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.


28 thoughts on “The Best LED Cube Build We’ve Seen

    1. Is there one for 3D space? haven’t come across it yet.
      If you did have a game of life with a cube like this you would need to run it pretty slow otherwise you would fill up all the LEDs pretty quick.

      1. No idea, but he can always run multiple games at once, one for each level of LEDs.

        Alternatively, he could have the vertical axis represent time, where the top layer is the only one active and the layers beneath form a visible history.

  1. Very nice!

    Maybe someone knows if this is done already:

    You know those laser engraved glass cubes? I was wondering: could you place a projector below a glass cube and engrave rows and columns of dots in the cube? I think it could look like a LED cube, but without the wires so the 3D effect would be more visible.

      1. “But engraving dots IN a one-piece glass tube is hard.”
        I know, but there are companies who can do it for you.
        By the way, I think it’s a kind of crystal instead of glass.

      2. You haven’t seen those laser engraved glass paperweights? They design 3D shapes into clear blocks of something-or-other, I’d guess polycarbonate rather than glass though. Exactly what was suggested here.

        The trouble would be that you’d have to offset the columns. Otherwise the bottom plane of cavities would pick up everything. Check out the volumetric display using string, it’s somewhere here on HaD

      3. We pioneered this back in the early 90’s when we were working on engraving whiskey bottles for anti counterfeiting for a very large whiskey producer in Scotland.
        We wanted to engrave the manufacturers code inside the glass and did it successfully with a q-switched YAG laser. put the focus in the middle of the glass, fire the laser and hey presto you have imperfection in the glass at the focal point.
        Sounds easy eh!!

  2. Use a laser, like those “bubble” glass blocks?
    I think they use a special glass which is prone to melt at the points the lasers intersect, causing a visible dot.
    Set it up so all the dots are at slightly different levels and it should work.

  3. why has some company not sandwiched some OLED panels with transparent thin film transistors and tin indium oxide as a semiconductor together ? you could create a very high DPI 3d transparent block with enough panels. everyone is still trying to ionize gas with lasers to make 3d images

  4. As someone who designed a 5x5x5 LED cube/music bandpass analyzer from the ground up, I have to get this guy mad props. People don’t realize how time consuming these things are. The cube itself is very tricky to assemble and make it look good, but the programming…. Good god, the programming!

  5. While I’m no longer capable of doing so now I could have built the LED cube in the past. But even if I knew how to write the program, I probably wouldn’t have had the imagination to make it look good while running. Any pride in craftsmanship here is surely justified. Good work.

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