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

If when you are done, you love this project as much as I do, please vote for any contests I might be in.

Trust me, I have some cool ideas in mind for all the prizes being offered !!!

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 TheLEDCube dot com. I do ship worldwide.

PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO A fabrication error - if you have a V4.0 Rev 3.11 purchased on or before December 1st, a small trace repair is needed - PLEASE contact me IMMEDIATELY for info. I'll post more info here as well. Any boards purchased AFTER this date will have this repair already done. Boards purchased before December 8th require a second fix as well where the fabricator made one of the VIA pads too large and it shorts to one of the traces that run past it. A simple cut fixes this.

It's not a necessary part when using a switching supply (power brick) but the issue is the supplier switched to a 10V cap from the original 50V cap specified in my BOM to them. You can either leave the cap out completely, or put one in that is rated at at least 35V.

We currently have code for the Arduino UNO, the ChipKit UNO32 (PIC32MX processor), and my UNO Eliminator boards (which get rid of the last of the wires) !!!! UPDATE: We now have code for the Arduino MEGA2560 (I just ported over the Arduino UNO code and made it work for the MEGA2560 so we have way more program space now!)

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 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 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 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).

Paso 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 180 wires to run to the cube from the board.

<p>If you're wishing there was a power switch on the project - try one of these ~</p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>
<p>Why would you want to turn it off? :)</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>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>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>Please note, the new eliminators do not have the SPI layer control anymore.</p><p>Do not install the parts in the red areas. Because of an issue with the FTDI chips, the USB function is not implemented.</p>
<p>Is there an easy way to test if an LED is leaking reverse current before soldering an entire panel to the board? I've got my second panel put together and needed to change 4 of them already.</p>
no, because it's usually the soldering process that degrades the LED in the first place.
<p>Got the first layer done, and it works great on the UNO, but success with the Mega. One column would randomly light up, and couldn't figure out what happened. So I tried the UNO, and had much more success! I even tried changing around a few of the pins (it looks like latch and pin were set to the same as layers 1 &amp; 2), but that also didn't work. Any other thoughts?</p><p>Also, I eventually want to add the music module, can I do that with the Arduino? It seems as though all of Doug's code is for the ChipKit. </p><p>Thanks,</p><p>Matthew</p>
Make sure your single stream configuration jumpers are in place.<br>Yes, I wrote all the music code on Doug's template for the ChipKit.<br>I will be writing some for the Arduinos soon.<br>I will be making sure the code conforms to the soon to be released mini music module which will stack onto the bridge boards.<br>Yes, you can hand wire the music input as per the schematic in the instructable - but as you have noted, there is no code YET for the Arduino side to use the music module.
Do any jumpers have to change from the Arduino UNO to the MEGA? If so, I missed them. Works great on the UNO.<br><br>It seems like the best animations are going to be on the ChipKit anyway, so I can just pick one up. Loving the fact that its universal!<br><br>If you need or want a tester on your music module, let me know, ill buy one!
<p>the jumpers for the Arduino are for either/both arduinos.</p><p>Double check your wiring. If it's still messed up, take photos of the wiring hookup and I'll see if I can figure out what you did wrong. Most often, people think that pins 51 and 52 are at the very end of that row, but the very last pins in that column are ground, 52 is the next row over, and 51 is diagonal up and over from that</p>
<p>Hi, I love this project!!! Have a little problem though: I don't seem to have any layer separation... I mean all layers seem to be getting the same signal.. Does that mean that I fried the driver? I did plug in 12V while my power jumper was set on 5V for about 30 seconds...Ouch!!! (Dumbass!!) Everything else seems to be working fine. Thanks for the inspiration. </p>
<p>I inboxed you - please go to your private messages for details, and I'll be with you shortly to see if we can't fix it.</p>
