Driving 12V Common-Anode LED strips


In my project I have to individually drive more than 600 of the following RGB LED strips:


My original idea was to have a ShiftBar (http://macetech.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=10) driving each strip and then connect a bunch of Arduinos + Eth Shields to drive the ShiftBars through Ethernet so that the frame rate gets high enough.

The problem with this approach is that it's a bit costly (adds about $6-7 to the LED strip price) and ShiftBar cannot drive more than 150mA per channel (my LED strips draw 180mA/channel).

My second idea was to use Rainbowduinos as described in http://www.seeedstudio.com/blog/?p=512 but I don't really know how many strips I can drive in this method and it also seems that this duino doesn't have enough bang to drive the 180mA either. And moreover I probably couldn't hook Eth Shild to Rainbowduino anyway. I'd like this to be Ethernet based.

There must be some other good options too, please give me some pointers.

Thanks, S

Some guys at work are busy creating software for these RGB LED strips (although they are the waterproof kind) for some big event-hall in my city.

Since they got a couple of controller units to test with I took the liberty to open one of those puppies up. One uses one IPS2041 intelligent power switch per output colour. This is basically a MOSFET with some overcurrent and thermal runaway protections built in. The weird this is these things are tiny! and there were only smd components on the board, so no big caps, coils or resistors whatsoever (no indications of any ordinary constant current regulator hardware). From the looks of it they PWM these using one atmega uC per RGB output channel.

They rate the maximum output per RGB channel at 98Watts, which should allow you to drive quite a few LED's. I'm still a bit miffed about how they actually limit current, but it's bound to work properly since this is a professional manufacturer.

We also have a $600 controller that can handle about 20m of RGB strip per channel which I am aching to peek inside, but I'm afraid that might rub someone the wrong way as it is new and sealed.