Picture of How to build a 8x8x8 led cube (English version)

Probably you have reached this page because you have seen one of the video clips on led cubes, which are spread in the internet, and you have decided to build one by yourself.
Well, I am happy to let you know that you have got to the right place. Here you will find my notes, the pictures for crafting, the source code for the software that I developed for controlling the cube, and many demonstration videos.
Before you start, please read the whole instructable. This is advisable to have a global view of the project.
Prior to enter in the practical steps, a short theoretical introduction is necessary to well understand what we are talking about.

How the cube is made:
The dimensions of the cube will be 8 led by 8 led, by 8 led, for a total of 512 leds. The whole structure will be based on a wood board.

The concept of persistence of vision:
In this project we will exploit the persistence of vision. This phenomenon is a feature of the human eye and is responsible for the illusion that a movie is not composed by individual still images. All the animations are based on this biological dis-functioning of the human eye. If we can switch on and off the leds in a sufficiently quick time, (a few milliseconds) they will appear as if they were simultaneously on.
We use the persistence of vision because simultaneously switching all the cube leds on would require a very high electric current (in ampere). Actually, if we consider that the high brightness leds of this project require about 20 mA, we can calculate that 512 leds would require 10.24 A. This high current is hard to manage. So, what we do? We switch on a cube layer at each time! In this way the current consumption will never exceed 1.28 A (20 mA x 64 leds), which is easily supplied by a good voltage transformer. Let us suppose that we want to make the cube appear as completely switched on. To achieve that we simply have to switch on the different layers one by one at high speed. To a human eye the cube will appear as completely lighted.

How to control each led:
In order to independently control each led, we divide the cube into horizontal layers and vertical columns.
All the leds of a horizontal layer will have the cathodic contact (-) in common.
All the leds of a vertical column will have the anodic contact (+) in common.
Overall, it will be necessary to control 8 cathodic contacts to select the layers and 64 anodic contacts to select the columns. The combination layers by column will select and switch a single led.

The 8-bit shift registers:
The shift registers are composed by 1-bit memory cells connected one each other. At each clock impulse, they allow the bit flowing from a cell to the next-one. The registers used in this project are SIPO (serial input-parallel output) type. The data are charged one by one through the input bits and the output bits are simultaneously collected from the 8 outlets.

Power supply':
To power the cube and the control circuit it is necessary a power supplier with the following specifications:
- voltage: 5 volts (stabilized)
- current: 2 ampere (4 is better)

The finished cube functioning.
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AkikoTech3 months ago

Hi! Thank you for this instructable! I am super excited to get started and I have read through all of the instructions, but I would love if you can provide some links to each part needed in the materials list you have provided on this step. Amazon links, eBay links, whatever would help! I am definitely a beginner when it comes to working with electronics and this would help me get started.

how can i get the circuit of

an 8x8x8 "LED Cubeplease send me a text on my mail id chandan2157@gmail.com
dkaran12 years ago
hi this is dev from new delhi, India. i liked this 8*8*8 led cube but not able to make it can i buy it from any where i am ready to pay the cost of it and other expanses. please help me with it. please revert me on attitude.dev@gmail.com.
thanks & regards

This MIGHT be the right thing for you :-


sir small doubt regarding the power supply!
im doe with ther cube and im using our clg LAB RPS to power my cube.now im planing to use pc smps.ca i dircetly conect the smps 5v rail same as rps? smps has very high current ratings,does it make any damaga to my cube?
Can i have the code ? I would really appreciate it :)
Geekaton2 years ago
Here is a time-lapse video that shows me making my LED cube 8x8x8 (with this technique):

Let me know what you think of it.
Scroll013 years ago
quien me puede pasar el PDF gracias
navi20123 years ago
hello friends I can not download the pdf .. who can send me my mail porfa ... <>
matiasvan3 years ago
can I use an Arduino Mega 2560?
killerone3 years ago
agofi you tell me why I turn on the LEDs should be slightly off during the animation? I double-check the circuit and everything is properly asseblato .. please it's urgent.
razamatraz3 years ago
Nice instructable but it has some very missized components. The 2n3904 transistors are only rated for 200ma but you have them running layers that are otherwise sized for 1.28 amps.

