So back to what I've been doing to keep sane: got more free samples of micro controllers :) They came directly from thailand which is cool beyond words.
I've actually been doing something with these things too. I sat down and designed a circuit and wrote the code to make a new taillight for my bike. It runs some superbright LEDs at a 20% duty cycle for the taillight and when it senses 12V coming in from the brake light line it cranks them up to full brightness. All in all it's super simple but it was a great first project with the MCUs and got me back into electronics gently.
And I only managed to fry one transistor along the way... those little TO-92 case NPN's don't like having 12v worth of AA's shunted across their base and emitter lines.... fwoosh. heh.
so yeah, the circuit seems to work in my breadboard, nothing gets hot and the circuit only draws a few milliamps. I decided to use an MCU because I wanted to make the taillight blink once before coming on when I hit the brakes. I was it on a fire truck and thought that it was quite effective at capturing people's attention.
Anyway, now that I have it all worked out in that respect I need to get the exact dimensions of the taillight housing and lay out where I want all the LEDs to go. I'm planning to use 80 of them right now, but 100 is not entirely out of the question.