We Want This LED Ball

[Nikolai] has a friend who is into fire and light shows. Her birthday was coming up, so [Nikolai] decided to build something to compliment her performances. He came up with a 10 cm LED ball (Russian, Google translation) that has a matrix of 256 LEDs wrapped around its surface.

The ball’s structural support is its own PCBs. The bottom of the ball is a simple bus – no components needed. The processor module fits into the bus along with the side arcs with LEDs on the edge. The top holds two AA batteries and a MAX1674 step up converter. The view from the inside looks like some sort of bizarre alien device. Very cool.

The central processor module is based around an ATmega88. The microprocessor controls two ‘595 for each of the 16 side panels. So far, four modes of operation have been programmed – a sine graph wrapped around a sphere, a random function, two oscillating circles, and plain old lines. The code for the LED ball is available (offsite link), and thankfully the variables are in English. An impressive piece of engineering and board layout skills.

Check out the video of the LED ball after the break.


56 thoughts on “We Want This LED Ball

  1. I’ve been thinking about creating something very similar for years. I’m glad I never attempted because I would’ve never come close to this. Very very nice. I especially love how the PCBs provide the structure for the whole thing.

  2. Very awesome. I totally want 10.

    I just wish people would indicate what CAD package they’ve used for layout, and provide a PDF of schematics and Gerber files, since not all of us have Orcad, Altium, Eagle or whatever available on a given platform.

    1. The EAGLE freeware version works as a viewer, so even if you don’t want to use EAGLE, you can always open and view EAGLE files no matter how big in the EAGLE freeware.

      Jorge Garcia
      Cadsoft Support

  3. I like that swirl mode.
    How about having them all pulsate together (slowly at first, increasing in speed, and then it “bursts” into the random mode)?
    {Nikolai will probably never see this.]

  4. I tried to import the pcb’s into pads and it didn’t work, some of the route weren’t routed and would not route. Does anyone have Pcad that they can transfer the board to another format? This project is so cool, I want to make several.

  5. Totally impressive!

    I’d like to see cube and … triangular … versions too.

    FYI, never heard that song before, so looked it up:
    “Still Alive” by GLaDOS & Jonathan Coulton
    Album: Still Alive

  6. That’s far out. No doubt he created something that’s very marketable. B e great to see how the girl friend makes use of the ball in her art.

    So far the free readers that I can find for windows require extra steps to get them. The only open source option I can find require Linux. I guess I’ll have to do a backup, and make this a dual boot machine.

    1. You don’t have to make it dual-boot just for that. If you have a semi-decent machine just get vmware player (free) or virtualbox (GPL), and build a virtual machine. That’s what I do to run windows XP/DOS/OSX/? software on my Linux machine.

  7. Hi all ) Thanks for a nice comments. Im’a a creator of this magic ball.

    So, let me answer some questions about this stuff…
    The agenda isn’t correct. It was a contest on a Russian electronic forum, according the forum’s birthday. I decided to write an article about ball, I made for my friends )) (Btw, I took 2nd place and won a soldering station)

    PJ Allen> I like that swirl mode.
    How about having them all pulsate together (slowly at first, increasing in speed, and then it bursts” into the random mode)?
    {Nikolai will probably never see this.]

    Big brother is watching you )))) It’s easy to program ) Thanks for a good idea.

    Chris> i wanna go into business making these, email me

    Before making excellent business offer, try to count a money for production and profit, you can take. It costs me about 160$ (of course, in industrial area it costs less, but I don’t think you mean >10Kpieces).

    Jomegat> The next step should be to add accelerometers and change the pattern based on how the device moves.

    dbear> Make ‘em RGB, wireless and individually addressable and you have the ultimate Christmas tree ornament

    It will cost, like it’s made of gold ))))

    I think next step (if it will be…) SD card.

    If you have some other questions, you can write a comment on my LJ or email me directly.
    Thanks again.

    1. > Charlie: Are you willing to share the PCB diagram > files? or at least let my purchase a set from you > along with a component list?

      This would make an excellent kit. I would gladly purchase a few.

    2. Warlock,
      My congratulations on your led ball. Would it be possible for you to publish in some place the Gerber files rather than the p-cad format that is not openly available to most people. I have no intention of making money from your design because as you point out the cost of the build is very high and unmarketable. Regards robin.

  8. Maybe I am missing something, but I am a bit confused from what I see on that site. It looks like the data-in and data-out lines are linked from board to board on the bus ring. The processor module drives the first one, and serial data is cascaded to the other shift registers over the bus ring, but I don’t see any break in the cascading carries in the copper on the bus ring. Won’t that cause a conflict if the first register is being driven by both the mcu and and the carry output from the final shift register? Maybe I am missing something Does the primary led board just ignore its data-in from the bus?

    Also, are the individual led chip enable lines just a convenience to deactivate a chip’s leds instead of having to shift in zeros, or is there a better reason those are wired in individually.

  9. this led ball is good,but it only can be used in hand,we have a large one,that can be used in large event for eye catching,www.univiewled.com,it’s a 1 meter led globe displays,total is about 75 Kgs,it’s our hot and popular led displays after it pressed.

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