The best LED cube build we’ve seen

[Nick] wrote in telling us about the LED cube he built over the course of six months. He calls LED cubes ‘done to death,’ but [Nick] might be too humble. His 8x8x8 RGB LED cube is the best we’ve ever seen.

To start his build, [Nick] built a simple 4x4x4 cube as a proof of concept. The baby cube worked but the fabrication process got him thinking. Instead of building his monster LED cube in layers from the bottom up, he would need to build columns from left to right. After the construction of a jig, soldering eight panels of 64 LEDs, and buying a new soldering iron tip, [Nick] had a beautiful assembled LED cube. The only thing missing was the electronics.

Most of the LED cubes we’ve seen use the TLC5940 LED driver for hardware PWM, [Nick] decided to go with the simpler but more familiar STP16 chip. After hooking up his huge LED driver board up to a chipKIT Uno, the 80 hours of programming began.

In the end, [Nick] built the best LED cube we’ve seen (even though it isn’t the largest) and put together one of the best build logs in recent memory. Because no LED cube build is complete with out a video there’s an awesome demo after the break.

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Minimalist RGB LED cube has a very short BoM

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[Asher Glick] wrote in to share a project he has been working on with his friend [Kevin Baker], a 4x4x4 RGB LED cube. The pair are students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and also members of the newly-formed Embedded Hardware Club on campus. As their first collaborative project, they decided to take on the ubiquitous LED cube, trimming down the component count to nothing more than 64 LEDs, a protoboard, some wire, and a single Arduino.

Many cubes we have seen use shift registers or decade counters to account for all the I/O required to drive so many LEDs. Their version of the cube has none of these extra components, solely relying on 16 of the Arduino’s I/O pins for control instead. You might notice something a bit different about the structure of their cube as well. Rather than using a grid of LEDs like we see in most Charlieplexed cubes, they constructed theirs using 16 LED “spires”, tucking the additional wiring underneath the board.

The result looks great, as you can see in the videos below. The cube looks pretty easy to build, and with a cost around $60 it is a reasonably cheap project as well.

Nice job, we look forward to seeing all sorts of fun projects from the Embedded Hardware Club in the future!

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LED cube is a little bit of kit, a lot of point-to-point soldering

[Craig Lindley] recently finished building his own RGB LED cube project. It’s made up of four layers of 4×4 LED grids, but you may notice that the framework that supports the structure is not the usual ratsnet of wires we’ve come to expect. They’re actually long, thin circuit boards. [Craig] grabbed the Rainbow Cube kit sold by Seeed Studio for this project. But instead of pairing it with their Rainbowduino driver, he built his own to give him more options on how to control the blinky lights.

He’s using an Arduino Uno to control the display, choosing TLC5940 driver chips to safely provide the juice necessary to light up the grid. These drivers also offer 12-bit pulse-width modulation for easy color mixing. Driving the LEDs directly would have taken a large number of these expensive chips (over $4 a piece), but if multiplexed the design only calls for two of them.

Check out a video of the finished cube reacting to music thanks to the microphone and amplifier circuit [Craig] build into the driver board.

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Flowerboard LED cube

Here’s a neat 4x4x4 LED cube made with an ElecFreaks Flower Protoboard.

A few days ago, we posted a neat new prototyping board made specifically for SMD work. Instead of the usual ‘holes-with-circles’ protoboard layout, the ElecFreaks team decided to go with a flower-shaped pad. This makes it especially easy to deal with SMD components when building whatever. To demonstrate their new protoboard, ElecFreaks built an awesome-looking 4^3 LED cube. Just look at those solder traces.

The LED cube itself is nothing we haven’t seen before, but the construction of this thing is amazing. The entire build is on the Arduino Mega Flower shield, meaning there are no wires at all. Everything, from the resistors to the transistors, is an SMD component. The only problem now is bending and soldering all those LED leads.

This Flower Protoboard is starting to look more and more interesting; check it out in action after the break.

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Voxel Shield makes driving LED cubes easy

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An Arduino can handle running a small LED cube on its own, but if you’re planning on building something big, eventually you are going to run out of pins. For something like an 8x8x8 cube, odds are you will have to turn to shift registers to get the job done. While you could design a breakout board full of shift registers on your own, [Connor] has done the work for you and produced an easy to use Arduino LED cube shield.

He calls his creation the Voxel Shield, and it incorporates 9 SN74LS595N shift registers and an external power plug for all of your LED cube needs. The shield can handle addressing up to 512 LEDs, making it an easy way to drive an 8x8x8 cube or even a 64×8 LED matrix.

It’s a nice clean and compact way to drive a large number of LEDs, so if you have the need, be sure to swing by his site – he has made his schematics and board layout files available to all comers.

[Thanks, Thomas]

ATtiny Hacks: ATtiny-controlled 4x4x4 LED cube has a unique design

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simple_attiny_led_cube_charlieplexing

[Tom] recently started experimenting with Charlieplexing, and wrote in to share the 4x4x4 cube he built with an ATtiny24. Similar to this minimalist 4x4x4 LED cube we featured the other day, [Tom’s] version attempts to use the least pins possible to drive the LEDs, but in a different manner.

[Tom] didn’t want to sacrifice brightness, so he decided that the LEDs would have a 1/8 duty cycle. The problem is that the ATtiny’s I/O ports can’t support that kind of current so he needed a different means of driving the LEDs. Rather than employ any sort of shift register to control the LEDs, he opted to exclusively use transistors as he had done in previous projects.

For his Charlieplexed cube to use a total of 9 I/O pins he had to get creative with his design. He broke each level of the structure into two non-connected groups of LEDs, utilizing diagonal interconnects to get everything wired up properly.

It seems to work quite nicely as you can see in the video below. While it uses two more I/O lines than the other ATtiny cube we featured recently, we love the simple, shift register-less design.

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ATtiny hacks: 2313 driving a 4x4x4 LED cube

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[Kirill] wrote in to share his ATtiny hack, a 4x4x LED cube. The 64 LED display is a great choice to fully utilize the hardware he chose. It’s multiplexed by level. Each of the four levels are wired with common cathodes, switched by a 2N3904 transistor. The anodes are driven by two 595 shift registers, providing a total of 16 addressable pins which matches the 4×4 grid perfectly. All said and done it only takes seven of the ATtiny2313’s pins to drive the display. This is one pin more than the chip’s smaller cousins like the ATtiny85 can provide. But, this chip does include a UART which means the project could potentially be modified to receive animation instructions from a computer or other device.

You may have noticed the USB port in the image above. This is serving as a source for regulated power in lieu of having its own voltage regulation hardware and is not used for data at all. Check out the animations that [Kirill] uses on the display by watching the video after the break. You’ll find a link to the source code there as well.

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