I recently installed 278 RGB LEDs on the exterior of our house. 204 above the garage door and 72 above the front door. I choose the digital individually addressable LPD8806 type strip from adafruit. Right now, it’s controlled by a USB BoArduino on a breadboard powered by a lab power supply.
I already made simple programs for for our son’s first birthday and Halloween. I had to put this investment to good use on election day too. I wrote a quick program that allows you to increment or decrement the electoral vote results over the serial port. There is currently no support for independent votes, but there is also a simple pattern for the winner.
These LED strips are fun and glowy. There are 32 RGB LEDs per meter, and you can control each LED individually! Yes, that’s right, this is the digitally-addressable type of LED strip. You can set the color of each LED’s red, green and blue component with 7-bit PWM precision (so 21-bit color per pixel). The LEDs are controlled by shift-registers that are chained up down the strip so you can shorten or lengthen the strip. Only 2 digital output pins are required to send data down. The PWM is built into each chip so once you set the color you can stop talking to the strip and it will continue to PWM all the LEDs for you.