Introduction: Make Your Own SIMPLE 4x4x4 LED Cube

Picture of Make Your Own SIMPLE 4x4x4 LED Cube

In this project I will show you how to build a simpler version of a 4x4x4 LED Cube. The driver circuit only consists of an Arduino Uno . Let's get started !

Step 1: Watch the Video

The video will give you the mandatory information you need to build this project. In the next steps though I will give you some additional helpful advice.

Step 2: Parts You Need:

Here you can find a list of all the necessary electrical parts to build the cube:

1 x Arduino Uno

64 x LEDs

4 x 100 Ω Resistances

20 x male to female jumper wires

1x box

Step 3: Building the Cube Structure

Picture of Building the Cube Structure

This is the hardest part. Building the 3D structure will take about 3 - 4 hours, depending on your soldering skills and patience. There are several steps in this build. Keep testing it! Once the cube is assembled, it is next to impossible to repair anything. So keep testing! I know why I say this, believe me...

TIP: A simple way to test LEDs is with a multimeter set to "diode test". The multimeter will drive a small current through the LED, so it will light up dimly. Try all possible combinations of connecting columns and levels of your cube with your test leads. Do this after every step.

But first:

Step 4: Prepare the LEDs

Picture of Prepare the LEDs

The LEDs need some preforming of theirs anodes. We start with a standard LED.

Use pliers to hold the longer wire (the anode).

Make a 90° bend.

And finally bend it the other way.

And here is the reason why we have to do this. The LEDs will be stacked later. In each column of the cube, the anodes of the LEDs will be used for this. And without the preforming, it would be difficult to reach the anode below.

So keep repeating this until all of your 64 LEDs are prepared

Step 5: Build the Groups

Picture of Build the Groups

Each group consists of 16LEDs.

You need a template to assemble the LED groups. so I made a set of 16 holes in 4 rows with 4 holes each into box

Mark the side to towards which your cathode of led will point.

Insert all LEDs in the template. Make sure all cathodes point towards marked side as shown in image.

Step 6: Soldering

Picture of Soldering

Bend the anode leads by using twizzer as shown in pic.

before doing bending , mark the arrow on direction in which you want bend your anode as show in pic.

Solder them to their neighbors so that the anodes form a ring-like structure. Align cathodes and make sure they are vertical. And then test!

Step 7: Assemble the Cube

Picture of Assemble the Cube

Finally, all groups are connected.

This step needs to be executed carefully.

Make sure everything is level and aligned.

Insert the first group into the box.

Then, add a second group. Put it on the box in exactly the same orientation. Later, the columns of these two LED groups will be connected in parallel.

Connect the common anodes to the box.

Now test those first two groups!
If everything works, start with the second level.

Connect the two groups of the second level through their anodes to the corresponding anodes of the first level.

Take your time!

and connect the rest.

Make sure everything works. Try all combinations of columns and levels.

Congratulations! This is the hardest part done. What remains to program an Arduino to control the cube. It is very simple.

Step 8: Connection to Arduino

Picture of Connection to Arduino

connect all the columns (16 common cathode pins)of cube to arduino as shown in pic

note: connect the rows (4 common anode pins) of cube to the one 100 ohm resistance then it to the arduino pin as shown in pic

Step 9: Upload the Code!

Step 10: Success!

Picture of Success!

You did it. You successfully built your own simple 4x4x4 LED Cube.

In case you have questions, leave a comment below.

Comments

robertbu (author)2017-04-17

I think you are drawing too much current through the Arduino. Assuming you are multiplexing each layer and each led draws 20ma, you are drawing 350ma through the arduino board. The max from any datasheet I've read is 200ma. Or am I missing something about your design?

MegaDAS (author)robertbu2017-04-30

Multiplexing the output display will make one LED On at a time or it will damage the Arduino Digital pin which can provide 20mA only (you can have full 400mA from 5V output)

Réfer to this link (Arduino website) where you can find description about the I/O pins: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/arduinoBoardMega2560

robertbu (author)MegaDAS2017-04-30

He is only turning on one led per pin at a time, so he is only drawing 20ma per pin. The problem is that there is a 200ma limit on the total current pulled by all pins output pins. If the code lights an entire layer, the board is pulling 400ma..twice the recommended limit. Note that the amount of current that can be pulled from the 5v pin depends on the voltage regulator used on the board and varies between 0.5A and 1.5A. But that is power does not go through the output pins. And from my reading it is more complicated than just a 200ma overall limit. There also appears to be a 150ma limit on certain sets of pins.

MegaDAS (author)robertbu2017-04-30

Hi,

You are right about the current consumption while turning on the entire Level but if you place the right pulldown resistors after each output pin, this will protect your Arduino and your LEDs that could be damage due to high current flow.

You can see my instructable on "how to build a 5x5x5 LED Cube" through this link: https://www.instructables.com/id/Led-Cube-5x5x5-Ar...

where I explained these details while making the PCB.

robertbu (author)MegaDAS2017-04-30

The use of a 330 ohm resistor on each output line does solve the current draw problem, but at the cost of brightness. The result is running an LED at 6ma that typically draws 20ma. And there is further brightness loss due to the multiplexing.

MegaDAS (author)robertbu2017-04-30

When you use a 330 ohm resistors you will have a current flow of 15 mA (Ohm law ===> I=U/R ---> 5V/330Ohm=15.15mA) and I used mono-chromatic ultra-luminance LED for high brightness, in the videos it is clear that I'm using this kind of LEDs and no problem with it.

robertbu (author)MegaDAS2017-05-01

Your Ohm's law calculation does not take into account the resistance of the LED, nor the voltage drop of your transistors nor the voltage drop associated with the pin transistor. And each layer is only lit 1/5 of the time, so the average current is much smaller than the intermittent current. If your LEDs are bright enough, you are golden. I only wanted to point out that adding a 330 ohm resistor is not a "free" solution to solve the problem of too much current. The LEDs pay a price in terms of brightness.

MegaDAS (author)robertbu2017-05-01

You are absolutely right, but about the Ohm law I was talking about using only the resistance without a transistor in the ground pin so the LED will be directly grounded through its cathode.

Thank you robert for this conversation and for the info that you provided :)

MasterKeithG (author)2017-03-06

wow

thank u

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