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Picture of LED Cube 8x8x8
Create your own 8x8x8 LED Cube 3-dimensional display!

We believe this Instructable is the most comprehensive step-by-step guide to build an 8x8x8 LED Cube ever published on the intertubes. It will teach you everything from theory of operation, how to build the cube, to the inner workings of the software. We will take you through the software step by step, both the low level drivers/routines and how to create awesome animations. The software aspect of LED cubes is often overlooked, but a LED cube is only as awesome as the software it runs.

About halfway through the Instructable, you will actually have a fully functional LED cube. The remaining steps will show you how to create the software.

A video is worth a thousand words. I'll just leave it up to this video to convince you that this is the next project you will be building:


I made this LED cube together with my friend chiller. The build took about 4 days from small scale prototyping to completed cube. Then another couple of hours to debug some faulty transistors.

The software is probably another 4-5 days of work combined.

 
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Step 1: Skills required

Picture of Skills required
At first glance this project might seem like an overly complex and daunting task. However, we are dealing with digital electronics here, so everything is either on or off!

I've been doing electronics for a long time, and for years i struggled with analog circuits. The analog circuits failed over half the time even if i followed instructions. One resistor or capacitor with a slightly wrong value, and the circuit doesn't work.

About 4 years ago, I decided to give microcontrollers a try. This completely changed my relationship with electronics. I went from only being able to build simple analog circuits, to being able to build almost anything!

A digital circuit doesn't care if a resistor is 1k ohm or 2k ohm, as long as it can distinguish high from low. And believe me, this makes it A LOT easier to do electronics!

With that said, there are still some things you should know before venturing out and building this rather large project.

You should have an understanding of:
  • Basic electronics. (We would recommend against building this as your very first electronics project. But please read the Instructable. You'll still learn a lot!)
  • How to solder.
  • How to use a multimeter etc.
  • Writing code in C (optional. We provide a fully functional program, ready to go)
You should also have patience and a generous amount of free time.

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amirs1115 hours ago

Hello,

thank you chr for the excellent guide!

I have trouble in opening the .sch files - does any one else has that problem? I'm a linux user so every schematics software for linux is fine by me.

Thank you.

power0004 months ago

hi , i have made CRR's led cube but something very strange is happening

there are led lighting that must not light. I have change emmitter with collector , i have use only one 2n222 as uperTech-IT says but nonthing good.

2N2222 transistor have 600ma current max on colector and one led need 0.015ma mutil by 64 led each layer equal ~1A. Therefore you need at leat 2 2N2222 transistor

What have you used, atmega or arduino?

i use atmega

It worked flawlessly buddy. it is such a great feeling achieving that task

The Arduino is also ATmega in that the processor is an ATmega328P.

Most people prefer the ATmega32/32A/32L for this project though.

Finally, It worked flawlessly. Now I want to go to the next level and use atmega32. Problem is to get the crystal, I'll have to import it

power000 power0004 months ago

and of course i have place 8 pull up resistors on collectors ,6.2k

power000 power0004 months ago

finally it works! there were many short circuits and tow transistor had electrik leak

Glad you got it all up and running! Hope to see a video of your cube in action!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrtCB4ZH8oo

power000 power0003 months ago

Is there any program to control led cube and make coding easy ,just clicking on leds we want to gets on with the order we want?

Hi! Thanks for the excellent instructions. I was able to follow them with no problem, and finally finished my own! (Sorry about the video quality)

https://youtu.be/4JL2MdRgcIs

Used an Arduino Uno, and your code works perfectly for me. I thought there was something wrong with it initially, but it was just my own terrible soldering skills, so I'd suggest to anyone that has a problem with the code to go fault finding first, because that was 99.9% of my problems. Thanks again!!

peter.mbiria made it!14 days ago

Finally, it worked after much struggle with the board. It is running on sainsmart uno v3.0 controller

DSC_4442.JPGDSC_4467.JPGDSC_4472.JPGDSC_4473.JPG

Barely managed to get trough the whole tutorial and I might say this is more than incredible! I doubt I could built this on my own tho, but still it is an incredible project!

KonradH1 month ago
Thanks for doing this Instructabe! I actually did this as my first electronic project, and it worked flawlessly on an Arduino UNO. I really apreciate you took the time to do a guide so extensive and complete.
Now, i wanna manage the cube via Serial Comunication on Bluetooth. So i need an Arduino MEGA(the Uno doesnt have any Pins lef). Problem is, the code isnt compatible with the Mega and i cant fully understand how the PORT commands work, so i am unable to make it work on am Arduino MEGA. Can you help doing a compatible code. (I dont need to use Analog pins anymore to control the cube)
KoussayS1 month ago
Guys plz i use atduino uno and i need thé code plz help me
Lukhman1 month ago

it is different from the board that you made. i found there are some large difference in the blue print and the completed pcb. i need your help urgently. can you give your any other contact details like skype.

