From Zero To LED Cube In Less Than Seven Months

We know that LED video cubes are so last year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still love to see them. Any project that incorporates over 24,000 LEDs is bound to be impressive, after all. But the more interesting bit about [Mike Cann]’s self-contained LED cube has more to do with the process he chose to get to the finished product.

There are two ways to approach a new project, especially when you’re new to hardware hacking like [Mike] is. One is to jump in with both feet and just see what happens, for good or for ill. The other is is to ease into it with a starter project, to find out where your limitations lay and work around them gradually. [Mike Cann] wisely chose the latter approach with his LED cube project, starting with an LED sand toy. The single 64 x 64 LED panel was a bit easier to work with, and got him up to speed on the care and feeding of such hardware, as well as the code needed to drive it. The video below tells the tale of scaling that project up by a factor of six to make the cube, a process that had its share of speedbumps. Everything ended up fitting together great, though, letting [Mike] get on to the software side. That’s where this project really shines — the smartphone app running the cube is really slick, and the animations are great.

There’s clearly room for new features on [Mike]’s cube, so here’s hoping he can carve out some time to make a great build even better. For inspiration he might want to check out this side-scrolling Castlevania cube, or perhaps read up on the finer points of OpenGL for LED cubes.

Continue reading “From Zero To LED Cube In Less Than Seven Months”

Gyroscopic Wi-Fi LED Die Is Pretty Fly

As cool as sculptural LED cubes are, the only thing you can really do is look at them. They’re not going to stand up to a lot of handling, and as tedious as it is to bend all those leads when building them, you probably wouldn’t want to mess with them anyway.

LED dice on the other hand are robust, blinky playthings with many possibilities, especially if they have a gyroscope and wireless control like the one [moekoe] built. Inside this tiny 25cm³ die is the equally small ESP8285-01F, which lets [moekoe] control the rainbow light show with a Blynk app.

As you will see in the excellent build video that makes this build look challenging instead of impossible, the cube gets permanently sealed up with solder joints. Most but not all of these transfer power, ground, and data around the faces.

Once the cube is together, [moekoe] uses pogo pins to program it, and can charge the little LiPo inside through contact pads. We love the idea of using a cubical printed jig to help solder the PCB edges together, but not as much as we love [moekoe]’s home-brewed SMT soldering setup.

If you want an easier way to make sculptural LED cubes, build yourself a lead-formin’ machine.

Continue reading “Gyroscopic Wi-Fi LED Die Is Pretty Fly”

It’s An LED Cube, But Maybe Not Quite What You Were Expecting

LED cubes are a pleasing ornament and still something of a talking point, but now they have reached the point of being available as inexpensive kits from China. The simpler ones don’t have quite the cachet they used to. It’s still a project that can deliver a few surprises though, as [Moritz v. Sivers] shows us very well with his glass LED cube. Instead of the usual wire frame construction he’s employed a novel technique of applying each layer of WS2812 LEDs to its own glass PCB.

The PCBs are created with self-adhesive copper foil, cut out with a CNC cutter and painstakingly transferred to the glass substrate with the help of a piece of transfer paper. The LEDs are soldered on, and once each board has been tested they are mounted in the manner of a toast rack to laser cut acrylic corner pieces. There are four layers of 16 LEDs each, which might not make for the largest cube, but still makes for a respectable show. The addressable LEDs take it a level above the 3D matrix type of cube with which you might already be familiar, and the extra time required to load each value into them doesn’t seem to slow the display down.

There are a couple of videos we’ve placed below the break, one showing it in action and the other taking us through the build process. This last one should provide plenty of inspiration for anyone with an interest in creating this type of PCB on glass or any other unusual substrate. Continue reading “It’s An LED Cube, But Maybe Not Quite What You Were Expecting”

A LED Cube Designed For Easy Assembly

LED cubes are mesmerizing and fun, but they’re usually a pain to build. Not so with [burkethos]’s cleanly designed cube. 

