large RGB LED project

Ok, I have put together several small projects but now I want to make a custom lightning setup for my car. I really just need a place to bounce off some of my ideas before I get too far into it.

The plan is to have RGB LED halos going in each of the front headlights, RGB LED emblems for the trunk and the front grill, and possibly ShiftBrite LEDs daisy chained behind the grill, and one RGB LED in the center console (to be used as a status LED to show what color the exterior LEDs are showing).

I am also thinking about having 4 or 5 buttons, each with 2 or 3 functions ( so that they can be designated for different colors and patterns). No 2 patterns will be able to be running at the same time.

I'm thinking that the Arduino Mega board will be my best bet so that I have enough PWM pins. Not sure how to get the shiftbrites attached to the setup, since I already have the 12 PWM pins used by the other lights.

Any ideas would be helpful. I just don't want to spend alot of time and money on this if it can't be done.

I have the different color and patterns that are supposed to be associated to the buttons already in my head, but programming the RGBs and the Shiftbrites at the same time might be problematic.

Thanks for all your help.


Not sure where about in the world you are but showing any other colour than white in a headlight is illegal in most places. Please check you situation.

that is the reason for the buttons...

I am setting it up so that when the vehicle starts it automatically sets the rear emblem to red and the front halos to white.

The reason for ShiftBrites is that you don't have to worry about your PWMs. You send them color values and they do their own PWM. You can run a couple hundred ShiftBrites using any four available digital pins on the Arduino. It would be best if you could use the hardware SPI pins on the Mega, but software SPI still works and could be used with a ShiftBrite Shield or Shifty VU Shield on the Mega (these shields normally attach to the Arduino hardware SPI pins, but those pins were moved on the Mega).

Could the Shiftbrite Shield be used with the Mega?

what about programming regular RGB LEDs and Shiftbrite LEDs at the same time. how difficult is it?