Introduction: Making of the L3D Cube: Idea to Product in 4 Months

Four months ago we were screwed.

But that's putting the cart before the horse - which as we all know is a no no. First, a brief background: I'm part of a volumetric imaging company, Looking Glass. We invented volumetric printing the previous year as a way to seed the ground for our big dream of dynamic volumetric display. You know, the Princess Leia technology of sci-fi dreams.

And four months ago, we'd just spent all of our personal money and meager company earnings developing the dream - a high-resolution, full color-depth true 3D volumetric display. The only problem was, this display of the future was the size of a refrigerator and made a volumetric image just a little bit bigger than an ice cube. It would be years before we'd be able to turn it into a commercial product.

Then, on the precipice, we had an idea.

This is the unfolding* story of the L3D Cube, as it happens. My hope is that by being a nearly current play-by-play update of how this story unfolds, the narrative fallacy that plagues all post-game product launch accounts can be mitigated if not altogether avoided. If additional details of any step along the way - technical, business or otherwise - would be useful for folks please let me know and I'll expand the section best I can.

*unfolding on Kickstarter now. I will be updating the later steps of this Instructable as the present catches up to the future.

-------------------

Not interested in all of this strategic product development stuff and just want to build your own cube from scratch? The links below are how to make it happen!

All of the hardware & software described here is completely open source under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5 license.

That being said, a word of warning: it will be hard to build a single high-quality cube from scratch, since it involves large even-temperature reflow ovens which are usually only available for large scale production. That's why we think there's value in us providing a kit, because we deal with that nonsense. But if you want to dive in, here are the detailed designs:

Cube hardware: https://github.com/enjrolas/L3D-Hardware

If you're looking for details on how to start creating on these volumetric LED cubes, more technical details on Alex's "How to Draw Sweet Graphics for LED Cubes" Instructable here.

Step 1: The Idea

Did you know the top Technology Instructable of all time is a volumetric display? It's called a 8x8x8 3D LED Cube.

Before discovering this, we'd felt pretty isolated. There were only a handful of hobbyists experimenting with high resolution volumetric display, using techniques like spinning LED arrays and highspeed projector systems. Work on volumetric display was generally considered so expensive and complex it was performed only in places like the MIT Media Lab or secret departments of Samsung.

But then one day we found that there were actually millions of people reading about how to make beautifully simple volumetric displays with arrays of LEDs. While these LED cube displays were of far lower resolution than the displays of our dreams, it didn't matter - they were true volumetric displays. That said, each of these 3D LED cubes would take legendary soldering skills and between 100 - 200 hours to assemble (and an equal amount of time to program) -- but a few people would do it and they would become heroes to millions of others.

Excited to find we weren't alone in the DIY volumetric display seas, we tried to buy an LED cube kit. Only it turned out there weren't any.

And that was the idea. We would make the first color 3D LED cube kit with easy to share volumetric programs that could run on any cube in the world. And we'd make sure they could be assembled by anyone in under an hour. To pull this off, we'd need to make some hardware improvements and create a way for cubes to connect to each other over WiFi, so we got to work.

The L3D Cube was born.

Step 2: Making Prototype 1 & 2

The first discussion about this cube in our small engineering team (Alex, Samtim, Angus, Alvin and me) started the second week of July 2014. The following is the first email I could track down, where we started planning for the first prototype:

July 11, 2014: First email within our small lab about what would become the L3D Cube

"Alex and I have chatted about this topic a good amount in the past couple days, and seeing this instructable and the Youtube videos of people's cubes (with millions of views) has me convinced that the LED cube is the Cupcake of volumetric display. There is huge demand, but no one supplying good kits or assembled 8x8x8 cubes with a good centralized collection of sketches to run/improve. It's all pretty scattered.

So we're going to do a little experiment. Samtim and I just chatted and on Monday he's going to make a simple PCB layout with cut-out zones for an 8x8x8 RGB cube using the WS2812 LEDs (these are the LEDs that can be put into a string up to 1000 LEDs long and each be controlled with a single wire). In the lab we'll just need to design a dead-simple acrylic frame (roughly a 10cm cube) to hold the 8 PCBs. Then we're going to make a few volumetric applications and put some cubes up for sale on our site within the next few weeks. There are loads of improvements we can make to this simple cube (Samtim suggested some FPC designs and Alex mentioned ITO coated glass) but I think we can start real simple.

Alex, any other things for us to keep in mind for this? I assume this is just controlled by an arduino, just like the array Matt assembled."

The two key improvements over previous cubes we had in mind were 1. using addressable WS2812b RGB LEDs (also known as Neopixels) to simplify the assembly process and 2. integrating WiFi connectivity by default, for sharing and more complex streaming applications. These weren't terribly complex ideas, but if we were first to pull them all together perhaps we could use that momentum and community to fuel our more expansive vision of a personal volumetric display future. So we started to move at hyperspeed and had a fully-functional prototype one week later. Until we melted it.

July 19, 2014: Prototype 1 was completed

It didn't end up being made of panels, as noted in the email, but instead used 64 thin PCBs of Samtim's design, each hand-soldermasked and baked in a little oven. These LED sticks plugged into a simple PCB baseboard and were controlled by a Spark Core - essentially an arduino with WiFi that some of our friends had designed.

Our failure rate on these homebrew surface-mounted LEDs was high - around 5% - but the system worked. The first program to run on this cube, which we called "LyteLab" at the time, was Fireworks, written one morning by Alex on the train ride from the island he was living on in Hong Kong.

This Prototype ended up melting when we hit it with too much current.

July 31, 2014: Prototype 2 completed

I took this second unit to San Francisco to show around at sushi bars and crashed parties. People seemed to love the cube, but would they buy it? A sales experiment seemed in order.

Step 3: Experimental Selling on Amazon

So we posted the cube for sale on Amazon right before I hopped on a plane. We'd never done anything like this before and didn't know what to expect. I thought there was a less than 10% chance someone would randomly buy the cube on Amazon. To make sure this was a real experiment in the wild, we didn't tell any friends and made no twitter or facebook posts.

By the time I got off the plane, someone on Amazon had bought our only functioning cube prototype. An hour later, we sold another unit. Since there was only one cube in existence, this posed a problem. I rushed to pull down the Amazon inventory count to zero. Angus & Samtim back in the lab then rushed to make a second cube by hand before the ship deadline imposed by Amazon a few days later.

The cubes were and still are designed to be assembled without any soldering in under 30 minutes. Only a screwdriver is needed. This and the full color depth were the most obvious differentiators from the traditional cubes that took months to assemble, and it looked like at least a couple folks picked up on that. We hoped the sharing of 3D cube apps would become more important as more people got cubes, but at the time of these first sales, that system of sharing apps didn't exist.

In these first two cubes, we had really limited quality control procedures. Basically we assembled the cubes, and if they got through a basic torture test program of flashing the LEDs at full intensity for a couple hours, we put them in a box. However, that testing procedure didn't account for the bell curve nature of component failure. And yes indeed, the first customer received a cube with two LEDs that blew, almost certainly because we fried the LEDs in our homebrew soldering operation.

But all was not lost - because the LED reeds are all identical, if an LED on one reed happens to blow out, a new LED reed can be swapped in, in a few minutes. So we sent him a replacement LED reed, he swapped it out, and all was good in the world.

Step 4: Prototype Revisions 3 - 6 & Maker Faires

Then we started to make more cubes, pushing through a new revision every week or two. And the cube got a name - Alex texted me a drawing of an LED wearing a sombrero with the name "L3D Cube" scrawled underneath. For some reason, that stuck. The following are some notes about each rev, as we crawled from the swamps of one-off prototype onto the land of a real scalable product.

