Solar powered arduino with digital addressable led strip

Hello. I am new to arduino as I am sure a lot of people have said before. I've done a little bit of research but still need some guidance. There are 2 different projects that I want to do but they are all similar so I will post them all here. I probably will only do one but would still like info on both of them.

The first project and the one I want to do the most is what is mentioned in the topic subject. I found this rgb led strip that lets me control each led individually with the arduino. http://www.adafruit.com/products/306 (by the way, if someone knows where I can find a similar strip that has the same function and length for cheaper, I would appreciate it if you guided me to where I could buy it. I live in the US, for shipping considerations) I am looking at using the ardunio uno. From what I can see, the ardunio should be able to power the whole strip completely. If I am wrong, I need help in finding a power source for the strip. As far as what I would like the led strip to do, I can figure out the programming later but basically it will just do things like change colors in order, do chasing, flashing, fading, etc. I would then like the ardunio to turn on the strip at dusk and turn off the strip at dawn. Can the arduino do that? I found this photo cell. http://www.adafruit.com/products/161 Would that work or do I need a different type of sensor? And lastly, I would like to make everything run on solar power. My idea would be to have batteries/battery that is no bigger than you can find in a UPS. I am in the east coast and with winter, it gets dark around 4 so I would like the lights to stay on until about 9 so that would mean that I need enough battery juice to last 5 hours. Is this feasible? I am not trying to spend a fortune on it so im thinking about $70 max for the solar part. If that can't be accomplished, then I'll just scrap the solar part. That pretty much sums up my first project idea. Any help is greatly appreciated.

My second idea would be to have the same strip and ardunio but this time no solar and no dusk/dawn senor. I would like to put a proximity sensor instead. What I want to do is have the strip light up a different color as someone approaches the sensor so something probably like blue if it senses no one, green when someone is sensed, yellow as they get closer and finally red once they are really close. Would the ardunio be capable of doing that? Would this sensor be good? http://www.adafruit.com/products/189 Could the ardunio power it on it's own? Any places where I can get sample code to do what I want to do?

Side note, are there any strips like that one I mentioned above but with just a single color led but still be able to address each led individually?

  1. You could calibrate the photocell to turn it on and off(analog in).
    Ex.
    *250 is a totally random value I picked between 0 and 1024
    Attatch photocell to A0
int sensorvalue;

void setup(){
pinMode(A0, INPUT);
}

void loop(){
sensorvalue = analogRead(A0) //Figure how light/dark it is
if(sensorvalue>250*){ // If it is this light
//Turn Lights off
}
if(sensorvalue<250*){  // If it is this dark
//Turn Lights on
}
  1. The second project sensor you mentioned(http://www.adafruit.com/products/189) can detect only motion. For your idea of it changing color as someone got close you would need a range finder to figure distance. You could use an infrared proximity sensor(http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8958) or a ultra-sonic range finder to be more accurate(http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8502).

I am not sure about the solar power and I do not know of any single color adressable LED strips.

Thanks N314.

I guess I am good to go on both of my projects. You did not specificily say if I would need a power supply for the senors or the led light strip so does that mean that the arduino can provide enough power for both of them? All I need is to figure out this solar thing and would a different, possibly cheaper arduino work for what I want to do?

You can run the sensors right from the arduino. Sensors do not consume to much current.

If you are going to control the led strip from the arduino, it has to be powered by same power suply that is powering the Arduino(I think). I have a two motor robot i built and it draws 280ma(ish). The tecnical specs say it draws 120ma max per 2.5 inch segment(which is wierd to give because they measure the whole thing in meters). So it depends on how much you light up the LEDs/ how long the strip is. However it does not seem you could power a very long segment through the Arduino. Im not sure how exactly to use power that is not going through the arduino.

What do you mean by "cheaper Arduino"/What one did you plan on using?

Pins on the Arduino can only handle 40mA per pin. Adafruit recommends a 5V 2000mA supply depending on length of strip.

. Maximum 5V @ 120mA draw per 2.5" strip segment

Of course, you can also connect strips together to make them longer, just watch how much current you need! We have a 5V/2A supply that should be able to drive 1 or more meters

When using a seperate power supply remember it should have a common ground with the Arduino.

so if I use recommended power supply, http://www.adafruit.com/products/276, how would I connect that to both the strip and arduino? I can see that the arduino has a plug that looks to be the same that comes witht he power supply but how would I apply that to the strip if i am supposed to solder a cable to it?

looking at this guide


how does the Arduino get power? Just from having the ground connected or do I need to give the Arduino it’s own power supply?

N314:
What do you mean by “cheaper Arduino”/What one did you plan on using?

I was planning on using the Arduino Uno

N314:
If you are going to control the led strip from the arduino, it has to be powered by same power suply that is powering the Arduino(I think). I have a two motor robot i built and it draws 280ma(ish). The tecnical specs say it draws 120ma max per 2.5 inch segment(which is wierd to give because they measure the whole thing in meters). So it depends on how much you light up the LEDs/ how long the strip is. However it does not seem you could power a very long segment through the Arduino. Im not sure how exactly to use power that is not going through the arduino.

I plan on using the color white which means all the leds would be on at the same time so I need something that can power a 1 meter strip which is what I plan on buying.

So I just noticed that adafruit says that the strip i want to use does not have to constantly be updated by the Arduino so I thought of something else to do with the Arduino at the same time. I am not sure if it can even do this.

I was thinking of still having the Arduino connected to the original strip so that it can turn on/off with the photocell but then also have the Arduino drive this strip at the same time. http://www.amazon.com/Flexible-16-4ft-Ribbon-EdisonBright-Brand/dp/B005OCYHXA/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1320449944&sr=8-16. Does anyone know if I can find a strip that is cheaper? Looking at this: I see they have it set up using a breadboard. Is there a way I could do this without having to use a breadboard? Since the Arduino only needs to talk to the addressable strip once, could I have the Arduino constantly talk to the second strip since that one needs it? Would the addressable strip lose the programming once it turns off? Or does it keep it until it is sent new programming? How would I deal with the fact that the addressable strip is digital and only takes 5v while the second strip is analog and takes in 12v?

I think the arduino could handle the tasks of controlling both LED strips. However I am not sure how you could supply it five volts. My understanding of electricity is not the best… But if there was a way it would work, I think it would look like the attachmet. The four blank pins represent the 12V LED strip. I am not positive this would work. The barrel jack is 12V.

afrgbs.docx (131 KB)

After getting support from Adafruit themselves, I've got how I am going to do the 2 strip. Here is my post on their forum. http://forums.adafruit.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=23961

Thank you to those that helped me