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1  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Long LED strip starts to bug out at last two feet or so on: April 03, 2014, 01:25:21 am
So i have a 4 meter long LED strip that is powered with a 5v 10A power supply. I uploaded the neopixel Pololu example titled LEDStripXMas which cycles through some patterns.
 
Everything seems to be working except for the last two feet or so of LEDs that seem to not be getting the proper data and are just bugging out.

Here is a video

Apologies for vertical video syndrome smiley-sad

What could possibly be doing this?

I have made sure to enter the correct number of LEDs in the program, it's 4 meters of 60LED/m thus it should be 240. And power shouldn't be an issue i believe.
2  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Re: Addressable LED library? Which one is "best"? on: December 06, 2013, 02:24:32 pm
It is all of that - except that it does not run on the Arduino, but instead the "Teensy" series of modules, which use different processors (but do use the Arduino IDE).

Ahh so for my purposes, since i am using an arduino UNO, i do not want to use this library? Do you know why it is that it will not run on arduinos, but it will run on something that  still uses the arduino IDE (and arduino programming language).

OK, read those two statements again...see where you contradict yourself.

All WS2811 libraries have to run at the exact same speed because WS2812 chips need very precise timing.

If the Adafruit library works for you... use it.

I guess what i meant by "faster" was more memory efficient as to reduce lag, but i suppose that also doesn't make sense because if there were any lag in the system then it wouldn't run correct at all either. So can you explain exactly what the advantages of the SPI library entail? I haven't tried the adafruit one because i haven't received my LED strips, i am just excited and wanted to start reading documentation and example code for the library i will soon learn.

You have decided on the hardware so just write some test code to display the LED effects you want using all 3 libraries and decide what one best suits your needs and memory usage budget. When doing my first Arduino project I did tests with different libraries for driving the MAX7219 and then selected the one that best suited my need.

I will probably end up doing that, i just wanted to get a better comparison of advantages and disadvantages of each language.
3  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Re: Need advice of Digital Individually Addressable vs Analog RGB LED Strips. on: December 06, 2013, 02:04:14 pm
Quote
doesnt that ruin the voltage differential through the line making there be zero voltage drop across the LEDs from the beginning to the next place where i hook up the 12 V+?
That is exactly what you want it to do. You want there to be no voltage difference between one +12V and the next. The voltage differance that drives the strip is between 12V and ground.

Oh so are these LEDs powered by 12volt drops? meaning each individual LED needs 12volts to operate? That would make sense as to why you need it near 12 volts at all points. I was just confused because i though that the electricity didnt hit ground until it went through the very last LED.

The normal way of powering these strips is to have a 2A power supply every so often on the 12V line.
Make no mistake so any LEDs is not a simple or trivial project. You are a beginner so you don't know what is easy and what is not.
If i am not mistaken (given what i know about basic electronics), if i take a 2A power supply at 12V, and i connect it to multiple points along the length of the 15meter LED strip, then the current will not be 2A at each point where i connect it

You can get an SD card shield or solder one on. Again google it.

Will do, thanks!

Even 900 LEDs is 18 amps, that is a lot of current and at 12V is over 200W, that is a lot of light to spread over a ceiling, get your sun glasses out.  smiley-cool

Uh oh... Now you are scaring me. What kind of power supply am i going to need to run this thing? Is this too much for a beginner? Could someone link me to an example power supply one might buy to power this thing?

I know how the connections work, but if i have to connect the the Voltage + terminal of the LED strip every few meters doesnt that ruin the voltage differential through the line making there be zero voltage drop across the LEDs from the beginning to the next place where i hook up the 12 V+?

The point is the very opposite.  You do not want a voltage "differential" along the supply lines.  The copper foil tracks on the LED strips have a comparatively high resistance.  If one amp is flowing every tenth of an ohm introduces a 0.1V drop, and the resistance of that foil over a two meter length  will be a few tenths of an ohm.  You need a much more sturdy wire, at least the gauge of that in an average power cord, paralleling the LED strip and connecting into the Vcc and ground, each two metres.  Note that this will feed current in both directions, forward into the next two meter section and back into the second metre of the previous section.  Fed in this fashion, there will be a small drop in the total voltage available halfway between the two ends, but if my rough analysis is correct, significantly less than half the drop that would exist at that point if power was not being fed back from the other end of the given two metre section.

Ah, I didnt realize that these LEDs operated at 12Volts, that makes sense then that each one needs to drop 5volts to ground. I was under the impression that the 12volts dropped to zero across the entire length of the strip (not hitting ground until the last LED drop. So you are saying that each LED needs 12volts, at some amperage, and in order to supply the correct amperage to each LED i need to hoot it up every 2 meters or so? Please correct me if i am still mistaken.

I never though of using an SD card to hold the patterns! Can you hook up an SD card to an arduino to use an more memory? And how would it hook up to a standalone arduino or arduino mini pro? Do i need to solder the SD card to the board?

You use a socket.  Three are shields available for the UNO/ Mega format for this purpose, but I believe you could simply wire a socket to the necessary ports and power.  There are no necessary interface components (apart from a bypass capacitor) AFAIK, but I believe the SD cards use 3.3V.

Okay i will look into that more, I assume there is also some library for writing and reading from the SD card? Or is the arduino smart enough to know to use that extra memory?

Where are you getting 1700 LEDs from? 60 per meter for 15 meters is only 900 LEDs. Also i am curious, does this mean i cannot do this project without having a hulking piece of copper lining my ceiling also? I feel like it should be that hard to power 900 LEDs, certainly requires some power, but not huge pieces of metal.

Eighteen amps is not insignificant.  For starters, you need to use cable at least as heavy as you use for your 1800W electric radiator, but you generally do not care about losing a volt or two at 110V.  At 5V, you really do care about how many volts (or fractions thereof) you lose.

Jesus, that sounds a lot scarier to me than i though this project was going to be. I am a little worried about something going wrong now because i dont really know how i am supposed to connect the power supply to the strip. What does a power supply like that look like? And how do i go about safely attaching it to the LED strips? I have never used any wires larger than 20 gauge. What kind of wire will i need to hook this up?

This is turning out to be a larger beast than i thought it would be.

Also just to note, I have found a seller on alibaba that is supplying individually addressable WS2812B LED strips that run at 5 volts. Is this better or worse? It is 60LEDs per meter and they are rated at 14.4Watts/meter and have an Epistar SMD 5050RGB LED. Is this good for what i want to do? Or is there something fishy about it?

EDIT: I just checked around and apparently the individually addressable LEDs typically run at 5volts, instead of 12volts like the non-addressable ones. Why is that? Is there a reason that the individually addressable ones run on 5VDC instead of the non-addressable ones that run 12VDC? And how does running at 5VDC change the way i need to connect the power supply?
4  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Addressable LED library? Which one is "best"? on: December 06, 2013, 03:22:18 am
Starting to research libraries for controlling LED strips for my first big project and I seem to come across three major libraries for controlling the WS2812 chip that i will be purchasing. I am going to be driving 15 meters of LEDs (60 per meter for 900 total).

The first is Adafruits Neopixel. I am sure this is a very popular one because Adafruit aims to make stuff easy for beginners, but is it necessarily the best?

The FastSPI Library is a popular contender to the Neopixel. I am unsure on how they differ exactly, but it is supposedly faster?

OctoWS2811 is a cool one i saw that was able to drive a huge array of LEDs, i even read somewhere (i believe) that this library allows for Raspberry Pi and other similar devices to drive the LEDs, something that read previously was impossible due to the lack of very precise timing!

