My project is a 2 meter long RC boat that reads a receiver's signal using Arduino and converts the commands to different servos/controls. More details on my GitHub repo, but that's ancillary.
Ironically, the most difficult thing for me to understand is how to drive LEDs. My idea was to turn certain sets of lights on/off at a distance, like real ships would. The difficulty is that there are arbitrary numbers of LEDs, each of which could be on an arbitrary circuit set.
The least complicated method would of course be to have a converter bring the current down to about 3V and plug all the LEDs. This would have no RC functionality.
The next simplest solution would be creating sets of LEDs that can be turned on or off separately. Not the finest control, but still an interesting radio-operated effect.
A finer solution would be to use a driver board. I tested an Adafruit PCA9685 16-Channel Servo Driver, but unfortunately each of the pins only supports 25mA. Also, each light has to be wired individually to the board, which in a large boat gets complicated as you can imagine. Finally, the Arduino is quickly running out of pins; it would be preferable to keep this project at 1 Arduino to keep complexity manageable.
I'm heading somewhere between solutions 1 and 2. But first, there are a few things to clarify about LEDs. Here's an example data sheet on 5050 SMDs:
In my understanding, these LEDs are actually 3-in-one. Question: are they referring to the whole LED chip with these data points (Warm White, 60mA and 2.8-3.4V)? Additionally, I'm not sure how to mix 3mm LEDs with SMDs (some areas where LEDs are visible, like the mast, will benefit from their shape, while others flat surfaces would make SMDs easier to install).
Also, question: how do I find a transistor, mosfet, or other that allows me to control the voltage to these LEDs with Arduino, having the correct specifications? I.e. control 3.4V LEDs with 5V Arduino logic. An additional consideration is that with this being mounted into a vehicle, it must be reliable and easy to install, meaning I can't spend a whole bunch of time calculating Ohms and soldering loose capacitors and so on. It needs to be fixed on PCBs that accept standoffs and can be screwed or glued. Circuits are my weak point, so any time a cheap alternative is available to save brain cells it's preferable.
Finally, any advice on how to research fuses and where/how to install them in this particular scenario? It's helpful to get general advice while prototyping everything together. This will be my first time putting so many components together. Last boat, had prototyped Arduino speed controllers, but these were finally omitted because of reliability concerns. This time I'm committed to doing everything right