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What is the best way to go about building a controlled bank of LEDs?

I want to have about 15-20 LEDs with the ability to tell each when & how long to be lit. Similar to a 'Shooting Star' module for a Fiber Optic Star ceiling, with out the $250 pricetag. I have little to no programming experience, no electronics experience, but I used to do electrical, so I have a clue anyway. Is Arduino the way to go, or is there another simple way to do this? What about PIC microcontrollers? Im sure there will be more questions as I get answers, so thank you in advance for all yous help...

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if you have no progreamming experience then you should cheack out the picaxe range of chips, they are PIC`s pre programmed with a bootstrap code which means that they are able to be programmed with the picaxe basic lauanage which is very easy to learn and i learned how to flash an led in seconds using all the manuels avadaible on the rev ed ( the people who make picaxes) website!!! you will need to use some sort of transistor to get enough current to drive the leds though!!! you can buy the picaxe chips from the rev ed website and they arent much more expensive than normal PIC chips. the chips are avadiable from 8, 14, 18, 20, 28 and 40 pin varations and are very versatile for any applacoion !!!! they are programmed with the programming editor avadiable for free download from the picaxe website!!! you can program them in basic ( which is a textual form of programming ) or you can program them in a flowchart mode ( which is a graphical form of programming) but they are both very easy to use!!!! ( come on, after all this typing i deserve best answer!!!)
yay!!! thanks!!!
Blast Tyrant (author)  thecookiemonster7 years ago
Where do I get them here in the good ol' USA?
you can get them in a number of places: www.advancedmicrocircuits.com www.phanderson.com/picaxe www.sparkfun.com www.robotshop.com these are all in the USA and are the offical distributaors but they are all online so i dont know if you can buy them in any local shops!!! cm
Blast Tyrant (author) 7 years ago
Thank you CM, I do appreciate the input...