Can someone with more information on these libraries give me some insight? I am just a beginner looking to get into this crazy world of electronics!
5  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Re: Need advice of Digital Individually Addressable vs Analog RGB LED Strips. on: December 06, 2013, 02:17:57 am

Quote
I am a little confused about how to set that up though.
The strip has 4 connections. Voltage +, Voltage -, Data signal, Clock signal. Wire up the + and - to your 12V supply. Connect the - of your supply to the Arduino ground and the clock and data signals to the output pins of the Arduino, which output pins depend on the software.
I know how the connections work, but if i have to connect the the Voltage + terminal of the LED strip every few meters doesnt that ruin the voltage differential through the line making there be zero voltage drop across the LEDs from the beginning to the next place where i hook up the 12 V+?

Quote
Also what kind of memeory will i need to run 15 meters of LEDs?
Work it out, for one LED you need three bytes of memory, so multiply the number of LEDs by three to get the total memory size to define one pattern. Multiply that by the number of patterns, and then get an SD card to hold it in.
[/quote]
I never though of using an SD card to hold the patterns! Can you hook up an SD card to an arduino to use an more memory? And how would it hook up to a standalone arduino or arduino mini pro? Do i need to solder the SD card to the board?

I am a little confused about how to set that up though. I am under the impression that if i hook up the 12volt source to 2 meters down from the start, then it will be pinned at 12 volts so there will be no voltage differential between the beginning of the strip and the place where i hooked it up... I must not fully understand how these LEDs work.

In theory, yes it would be 12V all the way. However, wire has a current rating based on its diameter. It has to move electrons. If you move too many, the resistance of the wire becomes an issue, as well as the fact that you'll start a fire. So, if you need to carry lots of current, you need a thick wire, also called a bar of copper. Let's say, 20mA x 1700 LEDS is 34A. That's a very thick wire/metal rod.

Where are you getting 1700 LEDs from? 60 per meter for 15 meters is only 900 LEDs. Also i am curious, does this mean i cannot do this project without having a hulking piece of copper lining my ceiling also? I feel like it should be that hard to power 900 LEDs, certainly requires some power, but not huge pieces of metal.
6  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Re: Need advice of Digital Individually Addressable vs Analog RGB LED Strips. on: December 05, 2013, 07:31:32 pm
i hear a lot of talk bout the MSGEQ7 chip but i have no idea how it is used to control color/brightness.

The MSGEQ7 doesn't control color/brightness, it analyses sound data and gives you the results. YOU are the one who writes the software function to map the output of the MSGEQ7 to the LEDs.

Where can i read about how to map it to color and brightness? Has someone posted an explanation about how they do it? Sometimes i get discouraged from starting a project because i feel like i wont be able to figure out how something was programmed/assembled...

Secondly if i did end up buying the digitally addressable ones i will still want to controlo color and brightness with both a remote and sound input, but i will also want to be able to to switch into modes. Such as a visualizer mode where it picks up sound and "pushes" the LEDs across the strip according to the sound, or a rainbow chase mode where it circles through the colors except all offset a little. I assume this is just a little more coding to do and won't be much more complex than setting up IR control for the analog ones.

That's more software. Once the hardware is set up you can really do whatever you like (and change it as many times as you want...)
Is there a place i can go to read about programming these LED strips? Are the WS28112Bs always programmed the same way? How many bits of input do i need to specify the location and color of a specific LED? I hear there are libraries for this but how do they work? I really just want to read documentation on it so i can get some bearing on what to do.

The difference though, is that the analog ones only have 4 input (one for each color and then ground) but the digital ones have  data in, clock in, power, and ground. Clearly if i chose to do analog it will require a lot more chips in order to control brightness and color as i will need to vary the voltage going into each of the three color controls (I am assuming).

You need three MOSFETs.
Is there an article i can read to explain how MOSFETs do this? I keep hearing about pulse width modulation but i have no idea what it really is or how to do it...

If i chose to buy the digitally addressable ones then I still need to learn how to make the arduino receive the IR remote control data, but instead i will be trying to figure out how to control the color, brightness of the digitally addressable ones, which i feel is much easier. If i am not mistaken (and please correct me if i am wrong) the digitally addressable ones can have color and brightness set via just the digital signal sent to it? I will need to learn the protocol for sending digital signals to each individual LED, is there a resource I can go to learn more about this in depth?

