CHR's 8X8X8 LED Cube Revisited with improvements!

Picture of CHR's 8X8X8 LED Cube Revisited with improvements!

See step 17 for more info regarding the music input mode for non-RAMP boards.

There are now 7 music modes in the posted code, and I am looking for more ideas for animations or music triggered effects !

SKIP DIRECTLY TO STEP 1 if you just want to get to the improved build instructions

See step 18 for my latest released Boards and features and subscriber videos of their completed cubes!

See step 19 for the most recent or upcoming design previews and demos.

Don't forget to check out my RGB cube!

I want to acknowledge that so many here contributed ideas and support, and although there are too many to name now, I did want to acknowledge my gratitude for all that contributed to the project.
I am so happy that the printed circuit boards I developed helped those that wanted or needed them, whether they had put in months of work, and just couldn't get the circuit working,just wanted to eliminate all those wires, wanted a PC Board but didn't know how to design them, designed a circuit board and then realized how expensive they can be to have fabricated, didn't know how to read schematics, were up against a school project deadline, or just loved the added features like the music input and remote control - I am happy that so many were able to benefit from them.
I myself was so taken with the original project, that if I didn't have the knowledge or skill or resources to design a PCB, or wire up the circuit myself,I would have gladly bought a board if they were available.
Unfortunately, none were in the original instructable by CHR when I had first seen it. If you couldn't hand build it, you were on your own, and I felt very sorry for those that tried and failed, or didn't even know where to start.

PLEASE DON'T ASK FOR EAGLE FILES for the PCBoards. It wasn't designed in Eagle, so there aren't any.

Now...on to the instructable.

I was immediately enthralled with the LED Cube instructable by CHR .
I am going to give a piece of advice I saw there that made a lot of sense. READ EVERYTHING including all the comments.
Often there is information and answers to questions that may answer a question you might have.

I thought "I COULD MAKE THAT" (and I did, making little improvements along the way) - but I took it a step further, and decided that I would try to make it so that almost anybody could make it as long as they could solder and could tell the difference between the different parts.
That is the reason I created the PCBoards to control the cube, and eventually even a Cube Base Board which all but eliminates the point-to-point wiring from the project. I loved the project but hated all the messy wires everywhere.
I have also supplied demo code (both the original code and many of my modifications), and clickable AVR initializer and code uploader utilities to get the code onto the board quickly and easily for those that aren't comfortable with dos-prompt based utilities like AVRDude.
There is also a pinout / connection chart that you can use to design and troubleshoot your own board using the Arduino, ATmega328P, or the more capable ATmega32 microcontroller for extended functions.

The hardest part is building a cube that is straight and square. I will be addressing this first.
If you use my construction methods, your cube should be as straight and square as in photos above.

I have a good electronics background, so I immediately wanted to build one of these cubes the second I saw it.
The more I got into it and read the comments on his well documented instructable, the more I thought I might be able to help people with less of an electronics background understand exactly how this thing actually works, and troubleshoot problems.
People were asking all kinds of questions long after people that really knew the circuit stopped answering them, and I found myself answering questions in his instructable on a fairly regular basis.
Finally, I knew enough to make what I hoped would be an easier to understand instructable.
Not only that, I have made a few improvements along the way as well, and eventually even PC Boards for myself, and got extras for those that might also want them

As I start out, I realize I will be "winging it" a lot here, so forgive me if I am unclear at any point, and feel free to ask questions.
If you see ANODE written where you know it should be CATHODE - or vice-versa - let me know. Sometimes I get tired when writing and get electronic dyslexia, and mix them up. I have tried my best to proof read my instructions to make sure this hasn't happened.
Try to keep in mind during construction that there is one cathode connection per layer, and 64 anode connections.

I will ask however that if you are getting ready to build one of these, Especially if you want to build your own circuit, that you go through CHRs well documented instructable FIRST, and then read through this one.

