okay, so the first PCOMP labs were literally painful to read through. many things were totally inconsistent, making this a lot of guess and check. a lot of my ciruits had wires i realized later were totally superfluous, and for some of the steps i had to do some serious sleuthing about why certain components were necessary.
anyway, i did get a few exciting things to happen:
got one light working last night, realized this morning it has some extra wires going on (like, the whole right side of the breadboard, I think).
then this morning, I redid it with far fewer components.
then two, with a switch.
i had some trouble with the switch because i didn’t realize that it was kind of directional, with the top two tines of the switch always carrying voltage, and the bottom two tines being the actual switch part.
and two with a potentiometer.
then, my masterpiece! this switch works by clicking my two rings together. the alligator clips made the connection much more robust.
and throughout all of this, i managed to burn out only one LED. it will be sorely mourned, but will live on in my memory as the martyr that helped me understand why that little resistor was necessary.