Lukhman1 month ago

hello, i would like to make a cube. so i need your help. i had the items you have written above. but i cant understand anything from the blue print.

the_fbomb1 month ago

Hi guys, if you want the code for a 8x8x8 Led cube controlled by an Arduino mega 2560 and coupled with a IR detector you can check out that code:

https://github.com/TheFbomb/8x8x8-Led-Cube.git

It includes a complete library of letters and numbers! Feel free to use it and also improve it ;)

Please note that the pre-processor, and the effect functions are snippets, so thank Chr for that!

salar naser1 month ago

wowthank you boy

its best

T0BY1 month ago

Absolutely stunning! This will definitely be my next project!

tomxu1 month ago

it is fxxking cool! I will do it ! thanks!

MohammedZ41 month ago

can someone help me with my led cube when i try to test the leds more than led work it should be one one led working???

MohammedZ41 month ago

can someone help me with my led cube when i try to test the leds more than led work it should be one one led working???

shashankr11 month ago

i prefer building one myself

shashankr11 month ago

can anyone please post the link of how to build the power supply in step 12

You are better off just buying one from Jameco. They are not much more than $10.

Team10 made it!1 month ago

See the link for our infinity LED cube

https://youtu.be/j5fhjTrBzoM

Cube_lit.jpg
Team101 month ago
dvberger2 months ago

Love your work.

Something I'm not following is your LED calculation. Most blue 3mm led's that I see have a forward voltage of 3 or 3.4 volts. With a 5V supply, a 3.4 volt LED and a 100 ohm resistor, aren't we going to draw 16mA per LED [5-3.4=1.6/100=.016a]. You suggested you shouldn't go over 50/8 = 6.25 mA per LED. While 16mA stays beneath the 25mA of the latch chip, don't 8 of them give 128mA exceeding the 50mA ground sinking ability of the chip?

What am I missing? Is that a 4.4v LED-> 5-4.4/100 = 6.25mA??

Little help would be appreciated!

Best,

David

So many have asked this, and nobody reads the comments for the answer first.

This is why I created an entire step discussing this in my "revisited" instructable. Please read the page at http://www.instructables.com/id/CHRs-8X8X8-LED-Cube-Revisited-with-improvements/step13/More-Improvements-the-2N2222-/

Okay, I've viewed your video and thought about it. I apologize for not having the practical electronics background -- my major was computer science which is basically math and systems back in the day. I see how your cube doesn't draw more than ~180mA for 64 leds activated at a time and how, I suppose if you divide that by 8 "driving" chips you're well under the maximum current per chip.

But, can you help me understand how I'd reconcile that with the math of a 5V circuit with 3.4V led & 100 ohm resistor. Are you saying each LED simply doesn't draw 16mA*8 per chip?

We aren't driving DC into the LEDs - we are sending short spikes of power to them. You'll notice that things like transistors for instance may have a much higher peak current than continuous rating. LEDs are the same, and so are most semi-conductors. So while we are measuring the continuous or average or "RMS" current, what we may be driving could theoretically be much higher, but since the time period is short, it's still well within the working parameters of the devices. In short, you cannot calculate the current draw in this circuit unless you completely take into account the frequency, and duty cycle (ON pulse width VS off pulse width) etc.

I think I see. After you account for how long LED's are lit up considering 1/8th duty cycle, a few instructions to run the program and the like, the sustained current draw winds up practically being quite a bit less on average over a period of time.

Just to check, we're not really worried about overloading a 3.4V led since there's a 100 ohm resistor guarding it but rather than 8 of them would overload the latch or shift register they were hooked up to -- which we're also saying practically speaking isn't really going to be a problem, right?

I'll have to do some thinking, but is the short answer that 6.25mA is more than sufficient to drive an 3.4V LED? I tried it tonight to see (stuck a 270 ohm) resistor in front of one and it lit, not as brightly as 100 ohm.

I'm presuming you'll make an argument that relative the amount of time an led is on, it's acceptable to sink more current into a chip than the math says you should?

Sorry if I didn't 100% follow your point.

Thanks -- I'll do some more reading. There's alot of "noise" on the site...

I'll circle back if it doesn't become obvious...

Have you used a zybo board before?
PianistosY2 months ago

Here is the 3D spectrum analyser that I made:

DEMO:

MAKING OF:

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