Try to build his controller circuit if you can, and feel free to contact me if you run into trouble (which almost everyone does).
THIS can be a VERY daunting task. Many people find they can build the physical cube, and are able to solder connections easily enough, but when it comes to constructing the actual circuit, that's where it all usually falls apart.
Troubleshooting a point-to-point hand wired circuit is not easy, even if you know what you're doing.
FEAR NOT ! As this instructable progresses, I will be working on a number of circuit boards that will include features requested by people here, and at varying levels of soldering expertise all the way from simple through hole soldering to completely surface mount technology boards.
You will be able to purchase these boards when they are available, and prices drop as more requests for boards come in due to volume discounts. Just don't expect them to be five bucks - I won't be mass producing them which makes my cost a lot higher.
Watch for board revisions if you have made a recommendation or request for a board feature that I liked

Music triggered modes for those with my circuit boards... (I'll be working on more as suggestions come in) - LATEST CODE IS NOW posted on STEP 10

Sorry about the video quality on this one, but I was in a hurry to get these posted and didn't take the time to adjust the camera well.

Just hit the MUSIC button on your board (Black Edition V3.5 and higher, ARMS series or RAMP series) or wireless remote (ARMS and RAMP series boards only) to cycle through the music modes.
Previous 5 mode code is on STEP 12 so you guys with the new boards can play with it! I will be adding to it though!
The code works with both wired input as described in step 17 ,built onto the board (RAMP boards only), or using the Mic Module in the parts list (3.5A and above, ARMS or RAMP boards)

If you are thinking "Big deal, I have seen cubes react to music in other videos" - well, we are doing it WITHOUT a PC hooked up to the serial port! That's right, the ATmega32 is doing this on it's own. What is more, with the Mic module option, this means you could take your cube to a party and set it somewhere (that nobody can touch it) and let it react to the music without even hooking anything up to it.

This instructable has mutated over the past few months, and you'll see a bunch of end results before we get into how to make the cube, and the improvements that have been made over the original construction techniques and original circuit, as well as improvements made on the PC Boards over time.

A couple quick videos of my cube in action are above.
The first video is the cube as a standalone device, and the "Cube Perry" video is under PC control via the TTL Serial port and a script written in Processing.
The serial port is key to allowing it to be controlled by things like a PIC, another Arduino or PCDuino or PC computer .

Stand-Alone Music Input! The video below demonstrates this addition to the circuit,

The schematic is on step 17 for connecting an audio source to previous board versions.

By the way - come back here every few days to check up on this instructable. I tend to add to it without notice!
This includes additions and revisions to the code.

If you have tried to make your own controller - or just know you couldn't build one from scratch, but COULD solder a PC board, then ask me about what boards are available.

Send me a private message for details.

NOTE: If you downloaded the 5 mode music hex file before Jan 12, you need to download the latest code.
The music modes originally used up a little too much RAM in the AVR, and when the Fireworks effect would try to initiate, the cube would reset. This has been fixed by reducing the firework sparkles from 60 to 40. The new 5 music mode HEX file does not have this problem now when running in animation mode. Fortunately I first ran into this issue with the Arduino when porting over the same routine. Since the fonts go into RAM rather than EEPROM on the ATmega328p, there was a lot less RAM to utilize, and this is why there are only 30 sparkles in the fireworks routine that was ported to the Arduino portable code.

The ARMS and RAMP series boards have an area marked off where the wireless remote module goes. If you are NOT going to use the wireless remote module, none of the parts in that area need to be put on the board, and you don't need to purchase the remote module. Likewise, if you don't want acoustic music response, you don't need to purchase the Mic module.

And now on to our regularly scheduled program (How To Make The LED Cube)

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nmacintosh13 made it!4 months ago

My LED cube encased in 2-way mirrored acrylic.

darrcook made it!5 months ago

I just completed constructing my cube two days ago. The instructions and methodology given by SuperTech-IT are spot-on. I deviated slightly by attaching the layers together with them upside down (like a dead bug) instead of on its side like SuperTech indicates. That seemed easier at the time, HOWEVER, my cube ended up a little slanted as a result. You can't really tell too much from my photo. I'd probably do the next one on its side to guarantee perfect alignment.

