512 LED Cube (again)

We’ve seen LED cubes before, but [nick] upped the ante with his 8x8x8 LED cube that uses only three pins on his microcontroller.

Previous LED cubes we’ve covered drove the LEDs with shift registers and latches, but [nick] used STP16CP LED sink drivers to reduce the component count. The STP16CP can control 16 LEDs each, can be cascaded off of each other, and can operate up to 30Mhz. With a component like this, you’re limited by your microcontroller and not your patience or soldering skills.

While he was waiting for his LEDs to arrive in the mail, [nick] decided he would get a head start on the animation code by plunging into MATLAB. After getting an idea of what would look good on the cube, [nick] wrote the code on his PC to send commands to the arduino controlling the sink drivers. To wrap up the project, [nick] put the cube on a very attractive wooden box stuffed with the electronics. All tolled, a very efficient and elegant build.


37 thoughts on “512 LED Cube (again)

  1. @CristobalGordo

    A quick digikey search of “STP16CP” returned some LED drivers in DIP packages. They aren’t sold in small quantity, but I bet you can find them somewhere else. Next time search it yourself ;-)

    I could see myself spending hours over days making one of these and having my cat tear it apart in seconds. I don’t think I have the patience anyway.

  2. @CristobalGordo: Have you ever tried? I too was intimidated at first and thought I could never solder tiny little surface mount parts. But, after trying it a few times I’m never going back, in some ways it’s actually easier than through hole. Buy some random super cheap chips and give it a try!

    DE-soldering is another story though but there are tools for that, both cheap and expensive.

  3. Anyone else love the idea of this, but have the laziness problem like me?

    I mean, I love the idea of having one, and the build process for this one seems pretty straightforward, but when it came to programming animations, I just would never be bothered enough to do it :P

  4. @ZeroCool42
    1) Nice hackers reference with the name. — Great movie.
    2) I built a 3x3x3 cube and never programmed it, seems like 8x8x8 wouldn’t be any better. The only saving grace of this setup is that you can send serial commands to the driver chips to handle display. Unlike charliplexing which basically takes commands in parallel straight from the registers!

  5. all this talk about 3D snake/pong/tetris, makes you think.. real 3dtv’s that would be a giant, smaller version of this, a crystal lattice of nanoLEDs, which would make this kind of 3dtv have depth again, like crt’s at first, then expanding, if they were made in a form factor that could stack like legos and the inputs would link up, you could custom-build your iMAx-sized 3D screen to your specifications, length, height, DEPTH. fixing dead pixels could be as easy as digging down a giant pile of legos replacing a cube as a f.r.u. and swabbing the faulty one’s connections because if they’re stacking like legos some dirt could block connections.. now i await the day when i can stroll down to the optometrist and purchase a brand new, HD3D eyeball. once these displaycubes become lego sized cubes that orient themself magnetically to properly align their connections..
    -written by John Titor, who was transported back to his home-time mid-sentence. He also said that in AD 2101, war was beginning.

  6. I would have used TLC9540s instead of STP16CP. PWM is way more awesome than just plain on/off. Oh well, this is still pretty freaking cool and beyond my mechanical skill level.

  7. I tried to put a 3x3x3 together. i think i had one layer, 9 leds, soldered before i gave up. It would be neet to have on your desk or something but i dont think i have the patience to finish a cube.

    Someone needs to build a SMT cube, with tiny leds. Not sure how you would connect them. maybe small bus wire.

  8. i made a 3d 8x8x8 color cube, but my write up is not so great and I don’t have much code on it at the moment, i keep meaning to program it more before submitting it here but i’m not much of a programmer..

    check out my site and click on 8x8x8 cube, does anyone think it’s good enough to submit?

  9. “With a component like this, you’re limited by your microcontroller and not your patience or soldering skills.”

    Um, shouldn’t this be the other way around?

    And yes, the “all tolled” mistake. Do some proof reading or something guys…

  10. This is remarkably similar to a work I showed in March/April of 2010. I am an artist working in new media – I do interactive light sculptures. “Caged” is an 8 x 8 x 8 cube that interacts with the surrounding sound. Being an artist – the aesthetics of the work were of vital importance to me. Instead of using a stand, I manufactured and incorporated small boards on each of the eight levels. The drivers used were Maxim 7219’s. Processing was via a boarduino using C++ programming, and like in the above project I used three pins to drive it. I used Game of Life programming with a twist – the program wraps side to side to keep things going. For more information and documentation the project page is http://interpolations.org/caged_doc.php .
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYE1tTtsVbc&hl=en&fs=1%5D

  11. http://gizmodo.com/#!5442217/the-invisible-oled-laptop-to-end-all-laptops
    stack a bunch of oled screens
    you’ll have 1024 by 768 minimum on xy axis
    and each 1 is probably a minimum of 4 mm thick so call it 80 layers of depth for a 1 foot cube?
    the 1 problem with all this, its a big fragile heavy block of glass that you can only view from the front and back(i dont THINK it’d be possible to view the sides but maybe can find a way to position all electrical connections at the bottom and use difusers between layers(reducing depth resolution but making it side viewable, especially if the ends fan out to cover the edges of the screens)

    but theres better tech than stacking oled displays for a 3d viewable display thats only viewable from front and back

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