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 and uC32, 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 you ordered a board months ago and have NOT received a refund - CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY. There are a few boards left for the "back order club" but those who have been waiting the longest get their boards first!!!
Backorders and new orders are finally shipping again!

We currently have code for the Arduino UNO, the ChipKit UNO32 (PIC32MX processor), the ChipKit uC32, 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>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 finally got around to building my music module over Christmas. I bought a couple of cheap MSGEQ7 chips from China and both are faulty. One just provides a pretty constant mid-range voltage for each frequency and the other has poor response on the upper 5 frequencies. I've worked around this in the code while I wait for some more to arrive and am enjoying this feature immensely.</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqg-_flKqEE</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>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>Here is a<br>picture of my past work.</p><p>I have<br>started building a 8x8x8 RGB cube using the PCB and bridge-board from SuperTech-IT.<br>For building the panels I have used the building principle from K.Michalsky<br>/Steve Manley using most of their techniques (see his video under <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vaaau4P1kE" rel="nofollow">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vaaau4P1kE</a>).<br>As most RGB cube builds &ldquo;suffer&rdquo; under the time demanding preparation and<br>bending of the LEDs I have built a dedicated bending tool resulting in a final<br>time demand of 45 seconds per LED for the complete preparation process (bending<br>of the legs of the leds, cutting to right length and bending of the bail). So,<br>for the 512 LED for an 8x8x8 RGB Cube it took less than 6 hours. The final<br>soldering of the panels and installation on the PCB took another hour / panel.<br>I have decided to build the cubes &ldquo;upside down&rdquo; &ndash; meaning the soldering faces<br>are facing to the LEDs making the chips in its sockets easy to assess on the<br>underside. To control the cube I am using the ChipKit uC32 and the<br>Super_Big_Show programmed by Doug Domke. </p><p>But the 8x8x8 RGB cube was just the starting<br>point &ndash; next I extended an 8x8x8 cube to an 8x8x16 &ldquo;pillar&rdquo; by using and an additional board with a 74HCT541 and 8 BD136 PNP<br>transistor to drive layers 9-16. To do so I only had to use additional output<br>pins of the uC32 to connect to the second 74HCT541 on my custom board. To<br>change the routines in the background of Doug Domke&acute;s Super_Big_Show was a bit<br>challenging for me as a beginner in arduino programming but finally I<br>understood the programming principle and was able to adopt most animations the<br>extended possibilities of my &ldquo;pillar&rdquo;. </p><p>But the winter as long &ndash; so there was<br>the desire to have an even bigger led &ldquo;sculpture&rdquo; so I decided to build a<br>16x8x16 LED cuboid based on 2 of SuperTech-IT&acute;s PCB&acute;s. This cuboid has now 2096 RGB LEDs and is still<br>running on a single uC32 arduino with adopted animations of Doug Domke&acute;s<br>Super_Big_Show. </p>
<p>I'd love to hear back from you as to the code you have adapted, and exactly how you interconnected the boards etc. To my knowledge, thus far you are the only one to take advantage of the fact that the boards were designed with the thought that someone might want to do this.</p>
<p>Awesome adaptations!</p>
<p>I currently have one of the eight panels on my board, but was getting annoyed with the size of the Arduino Uno, which I have. I had decided not to get the Uno Eliminator, mainly due to the price, but I realized that the Arduino Pro Mini has the same processor and is basically the same board, so I decided to see if I could use it. I designed a bridge board and set it up, and as far as I can tell. it is even smaller than the Uno Eliminator! When I ordered the custom circuit boards, I had to get them in multiples of three, so I have two extras that I'm willing to sell, if anyone is interested. Here is a picture of one assembled and connected to the base board.For $10, I'll just send the bridge board without the Pro Mini in an envelope. For $20 plus shipping, because once I add the plug it will be too thick for the envelope, I'll connect the Pro Mini so that it's ready to program and plug in to the main board. Unfortunately, the first one I assembled had a defective connection in the bridge board, so if you have me assemble one, I'll test it to make sure it works properly. The Pro Mini is only different from the Uno in size and the fact that it requires an external programmer, which costs less than $5, so it works great with the rest of the cube. It doesn't even hang over the edge at all! Please message me if you're interested in getting one.</p>
<p>That's a nice little piece of work there! Glad to see others are expanding on this project. Hopefully boards will be shipping out again soon. Keep up the good work folks!</p>
<p>When will you have boards available again? Your website shows back order.</p>
<p>boards are shipping again</p>
<p>Is there an ETA on the new batch of boards?</p>
Unfortunately, no. I am trying to save up for a new batch to replace the stolen ones, but as people request refunds because of the delays, those savings go out in the form of refunds, and I am at zero again.<br>It's a bad downward spiral that is starting to get quite depressing.<br>Trust me, if I come into any sort of windfall, or if I get a bunch of orders without refund requests, I will get a new batch ASAP.<br>Unfortunately, current circumstances make it impossible to form any kind of an ETA. Thanks for your patience, and I will keep you all updated.
<p>It's been a couple of months since the last update and several weeks since I placed my order. Can you please provide an update / ETA? I would very much like to keep my order active, however without any updates that is hard to justify. Thanks.</p>
<p>I do provide updates as they occur, but unfortunately I am still in a holding pattern gathering the cash to replace the boards that were lost and/or stolen. Runs are pretty expensive and I am simply not in a position to save much especially as people are asking for refunds - which always provide first. The moment there is an update I will release it. I am currently thinking I may get small batches to at least get the older orders out, but as each run has a $290 tooling and labour cost, doing a number of small runs is counter-productive. I will provide information as it becomes available and/ or changes, or when requested.</p>
<p>Possibly indicating how many orders are needed for you to submit a board run/order would help those who are apprehensive about placing an order. I might order another set, if it would help </p>
<p>I have enough non-refunded orders to warrant a full run - the issue is that I need to gather up the cash myself as the money for the run was spent on a run that got stolen and a partial run that got lost while relocating.</p>
<p>Ant that which did come in after that mostly went to refunding people that could no longer wait for their boards.</p>
<p>To everybody waiting for their boards, I built 2 cubes on those boards. They're definitely worth the wait.</p>
<p>Thanks for your kind words. On top of everything else, I had a pending assault case that was quite disconcerting - however today I was vindicated as the charges were completely withdrawn, putting me back to my lifelong zero record. I have moved again to a temporary location with a good friend, who I will hopefully be getting a permanent location with afterwards. I will keep all of you notified of updates as they become available.</p>
<p>Boards are shipping again. Message me if you didn't get your board(s) yet.</p>
<p>Good news for those that have been waiting (some of you for months) for your product. I have entered a deal with someone that should allow me to finally get EVERYONE's orders out - and hopefully everyone should have their product before Christmas. Negotiations have taken a while, but it looks like our agreement is basically complete, and things should finally get back to normal!</p>
<p>Sorry folks, I was a bit premature - the US distributorship has basically fallen through, so Christmas is not going to be possible. Please trust that I am still working on this, and I will get product out ASAP.</p>
<p>Boards are shipping as normal again. Please contact if you pre-ordered in the last few months and still have not received your board(s).</p>
<p>Outstanding! I am happy for you.</p><p>Rick</p>
<p>Happy Christmas everyone. Here's a short video of the Christmas example from the picube code. Sorry for the video quality - it definitely looks better in the flesh!</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuXgjqpnSfM</p>
<p>UPDATE - NOVEMBER 29, 2016</p><p>NOTICE - ANYONE THAT ORDERED AN RGB MAIN BOARD (WITHOUT BRIDGE) PRIOR TO AUG.15, AND HAS NOT RECEIVED ONE AND DID NOT GET A REFUND, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT SUPERTECH@THELEDCUBE.COM. I HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF MAIN BOARDS THAT TURNED UP, AND I WANT TO GET THE OLDEST ORDERS OUT FIRST !!! THE PRINT SHIPPING LABEL TAGS FOR ORDERS BEFORE THIS TIME ARE NO LONGER SHOWING IN PAYPAL. IF YOU HAVE YOUR PAYPAL ORDER NUMBER, THAT WILL MAKE THINGS EVEN EASIER. Some orders placed after that time are also being filled. A limited number of bridge boards are arriving soon as well, so people that ordered JUST bridge boards are also encouraged to email me your order number. If your name is different in your paypal than in your email, please let me know what name it was ordered under as well.</p>
<p>UPDATE: there are a few bridge boards left so if you have been waiting since April/may/june etc for your boards CONTACT ME ASAP to make sure you get one of the few remaining. Once these are gone, we're going back to backordered until I get more finances to replace the lost and stolen boards.</p>
<p>Finally got around to building my cube and I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.</p><p>I'm driving it directly from a Raspberry Pi - software available from <a href="http://picube.uk/" rel="nofollow"> http://picube.uk/</a></p><p>All Pi models work, even the $4 Pi Zero and with the interactive shell it's much more fun to interact with the cube in real-time and quickly develop new patterns or animations.</p>
<p>Love to see a video of it working.</p>
<p>I've been trying to get some videos but I'm not happy with them - the camera keeps trying to adjust for the changing light level. I've charged up an old digital camera now so will have another go and put something up.</p><p>Here's a short snip from Halloween:</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li3RCMUF5wU</p>
<p>Ha....the ghost was cute. Keep up the good work. Hope you get some Christmas stuff up for the guys! LOL!</p>
<p>Here are a few more videos:</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGqxxk1AsfPjxQ1rm3HgHnuo1Lxf27zUm" rel="nofollow">https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGqxxk1AsfP...</a></p><p>Picube_Zero_Example - cyclone and atom driven by a Pi Zero</p><p>Flow - a new animation I've been working on</p><p>Heart - beating heart that moves back and forth</p><p>Slidetext - text slides in then moves forwards</p><p>SBS - the first five minutes of Super Big Show.</p><p>Ghost - The part of the Halloween show I posted earlier.</p><p>The quality isn't great but enough to show the idea.</p>
<p>You need to set for manual exposure, and adjust the exposure til you get a look you like.</p>
<p>Never played around with a Raspberry Pi before. I can't figure out for the life of me how to get their custom modified Raspbian image to work. Any step by step directions out there? Ck'd YouTube...Nothing </p>
<p>The project README file ( https://github.com/hummypkg/picube/blob/master/README.md ) has some quick start instructions which are probably not detailed enough - drop me a line at help@picube.uk and I'll help you get up and running.</p>
<p>ask fiddaman - I am not a Pi guy</p>
<p>hello! thanks for you board! good job ! i make my own cube led rgb 3d</p><p>But i have a proble when a want to make White color! the white color seem red when it's for a long time(1s). And a few animation flikered when there a three colors..</p><p>Do you have a solution for me, I don't understande the problem:)</p><p>Can you send me the last code for a chipkit uc32, borad v6</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Some LEDs require less current for the RED than the other colours. It's just the way the LEDs are made. The easiest fix is to reduce the RED value (sometimes by as much as half) before the cube is drawn.</p>
<p>ok thanks.</p><p>Why can a reduce the current for the red led? on the code or withe the resistor into dm13a ref?</p><p>My cube Flikered on blue and red and little on green, is it this problem of red led ?</p>
<p>You would do the reduction in the code. The cube should not flicker, although it may under Arduino control a bit. If using an Arduino, I suggest moving up to one of the better (PIC) microcontrollers.</p>
<p>ok, i use the chipkit uc32. </p><p>I will change all the dm13a for fix the problem (flick). it's just for a several animation. </p><p>thanks for you reply.</p>
<p>The DM13A are NOT the problem.</p><p>In the software you can reduce the red overall buy dividing it's value before storing in the matrix.</p><p>The other possibility is to alter the refresh rate.</p><p>If it's only happening in specific animations, it may be that the animation itself is simply taking too much processor for it's calculations to run smoothly.</p>

About This Instructable




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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