Picture of Arduino 4x4x4 LED Cube

     This instructable will cover the building process of an 4x4x4 LED Cube. I will be using an Arduino to control the LEDs.  Since the Arduino (Freeduino) has a total of 20 pins (including the analog pins) we will not need to have any multiplexing or shift registers.  I will take you though what i did in order to build the cube and create some designs of your own.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Bill of Materials

Bill of Materials

 For this project I used the freeduino Arduino. Because the Freeduino has a total of 20 I/O pins (with using the analog pins) we will not need and multiplexing or shift registers. So all we will need for our project is:

1. LED x 64
2. Resistors x 16
3. Arduino x 1
4. Perforated PCB
5. Soldering Iron
6. Drill (for the jig)
7. Piece of wood (for a jig)


   I have found and to be good suppliers of small electronic components in general and are currently the only two that I have purchased anything from.

1-40 of 50Next »
boxman1171 year ago
are you soldering to the anodes or cathodes

the layers will be negative/Cathode and each column will be a positive/anode.

Wouldn't the amount of current going through the ground pins blow them out? Like if all the LEDs in one layer are on, you'd need 16x20mA of current for the ground pin on that layer, and doesn't each pin on the Arduino only output like 40 or so mA?

I thought that was why you needed a transistor for each layer, because the arduino couldn't sink the right amount of current to ground.
boxman1171 year ago
i am wondering what PCB i should get
Phogie7 (author)  boxman1171 year ago
Any that the holes are not already connected. :)
369ben2 years ago
Is This called multiplexing where all the cathodes of each layer are soldered together and the anodes of each column are soldered ?

Also why weren't any transistors used as I have seen in other tutorials?

Phogie7 (author)  369ben2 years ago
It sure is.

If you don't want to use your micro controller pins as a power source you can use transistors. :). You can also control the layer grounds using transistors.
WGY2 years ago
I made my cube and all of the lights work, however, there seems to be a problem with the wiring. Whenever I address a single LED in 6 of the columns, The whole column lights up. This does not happen in 2 columns where the LED's light up individually.
Help would be appreciated!
Phogie7 (author)  WGY2 years ago
Sounds like you are grounding out each layer for those columns. Make sure in the code you are only have one layer ground on at a time. Somehow those 4 layers for the 6 columns are getting grounded make sure the wiring/soldering did not get crossed somehow.
glen2472 years ago
Hey thanks a lot for the work i have created 4x4x4 led cube looking at you tutorial. 
telonics2 years ago
here's my effort using the UNO board.
Thanks Phogie!
glen2472 years ago
Hey thanks for the information. i studied and did the same cube
below is the link for the same
taattooed32 years ago
Got my first cube done,waiting on proto board and a few components to actually finish the project but the cube is done and running on an arduino uno R3. Thanks everyone for all instructibles,questions,answered questions and most of all your time and patients.
Phogie7 (author)  taattooed32 years ago
Congrats!! Always feels good to finish a project!
Are you sure that an arduino can handle that current? although, only one led should be on any given time, I am still concerned that i could mess up the code, and end up drawing something like an amp from an arduino pin ( .....) . Do you think I should use darlington transistor arrays to the output pins and supply voltage from an external powersupply? many thanks andrew.
Phogie7 (author)  schembri_andrew2 years ago
I think most arduinos are 40mA. If you want to live on the save side I would run them off transistors and a different power supply. Its really up to you I just decided to take the risk. My arduino still works I am sure i messed up the code a time or two but can not say for sure. I just remember the LEDs slowly getting more dim toward the top and i unpluged it as soon as possible. Could also set up functions in the code to handle the grounds. Four functions each one turns on a layer and off the others.

