Looking to assemble a shiftbrite array with arduino

I Have a lamp post that I want to put shift brite leds in so I don't have to go out and change the bulbs when I want colors to match the time of year. I thought ahead and ran a cat5 cable out to it when I installed it. I was hoping to get an Arduino to control it and send it commands over my home network. Does anyone have any advice on what is needed to get this accomplished?

Any Ethernet solution for the Arduino will use the hardware SPI pins. This causes a problem with the standard ShiftBrite shields, as they expect to use those pins as well. You can use an Arduino Ethernet, or an Ethernet Shield, and use software SPI on some other pins for the ShiftBrites.

Alternately, you could put a much cheaper/smaller Arduino in the lamp post, like an Arduweeny or Arduino Pro Mini. This is a more soldering-based approach. I'd use the CAT5 to carry RS485 on one pair, using SN65176 chips on both ends. You can use an Arduino in the house, or a PC with a serial/usb/RS485 converter to control the remote Arduino. This is more work, but potentially cheaper than an Arduino Ethernet with PoE.

Is it possible to put the arduino out at my lamp post and send commands through the network?

Yes, but see the comments in reply #1

are you saying use two arduinos? one inside and one outside? please pretend that you're dealing with a person who knows almost nothing about arduinos. better yet, don't pretend. I have never worked with them before, but I do quite a bit of repair on electronics, replacing caps mostly, but I can solder just fine. can you send me some links to reference material so I can play catchup?

No, you only need one where the lamps are, but because the Ethernet shield uses the SPI pins, you'll need to do the SPI in software.