Rev 0.3: August 27, 2014, 2 units

  • spark core in the front does not permit plugging in a microUSB cable - change location to the back of the unit
  • the acrylic guide on the baseboard did not work to prevent accidentally incorrect plugging of LED sticks
  • logo and annotations laser etched

Rev 0.4: September 3, 2014, 6 units

  • complete BOM in 5, 100, and 1K pieces, coming in around US$120 - US$130 depending on quantity
  • move Spark Core to back, with microUSB connector pointing towards back of unit.
  • the Spark Core microUSB will also be our primary power jack to avoid confusing jack duplication - eliminate barrel connector
  • add slots into baseboard aligned with PCB sticks, to prevent incorrect orientation of the LED sticks - Angus to design layout and send to Samtim
  • add a large rectangular hole for the optional arduino connections & a hole for the Offline-Online slider switch
  • can be run off of computer USB for low power apps or can plug into a USB adapter 2A for higher power applications.
  • will ship with a USB-A to microUSB cable and a 2A power adapter, US plug style
  • includes auto-brightness scaling code and small changes to the baseboard, including bus monitor circuits and two 220uF capacitors per Alex's email
  • include microphone and 3-axis accelerometer
  • current limited to 1.8A
  • logo should be on the front
  • include 3mm holes near the top of the case to hang the case (like in clubs/rooms/etc)
  • slide switch or connect to cloud button, confirmed. Slide between "Offline" and "Online" modes.

Rev 0.5: September 26, 11 units

  • implemented hidden pushbutton on underside of baseboard as an easy wifi reset alternative to the Spark multi-button push reset
  • changed the corner pieces and side acrylic to slide and lock, to allow for the box walls being constructed and held together as a first step
  • using bulk order Spark v1 cores, US$20 per unit

Rev 0.6: October 8, 20 units

  • corrected spacing of sticks on baseboard to 20mm, front-center to front-center for a perfectly cubic LED array;
  • attempted altering design of panels and baseboard to allow for even stacking of cubes without large cube-to-cube gaps, abandoned temporarily
  • capacitors and big resistors located on the underside of the base PCB, to make the topside view cleaner
  • screws must be ferromagnetic to make assembly easier
  • implemented hidden pushbutton on underside of baseboard as an easy wifi reset alternative to the Spark multi-button push reset
  • hang holes added discretely to back of cube
  • corrected logo on PCB, correct direction
  • label Rev and date on the PCB Add website to back of acrylic, centered Logo on the acrylic should also say "created by Looking Glass" in small font
  • adjust acrylic strip cut profile slightly to prevent fracture (happened once to Alex on the Rev0.5 cut profile)
  • ensure all threaded corner pieces are properly threaded to prevent stripping
  • think about serializing the prototypes

Alex showed the cubes at three Maker Faires within three weeks and I took our few samples to hackerspaces, fablabs, and fabcafes in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei. And bars - we took the cubes to a lot of bars.

We were selling experimental cubes as fast as we could make them, so it was time to automate part of the assembly process. That's what's shown in the video above - we found a small factory willing to pick-and-place the WS2812b LEDs onto our somewhat jello-like PCB sticks. Our error rate on LEDs fell to zero errors in post-bake testing.

Step 5: CubeTube: Volumetric App Sharing + Music

After the first few revisions of prototypes, we decided to build in some sensing capability into each cube, including a microphone for self-contained music-reactive applications. We also started to connect cubes, via a streaming computer, with other sensors and inputs - the Kinect, Structure, LEAP motion, Makey Makey.

Inspired by the Makerbot Thingiverse created by Zach Smith, we started to conceive of a similar site that would let volumetric apps be shared between cubes with the click of a button, wirelessly downloaded or streamed to one's cube. We basically wanted to ensure cubes owned by non-coders would continue to improve and become more interesting over time, while giving coders a platform on which to freely share their work.

As of this morning, we're calling this sharing gallery CubeTube, where a single button click loads new code onto cubes on a given WiFi network.

For anyone interested in creating on these cubes, Alex gives a detailed Instructable here

Step 6: Kickstarter Dreams

Since we sold the first experimental cube on Amazon, we'd been working towards launching the L3D Cube officially on Kickstarter before the holiday season hit in the US. We wanted to not only get people their first volumetric display - we also wanted to build a platform for people to share volumetric apps between cubes with the click of a button. For this, we'd need a critical mass of at least a few hundred volumetric nerds like us, and Kickstarter is how we decided to get there.

For the video, we wrote a script and shot everything over the course of two days. Alex and I have edited our own videos before, but because we're amateurs, getting from raw footage to a 2-minute video is probably 100+ hours of work, and lots of redone shots. We didn't have that kind of time for a pre-holiday launch. So, we hired some friends who make excellent music and interactive art videos in NYC, which of course was the best decision ever.

We also decided to make a huge 16x16x16 cube (in the video above).

We've seeded the campaign with some new social media tools, like Thunderclap and writing to a few press outlets, such as Wired and Gizmodo. But nothing that unusual - we believe if we reach critical mass in the first couple days, it will carry us through the holidays.

For the reward tiers, we chose pricing that is 2.1x - 2.9x the BOM.

And that brings us to the present, as of 5:17am EST Monday morning, November 24, 2014. I'll be updating this living Instructable as our L3D Cube Kickstarter campaign progresses.

Clicking the launch button now.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lookingglass/l3d-cube-the-3d-led-cube-from-the-future

Step 7: The Kickstarter, Day 1 Metrics

(note: I'm updating this as the Kickstarter progresses. I'll prepare a clean synopsis and 'what we learned' section after all is complete, but this is a record of how the Kickstarter project progressed - I'm hoping this is helpful to other folks thinking about running Kickstarter campaigns on their own projects)

We launched on a Monday morning EST, a few days before people will start to leave for Thanksgiving in the US. This wasn't based on any scraped historical data - it was just a guess at good timing.

At 6:31am, we got our first backer. It was my brother.

At 6:52am, we got our second backer. It was Alex's Dad.

Then the first non-family backers started to stream in.

We hit about 60% of our publicly started goal in our first day. Here are some things we are learning about the first day.

  1. Thunderclap. This is a "crowd speaking" service that basically sent out a massive coordinated set of posts on friend's Facebook pages and Twitter feeds at the same time, 10am on our first day. (about 4 hours after launch). After a little analysis, I'm of the opinion that we won't use this again - it's just not that effective.
    • We had a domain we setup to track converts from the Thunderclap, more or less - kickstarter.l3dcube.com - and it looks like including direct Kickstarter backers, just 7 backers, or a little over 5% of our first day pledges, came from the Thunderclap. Analytics for the first day or so up above.
  2. Press. We got none the first day. Our first press article just came through, around the 30 hour mark.
  3. Friends and family probably kicked in 15%-20% or so of first day pledges.
  4. We didn't have any advertising (e.g., Google Adwords, etc)

Based on this, I surmise that Facebook & Twitter doesn't drive nearly as many pledges as Kickstarter Creators might expect.

Step 8:

Comments

author
Docdork (author)2014-11-26

Sooooo......how do I make one? What parts? What tools? Think this is an advert rather than an Instructable

author
sfrayne (author)Docdork2014-11-27

Hi!

I intended this instructable as a "turning an idea into a product" as-it-happens guide, and less technical, but I hear where some commenters are coming from, perhaps expecting a technical guide instead.