Many cubes are put together in an elaborate sculptural style. Traditionally the leads of the LEDs are artistically bent and then hours are spent laboring over the future rainbow Borg cube. This build is more reminiscent of a motherboard or back plane design. The LEDs are surface mount units re-flowed onto a rake shaped PCB. At the base of each “rake” there’s a right angle male header. This is then soldered to base board which creates a reliable mechanical bond.

There are some downsides to this approach. For example, the PCBs occlude the LEDs at some viewing angles. However, this can be mitigated with careful placement in the room, or in one variation, mounting the cube at a different orientation so the rakes are horizontal rather than vertical.

Regardless, we appreciate this new take on an old project and can definitely see it having a more universal appeal than the kits that require a couple weeks of afternoons to finish.

Ambitious LED Cube Provides Endless Video Game Scrolling; Plays Castlevania

LED cubes are all the rage right now, and rightly so given the amount of work that goes into them and the interesting things people find to do with them. Not content to make yet another position-sensitive display or an abstract design, though, [Greig Stewart] opted for something a bit more ambitious: an LED cube with a playable game of Castlevania.

As ambitious projects often do, this one required leveraging the previous art, some of which we’ve featured before. [Greig] pulled inspiration and information from cube builders like [polyfloyd], [Greg Davill], and [kbob] to put the six 64-LED matrix panels to work. Getting the structural elements figured out was an early stumbling block, but [Greig] pulled it off with 3D-printed brackets and a hinge that’s a work of art in itself; the whole thing looks like something the Borg would have built. The Raspberry Pi inside made a Gameboy emulator possible, and his first stab at it was to have six different games running at once, one on each panel. He settled on just one game, the classic side-scroller Castlevania, played on just four of the panels. Some wizardry was required to de-scroll the game so that the character walks around the cube rather than having the background scroll; you can check out the results in the clip below.

Currently, the cube sits on a lazy susan with a small motor controlling the swiveling in response to a foot control. [Greig] wants to put the motor under control of the game so that physical scrolling is synced with gameplay; we heartily endorse that plan and look forward to the results.

Continue reading “Ambitious LED Cube Provides Endless Video Game Scrolling; Plays Castlevania”

Giant LEDs, Ruby Lasers, Hologram Displays, And Other Cool Stuff Seen At Maker Faire Rome

Hackers from all over Europe descended upon Rome last weekend for the Maker Faire that calls itself the “European Edition”. This three-day event is one of the largest Maker Faires in the world — they had 27,000 school students from all over Italy and Europe attend on Friday alone.

This was held at Fiera Roma, a gigantic conference complex two train stops south of the Rome airport — kind of in the middle of nowhere. I was told anecdotally that this is the largest event the complex hosts but have no data to back up that claim. One thing’s for certain, three days just wasn’t enough for me to enjoy everything at the show. There was a huge concentration of really talented hardware hackers on hand, many who you’ll recognize as creators of awesome projects regularly seen around Hackaday.

Here’s a whirlwind tour of some of my favorites. On that list are a POV holographic display, giant cast-resin LEDs, an optical-pump ruby laser built out of parts from AliExpress, blinky goodness in cube-form, and the Italian audience’s appreciation for science lectures (in this case space-related). Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Giant LEDs, Ruby Lasers, Hologram Displays, And Other Cool Stuff Seen At Maker Faire Rome”

Hackaday Podcast 035: LED Cubes Taking Over, Ada Vanquishes C Bugs, Rad Monitoring Is Hot, And 3D Printing Goes Full 3D

Hackaday Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams get caught up on the most interesting hacks of the past week. On this episode we take a deep dive into radiation-monitor projects, both Geiger tube and scintillator based, as well as LED cube projects that pack pixels onto six PCBs with parts counts reaching into the tens of thousands. In the 3D printing world we want non-planar printing to be the next big thing. Padauk microcontrollers are small, cheap, and do things in really interesting ways if you don’t mind embracing the ecosystem. And what’s the best way to read a water meter with a microcontroller?

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (63 MB)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 035: LED Cubes Taking Over, Ada Vanquishes C Bugs, Rad Monitoring Is Hot, And 3D Printing Goes Full 3D”