It's just RGB color, 8 bits of each for each LED.

Does that mean i cannot control brightness? Only color? I am a little confused...

These are currently the ones i am looking at, but I can't help but wonder if there is any cheaper ones? 15 meters is a lot and I don't want to be breaking the bank just to get individually addressable LEDs on my walls!

Do you need 60 LEDs/m? Strips with 30 LEDs are much cheaper.

From the looks of videos of the 30LED/meter i feel as though they are not powerful enough to give a smooth consistent look, even if they are diffused through a thing frosted plastic (which i plan to do). Maybe I am mistaken though, are these LEDs very powerful?

Lastly i am curious about powering such a long strip of LEDs. I read on adafruit that to avoid "brown out" you need to power the LEDs every meter, does that imply i need a separate power supply each meter? Or is there  a way to wire it such that you apply "fresh" power from the power supply each meter?

Yes, 15m at 60 RGB LEDs/m is 2700 LEDs so you need a LOT of amps.

For 15m of those strips you'll need a 60 amp power supply (seriously!).

You only need one power supply. You can run a really thick power cable alongside the strip and put in little 'jumper' wires from that across to the LED strip. Every meter sounds a bit much to me on a long strip (don't believe everything you read in forums), every two meters should be fine.
How do you calculate how much amperage the power supply must be? I am a beginner in electronics and want to learn how you did this.

I am a little confused about how to set that up though. I am under the impression that if i hook up the 12volt source to 2 meters down from the start, then it will be pinned at 12 volts so there will be no voltage differential between the beginning of the strip and the place where i hooked it up... I must not fully understand how these LEDs work.

Oh two last questions! Since this is my first real arduino project and i intend to keep it forever, where do i go to learn about burning the design to a "permanent" chip? Or do i have to keep my arduino attached to the LED strip forever if i want to keep these forever?

Secondly, What is a good material to diffuse the LED light so i get an even spread instead of just a bunch of dots of light? I need it to be easy to cut and apply to walls and it needs to house the LEDS.

An Arduino Uno with wires poked into the header strips isn't ideal for permanent installations. For that I use Arduino Pro Minis - much cheaper/smaller and you can solder wires directly to the board.

Do i have to buy an arduino pro Mini for each project i build and want to keep? Isn't there a way to burn the program onto a processor without buying a mini each time? Also what kind of memeory will i need to run 15 meters of LEDs?
7  Using Arduino / LEDs and Multiplexing / Need advice of Digital Individually Addressable vs Analog RGB LED Strips. on: December 04, 2013, 08:48:01 pm
So I am embarking on my first real arduino project, which is to line the perimeter of my room's ceiling with a 15 meter long LED strip and be able to control it with both audio input or via remote control.

I started looking into LED strips and found that the RGB analog ones are much cheaper than the digitally addressable ones. Clearly this is because the digitally addressable ones require much more sophisticated chips. I really want to use the digitally addressable ones because it would allow me to make cool patterns instead of just choosing color, but I still have many questions regarding both of them.

First off the analog ones, If  i end up buying these i will want to control brightness and color in two ways, first with an IR remote ( i will need to learn about IR arduino protocol) as well as sound input (i hear a lot of talk bout the MSGEQ7 chip but i have no idea how it is used to control color/brightness. I have looked online but the resources i have found do not go into much detail about the chips involved.

Secondly if i did end up buying the digitally addressable ones i will still want to controlo color and brightness with both a remote and sound input, but i will also want to be able to to switch into modes. Such as a visualizer mode where it picks up sound and "pushes" the LEDs across the strip according to the sound, or a rainbow chase mode where it circles through the colors except all offset a little. I assume this is just a little more coding to do and won't be much more complex than setting up IR control for the analog ones.