That said, some background on why I think a technical guide might be less useful than folks might think at first: Samtim, the guy on our team who did all the early heavy-lifting on the build, did handmake the first prototypes with a tiny reflow oven, hand stenciled solder paste, with carefully placed WS2812b LEDs on the custom PCB reed design you see in the instructable. WS2812b LEDs are super temperature sensitive, so in this homebrew initial setup, we would get 3-5% of the LEDs failing. To decrease the failure rate we needed to move to full pick-and-place + very large reflow oven production, for more even-temperature distribution. Then our failure rate dropped to nearly 0%. This means that homebrew versions of this cube will likely meet with similar barriers and I believe on the technical-front many more people will be interested in how to create graphics for the cube, rather than how to make their own cube from scratch.

That all being said, I'll add more details in this Instructable and might branch a separate one focused on technical assembly details anyhow, since it's nice to get that documented Instructables-style.

To start, everything in the cube is open source and is posted here. All schematics for the LED reed PCBs and base PCB are there and I'll post the lasercut profile for the housing soon!

Cube firmware: https://github.com/enjrolas/L3D-Software
Cube hardware: https://github.com/enjrolas/L3D-Hardware
Processing library: https://github.com/enjrolas/L3D-library

author
Gunstick (author)sfrayne2015-12-03

Hi

I had to RTFS to determine (hopefully correctly) how the cube is structured as I want to build one, but really huge (LED wider apart) but want at the same time to have it compatible with the L3D.

author
Gunstick (author)Gunstick2015-12-03

finally I don't get it. assuming pixel 0 is at 0,0,0 then the following are zigzaging throught the cube. But the code just uses x,y,z without any correction for y and z zigzag of the data line. Or is this hidden somewhere?

author
razamatraz (author)2014-11-27

So, this is an 8*8*8 RGB LED cube but instead of using 5mm through hole type LEDs you've used 5050 SMD type LEDs facing two directions, baked onto basically PCB fingers. It seems to me that what you've created is a manufacturing process to mass produce these things rather than actually design a new device.

The new technique is cool but results in an obvious viewing angle limitation and an expandability limitation as those pcb fingers would block light too much at even a 16*16*16 cube (ie you couldn't see through it anymore)

I would also say that a youtube search will find tons of RGB cubes with this or much higher resolutions which are already being commercially sold (albeit for very high prices).

I appreciate the contribution in technique that you've made here but I think the additional limitations are too great and I say that having built a couple of the early monochrome cubes based partly on CHR's design. They take a lot of time, can't give the desired pixel density for a proper volumetric display and at a certain size the wire mesh blocks their transparency as well. That said, these are cool because only a few people have them; once they are mass produced they are no longer cool, just like the RGB, colour changing, individually addressable Christmas lights I see everywhere now.

author
WernerM1 (author)razamatraz2015-02-03

Hi Razamatraz,

I failed to see what you called 'limitations' as limitations as all of the other cubes out there are based on hand-soldering big strips of LED's onto stripped wire, once they are done you get what you get. There's no 'expandability' as you imply.

So all cubes are equal in dimensions, if you get a 8x8x8 cube then you get an 8x8x8 cube, and that's that.

From all the cubes I've seen out there (and I've read through tenths of instructables and web pages and watched lots of YouTube videos). Most cubes out there are either low-res (4x4x4) and/or monochrome, they lack music support (apart from one, which I already wrote about and refuse to mention here due to the guy's awful manners with people and obvious intent to rip off those who are willing to entrust him with their money), <none> has embedded sensors (accelerometer) and <none> is wifi-ready. These cubes out there lack far too many features that this one has, than I would care to mention here.

And this cube is the only one I've found that's truly EXPANDABLE.

The LEDs being individually addressable means more than just power consumption, as you can spare lots of processing cycles avoiding having to code multiplexing for the LEDs (as some cubes use more complex bit-angle-modulation which is complex and takes lots of processing) and you can use these cycles instead, to build more elaborate animations (they even managed to chuck FFT analysis and display onto a single Spark core!). What you see as limitation I see as an enourmous advance. And the cube only draws 1.8 amps. I'd say not bad. Other cubes draw the same or greater current.

