...but technotoy arrived--the RGB LED strip, 16 feet of tricolor LEDs for my tinkering enjoyment.
(Guess I should have emptied that wastebasket first.)
The LED strip comes on a reel. You get a remote control, a 12V power brick, and a controller box that the LED strip plugs into. They thoughtfully put the IR receiver diode on a 3" lead, which means if you're installing it somewhere, you can hide the box and have only the IR sensor visible.
The controller is a little white box that the power supply plugs into. The whole thing runs on 12v and it looks like you could pop the cover off the controller box pretty easily. As with the plain white LED strips, you can cut it into sections as small as about four inches, which contains three LEDs and three resistors (I think they're resistors). There are solder pads to attach wires for controlling R G and B, as well as power, and they're clearly marked. If you want to force it to be white, just slip 12V to the + line and hook the negative terminal to R, G, and B, and you get white. Or select colors individually, or whatever turns you on. It comes with a 4-pin plug soldered to each end of the 16 foot strip of LEDs but only one power supply and one controller.
The controller can do 8 intensities on each color, as well as turning them off individually.
The only thing I see here that's kind of off-putting: I noticed that the strip is not a single continuous strip of LEDs; it's several shorter strips pieced together. Every 15 LEDs (or 5 groups of 3) these shorter strips are soldered--spliced--together. You wouldn't notice it from five feet away, and it doesn't change the electrical characteristics one whit. It's not even all that big a deal, not for $12 shipped.
And that's the biggest draw for me. If you want to buy something like this at Fry's, it's at least $30. I never bothered to price it from Menards or Home Depot, but I'd bet it's about the same price there.
If you just want to tinker with it, this is a good way to go.
What can I do with it?
One thing I could do is to wire a few 3-LED modules into the bike's electrical system, for "visibility" purposes. I could add taillights to the trunk by using just the red LEDs in a couple strips. I could hardwire strips in white mode and give the Jeep halos around its headlights.
Really, the sky is the limit; the only limitation is that you must have a 12V source to power the thing.
Not bad for $12. Looking forward to doing some neat things with this stuff.