LEDs are awesome, they are so tiny but bright, colorful but easy to control. Many of us start to know LED since our first lessons of electronics. And my love to LEDs started at the same time. Once I showed a LED demo to my friends at work. A girl said:I love LEDs, I gonna marry to LEDs.(she said that for real :)) I believe many of you share the same love,too.
One LED by itself is cool enough, but by the nature of human kind, we are making LEDs cooler and cooler. LED strips made one spot to a line, Matrix made it a 2D surface, some genius made LED Cubes to light up 3D space(search LED Cube projects on instructable, or check out this video, my favorite. You can even buy a 3 x 3 LED Cube kit in Radioshack for 20 bucks ).
These fancy cubes blew my mind when the first time I saw them. I knew I want to build one instantly. After some online research and messed with radioshack kit for a while. I feel it is not a easy job for me to build a big(at least 6x6x6) single color LED cube, let alone the cool RGB I want. You need pretty good soldering skills to make it work and looks nice. A lot of wiring and complicated coding.
Don't be discouraged by me though, there are good enough tutorials for you to go through. And some practice can make perfection. I just don't have enough time and effort to build this ultimate LED challenge(for me). I just want to build something nice before my girlfriend's birthday(not a whole lot time), as a gift.
So the goal here for me is, to design something as cool as LED cube, but easier to build, saves time and may be money. I started to do more research about light shows, figured edge lighting is also cool. After some doodling, I got a idea: what if we use a LED matrix and many pieces of clear plastic, to light up a 3D space?
But how could it have the depth of field(the third dimension)? By looking at those edge lighting designs, it seems wherever is cut or sanded will catch the photons. So on the clear parts in each row/column, if they have areas in different height are etched/ sanded, a third dimension is added.