Honestly, Razamatraz, what's your point really? I fail to see it.

author
razamatraz (author)WernerM12015-02-04

I wrote this two months ago and you obviously failed to read my second comment where I followed up on the exact advantages you mention. The key disadvantage remains though; the columns are too fat so even in 16*16*16 it would be too opaque to see through.

1.8 amps? Maybe average; this cube at full white would pull 31 amps if they are fully utilizing max brightness while a multiplexed model would pull 1/8th of that max but obviously be less bright. It does make a difference as up to 3 amp PSUs are dirt cheap, bigger gets expensive quickly.

author
WernerM1 (author)razamatraz2015-02-04

31A? I wonder where you got these numbers from in the first place. The WS2812B datasheet states a maximum input current of 1uA per component, so multiplying that by 3 and again by 512 will yield a little above 1.5A. If you try to plug in a source capable of delivering half of your estimated total current (and assuming the circuit would actually draw that), I guarantee you'd fry the board before you even see a single LED light up.
These aren't regular LEDs, they're low power, high brightness components each having its own embedded driver with a constant current controller. That's precisely what drives the price of each of these units - I believe once the price of these components is softened a bit, we'll see it reflected on the units as well.
The problem when we start making assumptions is that we end up having a 50/50 chance of being wrong.
You also complained about the LEDs being soldered to a strip and not fully visible from all angles. I beg to disagree with that too, as these are diffused and not just flat as you implied. Anyway, if you're still not happy, you might as well get these instead (http://www.adafruit.com/products/1938) and provided you have connected them according to the schematic you can make your own strips to replace the stock ones.
As for your late post, I can't be blamed for the way this website reorders all the posts every time someone makes a new comment. I didn't come out with this. It seems to reorder them by some strange algorythm. I also didn't go through all of the posts fishing for a specific comment.

author
razamatraz (author)WernerM12015-02-05

I don't know what Ii is referring to on that datasheet but there isn't an LED on the planet that can create useful light at 1 microamp (your calculation would actually result in 1.5 miliamps total based on that number). Just like every other 5050 form factor RGB LED, each color will be 20mA rated but th eIC will limit total current to ~50mA. At 20mA per colour * 3 *512 you get the 31 amps I mentioned. I don't know why they opted not to include current ratings the same way they did in the WS2812 datasheet http://dlnmh9ip6v2uc.cloudfront.net/datasheets/Components/LED/WS2812.pdf . You can see the same thing when looking at the 30 LED strings of these; they require 1.5 Amp power supplies.

author
WernerM1 (author)razamatraz2015-02-05

You're right - I made a boo-boo when converting units for calculating the total current (I ommitted one zero in my calculation). At least I didn't hand it to Stephen Hawking ("- Another Fainter").

Either way, as you pointed out, those 5050 strips sold everywhere (I happen to own one that responds to audio as well) typically draw around 1.5A (that will depend on the length of the reel attached).

author
razamatraz (author)WernerM12015-02-05

Figured it out; the 1 uA is the current needed on the signal line to tell the chip it has a 1 bit.

author
sfrayne (author)razamatraz2014-11-27

Hi Razamatraz,

The big idea with the L3D Cube is to have enough
of these out there that people start to generate content for the cubes.
3D graphics, music visualizations, simple games - things like that.
Without a critical mass of displays, no one will develop neat volumetric
content.

And making the cubes easier to assemble by two orders
of magnitude in time is how we're attempting to do so. This is a story
that has repeated itself in several industries in the past, and the aim is
to get it to happen for the volumetric display industry.

