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. ALL V4 Boards purchased before December 8th require another fix 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.

Earlier on there was a problem with the parts kit from Hong Kong with the 1000uF capacitor. 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.

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), 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!)

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 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 200 wires to run to the cube from the board.

<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>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>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>Due to my own oversight, the V5 boards bear the marking <br>V4 rev. 3.12</p><p>Rest assured, these are actually the V5 boards...LOL...I just forgot to update the label on the silkscreen. Just waiting for the new music modules now.</p>
<p>Since the V4 Rev 3.12 was never released previously though, I have no problems simply referring to these boards as the V4 rev 3.12.</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>My son and I are to the point where we've soldered the first panel and are trying to test before soldering the rest. We're using the ProMini 328p and have board Ver4 3.11 with the two fixes and are able to see animations on the single panel but all the LED's are lit up red when I think they should be off EXCEPT layer4 which had no red but will flash green and blue.</p><p>My son stripped the code to light the panel with single colours and still no red on layer4. We've added a second panel (without soldering) and confirmed it is the layer that's not lighting and not just the one panel.</p><p>I we move the layer4 wire to a different output of the ProMini it lights up correctly.</p><p>Why would all the LEDs light up red and why would layer 4 not light red?</p><p>Any help would be appreciated.</p><p>Thanks</p>
That's a noodle scratcher for sure. Red is red on any layer...<br>IE - the electronics that make red don't care what layer you have selected. Unfortunately, I have no idea if there are differences with the &quot;pro mini&quot; 328P and a regular Arduino UNO.<br>I have to wonder if maybe you did something wrong with the repairs...<br>catch me on Skype (but not between 4 and 6 PM EST) and we'll see if we can't get you all fixed up. <br>I assume you at the very least have a multi-meter. If you do we should be able to track down the problem without too much effort.
<p>HAHA - well that was fun. In case others are wondering, I skyped with davekra so I could see what was wrong, and POOF, it worked perfectly. Go figure. Who knows, maybe a solder flake was stuck to the microcontroller or the board. We may never know.</p>
<p>Yeah, it just started working. I wish we'd found the problem but as long as it works.</p><p>We finished it up tonight. We mounted all the components except the chips on the underside of the board. The stand is leopardwood with soft maple splines on the corners.</p><p>It was a fun project. The instructable and personal support is, bar none, the best I've found. </p><p>Thanks so much for your hard work on bringing this to people.</p>
<p>If you were using our template on the ChipKit, you could have built the circuit as-is, and mounted the cube to the bottom. We have a single variable for the cubeStructure and it does the inversion for you to right the cube. Beautiful cube though, and attaching 7 panels in a day is remarkable (I think...I didn't pre-make my panels first, so I don't know exactly what the solder/connect time for one panel is.)</p>
<p>Hey I found the problem with the cube had a bad led driver now have to wait for replacement but have it working but will replace driver with new one</p>
<p>Glad you found your issue - bad driver chips are extremely uncommon, and I wouldn't have suspected that right off the bat.</p>
<p>Looks great. I msg'd you on the RGB version, as far as kit pricing. It looks like it uses some version of Arduino and C language? Does it interface to a PC so that it can be controlled over USB by a PC app? </p>
<p>It can do anything you can program it to do.<br>Thus far, we have only made standalone code so the cubes do not need to be tethered to a PC to function.<br>If you want to do that, you'll simply need to make a small routine to monitor the serial port on the cube, and put the serial data into the cube array.<br>My only fear is that the frame rate will be fairly low because of the amount of data required for each frame.</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>I'm putting a response on the troubleshooting page so it doesn't look unanswered. This is one of the board flaws that were (with your help) discovered and an easy fix made which I &quot;stickied&quot; to the main (first) page comments of the instructable.</p><p>The final V5 boards will not have this issue.</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>guess where else my hair grows... yeupp . . . my arm pits!</p>