The difference though, is that the analog ones only have 4 input (one for each color and then ground) but the digital ones have  data in, clock in, power, and ground. Clearly if i chose to do analog it will require a lot more chips in order to control brightness and color as i will need to vary the voltage going into each of the three color controls (I am assuming). Is there somewhere i can go for a very detailed look at these analog RGB strips? Just to show you what I might be buying, this is what I was looking at.. This one comes with its own IR remote and controller, as well as a power supply. My goal is to instead use the arduino as the remote reciever/controller.

If i chose to buy the digitally addressable ones then I still need to learn how to make the arduino receive the IR remote control data, but instead i will be trying to figure out how to control the color, brightness of the digitally addressable ones, which i feel is much easier. If i am not mistaken (and please correct me if i am wrong) the digitally addressable ones can have color and brightness set via just the digital signal sent to it? I will need to learn the protocol for sending digital signals to each individual LED, is there a resource I can go to learn more about this in depth? I know a lot of libraries have been written for controlling individually addressable LEDs, but which one should i use/learn? These are currently the ones i am looking at, but I can't help but wonder if there is any cheaper ones? 15 meters is a lot and I don't want to be breaking the bank just to get individually addressable LEDs on my walls!

Lastly i am curious about powering such a long strip of LEDs. I read on adafruit that to avoid "brown out" you need to power the LEDs every meter, does that imply i need a separate power supply each meter? Or is there  a way to wire it such that you apply "fresh" power from the power supply each meter?

Thanks for all the information!

Oh two last questions! Since this is my first real arduino project and i intend to keep it forever, where do i go to learn about burning the design to a "permanent" chip? Or do i have to keep my arduino attached to the LED strip forever if i want to keep these forever?

Secondly, What is a good material to diffuse the LED light so i get an even spread instead of just a bunch of dots of light? I need it to be easy to cut and apply to walls and it needs to house the LEDS.
8  Using Arduino / Project Guidance / Re: First real project, need advice! Sound and Remote Controlled LED strip on: December 04, 2013, 01:25:19 pm
I did see those and thought they were pretty cool! But they are way too expensive for how many i want. I am looking to spend at most 60 dollars on the entire 15 meters worth of LED strip.

These seemed too cheap to be true, if i am not mistaken those are individually addressable (it says WS2811 on them, what is the difference between ws2811 and ws2812?), but 5 meters is only around 16 dollars, how can this be so? Are they not actually addressable? What specifically makes them addressable or not?
9  Using Arduino / Project Guidance / First real project, need advice! Sound and Remote Controlled LED strip on: December 04, 2013, 12:48:19 pm
So I decided to finally start working on a big project (getting out of the "hey look a blinking LED!" Phase). I want to line the ceiling corner of my room with an LED strip and be able to control if with a remote as well as audio. I have a lot of burning questions though (italics).

I first did some research into RGB LED strips. I soon realized that i will not be able to make cool patterns because that requires individually addressable LED strips and those are still exorbitantly expensive (especially for the amount i need - just over 15 meters), are there any individually addressable strips that are cheap (like a 2-3 bucks per meter?)?! Even buying in bulk the best deal i could find for individually addressable LEDs was $200 for 20M. My budget for the LEDs is around 40 bucks, so i don't think I will be able to find any good amount of them for that price... So it looks like i'm going with the SMD 5050s.

I looked on ebay and around reddit and other forums and keep seeing the same two LED strips being recommend - the 3528 and the 5050 SMD Like These. The 5050's are larger but more importantly they can do true color blending within each led (as opposed to the 3528 strips which are really just a series of 3 LEDs, one red, one green, one blue. Are there any other commonly used LED strips that i should know about before purchasing?

Also I am very much a beginner to electronics and arduino in general, I know there are many guides out there (such as the popular adafruit one) for LED strips, but is there anything I should know about making this project? I read that i will need to supply power input every so often since the length of the strips i am wiring together is very long, how exactly do i go about doing that? will i need a separate power supply each time? or do i just run a single wire from the supply directly into an LED Input? Also how do i know what power supply to but for ~15 meters of LEDS?

