LED Cube in an Elongated Cube be Jammin’

LED cube and drive electronics inside an acrylic case

We get a lot of tips about LED cubes. They’re a great build to explore a lot of different things, from the circuit design, to current source and sink, and of course there’s the firmware. Why don’t we see a million of them on the front page? Well, we have seen a lot, but most of what is sent our way doesn’t exhibit such a clean build. It’s obvious that [Justin] took a lot of pride in his work on this 4x4x4 single-color cube.

Hidden away under one of the protoboards is an Arduino that drives it. A lot of the components were salvaged from the e-waste bin at his University. This includes the 12V AC wall wart he uses to power the device. A bridge rectifier converts to DC, and in addition to powering the LEDs there are a couple of USB charging ports. After the break you can see and hear it in action. The cube pulses to the music but the flip of a switch will disconnect the speaker if you want some peace and quiet to go with the light show.

If you’re looking for a challenge, this 8x8x8 RGB offering is several orders of magnitude harder to pull off… block out a lot of extra time if you do decide to take the plunge. We also heard that [Benchoff] might try to make a cube with some of those through-hole ws2812 pixels.

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Gaming on an 8x8x8 LED Cube

LEDCube

Building an LED cube is a great way to learn how to solder, while building something that looks awesome. Without any previous experience with soldering or coding, [Anred] set out to create a simple 8x8x8 LED cube gaming platform.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, [Andred] based the LED cube off of three separate Instructables. The resulting cube came out great, and the acrylic casing around it adds a very nice touch. Using an Arduino Mega, the 74HC574, and a few MOSFET’s to drive his LEDs, the hardware is fairly standard. What sets this project apart from many other LED cube builds, is the fact that you can game on it using a PlayStation 1 controller. All the necessary code to get up and running is included in the Instructable (commented in German). Be sure to see the cube in action after the break!

It would be great to see a wireless version of this LED cube game. What kind of LED cube will gaming be brought to next? A tiny LED cube? The biggest LED cube ever? Only time will tell.

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Tiny 3x3x3 SMD LED Cube

led cube

LED cubes are cool, but they’re usually pretty big and clunky. [One49th] set out to make one of the smallest LED cubes we’ve seen yet, and he’s shared how he did it in his Instructable!

His first LED cube was the traditional kind, and it turned out pretty nice. But he wanted to go smaller — what about using SMD’s? What he did next was no simple feat — in fact, we’d be willing to call him an artist with a soldering iron. The array is just over one centimeter across.

Using a combination of vices and pliers he soldering each SMD onto his structure one by one. Each LED anode is tied together on each horizontal layer. Each cathode is tied together on each vertical column. This allows the TinyDuino to control any one LED by knowing which of the 9 columns and 3 layers the LED is on. Send a high signal to chosen layer, and a low signal to the column to light the LED. Doing this quickly allows you to create the illusion of different LEDs being on at the same time. Take a look through his image gallery to see just how tight the soldering quarters were, it’s definitely not something we’re planning on doing anytime soon!

Looking for a bigger cube? Check out this gorgeous 7x7x7 one that is capable of 142 frames per second!

7x7x7 LED cube driven by Arduino mega

7x7x7-led-cube

Sure, the physical build itself looks great, but it’s what [Michael] did with the firmware that impresses us the most. He’s using an Arduino Mega to drive the 7x7x7 cube and manages to squeeze out what he calls 142 frames per second with the setup. We’re not sure FPS is the right measurement, as we believe it’s the multiplexing rate that he’s trying to describle. It takes 144 uS to scan the entire matrix once. He performs the scan seven times per frame and the result is a flicker-free appearance, even to cameras.

You can see a video demonstration after the break. Since [Michael] emailed us directly with more details about the build we’ve pasted those below the fold as well.

If you’re looking for a more entry-level Arduino LED cube this 4x4x4 project is just the thing.

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8x8x8 LED cube and the board that drives it

Check out the LED cube which [Thomas], [Max], and [Felix] put together. But don’t forget to look at that beautiful PCB which drives it… nice! But hardware is only part of what goes into a project like this one. After the soldering iron had cooled they kept going and wrote their own software to generate patterns for the three-dimensional display.

Looking at a clean build like this one doesn’t drive home the amount of connections one has to make to get everything running. To appreciate it you should take a look at this other 512 LED cube which has its wires showing. You can see from the schematic (available in the project repository) that all of these lines are managed by a series of shift registers. The board itself connects to a computer from which it gets the visualization commands. A Java program they call CubeControl can push letters or turn the cube into a VU meter.

The team built at least two of these. This smaller version uses red LEDs, while the larger one shown in the video after the break has blue ones.

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4096 LEDs means the biggest LED cube ever

Adaptive Computing, a cloud management and high performance computing outfit in Utah, needed something really cool to bring to their trade shows. Something that makes order out of chaos, and demonstrates their attention to detail in the midst of miles of wiring. They decided building the largest non-commercial LED cube would be a good project, and thus the 16x16x16 All Spark Cube was born.

The All Spark Cube was constructed using 10 mm RGB LEDs wired together with three-foot lengths of 16 ga pre-tinned copper wire. In this video, [Kevin] shows off the process of constructing a single row; first the LEDs are placed in a jig, the leads are bent down, and a bus wire is soldered to 16 individual anodes per row.

The hardware for the build uses 16 Arduino Megas with a custom-made shield powering a 16×16 LED grid. The custom shields provide the 24V for the LEDs, 5V for the ‘duino, The Arduino boards communicate to each other through an RS485 connection, and the entire cube is connected to a computer through an RS232 serial connection.

The software is, admittedly, still a little janky. [Spencer] and [Thomas], the Adaptive Computing volunteers that are working on the control system, are still having a few problems getting logos and animations to display. They have managed to create a control app to draw individual pixels, as seen after the break.

Not bad for nearly a mile of wire and a summer’s worth of work, huh?

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Simulating LED cubes in Blender

The Jyväskylä, Finland hackerspace hacklab-jlk was lucky enough to work on a public arts project for their home town. They had the opportunity to design, build, and install a trio of LED cubes in Jyväskylä’s central Church Park. As such a high-profile project, the hacklab-jlk team decided to take their time and ended up implementing a lot of very cool features for their LED cubes, including simulating the light show in Blender.

The LED cube is similar to all the other LED cube builds we’ve seen before; it’s an 8x8x8 cube controlled by an ATMega328. The Elovalo project, as it is called, is a trio of LED cubes – one using red LEDs, one using green LED, and a blue LED cube each mounted on a pedestal in a Jyväskylä park.

Because the Elovalo is a permanent installation, the team needed a way to verify new firmware for the LED cubes. They came up with a LED cube simulator for Blender that allows them to write a new display function in C and render either single frames or a full animation of the lighting pattern.

A very cool build, and nearly too awesome for a public arts project. We look forward to a video of the complete installation, but until then we’ll make do with the short preview video available after the break.

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