According to https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/powering-neopixels a Neopixel can consume 60 mA at full brightness white.
Each individual NeoPixel draws up to 60 milliamps at maximum brightness white (red + green + blue). In actual use though, it’s rare for all pixels to be turned on that way. When mixing colors and displaying animations, the current draw will be much less. It’s impossible to estimate a single number for all circumstances, but we’ve been using 1/3 this (20 mA per pixel) as a gross rule of thumb with no ill effects. But if you know for a fact that you need every pixel on at maximum brightness, use the full 60 mA figure.
So your 144 Neopixels would require 8.4 amps. You would need a pretty solid power supply to supply that much.
One way of confirming that would be to measure the voltage in to the Neopixel strip (at the strip end) when it is displaying all white. I'd be surprised if it measures 5V.
The Amazon page you linked says:
Voltage: DC 5V
Power: 0.3W ± 0.01% per LED
That agrees with the figure of 60 mA (0.060A * 5V = 0.3W)
To put it another way, your power supply would need to supply 43.2W (144 * 0.3W). None of the bench power supplies I have here can put out 43W (or 8A), nor any of the wall-warts. You may have a really massive one, but you haven't specified what sort of power supply you are using.
I run them with a power supply (one that is working as expected, but still have it connected to the PC/USB?
Yes, there is a technique for doing that (similar to powering motors etc.).
- You have one low-current supply to the Arduino (this could be your USB port even).
- You have a high-current supply to the pixels/motor/whatever. This would require thicker cables.
- You connect the grounds of both supplies so that they have a common ground reference.
- The data line (the pixel information) is sent from the Arduino to the Neopixels
The one power supply can do both roles, just connect the wires together at the power supply end (this automatically connects the grounds, of course).
This way, the heavy-duty current does not go through the Arduino board.
If you are using the USB port for logic power you still connect the grounds like this: