Ive had success running off 4xAA but LEDs are dim. I had to bypass the 5v voltage regulator as the batteries died in order for the controller and lights to continue to work.
Id like to use a better supply, but Im very concerned not to over load the controller or the LED strip.
Here's some food for thought...
If you are using the voltage regulator, add one or two more batteries in series. An almost fully discharged alkaline AA will have a voltage of around 0.9 VDC
. Furthermore, though the actual voltage/service time curves vary by manufacturer (e.g. here's a link to a datasheet Rayovac's alkaline series
if you are interested), they aren't linear and tend to flatten-out mid-service life. So adding one or two more batteries to your power pack will mean being able to use the voltage regulator longer, even if you are wasting a bit more energy initially when the batteries are fresh.
Also, given the same cell chemistry, C & D batteries have the same nominal voltage per cell as AA & AAA, but the larger battery sizes do have larger charge capacities (i.e. a higher mAh rating). For example, a standard alkaline AA is nominally 1.5VDC
and could have 2200 to 2500 mAh, where as a C could have a capacity of 5400 to 7600 mAh and a D 10,000 to 16,000 mAh.
Now I know what you might be thinking, "I worried about the output voltage decreasing too much, not capacity!" However, with batteries the actual output voltage of the cell is roughly proportional to the amount of charge remaining in the cell. So using four larger sized batteries will mean a longer period of time they can properly power the voltage regulator, because they will discharge at a slower rate compared to AAs.
With regards to the dimness of the strip, I'd look at your datasheet. It could be the LEDs in the strip are intended to operate at a somewhat higher current than an Arduino can output. In that case you'd want to power them directly from the batteries, with appropriate current limiting resistors and stepping down the voltage as necessary if you choose to add more battery cells, instead of from the Arduino board.