This project was created by Joshua Warchol with significant use of open source code, tutorials and schematics from Adafruit Industries and other maker sources. As a software jockey by trade, none of this would have happened without the support and encouragement of the maker community.
I had been hacking on some of Adafruit’s RGB LED waterproof flexi-strips (30 LED) for fun when my wife came up with the idea of using a number of these to add atmosphere to an otherwise bland lounge used for events at her school. Using the basic circuit described in Adafruit’s tutorial for this strip I was able to come up with a compact and affordable package. My wife ordered the bulk of the parts needed for five LED light sticks, and I got to work soldering up a storm.
The circuit is controlled by an Arduino or compatible microcontroller. This acts as the brains of the device, modulating the various LEDs to create a wide range of possible effects. I used an Arduino Uno model for prototyping, but when deciding what to use for the final project
I chose Adafruit’s DC Boarduino Arduino-compatible microcontroller board. The key benefits were its lower cost, small size and flexible power supply options. Unline the Uno, this board is not programmed directly over USB, but rather with an FTDI cable or FTDI Friend. I followed circuit described in the LED strip tutorial almost exactly.