My boss just told me that by close of business Thursday (12-06-12) I have to decorate the company van with animated lights. When I asked what my budget was she told me "We'll see". I chose to be optimistic and interpret this to mean $20, despite historical evidence indicating it means $0.
By the way, I don't really know what I am doing. I am coming here in need of help!
I did some poking around and found a rechargable lead-acid 12V, 0.28A/H battery. I don't even know if its charged or how to recharge it (though presumably I can find someone at my job who does). I have an Arduino Uno, some wires, a half breadboard, and precious little else. Currently I am powering the Uno via USB, and will probably just have a laptop to power it.
I read that the small Christmas lights are 2.5V. Correct me if I am wrong, but if I connect 5 of the lights in a series that should work with the 12V battery. If I attach many of these sets of 5 in parallel then I am only limited by how much charge the battery has. I can hopefully get away with putting 6 in a set and make some sort of snowflake design.
I see that 12V relays are $10 a piece at Radio Shack, and I obviously do not have time to wait for shipping from a cheaper place. There may be some alternative places in town. If I wanted to be able to animate 6 different groups of lights independently does that mean I would need to use 6 relays?
Assuming that I magically had 6 relays, I could attach them in parallel to my battery, then have each relay control several sets of 5(6?) lights (where each set is in parallel). Is that correct?
How best do I solve this problem? I appreciate all the (much needed) help!!