<p>SuperTech:</p><p>I finished the board. Fantastic project! Thanks for all your help. I'm now writing some animations. I'd be happy to share the animations, if I knew where to post the code.</p><p>One suggestion/request. Since I have found it such fun to play with the animations, it makes using the ArduinoMega2560 almost mandatory (with out having to delete other animations). But now I have wires with a not so perfect connections. How about making a simple board that plugs into the Mega and plugs into your driver board. It would be bulkier that you design, but it would make playing with the code much easier!</p><p>Just a thought, and I stand by to see the next projects you create!</p><p>Laurence</p>
<p>The bridge boards are in the works, and will be released in the next month or 2. My first set has problems and have set me back both financially and time wise.</p>
<p>Fantastic! Sign me up for one. I'll be happy to pay in advance if that would help.</p>
<p>I don't know what they will cost yet, but thanks!</p>
<p>SuperTech:</p><p>I finished the board. Fantastic project! Thanks for all your help. I'm not writing some animations. I'd be happy to share the animations, if I knew where to post the code.</p><p>One suggestion/request. Since I have found it such fun to play with the animations, it makes using the ArduinoMega2560 almost mandatory (with out having to delete other animations). But now I have wires with a not so perfect connections. How about making a simple board that plugs into the Mega and plugs into your driver board. It would be bulkier that you design, but it would make playing with the code much easier!</p><p>Just a thought, and I stand by to see the next projects you create!</p><p>Laurence</p>
<p>I can't seem to find a good picture of the anode (layer wires) connecting back down to the board. Could you possibly add a bit of detail or an image here? It would really help! Thanks!</p>
Let me know what's confusing you, and if I cannot explain it, I'll take a photo.<br>Layer 1 is closest to the PCBoard, layer 8 is at the top of the cube.<br>Each layer connection simply runs up to a point on the anode grid for it's layer.
<p>Did you bend it and run them parallel to the LED lines? I would just love to see how you made it look. </p><p>I'm using the ruler method and made about 5 columns, but it seems that when I add the second ruler, the LED's shift quite a bit. Im trying sticky tack and that makes them stay quite a bit better, but then its a hassle to get off afterwards.</p>
<p>Sharing a video of my build. Now let's make it 16x8x8! </p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow">CLICK ME</a></p>
<p>Awesome demo!</p>
<p>This was a fun project. Yes, it involves a lot of soldering and repetitive tasks due to the nature of the it. But it turned out very well and was definitely worth the time invested. I am running my cube with an Arduino Uno. I had some trouble determining the correct code for the Arduino, but Supertech-it helped be get the right one. I ordered the board and parts from Supertech-it on ebay and received them fairly quickly. In addition I used 150' of 22awg bare wire, ribbon cable to connect the Arduino, and lots and lots of solder. Oh, one tip on the soldering - Buy a rosin flux pen as suggested in the instructions. It makes a huge improvement on how the solder flows on the LED connections.</p>
<p>Hi snafu86,</p><p>How come u only used 150 wires? I thought it would 192 ( 64 LED x 3 cathodes) + 64 ( anodes wires horizontally) = 256 ?</p>
<p>Look closely - he didn't say he used qty 150, he said 150' - which is how Americans say 150 feet. Ya I know, they and 1 other country are still not on the metric system. Maybe some day they will catch up, but until then, look for measurements like 5' 10&quot; which means 5 feet and 10 inches.</p>
<p>So do we need to purchase 150' of wire in addition to the LED's and part kit from Amazon, or does buying both of those things get us everything that we need?</p>
<p>the LEDs and parts kit are on ebay, not amazon. Likewise, you can get wire there <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p><p>to find the other items, just put SuperTech-IT into the ebay search bar. You will also find trhe boards, but it's cheaper to get them direct from me since then I don't need to pay the ebay fees.</p>
<p>you'll need some form of wire - this is not part of any of the kits</p>
<p>Oh ! goodness me. Thanks for that!</p>
<p>I bought the wire online from Jameco Electronics. You can also get it via Amazon (100 foot reel bus bar hookup wire)</p>
<p>Nice looking cube! Thanks for posting! out of curiosity, what are you powering it with?</p>
<p>I had an old Radio Shack 5 volt (2A) power adapter laying around that seems to be doing an adequate job. </p>
<p>Nice. Ya, you're not likely to get any benefit if you moved up to a 100A supply, so it's fine. The cube rarely driws an amp, and that's with a chipkit. With the Arduino it uses even less.</p>
