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.


ONLY use the parts kit from HONG KONG.

A parts supplier in China copied the ad from my parts supplier in Hong Kong, but they miss parts, get values wrong, use wrong parts types etc. I was able to have the ads removed from Ebay for trademark violation and intellectual property violations etc. but in case it happens again, I will leave this notice here. If you bought a kit from China, I apologize, but I was not aware they had done it until quite some time had passed. If you did get one of their kits, file an "Item Not as described" case with ebay, and get your money back. You can refuse to return the parts and still get a refund in almost all cases like this. Use your refund to purchase any missing or incorrect parts.

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.

To those that are just now (FEB 2015) getting the first Mini Music Modules - due to a change in the parts kit, the USB port MUST BE MOUNTED TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOARD!!!

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 style="margin-left: 20.0px;">Version 4 (3.12) Hi first . This is a great project Im on my second cube build just finish it have it running im have a bug issue have lost blue channel on two rows of lights not just one level complete rows two of them if looking from the transistor side they are the 5 and 6 row from right. Have check for shorts but have found none Don't know what to do but will keep at it if you can help it could give me some other place to look Thank You</p>
<p>This will be the BLUE chip furthest from the transistors that runs between the 2 column that are not working. (B3 or Blue 3)</p><p>Resolder ALL the contacts for the chip. <br>Failing that, REPLACE that chip.<br>You can test to see if it is the chip itself or not by swapping with the chip below it. If the problem moves with the chip, it's the chip. If the problem stays in the same place, resolder the socket, and the capacitors and resistors in the area surrounding that chip.<br>The supplier will replace any bad chips free of charge.<br>It's actually more likely to be a bad solder joint though.</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>To those whose boards are shipping today that so patiently waited for the ChipKit bridge boards (and a few others)</p><p>ALL orders that shipped on Feb 13 (except ebay orders) will contain a FULL set of bridge boards and a music module. Just a little bonus for being patient.</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>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>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>I want to Thank Super tech you are awesome I resolder the chip socket and everything came back to working order again Thank you This has been a fun project. Everyone wants to buy it but no Im not going to sell it even that I have two now. again Awesome project </p>
<p>Thanks for the kind words - it's appreciated.</p><p>Hopefully we can see a video of the twins once you are done. That'd be cool!</p><p>You have to love that you can actually get some half decent tech support too - one of the biggest complaints I hear about the kits is that there is little to no support, or the people providing the support have no idea what they are talking about.</p>
<p>Let me tell everyone that you have provided all the support that I have needed ,first rate my book. I will try to upload a video of them both want to finish the stand for this one first </p>
<p>By &quot;kits&quot; I mean the OTHER kits that seem to be out there. </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>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>I will be releasing a new music module soon, and the beta boards are done. Let me know if you want one - just cover the shipping.</p>
<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,</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>That is a beautiful cube. Very clean. Nice work! </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>
Fun project, would be great if someone could write some Arduino code for the music add-on!
<p>I bought two of these boards a few months ago but am only just starting to put them together. I'm struggling to find straight lengths of 24 gauge wire long enough (20cm). Can anyone recommend a supplier for these in the UK?</p><p>Cheers!</p>
<p>I used wire for a mig welder. you can get it from the home improvement store. about 10.00 for a 2 pound roll. I chose the copper coated type for easy soldering. to straighten it take a 3 foot section and clamp one end in a vice, and the other end in a small electric drill. Pull some tension on the wire and run the drill for about 15 seconds. stop the drill first then release the tension. the wire will be straight as an arrow and you can then cut it to the lengths you need. You will have to try different tensions and how long to spin the drill, untill you get the results you need</p>
Get a roll, and straighten lengths of it. That's what most people do.<br>I got cut lengths by buying flower stem wire, but it's actually pretty hard to solder to, and I don't recommend it.
Hi mate, <br>I have no experience in electronics and have never even soldered a joint before but I am an engineer! <br>Can you send me your parts list please (or price for the whole bundle!) <br>Thank you, <br>Gary UK
<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>It looks like you have to buy a separate power supply too, if so what do you recommend? Or does the one supplied with the ChipKit power the whole thing? (Am getting all the parts together.)<br><br>Regarding selection of the embedded controller platform, would be nice to have one that has the best performance characteristics (clock, amount of RAM, multi-threaded, SD card, IO pins, included software toolkits and dev environment, etc.) so that can make the most use of it for other projects.<br><br>Know you list one as &quot;recommended&quot; and suspect that is because it is the one most used and most debugged, most likely to succeed with least effort. Also saw you now have code for a &quot;Mega-something-or-other&quot; haha. Sorry, just am not familiar with ChipKit products. Presume the Mega-X is maybe their premier product? Have cubes been made with it and the code ported/validated, thoroughly debugged at this stage?<br><br>Thanks!<br></p>
<p>The instructable specifically mentions power supplies.</p><p>the &quot;mega&quot; is the Arduino Mega2560. It has more RAM and I/O and programming space than the regular Arduino.</p><p>We prefer the ChipKit because it's the faster of the bunch, and we wrote the code for it ourselves (Mostly written by Doug Domke specifically for this circuit)</p>
<p>Oh do you know if is USB 2.0 or USB 3.0? </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>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>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>

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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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