I needed a clock and a counter to provide the GSCLK and BLANK signals outside of my Arduino. I didn't want to get a crystal oscillator because I don't have much experience with them and everything I read made it seem like it would be a tough thing to tune. The trade off with buying a chip to do it seemed to be price and accuracy.
Clocks on chips are astable multivibrators, which means that they contain circuitry that can be in one of two states, but is not stable in either one. This makes them good for clock signals since they tend to flip back and forth between these two states regularly. They are not good for actual time-keeping since
the flip flop does not always take the same amount of time. Its hard to tell when its flipping 20,000,000 times a second, but if its driving a timepeice, the errors will build up over hours and days. Crystals overcome this because they only vibrate at an exact frequency called a resonant frequency.
I didn't need to keep time, I just needed a fast train of clock cycles, so the chip clock was fine. The one I got, the ECS300C actually contains what they called a 'CMOS based oscillator' and its block diagram uses the same symbol used for crystals, so it looks like I got a true oscillator anyway.
The counter I got was a 14-bit counter. I need to count to 4095 (212) and then send a BLANK signal so just had to hook up the signal from my clock to the CLK pin of the counter and then the 12th bit pin on the counter would be my BLANK signal.
I hooked it all up and was amazed. No more strobe lights. A clean, even brightness. The Kit light effect was mesmerizing to watch as the lights faded with imperceptible smoothness to dark.