<p>SuperTech:</p><p>I'm using Board Ver 4 Rev 3.11. I have 6 panels installed without problems, working well. On panel 7 (counting from the reset switch) the first green column stays lit (all 8 led's at the same brightness). Disconnecting the green column wire, I see no pulses coming from the board to the green column. The red and blue led's work fine for the entire panel.</p><p>Could my driver chip be bad? Or could it be a short in the board? As the two other colors are working OK, it seems unlikely that the column is wired incorrectly....maybe.</p><p>Many thanks!</p>
<p>Thanks for finding this issue. I have now documented it on the main page of the instructable, and any boards going out after today will have this fixed already.</p>
<p>The ICSP controller I picked up for the Arduino Eliminator has a linear 6 pin congifuration. I can't find the pin out configuration of the 3x3 ICSP connector on the Eliminator board anywhere. Can you publish the pinout configuration of the Eliminator board for the ICSP? Many thanks...</p>
<p>So I should run the 5v from the driver board to the 5v pin on the ChipKit Uno, or to the VIN pin?</p><p>After reviewing some of the wiring schematics on Jameco, I'm thinking that it doesn't support both audio channels. When I connected the output to some amplified speakers and the module via a dual adapter, there was a lot of static and feedback. I disconnected the black wire (right channel) from the module and have gotten much better results. </p>
<p>5V to 5V OR 3.3V to 3.3V.</p><p>it's a mono in. that's why in the schematic above, there's a 22K on each channel, and then they are tied together. It's basically a stereo to mono converter.</p><p>Don't forget that .01uF from the audio in to the signal.</p>
<p>Hi supertech i m still confuse on the 5V to 5V. Base on KDLaun question, do we put the 5v OUtput pin from the driver into the 5V on chipkit uno or the Vin? When u say 5v to 5v or 3.3v to 3.3v, im a little confuse cause isnt the 5v and 3.3v pin on the chipkit uno OUTPUT pins? and the only input pins there is to power the chipkit without a USB or external power is from Vin? </p>
<p>I said exactly what I meant so that there cannot be any confusion.</p><p>You can connect the 5V on the base to the 5V (NOT the Vin) on the chipkit - OR you can connect the 3.3V on the base to the 3.3V on the chipkit.</p><p>If you are connecting the 3.3V lines together, you must be powering the BASE. If you connect the 5V lines, you can put the power into the base or the chipkit to run both boards.</p>
<p>I opted for a different construction method: although a lot more slower than recommended. But I do have the same, unobstructed view on all four sides.</p>
<p>I would love to see the process you used, although I believe I know this method from another set of youtube videos. Had I come across it sooner, I may have designed the board to accommodate it. Maybe the next iteration of the board will be a hybrid that easily allows for both methods. Unfortunately a shipment just came in, and it may be a while before enough of these are sold for me to be able to get another set made. I'd love to see some videos of it running on the last step though - it looks stunning! Well done!</p>
<p>Thanks! It was quite a lot of fun assembling the cube. I will do a little blub on how I did it + pictures and upload some vids. The UNO and Chipkit Eliminators was sure was worth doing!</p><p>On the PIC codes: I love Nick Schulze's animations! Is there any way I can combine them with yours &amp; Doug's? I'm still trying to get my head around these animation templates, but any help will be appreciated!</p>
<p>Neither myself nor Doug could wrap our minds around Nick's code - this is why Doug made / is making his templates. They allow people to much more easily write their own animations (like my music response routines). </p><p>I did find <a href="" rel="nofollow" style="">Steve Manley's</a> cube construction video - and once again - I made my cube the way I did because I am no good with woodworking...but hey - if it worked for you, then great...and like I said, I may make a board that accommodates that assembly method as well as mine in the future.</p>
<p>I am not much of a woodworker myself as well. I made my jig out of double-sided corrugated cardboard! I used double since it was thick enough to have the led sit flat on the jig with the anode all the way down. Its all pretty much the same as Steve Manley's only I made the Red and Blue cathodes go +/- 90 degrees from the anode.</p>
<p>CARDBOARD I can do!!! (see: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> )</p><p>I hope you documented the whole procedure, and I suggest maybe doing what I did with CHR's mono cube, and make an instructable on your assembly improvement. As long as you have all the photos along the process, just explain it really well, and I am sure you'll have a super popular instructable!</p>

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Ago 14, 2014


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 ... Más »

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