Are these strips able to connect together or can i only power them in 5 meter increments? If they don't connect would this mean i need separate remotes for each one? (I believe they must have some way to connect them together to form very long chains but i am not sure how).

Also what is this shiftPWM tool i have been reading about that i supposedly need to use to make these things work? What about the msgeq7 chip? Is it the best/most common chip used for sound detection? How exactly does it use sound to control the brightness and colors?

IS this too much to take on for a first project?

Thanks for all the advice!

EDIT: Also is there anything i can cover the entire length of the strip to diffuse the LED light so its doesn't just look like a bunch of dots? Something like a flexible frosted plastic cover that isn't so thick as to block the light?
10  Topics / Robotics / Modular Robotics made simple with LinkBot by Barobo! Native Arduino interface! on: June 13, 2013, 04:35:58 pm
This is an awesome kickstarter that  just stumbledupon and I think it needs more recognition! It's an amazing tool for both learning and creating with amazing modularity.

Check out the kickstarter here as well as these two videos i found!



11  Using Arduino / General Electronics / Re: Getting into electronics and need help starting a parts collection. on: January 08, 2013, 10:10:02 pm
Don't go tooo overboard, a lot of microcontroller experimentation can be done with just a handful of different resistor values, and just a couple three capacitors. Every value in the catalog is not needed. Search this forum, there was some discussion along these lines not long ago.

Just my $0.02, but I'd go for:
330Ω, 1K, 2.2K, 4.7K, 10K.
100nF multi-layer ceramic caps (MLCC), 10uF electrolytic, 16V give or take.
LEDs, 5mm or 3mm, various colors to taste.
Tactile button switches.
Diodes, 1N914 -or- 1N4148, and a few 1N400x.
Transistors, 2N3904 (NPN) and 2N3906 (PNP) -or- 2N4401 (NPN) and 2N4403 (PNP)
555 timers are nostalgic and fun, but I seriously have little use for them these days. Still, a person may as well have a few to play around with, as they're very inexpensive.

Dip Micro has a lot of these basics and very reasonable prices.

It really depends on what you want to do, but I find the parts I use the most are:

- 100, 220, 470, 680, 1K, 2.2K, 10K, 22K, 47K, and 100K 1/4W resistors.  I would buy a kit that had everything from 10 to 10M at E6 or E12 intervals.  (1, 1.5, 2.2, 3.3, 4.7, 6.8, 10...)
- Electrolytic caps in 10, 100, 1000uF at 25v.  16v will work for digital logic stuff, but I find I use 25v and 50v flavors often enough to have both.  Entirely depends on what your projects look like.
- 100nF and 330nF ceramic caps.  (The Fairchild linear regulators request 330nF on the output in the app notes.  You'd probably be fine with 100nF there instead.)
- Transformers, fuses, power inlets, things like that *if* you intend to build your own PSUs, but maybe best to hold off on that until you get a handle on the basics.
- Diodes!  200mA small signal diodes, 1A rectifier diodes, and higher if you're likely to use anything with more current draw -- like solenoids, power amps, etc.  The voltage rating is usually sufficiently high to be irrelevant, but do mind them for AC rectifiers.
- Of course 3mm and 5mm LEDs.  I have an assortment of matching R, G, Y, B, and W, plus some RGB and bi-color (RG) LEDs.
- Transistors.  Most folks use NPN and PNP, but I'm a FET guy.  I think they're easier to deal with, since they're voltage controlled and not just current amplifiers.  So, by all means, get your bipolars, but I also recommend N- and P- channel FETs good for 1-5A or so.  Make sure they're labeled "logic-level" so you can turn them on completely with 5v signals.
- Trimmers and pots.  If you use a breadboard, the Bourns 3386 trimmers are great.  I use 1K, 10K, 20K, and 100K most of the time.
- Zener diodes are fun, but that's kind of round-2 stuff.  You'll get there.
- Push-button switches that are breadboard-friendly are a must.  You'll need more ceramic caps to de-bounce them, so get lots of those.  Really, lots.
- A whole slew of logic ICs can be handy.  Things like inverters (or NOT gates), AND gates, OR gates, XOR gates, and the inverting versions like NAND and NOR.
- Get some comparators too, or just a whole bunch of op-amps like TL071 (single), TL072 (dual), and TL074 (quad).  If you do audio, I like OPA2134s -- but not as comparators, get something cheap for that.
- Both positive and negative linear regulators -- 7805, 7905, 7809, 7909, 7812, 7912, and the adjustable ones like LM317 and LM337.  Might also be helpful to get some low drop-out 3.3v regulators too.
- Shift registers, both parallel-to-serial, and serial-to-parallel.  See the Arduino references for ShiftOut and ShiftIn for part numbers.
- Spare AVR chips, like the ATmega328P and ATmega8A.  If you want to do standalone Arduinos, get some 8 and 16MHz ceramic resonators with integrated caps (3-pin variety), or crystals with 27pF ceramic caps.
- Pin headers -- lots of them, in like 36-position breakaway strips.
- Breadboard wire kits.  I can't possibly get enough of these.  Also, those flexible pin-terminated wire jumpers that Adafruit sells are wonderful.  As are the wire jumpers with alligator clamps.
- Maybe some 5v and 12v relays that can handle 5A loads at 12-24v DC or 120v AC.  (240v AC if applicable.)
- LCD displays, sensors, and things like that.  Browse Adafruit and Sparkfun and go nuts on whatever is easy to use, has sample code, and looks interesting.