I also bought a spool of narrow-gauge galvanized wire and straightened using CHR's methodology. I used three of these on each layer (middle and each side) to reinforce. This seemed a little easier and less tedious than using clipped LED leads.

The "S" shaped gaff was indispensable in assembling the layers and getting the finished cube mounted on the PC board. You WILL need one of these. Just make it out of a piece of straightened wire.

I highly recommend getting the circuit boards from SuperTech-IT if he still has them for this cube. It will shave incredible amounts of time off your construction..

Though I didn't need significant amounts of help from SuperTech-IT in construction and debugging (you have minimal problems when using pre-fab circuit boards), he has been incredibly responsive and helpful in addressing my questions. I have close friends that are less responsive. ;-)

For my USB programmer, I used a SainSmart I got thru Amazon. This gave me errors with Avrdude when trying to program. Initially I thought I had fried some part of the circuit or had done a bad solder joint. SainSmart has a GUI-based programmer called PROGISP that could program the ATMEGA. My board was fine. Of course I forgot to set the fuse-bits. POST ran incredibly slow and it looked like I had two completely failed layers. This was fixed when I used the PROGISP tool to se the fuse-bits.

This was a fun project. Now I can set about to customize the effects and create some new ones.

Thank you, SuperTechIT -- this has been the most rewarding Instructable I've ever done.

darrcook darrcook5 months ago

I ended up having ghosting on layer 2 of my cube. When pixels above that layer would light, the layer 2 ones would as well, albeit dimly. Come to find out (with SuperTech-IT's help), I had my transistors in backward. I thought I had checked and double-checked. It's about the easiest part to install incorrectly. CHECK YOUR TRANSISTORS if there's any problems. The P2N2222A transistors I got from DigiKey need to mount with the flat side facing away from the 40-pin connectors. I will reverse my transistors later today to see if the situation is improved.

SuperTech-IT (author)  darrcook5 months ago

Yup, someone else had the identical issue on a hand wired board on CHR's instructable page just last week. If you check here at the comment by Tiimmee you'll see the issue was almost exactly the same, and the fix was the same for him.

SuperTech-IT (author) 1 year ago
Post here on step 18 to show off your cube, new effects, music response demos or whatever! You deserve a pat on the back and a place to showcase your work!
вгерц10 days ago

Hello! Where can I download a file PCB layout SMD components?

SuperTech-IT (author)  вгерц10 days ago
You cannot.
Even if you could, the design is beyond anything you could fabricate at home or in a college or university facility.


noelsharpe9 days ago

hi guys,

I am very interested in purchasing a kit for a school project ! unfortunately I am on tight schedule and cannot find a supplier with fast shipping i.e 10 days.

could you please recommend a website to but off of ?

if this question was asked and answered previously I am sorry ! and thank you in advance for your help !



Raphango23 days ago

Nice!!! =D

Need to build this!

RATHODS26 days ago

which modual are u used for controlling music mode operation help me i want to improve with music mode ckt i have already a completed led cube based on avr atmega 32A please shown a ckt diagram with interface of music and mic modual and parts name ...plz

RATHODS26 days ago

which modual are u used for controlling music mode operation help me i want to improve with music mode ckt i have already a completed led cube based on avr atmega 32A please shown a ckt diagram with interface of music and mic modual and parts name ...plz

In the 80 wire ATA cables, half of them are connected, the other half is for noise cancelation (not connected). Can't you still use the cables if you just beep them trough with your multimeter? Or is the current to high for this to be effective?

