The WS281X series light strips are great for creative lighting. The strips have individually addressable LEDs which can be programmed through software such as arduino. You’ll need to download libraries for the chips that are on the LEDs in order to address them. These are easy to come across in a short web search, I personally ended up using a site called FastLED, it’s quite helpful if you’re doing this for the first time as there is a FastLED Google+ forum to help troubleshoot your coding. Being able to address the individual LEDs is a great feature, but doing so requires an arduino board, in my situation the lights were going to be used with a genuine arduino uno board using an ATMEGA328 chip which meant I had no issues connecting to it. This was mounted to our FIRST robot and was difficult to access, so we used a cheap Chinese arduino mini-type board using the same chip. However because the chip was a generic Chinese chip it needed a driver from the internet in order to be identified by my computer. I eventually found one which I was able to use. I attached the zip file here, (NOTE THIS WILL DOWNLOAD IMMEDIATELY ZIP FILE) once the aforementioned file was downloaded I was able to upload a demo code to the board which lit the strips.
An important note on the actual connection of the strip, the signal can only travel in one direction, this direction is identified by the little arrows printed on the pcb. It’s important to note this when attaching it to the board as it will only work if the arrows are directed away from the input connector. Also it’s important to note that these strips are 5V NOT 12V.
If you zoom in on the strip you can see the little directional arrows.