I have like ten parts bins full, plus stacks of Digikey boxes filled with anti-static bags, and things lying all over my work area.  I've spent literally thousands at Digikey and Mouser over the past few years (I prefer Digikey's parametric search index, BTW), but you don't have to get everything all at once.  Find some example projects and buy the parts you need for it, plus a few extra.  Over time you'll gain a healthy collection of parts.

The resistor kit is probably the most important initial investment, but after that, I just keep adding to my collection with every order for something specific.  I may have even built something once with only parts on-hand, but that's pretty rare.  ;-)

For tools:

- Good shear cutters are essential.
- Wire strippers and cutters.
- Weller temperature-controlled soldering stations are awesome, but a Radio Shack pencil iron will get you by.  Don't forget solder, a sponge, and some wick.
- I swear by my little Variac for testing PSUs and higher-power projects.
- Of course, a multimeter.

may i ask why exactly you chose the values of resistors, caps, diodes, transistors, etc that you did? What is it about each of those values/types of components that make them better than the thousands of other choices?

Also where can i buy storage containers to organize all this stuff!?
12  Using Arduino / General Electronics / Re: Getting into electronics and need help starting a parts collection. on: January 05, 2013, 05:58:01 pm
Besides the website Lefty linked to where do you guys suggest purchasing these parts?

Also i need to purchase a new soldering iron (someone at work stole mine). As well as other tools (wire strippers/cutters, shears, etc). What website is good for buying tools?
13  Using Arduino / General Electronics / Getting into electronics and need help starting a parts collection. on: January 04, 2013, 07:04:21 pm
I just got an arduino for christmas and have very limited electronics experience. I do know how to solder and the ideas behind electronics but i never amassed any sort of parts collection. The arduino kit I got came with:

  • Arduino Uno Rev3 
  • Jumper Wires 
  • Breadboard (3 rows, two sets of 5 columns) 
  • Plastic mount for breadboard and Arduino
I was thinking of buying the following packs to start a collection of parts: 

What other parts do i want to have on hand and where do should i buy them?

Some things i think i need that i am not sure where to get or what types are good to buy in bulk, are these good buys?: 
  • Transistors 
  • Diodes 
  • 555 Timer 
  • Buttons/Switches 

So where do you guys go for bulk/starting parts and what types of each should i get?
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