It's been a long time coming, but my Universal RGB cube is finally ready!

Now we can run the animations and use the code by both Kevin Darrah and Nick Schulze (slightly modified, but basically identical - minor timing and layer control tweaks were all that was needed). Plus Doug Domke made a whole new set of code from scratch that makes creating your own animations easy!

Although the majority of the code written is for the ChipKit UNO32, Kevin's code for the Arduino UNO, and the version I ported to the Arduino MEGA2560 work on the same cube just by adding a couple jumper caps.

TO THOSE THAT CAME HERE BECAUSE YOU FOUND THE PARTS KIT FOR THIS PROJECT ON eBay - NO the parts kit does NOT include the circuit board - it's the parts kit FOR the circuit board. Inbox me for direct board pricing and availability or go to www.TheLEDCube.com . I do ship worldwide. Please make sure you get your parts kit from the links there - don't use the cheaper kits offered by sellers other than WKWS20 .

Once you select the circuit board, you will see links down the right for any parts kits etc you might need.

To those that got the Mini Music Module before Feb 2015 - due to a change in the parts kit, the USB port MUST BE MOUNTED TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOARD!!! The V4.X music modules fix this, as well as an input sensitivity issue.

ATTENTION: If your layers 5, 6, and 7 are not working on your Arduino UNO, there is a code fix. Please download the new RGB Arduino parallel code!

We currently have code for the Arduino UNO, the ChipKit UNO32 (PIC32MX processor), The Arduino MEGA2560, and my UNO Eliminator boards [discontinued except by special order in favour of the bridge boards] (which get rid of the last of the wires)

Jerry Lesnefsky and Karl Moeller made a great little music module that fits onto the base / driver board, and allows the PIC ChipKit Eliminator to plug right onto it - and in the process, noticed the the I/O Aux header has A2 and A8 labelled backwards on the eliminator board !!!! If you are hand wiring a music module to your ChipKit Eliminator, please make note of this!

SPECIAL THANKS to Doug Domke who is making firmware templates for the PIC32 (ChipKit UNO32) which work much more like standard Arduino code so that we can more easily create animations on the PIC.

See his page at http://d2-webdesign.com/cube for information and downloads. I will add code here as I create more animations using his template.

This was originally inspired by the project by Nick Schulze, and then added to using the project by Kevin Darrah.

You can use the cube assembly method Nick Schulze at HowNotToEngineer.com uses, however I did develop my own assembly method. Nick's method is great if you enjoy woodworking, or you can use mine if not.


When I first started looking for my Next Big Project (after the original 8X8X8 LED mono colour cube) my searches came overwhelmingly to two.

Nick Schulze and Kevin Darrah.

My problem is that I don't get along well with wood. It's just a medium I haven't mastered.

That's why my previous cube assembly method used a cardboard motherboard box for the LED layer template.
It did work extremely well though, and I was quite happy with the results!

So, with that in mind, I WILL show you how I built mine (steps 9 to 15 currently) but initially we will go on the assumption that you will build Nick's assembly rig modified to a 26.5mm spacing to fit my board.
If you'd rather just build it the way I built mine, go directly to step 9. It seems others are finding my assembly method to be favourable to the big wooden rigs. Once you have your notched rulers made, you never need make another measurement with my method.

Please also see the original projects if you want schematics or theory of operation etc. I am not here to re-invent the wheel. I am here to bring these projects to those that:
otherwise couldn't have made them;
tried to make them and failed;
cannot read a schematic;
are overwhelmed with the magnitude of wiring involved;
are (like myself) not good carpenters ;
want a portable or "neat" looking project;
require the cube to be portable;
or a plethora of other reasons.
If you are looking for schematics and the technical info on how it all works, please go to these links:

How Not To Engineer - RGB Cube project by Nick Schulze

Dedicated To Design - RGB Cube project by Kevin Darrah

All the theory and design and schematics that I used to base this circuit on are there. For the most part, my circuit very closely conforms to Nick's except that I use through hole chips rather than SMT.
My chips are just a touch slower, so I had to modify Nick's code to widen a couple pulses, but other than that, his code is stock.

Feel free to ask questions about my design other than "do you have schematics" or "can I have the Eagle files".

I don't design with Eagle, and I also don't make schematics. I design the PCBs in my head, and go right to design on the fly. I don't know why I work this way, I just always have, and it works for me...at least eventually...

I almost always have flaws in the initial designs that do not present themselves until I start building the project.

That's when a new version is made. Minor tweaks or additions are the revisions within those versions.

It took me until Version 3 Revision 4 of the PC Board before I was ready to make an instructable for it.

I am happy to clarify anything you don't quite get about the way it all works etc. (assuming I fully understand it myself enough to explain it better than the original explanations. The hardware I can easily explain - the software is better explained by the authors).

Step 1: Eliminating the wires and mess

As you may know from my previous instructable "CHR's 8X8X8 LED Cube Revisited with improvements!" the one thing I hate is wires, and the one thing I love to do is take an otherwise daunting or nearly impossible build, and make it so anyone who can solder can build it, even if they don't understand why and how it works.
I felt that the projects these two guys made needed to be more accessible to the more general public.

Many people wanted to make the original 8X8X8 LED cube, but either couldn't read the schematics, had trouble understanding the instructions, or got close, but just couldn't get the darn circuit to work!

Once again, I have taken the mess of wires and circuit building that prevent most people from being able to make these, and made a circuit board to handle it.

After all, who has time to wire it like that???

One of these is the project by Kevin Darrah - it's the one that uses the Arduino and has the hand wired circuit.

The other - and the inspiration for my board - is by Nick Schulze. It uses the ChipKit UNO32 which uses a PIC microcontroller rather than the ATmega328P. He made a circuit board, but one issue is that it takes SMT chips, and a lot of people aren't comfortable soldering those.

The other problem is that there's STILL 200 wires to run to the cube from the board.