Best of Luck!!
ma7moodz3 years ago
Okay Im pretty much stuck here..
Where do I connect the the layer's negative control wires to? (the black wires)
Note: Im very new to arduino
Phogie7 (author)  ma7moodz2 years ago
I added a diagram step number 8. I hope that helps if not let me know.
It worked!
and here is my result
Phogie7 (author)  ma7moodz2 years ago
Wooo Hoooo!! Looks good!
DeNuzio3 years ago
Great instructable :) Here is my results.
I used forte1994 arduino's program
Phogie7 (author)  DeNuzio2 years ago
Awesome! It looks good! Not as bent up as mine got hahaha.
hey. ive read your instructions, but im not sure where to connect the leads from the resistors to the arduino? Im not sure what ports to use
Phogie7 (author)  argentinoloco872 years ago
I added a diagram step number 8. I hope that helps if not let me know.
I just posted an instructable on programming a 3x3x3 cube with an Arduino. It *might* be possible to adapt that to a 4x4x4 and give us even more programming possibilities. One would need to change the pin setup, but that is about all, I think.
earton3 years ago
I have followed your instructions, definitely the best instructable to help a beginner! I see your map for the columns, but can you tell me which cathode goes to which ground, for the layers?
Much appreciated :)
Phogie7 (author)  earton3 years ago
Thanks! It was my first one so its a little rough around the edges. I wrote a note down to get a circuit diagram up. In the code i set up pins 16-19 up as the ground pins. Those should be analog 2-5. Does that help?
Pizzapie5003 years ago
Hi! I finished the cube, but I'm not sure where to attach the 16 columns of positive diodes, to the Arduino. Also I don't know where to put the negative ones either. Can you tell me which one goes to which pin number (like if the first one goes to A0, or like D3)? Sorry i'm new to Arduino, and the other instuctables used too many pieces. Thanks!
Phogie7 (author)  Pizzapie5003 years ago
This would be from looking down onto the cube. Hope it helps! Each number represents a column of the cube and corresponds to an port on the arduino. Let me know if that works and ill add it to the tutorial!


3 7 11 15
2 6 10 14
1 5 9 13
0 4 8 12


Yeah this was my first tutorial and i realized that I did not explain the connections very well.

On the freeduino i was using use the digital outputs for 0-15 and the analog next. So analog 0 corresponds to column 14 and analog 1 corresponds to column 15. Analog 2-5 will be the negative or ground for the 4 layers.

If you need anything else let me know.
AndreD.3 years ago
Hey Sir...

Can you please explain how you write some letters in your 4x4x4 Cube?
Phogie7 (author)  AndreD.3 years ago
I may have to watch the video again but I do not think there are any letters. If you want to write letters i would suggest building a bigger cube. A 4x4x4 does not give much room to create letters or numbers.
Oh, and if you have the electronic circuit, would be great.

Thank you.

Great project, congratulations!
Phogie7 (author)  Bruno Silva Pinheiro3 years ago
Thanks! Ill make a note to create a circuit and let you know once i get it posted. :)
kelsorj3 years ago
Great project! I played around with different colors on each layer and it makes for some fun patterns.
Phogie7 (author)  kelsorj3 years ago
Nice! I do like the different colors! I would like to do a RGB one sometime just have to wait for a rainy day to spend some more on the LEDs.
iinzunza3 years ago
I have a project for a subject, and I decided to do this Cube but I have one condition... I need to use transistors, so my question is... How can I design the circuit using my arduino and transistors???
Phogie7 (author)  iinzunza3 years ago
You could use transistors to control when a specific layer is grounded. Instead of grounding the layers to the arduino you would have each layer go to a transistor. Then you can control the transistor with the arduino and chose when to ground out that layer. So in other words connect the ground for a layer to the collector of a NPN transistor and the arduino to the base and the ground to the emmitter. Then you can control that layers ground by setting that arduino pin on and off.
Brunomaster3 years ago
Por que está chueco? sabes soldar?
Phogie7 (author)  Brunomaster3 years ago
My cube got abused.... it got smashed by a drunk friend and a backpack! I was able to almost bend it back when i put it in the case.

I hope Google Translate is accurate :)

Mi cubo se abusa .... que se estrelló por un amigo borracho y una mochila! Fui capaz de casi lo doble de nuevo cuando lo pongo en el caso.
Jiax3 years ago
I don't get how you connect wires to arduino.
My leds will just blink as random and not in order when I use the code. 'Cause I wired them up just randomly. Which ports should I be using?

There is something I do wrong, but I don't know what. Please help!
1-40 of 50Next »