SuperTech-IT (author)  floren.vanolden1 month ago
You would think that the 40 signals would all still pass through, and the other lines are all grounded for noise cancellation etc. however the painful truth is that they don't carry all originating 40 pins to their destinations at the other end.
For this reason, they simply are not suitable for this purpose.
And you can't just re-do the wires either, it's the connectors themselves.
jlj04251 month ago

Made it. and its great. thank you

jlj04251 month ago

do you sell set of your cube sir with the new board. how much

SuperTech-IT (author)  jlj04251 month ago
please leave a private message for pricing information
jagarm2 months ago
aha, then can you wrap the (uod) arround the cube i really need it and i want to know how to do it, ill be so thankful for you
SuperTech-IT (author)  jagarm2 months ago

Why do you keep posting this over and over and over again....

yes, YOU can do it. If you go through all the comments in the instructable and go through the source code, you'll figure it out.

jagarm2 months ago
aha, then can you wrap the (uod) arround the cube i really need it and i want to know how to do it, ill be so thankful for you
jagarm2 months ago
aha then can you make it for me, warp (uod) arround the cube i really need it and i want to know how to do it
jagarm2 months ago
then can you make (UOD) word and spin inside the 8x8x8 cube i really need it for my project plz
SuperTech-IT (author)  jagarm2 months ago
you can only spin one character at a time inside the cube.
Words can wrap around the outside perimeter of the cube.
aha, then can you make it for me ill so grateful :), i really need to know how to do it
aha, so can you do that for me ill be so thankful for your help, and also ill learn from you how to do it :)
Yogesh9092 months ago

hey, i 've built a 8*8*8 led cube .. but i want to add music response to it!!

could u help me in hardware and coding part!

im using arduino uno!!

any help would be appreciated!


SuperTech-IT (author)  Yogesh9092 months ago
Step 1 - stop using the Arduino and switch to the ATmega32A.
If you're using this project, every single pin on the Arduino is already in use.
Once you have switched to the ATmega32A, then I suggest getting one of my PC Boards, because audio response is sketchy at best with hand wired boards, and often simply doesn't work at all.
EpicTaco242 months ago

Hi, I've completed my LED cube and I was wondering if I could buy one of your pre-fabricated circuit boards. I've looked on both chr's page and your's and I was wondering if you could link me to the page that it's sold on. My cube is just green, so I was wondering if I could get a link to the non-RGB one

jagarm2 months ago

hey i like for what u do well done,can u make this logo for me,its ok to not be just like even its close to it ill be glad :) for arduino uno

SuperTech-IT (author)  jagarm2 months ago

I don't think anything even close is possible in an 8X8 matrix.

Dirk19713 months ago

Hi ,

i will put the code with bluetooth to the cube . is there any Software withh visualy

functions for the cube ?

SuperTech-IT (author)  Dirk19713 months ago

I have no idea what you mean. Please private message me.

lusis9874 months ago

After long time touched my cube. Please look at it in my youtube channel.

How I understood from your debugging tips - there should be damaged transistors for layers (3 and 4). But whats the problem with columns, that have light up all the time?

SuperTech-IT (author)  lusis9874 months ago

I couldn't tell - do any of your videos actually show the POST (Power On Self Test )

If you aren't using my code then please load it into your cube so I can observe the POST.

Here is my POST videos

These are taken after changing 574's. So i need to search problems in connections and maybe even some shortage/
Interesting thing is that - when restarting program those 3 planes changes the leds that are lit up and off (3 or 4 starting sets).

Waiting for ideas. At home I will be just after some weeks to check possible solutions.
SuperTech-IT (author)  lusis9874 months ago

WOW - I have never seen a cube that messed up.

You have multiple serious issues - too many for me to pinpoint.

You need to take the excel chart in this instructable, and check every single connection from origin to destination, and then check for shorts between neighbouring pins, and shorts to +V or GND.

Thanks for info. After a week will be home to test and fix :)
How much I know You don't have POST code for arduino :(

I checked and fixed some connectivity issues. Now the only problem is 2 or 3 planes that are always lit. I need to get from store some 574's and then we will salut :)
SuperTech-IT (author)  lusis9874 months ago

Yes I do, it's part of the portable code for Arduino.

It runs from the time of power up just until the first animation, then it never runs again. So you need to start video taping, and hit RESET. If you have whole planes that are not working, it may be a Data line from the Arduino, or connections from the 138 to the 574's or the 574's themselves. The POST will tell you which direction to look in this case.

nmacintosh139 months ago

I uploaded the code with the 7 music modes today, and the cube works great! Check out this video. I will post some pics once I finish working on the base board.

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