<p>For those who have been asking, I finally have the definitive answer...</p><p>With the discontinuation of the ChipKit UNO32, many have been asking if the ChipKit uC32 will work. I am happy to report that mine arrived today, and yes, it appears to be 100% backward compatible. I connected the bridge and music module, uploaded the code (don't forget to change your board type in the MPIDE) and PRESTO - it all worked right out of the box! This along with now having music response code for the Arduino MEGA2560 (Thanks David Yee) is good news for us all !!.</p>
<p>On the V5 and above boards, people are asking about the LED EN pads. They are for jumper pins so you can enable or disable the onboard power LEDs. Alternatively, you can put in a resistor to just dim them. Don't ask what value, how dim you want your LEDs is a personal preference, so you'll just have to play with the value.</p>
<p>IF YOU ARE JUST GETTING YOUR BOARDS NOW - Please watch the following video in it's entirety. Hopefully it'll answer all the question you were about to ask me ahead of time.</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll8ayM7O744</p>
<p>Hi i am very interested in purchasing the complete package from you </p>
<p>The V4.5 music module code for the ChipKit is now out.</p><p>I am going to start working on Arduino code soon now.</p>
<p>Just finished my first cube. Spent 3 days to assemble the cube. I use <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxmLUiM0Y4VZUR87m-FQGeg" rel="nofollow">Steve Manle</a>y's way to put LEDs together, what really save a lot of time is the PCB boards from SuperTech-IT)))</p>
<p>here is a short video</p>
<p>Awww...arduino...too bad , I would have loved to see them running Left / Right audio! If you want to sometime though, we can try some linking experiments to control both cubes with one arduino!</p>
<p>Have to make a audio module for new cube . Linking the two up sounds interesting I have two chipkit unos but have to make another board to hook without wirers. </p>
<p>Inbox me and I'll give you a deal on a pair of bridge boards and music modules.</p>
<p>The above master panel test code isn't the one in the video. It was written by Jeff DeSilva who wrote it to test his cube-in-progress.</p><p>I liked it, so I put it up for others to benefit from and to aid in troubleshooting.</p>
<p>I got a bad MSGEQ7 in my parts kit - so if that happens to any of you, contact the parts supplier. What mine does is very low response on the first 3 frequencies, and almost nothing on the upper 4. With another chip though, it works like a champ. Just remember that the USB port mounts on the BOTTOM of the music module!</p>
<p>I have caught a board fabrication mistake in the V4.0 Rev.3.11 boards the connects a blue output to a green input in the top row of chips. The fix should be fairly simple for most. Cut one trace on the top, one on the bottom, and put in a jumper wire. This happened apparently when the fabricator was adjusting some of my traces to not be so close to the VIAs.</p><p>There are many ways to fix it, but I have proposed the easiest I can find here, since if you have kynar wire, you can strip it and put it through the VIA holes and solder it. If you don't, it's still easy enough to solder your jumper wire to the VIA pads.</p><p>In red, you will see the TOP layer of the board, and in green, you will see the bottom. The bottom layer image is flipped over so it looks exactly as it would if you were viewing the bottom of the board when it's flipped over.</p>
<p>The other fabrication error is on the bottom of the board near the BLUE 1 chip.</p><p>Too large a VIA pad was used, and it shorts to a line running past it.</p>
<p>This fix also applies boards from V3 Rev5 up to V4 Rev3.11</p>
<p>I just bought one on eBay, but I haven't gotten it in yet. Just follow these instructions? Also, for someone new to this type of project, is this intractable still the best place for an 8x8x8 RGB LED Cube or is there something updated? Specifically with doing the wooden rig and bends.</p>
<p>Please note - if the first repair was already made to your board, you will need to make the second repair noted above by cutting the oversized VIA pad away from the trace it shorts to. This applies to all who purchased between December 1st and December 8th. (the boards that shipped on the 8th have had both repairs made, and any purchases after this will be repaired prior to shipping. The upcoming rev.3.12 boards have been redesigned with these errors fixed.)</p>
<p>I update this instructable on a regular basis if anthing changes. To my knowledge, this is the best instructable on this project.</p>
<p>Ive had my cube for many months, but now I have a column that's completely bright green. All 8 lights are lit, and bright, at all times.</p><p>If this is leaking current, I have no idea which one it is. Could it be two LED's that all the sudden started leaking? Could multiple LED's start leaking after many months? What else could it be?</p><p>Thanks in advance.</p><p>Matthew</p>
<p>My guess is the DM13A has blown an output. Swap it for another.</p>