<p>please delete this comment.</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>
<p>looks great!</p><p>(are u hoping for the AXE effect?) :)</p>
<p>Axe cans make great cylinders for winding kickass speaker coils - but that's another story...Unfortunately the ChipKit bridge is now delayed, and the I/O connector was pinned wrong because I stupidly used the same template when I mislabelled the ChipKit UNO Eliminators - so they are being re-fabricated now. The Arduino bridges are fine, and ready for orders.</p>
<p>Had someone tried to calibrate the LED by the timing length of the signal maybe, to get a get a real white light instead of redish? The problem is, all 3 colors inside of a RGB-LED use different currents and have different light power, but will get the same signal current in the cube. So maybe timing could be a solution?</p>
<p>Cheap RGB LEDs unfortunately are like this. If you want to produce white, the general formula is B+G+1/2R. If you wanted to, you could simply divide R by 2 in the code when it's being read from the array. We don't make it permanent in the code because others may use higher quality LEDs.</p>
<p>Maybe I have not seen it, but could you please point me to the schematic diagram? That would be nice :)<br></p>
What you missed actually was my entire section about what to do if you are looking for schematics and theory of operation paragraphs that are buried deep in the MAIN INTRO page.
<p>Thank u. My problem was, I got and had build a full set of LEDs as a cube with common cathode. Is there a equivalent IC for the shift registers with a positive source as output instead of negative sink? So I could exchange the IC and transistors and rewire them to a operating cube. Otherwise I have to build the cube again.</p>
<p>Not if you are using one of my PCBoards. I don't know what chips you are using, so I cannot recommend a source VS sink chip. You might have better luck changing the transistors, inverting the cube data and putting 100 ohm pullup resistors on the 192 outputs.</p>
The top two jumpers are on. Im checking my wiring again and solder points. Have check the leds cant find no problem there.I can run the cube at 4 volts but would like to figure this out I will keep trying will let you know
<p>Super-Tech have you seen the big KS campaign of the L3D Cube? It's an open-source cube that's going out to thousands of people, with some pretty cool software. I was wondering if there was a way that we could make this one compatible with that software, making it truly universal. Any interest?</p><p>FYI, I'm on my 5th panel on your board. Progress!</p><p>Here's a link:</p>
Since I deliberately avoided using the serial pins, it should be doable if we get our hands on their code.<br>Almost all their stuff seems to run from the PC (the big stuff anyways) so you can bet it's going over the serial.
They have put the software and hardware specifications, along with a processing library on GitHub. <br><br><br><br>Let me know what I can do to help!
<p> enjoyed making this project Have one problem using your arduino eliminator I have to keep voltage below 4 volts other wise this is awesome!!</p>
<p>I have had the Arduino eliminator over 6V in tests without issue whatsoever. The chipkit however will fail at 5.5 if unregulated. Please tell me what happens when you use more than 4V so we can figure out what the issue is.</p>
<p>When I go over 4 volts I lose the red and green colors but under 4volts it works fine</p>
<p>check the top 2 jumpers on the configuration strip.</p><p>If you are using resistors, lower the value, or jumper them.</p>
<p>Just finished my first panel (master) and got it installed and testing with the Arduino Mega 2560. I noticed that all of the LED's in the 4th column from the right are all dimly lit (blue). I also notice during the animations that it looks like the blue is not coming on at all on that column. The 3rd column does not have any dimly lit LED's but it appears to follow the 4th column in regards to the color being off from not having blue being turned least that is what it looks like. ANy help would be appreciated. One thing to also note on the 4th column..all LEDs are dimly lit...I cannot find one that is not lit which is mentioned in the troubleshooting section.</p>
If your board is a V4 Rev 3.11 please see the comments on the main page of the instructable and in the top comments.
<p>I am using one of your first boards - Ver 3.0 Rev 4. Does it apply to that board as well?</p>
<p>Glad to hear it was just a couple solder joints that you missed. I was wondering because I use that version of the board myself, so I know the design is a tried and true one. Hopefully you don't have any other issues.</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>

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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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