Using Arduino to Control Various High Power LED's

I am relatively new to Arduino and have been doing some research, but would love some input.

To put it simply: I am looking to use 6 high power LED's to illuminate 6 different lamps. I would like to control each lamp/LED individually through simple blinking (turning each lamp on and off at different times). The sequencing of this blinking for each LED will be different.

I would like to integrate pulsing and other lighting effects later on, but I'm just gonna take it one step at a time right now.

I have a vague idea of what I need, but would like some clearer direction. Has anyone attempted a project like this, or are there any tutorials I could reference as a beginner?

Thanks!

PS - I feel like this ( Arduino mood light ) should be of some use to me, but it is lacking the specifics I need as a beginner.

I also found this bit of info on how to create a simple LED blinking circuit, but I need more control over the blinking. How can I tie this into controlling the LED with Arduino? ( Easy high-power LED blinking circuit | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories )

I've also just come across BlinkM - I very much enjoy this idea. Hmm.

I think I might also be interested in using ShiftBrite - Does that make sense?

Excuse my ignorance, I've just chosen something kind of ambitious for my very first Arduino project and I have a grade that depends on it, too late to turn back now.

Anything that could help me as a total beginner would be most helpful.

You can review the group post subject lines (or use the forum search) for things like "LED transistor", "LED MOSFET", "LED driver", and similar for info.

How powerful were you hoping your LEDs to be?

I'm the guy who makes ShiftBrites and similar stuff.

If you're hoping to provide some higher power light effects, a ShiftBar + Satellite module might be better than a ShiftBrite.

Or if you want to stick to on/off controls, some MOSFETS would do the trick.

Shiftbar appears to be sold out.

The final for this project is due in a little over a week, I might add. I should decide what I need to get and purchase it today.

As for the power of the LEDs, I'm learning now that it's not that necessary. I am illuminating 6 cubes made out of cardboard and vellum. Each cube needs to have a different sequence.

I really like the idea of the blinkM - as a n00b, I can wrap my brain around it. It's just out of my price range. If I can figure out a way to buy some cheaper LEDs and make them work, it'd be ace. But wiring everything intimidates me. The code and software end of it not so much.

Also - I have 3W RGB LEDs that I can use for free (the same ones used in this project here: Arduino mood light ), as a part of our school's supply. If I could find some simple fool-proof info on how to hook up and control 6 of these through an Arduino (with a transistor or a driver, I'd imagine?) I'd definitely save myself the cash. I'll just end up pulling about five all-nighters trying to figure it all out.

That link shows how to hook them up. Three pins per LED * 6 LEDs is 18 pins. An Arduino Duemilinove (or nova, for Mowcius), if it's doing nothing else, can control 20 digital pins (0 through 13 digital + 14 through 19 using the analog pins as digital pins). Not using 0 or 1, which is recommended, still leaves 18 pins. Just what you need.

Because you need this done in just over a week, and you are on a tight budget, this makes it a bit tough. Do you need to have 6 lamps? can you just have 4?

Here is sample code to PWM pins 2-13, 12 pins = 3colors*4lamps.
http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/PWMallPins

Quick and dirty way to light the leds, however not recomended for long term solution. Just power each color of each led with a transistor capable of supplying the needed amperage and calculate the necessary current limiting resistor. Make sure your voltage source is relatively stable, don't try to drive the LED's @ their maximum current rateing, use resistors with a high enough power rating (1 or 3 watt) and make sure you have the LED's on a sufficient heat sink. This is bad practice but it doesn't seem you have much of a choice...

Try this thread. Read the first few replys.
http://www.arduino.cc/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1234273497

[edit]It probably is possible to PWM 18 pins as stated by Paul above if you need 6 lamps. It would require some modification in the example code I linked to. [/edit]

I think with your timeline, your best bet is a few of macegr's *Brite units. There is also the MegaBrite (Macetech), which is bigger than the ShiftBrite, but works in the same fashion. I have a few of these and they are really easy to work with. The example code will get you off to a good start. Also, you will be able to run 6 of them at once without any issues with pin count.