<p>The last reply didn't make it to the main page so I am going to post here that the chip was the issue. I had some spares, so I sent one out with the bridge boards that <a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/senohpoxas88/" rel="nofollow" style="">senohpoxas88</a> ordered after we identified the exact chip as being the issue.</p>
<p>Hi SuperTech, I finished your RGB Cube nearly a year after buying the board from you Ver 4 Rev 1 (had a leg amputated inbetween). It sits on a 2 inch high base covered with a 300mm Perspex box.When I received the bridge boards they would not fit inside the box so a 20 pin socket is fitted on the outside of the base and the bridge boards fit vertically at the back. I run all three platforms(Ard uno,2560 and uc32) with the music module. Not being a techie I depend on you guys for the programs which are fantastic, everyone sits mesmerised by it. The problem that I have is that layers 2 and 7 have stopped working, would the PNP Transistors or the DM13A be the cause of this, it happens on all three platforms. Any answer would be appreciated. Will be ordering a second board in the next couple of weeks. Best Regards </p>
My first guess is the cable that runs to the socket at the back.<br>Take the hood off and try attaching a bridge direct to the board.<br>If all works, then fix your cable and/or sockets.<br>
<p>Hi, all sockets and cable work fine so that is not the problem.</p>
<p>Did you attach the bridge directly to the base to try this out ? It would appear that the signal from the bridge isn't making it to the transistors, so with very very little between them, the first thing to rule out would be the socket and cable. Next is the driver/buffer chip near the reset button. After that, check the resistors going to the transistor bases, the transistors, and the wires running to the layers themselves.</p>
<p>Awww, I missed it...happy belated 1 year anniversary RGB Cube instructable!</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>Great project but somewhat confusing with the plethora of software downloads.</p><p>Looking on Nicks site I see many updates to what is here, particularly the music module firmware and Music CubeApp template.</p><p>I have ordered your base board, MEGA2650 bridge board and the music module board from you, plus the necessary components.</p><p>I have also ordered a Mega2560 R3 Board ATmega2560-16AU + ATMEGA16U2 which will have the bootloader installed. </p><p>Can you PLEASE advise the latest firmware required to run this setup and where to get it.</p><p>I am new to Arduino; always used PIC's and Mikroelektronika MikroC Pro for PIC IDE/compiler.</p><p>I have downloaded the Arduino IDE, is this correct as I read somewhere to use a modified version (mpide-0023-windows-20111221)?</p><p>Thanks.</p>
<p>You can get the latest software here. You can run any software with 2560 in the name on your Arduino MEGA2560. The latest firmware is by David Yee and incorporates the Music Module routines. I am sure there will be some updates as this is a first release with music response, but it'll work for you. MPIDE is for the ChipKit UNO32 and ChipKit uC32, not the Arduinos. You can get the latest Arduino IDE directly from the Microchip website. All the firmware for my circuit boards I try to keep on both TheLEDCube.com and in this instructable.</p>
<p>I'll make a video later, but the long awaited Arduino music code is here.</p><p>Just for the Arduino MEGA2560 for the moment, but I am sure we'll have something for the UNO later on.</p><p>David Yee took the code I ported over to the MEGA from the UNO code by Kevin Darrah, and using my ChipHit UNO music code as a guide, produced code that wirks with the V4.5 music module on the Arduino MEGA2560.</p><p>The buttons function the same way as in the ChipKit code I wrote. Some of the displays function a bit differently, but till look great.</p><p>Thanks David for your efforts.</p>
<p>Hi SuperTech,</p><p>I'm waaay behind on my projects and wanted to check and see if there are any issues with my board labeled board 3.0 Rev4 (bought it in Aug 2014 I think). I see your comments apply to boards 3.0 Rev5 and up.</p><p>TIA. Cheers.</p>
<p>That's the board you see in all my videos - no mods necessary.</p>
<p>Great, thanks for the confirmation!</p>
<p>Hi, I have V5 Rev. 1 of the baseboard. What is LED_EN at the bottom right of the board next to the two LED's?</p>
<p>It's for a jumper to enable or disable those 2 LEDs (some people find them annoying unless they are having power issues)</p>
<p>Just finishing putting together the board with components bought from Hong Kong. Everything is great except the parts count. I am short (1) 0.1mF cap and have an extra 10mF cap. The only thing I can see is that on some pics of older boards - the 10mF cap went just above and to the right of the reset switch. On my board, that spot is marked as a 0.1mF cap, which is different from older boards. I can send a pic if I need to. Can you clarify the cap needed?</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>If you have to you can use the 10uF, but you will need to remove the reset link jumper on the bridge board when programming the chip, or disconnect the bridge from the base.</p>