Also, you are using 100 ohm resistors with the intention of getting 20ma per LED. This is too much. Each shift register can only handle 50ma TOTAL so with eight outputs you should not be putting more than 6.25 ma out per pin meaning 330 ohm resistors are a better choice.

I think you got lucky and the current limit provided by the layer transistors is dropping it enough to stop you from blowing your shift registers, I suspect the LEDs are not actually running anywhere near the calculated 20ma each.

Luna!3 years ago
Great Instructable, congrats!!

I have a few doubts, if you allow me..
- Can I start/control it from a web browser (chrome, i.e., etc..)?

- If I put some sensors on it, it is possible to "trigger" it when someone walks into the room?

What are the three wires going across each LED layer for? Are they the ground wires, and if so what are they connected to?
Those are just brace wires. they only serve the purpose of supporting the frame of the cube. They dont connect to anything. they are just soldered to each leg. Thats it.
Quem souber portugues tem como entrar em contato, to querendo construir mas tá osso. multiplexação tá foda. Nao to entendendo direito.
Meu email é : lucianobr37@yahoo.com.br

gomas2113 years ago
That has to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life! About 10 years ago I did a lot less impressive project using RGB multi color LEDs when they first became widely available. If you could add multi color LEDs you could create some amazing 3d effects! ...I hope someone tries it! :)
I was planning on attempting that with a 4*4*4
kieth4 years ago
wow. thanks guys!!!!
4uguyzz.in4 years ago
very good attempt i have a request to provide the circuit diagram for the cub
u can use an arduino..now a lot of cheap options r available, chk freeduino..
huoyunjie4 years ago
Its cool!
But Im thinking how let it make easily!
huoyunjie4 years ago
Im starting.I want do it.thanx.....
Vick Jr4 years ago
For each 'frame" of the cube it looks like your bit-shifting in all 64 bytes, using the shift registers in series.
Why not connect each shift register to a pin on the parallel port - you have plenty extra - and load all the first bits for each register at once, then the second bit, then the third, etc. It should be 8 times faster.
Do you have a video?
dangadave4 years ago
hi guys...i have no idea how to get the software to work on my pc... im running windows 7... need help... do i have to download a program to run the software...? cause my itunes wants to try open it... but no success...:(

MrGentlemen4 years ago
I Have a Question about the vcc connection:

Did this Circuit doesnt need a VCC connection to work?

The only positive volt connection is just on the led, and nowhere else.

the shift register needs vcc too, but Pin 14 is nowhere connected
nate13574 years ago
Would using a parallel to usb adapter still work with the given software. I no longer have any computers with parallel or serial ports.
stevonr5 years ago
so what would the circuit for an rgb 24x24x24 cube look like?
Aru3 stevonr4 years ago
It would be quite possible if you can get an active addressing matrix in your cube. Control of huge numbers would be possible on few outputs, and each LED would get a 100% on time. Problem is getting three transistors and a capacitor in there with each LED by hand, and still keep it small enough to be see through.
stevonr stevonr4 years ago
ok now that the jokes are out of the way, I'm still curious... I know the costs for getting the LEDS would be sky high but if someone were to do it what would the circuit diagram look like. I can follow the instructions I just don't know the engineering side of it to draw it out myself. even if you just drew out the sub-assemblies to save time and they would be replicated to the number needed, I'd be interested in seeing how one would bulid this one up from input to the LED.
really, REALLY big :D
 And thats, WHATS SHE SAID!!! 
lol they should just skip everything in between and head right to the 800x600x800 RGB one so you can use it as a monitor lol, only problem is buying 384,000,000 LEDs and then even worse having to solder all of them
 ROFLMAO!!! Now that's a project I'd LOVE to see!! 
let's start with a Soldering robot project :D
guusberens4 years ago
I have a question about the wiring diagram.
The single circuit left I do not understand.
Could someone maybe able to explain what that meant?

Thank you
lazardj5 years ago
can any1 give me code without serial or USB control? i want whole program to put in microcontroler like 4x4x4 cube that is here on site. Thx
R- lazardj4 years ago
Here's one controlled by an Arduino

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