7x7x7 LED cube driven by Arduino mega

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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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

charlieplexed-led-cube

[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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