My head hurts...

I’ve been doing research trying to come up with a way to create two rings of 30 to 42 LEDS that I could create different animations on. The different animations (Night Rider, different chaser patterns, etc) could be controlled with a switch or series of switches. I’m looking to do this as simply as possible. I’m considering trying to do this by Charlieplexing with the Arduino Duemilanove or possibly the Arduino Mega if I need more pins.

I have very little programming experience but I do know how to use a soldering iron. Before I hurt myself even further trying to understand the Arduino programming language is this even possible?

If so what is the best way to learn to program the Arduino from nothing. I’ve looked at the information on the Reference page. While it does explain things I feel like I’m reading random chapters from a book out of order. Would all this make more sense to me if I actually got my hands on a board and played with sketches?

Is there an easier way to do what I’m looking for?

Thanks for your time and patience and any advice you might have.

Would all this make more sense to me if I actually got my hands on a board and played with sketches?

Defiantly YES :slight_smile:

What you want to do can be done, however you have many options and only by learning some stuff can you make sense of these options.

Good luck

For Starters, pickup this book:

While you are at it, I’d also grab one of these kits:

Thanks for the advice guys.

I have seen the getting started with Arduino book but saw some bad reviews of it. They said what it had to offer could be found for free on-line and that it didn’t offer much beyond the blinking LED experiment. However taking a second look at it on Amazon it looks like what I need after all. I am an absolute beginner and know almost nothing about programming :slight_smile: That review was probably from a more advanced user… I’ll pick it up.

I have seen Lady Ada’s site. In fact I think she was one of the first places I came along the Arduino. I think I came along it through Make magazine’s 3 x 3 x 3 LED cube tutorial on YouTube. I had seen the kit but discounted it because it didn’t do what I had wanted it to. Now I see its use as a learning aid.

Once again thanks for thumping me on the head with the obvious :slight_smile:

For that number of LED’s Charlieplexing will be impractical. Why not use Shift Registers? They are very cheap and dead easy to use.

For that number of LED’s Charlieplexing will be impractical.

I’m very new to all of this. I saw this:

Which is almost exactly what I want to do and figured Charlieplexing was the way to go. Except of course my display doesn’t need to tell time. I’m just looking to make some cool patterns.

However if I remember he may have used more then one array to make the whole clock. He sells a programmed PIC. Which I’m assuming is another microprocessor? I’ve emailed him to see if it would work for my project…

Why not use Shift Registers?

I’ve seen a few people use chips with the Arduino as LED drivers but it involved electronics that is way beyond me.

A quick search (I love Google :slight_smile: turned up this instructable:

In his first paragraph he says:
If you have little or no experience with microcontrollers or programming this is probably beyond what you should be getting yourself into. Try out a few other beginner projects and come back when you’ve got some more experience writing programs for microcontrollers.

However thanks for pointing it out to me. Its always good to have options. I’m going to get myself an Arduino and blink a few LEDS. maybe Charlieplex a handful of them and take a look at shift register.

Google “M5451” and you’ll find a chip that can do 35 LED’s without multiplexing at all.

I found this page which touches on it slightly:

They were originally intended to drive multiple 7 segment LED’s without needing a ton of resistors.

How about one of these if you are a novice… Then the whole lot is connected up for you already…


Trust me, the M5451 or the 595 does not require specialist electronics knowledge. I am only a beginner myself and yet have made numerous projects using 595’s to drive LED’s and Dot Matrix modules.

Have a read up on the ShiftOut tutorial which has some excellent breadboard diagrams and you will see how easy it is. I think the ShiftOut command is also now part of the standard Arduino language.


This seems like a good possibility. I’ve emailed the guy to see if he still has some shields for sale.

Thanks :slight_smile: