Software guy here, flailing with hardware. Sorry if it's a dumb question.
I want to run one of the ws2801 based light strips, direct from a mac mini without an arduino (or other microcontroller). Is it possible to do this with a usb ftdi cable like sold in adafruit's store? If so, would that fall under the "bitbang" technique?
The other option, if I think I can figure it out, would be to use a BeagleBone and use, I think, the GPIO pins to send the signals down the led strip.
In both cases the BeagleBone or Mac mini is just acting as a web server to receive remote commands and call a script that manipulates the lights. The beagle board option would be cool because it would appear to not be tethered to a computer even though it technically would be still.
If you are really curious, I am trying to ramp up a project before exhibiting at Maker Faire and I'm thinking about moving away from the ThingM parts. http://makerfaire.com/pub/e/7403
Wait...is it ok to post links here?
Anyway, any help is GREATLY appreciated!