino-fed power is plenty for 1 strip of lights. You'll want dedicated power for multiples.
I was able to get the sample arduino library programmed and working in about 20 minutes. The only slow down was the sample library has the i2c pins on 2/3, where I'd been used to using 0/1. I moved the pins over and voila. My next step is to integrate a spectrum analyzer shield.
No public wish lists :(