<p>I finally <br>started my cube but have struck problems.</p><p>Board Vers 3 <br>Rev 5.1 purchased Sep 2014</p><p>Chipkit Uno <br>and Mega2560</p><p>I installed <br>components on board and mounted the master panel <br>and used Chipkit master panel test code, everything worked straightaway <br>which is great because I've never soldered electronic components before. I <br>continued with panel 2 then 3 then 4 everything worked well. Then I connected <br>the anodes to the relevant layer and tested and it ran all the routines from <br>Doug's version 1 template, great!!! When <br>I installed panel 5 it did not work properly so I removed it from board and <br>retested without the 5th panel but the remainder of the panels did not work as <br>before, I was getting random lighting of columns. I checked the <br>troubleshooting guide and have checked <br>soldering, swapped chips and even have tried a second Chipkit Uno and now even <br>using a bridge board.</p><p>Currently have <br>disconnected anodes wire to panels 2,3,4 <br>and running only the master panel and I am getting all permanent green columns with part of the routines on top <br>as in video</p><p>I have <br>another components kit that I have purchased so can swap more components if <br>need be.</p><p>What have I done wrong ? Any help appreciated.</p><p>Thanks Dan</p>
<p>Cube working great now after replacing all the chips a second time.</p>
<p>that should never happen unless you had loose solder joints, were using the wrong voltage, or got your parts kit from China instead of Hong Kong</p>
<p>Nice project. But really, Hong Kong is a city in China, so what you say makes no sense at all.</p>
<p>Please check out the actual logistics of that. TECHNICALLY you are right, however they are still very very different places, even though they are on a strictly technical basis one part of the other.(reference <a href="http://gohongkong.about.com/od/travelplanner/a/hongkongcountry.htm" rel="nofollow">http://gohongkong.about.com/od/travelplanner/a/hon...</a> )</p><p>To quote the article...&quot;for all PRACTICAL purposes, Hong Kong is actually a separate country to China.&quot;</p><p>Also, the ads of the parts on ebay specifically say HONG KONG from my supplier, and CHINA on the ads that ripped off their ad and use the inferior parts. I would like to point out though that your comment was not constructive to the project at all, and therefore should have been made as a private message rather than just trying to be a smartypants in public.</p>
<p>I think I <br>caused some of the problems by continually resoldering the sockets. On <br>occasions because of the lack of clearance under the 1st layer I left the chips <br>in situ whilst soldering which probably caused them to fail.</p><p>All the <br>parts (2 sets) were sourced from the recommended supplier in Hong Kong only <br>this last lot of DM13a chips were sourced from a different supplier in Hong <br>Kong not China.</p><p>Thanks for your help all working great now.</p>
check your inbox for my skype address. We're going to have to do a live troubleshoot on this one.
<p>Do not have Skype so will need to set it up</p>
<p>Look for the design flaw above which states &quot;This fix also applies boards from V3 Rev5 up to V4 Rev3.11&quot; and implement the fix.</p><p>If that doesn't work, then get back to me. You got lucky for a bit it looks like, and the flaw didn't present itself til you got to the 5th panel.</p>
<p>At green4 it does not intersect the trace ??? so do I have the problem?</p>
<p>Sorry for not being clear. I have found the area near blue 1. What I wanted to know is at green 4 do the boards that have the defect have the trace intersecting like you have drawn in the right hand picture because on my board there is no intersection (my photo and like your middle photo no trace intersecting) .Therefore my board might not have the problem.???</p>
<p>you want to look near blue 1 for the error in the single photo </p>
<p>So on the bottom of the board, with the board flipped over, it'll be near the left chip (blue 1 is on the right when the board is right side up)</p>
<p>The printed bridge boards are done. After much deliberation it was deemed more cost effective to simply have one bridge board for each type of prototyping board, and one universal music module that can plug onto any of the bridge boards.</p><p>The universal mini music modules are coming soon.</p><p>In the mean time, I used the music module made by Jerry Lesnefsky and Karl Moeller which was the inspiration for the layout of the boards. My music modules will have more features, but you'll get the idea.</p>

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Bio: Just getting into the microcontroller craze. I used to do this sort of thing building circuits for 8 bit microprocessors back in the early 80s ... More »
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