First Bytes 2012
Creating Your Own Lights Set at Home
Here is a brief guide to get you started with your own lights and
Arduino board. As you go through this guide, please let me know if
anything is unclear or if you have any questions.
Pliers (A crimper is really better)
Wire stripper (can be done with a wire cutter if necessary)
can watch this
You Tube video to see how to use a wire stripper.
Once you have gathered all your supplies, you are ready to assemble
First, carefully stretch out your lights left to right. Arrange
them so that the controller and plug are to your left, and the lights
are to your right. You'll notice that the cable running through the
lights is made up of three wires. Take the exacto knife and separate
the three wires.
Assuming your lights are laid out correctly (check them!), the top
wire is power, the middle is data, and the bottom is ground. You want
to connect the ground and the data to your Arduino board. Let's begin
with the data wire.
To connect the data wire to the Arduino board, we are going to need to
cut it, strip off the green plastic covering to expose the wires, and
then add a red connector to each side. (Adding it to each side gives
you the ability to reconnect the lights as they were to test them.)
To do this, follow these steps:
- Using the wire cutters, cut the data wire.
- Using the wire strippers, strip the green plastic covering from
wires. This YouTube
video (also linked above) includes instructions on how to strip a
wire. You want to expose approximately a quarter of an inch of
wire. (The exposed wire in the picture below is a bit too long.)
- Connect the male end of a red connector to the side of the data
wire connected to the controller by inserting the exposed wire into
the male connector and then crimping the connector around the wire
with the wire crimpers. Tug on the connector to ensure the connection
- Using the same procedure, connect a female end of a red
connector to the other side of the data wire. Check your work by
connecting the two ends of the connector and then plugging in the
lights to see if they still work.
- Next, we'll splice into the ground wire. Clip the dark blue
piece of the quick splice connector around the ground wire. Quick and
- Now, choose two pieces of wire from your jumper wire kit. You'll
probably want the two of the longest ones. Connect a male end of the
red connector to one of the wires. No need to strip it---just insert
the wire and crimp the connector around it.
- For your other wire, connect a light blue piece of the quick
splice connector. Once again, no need to strip the wire, just insert
it into the connector and then crimp.
Congratulations! Your hardware is ready to go. Directions to connect
the hardware are on this
page, but you should really set up the software (instructions
The last thing you need to do is set up the Arduino environment and
drivers on your computer. To do this, go to the Arduino homepage, and
follow the Getting
Started with Arduino instructions. Once you have followed those
instructions for your computer, you are ready to
connect your lights!