controlling LED's via USB?

I was thinking about making something similar to this. I wanted to also have the 12 LED's (4 of each color). However, I also wanted to be able to control them from my computer, and possibly make them react to music. I'm not the most experienced with LED's, voltages, etc. etc. etc. I'm taking a digital electronics class, but we have been prototyping circuits on breadboards and building them with schematics software, so building a simple circuit wouldn't be too much of a problem. But, thats about all we've done. I don't have much experience writing code for anything, however, my friend is pretty decent with VB and vaguely able to code in either C or C## (forgot), so I could probably get him to help me with the coding. Can someone either point me to a website that would be helpful, or explain to me
A)How to make the circuit if I need to make one
B)How to connect it to my computer (I was thinking USB, but I'm not sure how I'd do it)
C)how to write a program to change colors, and possibly make it react to music

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LinuxH4x0r8 years ago
do it with an arduino :D
Agree. Unlike most small microcontroller boards, the arduino community spends a lot of time and effort on connecting physical devices (like LEDs on the arduino) to host-side software... You could build something for slightly cheaper, if you have the tools and background, but it would be hard to buy something ready-to-go that would work (and much harder to program anything else.) (For example, another possibility is http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=762 The USB Bit Whacker], but it's only $5 less expensive than an Arduino from the same vendor...
Even better is the freeduino. I got mine for $28 shipped
Thanks! Is it one of the ones that says "pcb by WestfW" in the upper left corner? :-) It pretty neat seeing those show up in the real world. Be careful of some of the Arduino variants, like the sparkfun "pro" boards. They don't include the USB adapter...
I've been meaning to ask if that was you! Yeah, neither do the bbb ones, but you can switch out the atmega :)
iamthatguy113 (author) 8 years ago
I have access to various chips and components, which is why I was wanting to build it from scratch if I could. I'm thinking about just wiring the LED's to some potentiometers and logic gates so I can control which ones are on, and adjust the intensity. Then I could use the USB port as a power supply. I read that USB ports have 500mA max, and I was wondering if it would be enough to power a few simple chips and 12 LED's