The
second-order hope is that this then seeds interest in high resolution
displays. Arrays of LEDs is probably not the best way to achieve a
100x100x100 voxel volumetric display, but at least the dream for this
type of higher res display will expand and the volumetric display
industry can finally begin.

author
razamatraz (author)sfrayne2014-11-28

Well, having looked at that design in more detail it does contribute more than just manufacturing methods to the field; the use of individually addressable LEDs rather than typical multiplexing is relatively new (at least to me). I'd be concerned that it would take more power since every LED is on all the time rather than 1/8th duty but might get away with a slower controller (24 bits * 512 LEDS = 12288 bits per "frame" with a minimum 50 us reset signal per "frame") So, 100 fps needs 12288 * 100 signals in a maximum of 995 ms = 1.235 million bps total transmission speed. That's certainly doable, whereas the 74XX595 shift register driver with software PWM takes ~ 512 * 3 * 7 bits of data per frame plus another 64 bits of shift clock signal and 8 bits of latch signal for a total of (512*3+64+8)*7*100 = 1.125 million to get the same 100 fps but only with 256 colors. The equivalent in 16.7 million colors (24 bit) would take 41 million bps of signal so this design cuts data flow rate from controller to array by a factor of 40....that's pretty cool. I haven't calculated it for TLC 5940 drivers with hardware PWM but I suspect they still require double the data flow of your method and they are kind of expensive (although that price has dropped 60% in the last two years).

I am concerned that a retail of $399 is too much to get many people designing content for these, but given the time mine took to build I realize you can't charge much less; these things take a lot of effort.

author
gwlinn123 (author)2014-12-02

I think some are too quick to jump on these guys when they are, in fact, offering a free, open source, project for us techies. We can discuss whether or not these types of Instructables belong here, but let's not be too pious since it may stifle future contributions. I'm okay with defining a new category if that makes some happy.

As for me, I was building "color organs" 40 plus years ago. This is the best improvement I've seen so far, a thousand times so. I might be willing to buy a kit, but here's another idea - use pre-wired LED strips which are actually pretty cheap. You cut them to the length you need. I've been using them for XMAS displays at home. Lately, I've been using the ones that don't have the external vinyl protection sheathing needed for outdoor use. That's been okay since the LED strips are not directly exposed to weather. Here, the strips are inside so not an issue. These strips have a self-sticking adhesive tape on the back.

My thought is to create the "sticks" using my new 3D printer (don't have any ideas yet as to a connector). Would have to run a wire back to the MotherBoard with the "goesout" signal if necessary. Adhere the strips to these sticks. There's no way I would try to solder SMD parts to anything. As these guys point out, I think, the least fun and hardest work of any electronic project is the packaging which they have worked on.

I haven't done this yet and I don't have any idea as to what challenges will be with the software. But, having some skills with C++ and Arduino, I think I'll try to do something with their ideas.

Thanks, guys, for sharing and being prepared for whatever criticism ensues. The feedback this community provides should be useful in determining what to do in the future.

author
WernerM1 (author)gwlinn1232015-02-03

Couldn't agree more.

author
WernerM1 (author)2015-02-03

I came to know this cube after having a less-than-satisfying experience with another cube maker (let's not name any names - sufficient is to say this one has been mentioned in here already). His design is actually a board that's hitch-hiking on somebody else's design (namely, Kevin Darrah and Nick Schulze's), is clumsy (he keeps launching newer releases, each one adds to the stack of fixes one has to perform to get it to actually work), requires countless hours of soldering LEDs to stripped wire (to make the panels), his boards are <not> open source (you have no choice other to buy them from him at <his> prices) - each new board comes out more expensive and requires purchasing of extra boards ('bridge' boards) because of the way this guy designed them.

The only feature similarity this guy's cube has with the L3D is the music support - with the added cost and burden of stacking yet <another> board to the pile to support audio, I shall add.

Nevertheless, yet unaware of the L3D's existance, I decided to go for it: I ordered a set of boards (baseboard and 2 'eliminators' - these are said to be optional, for those who want to build their own 'arduino' and 'chipkit' to stack onto the baseboard - for the 'bargain' (his words) price of $95.00 - ONE baseboard!) and waited, and waited, and waited. After 35 days, without getting any evidence of anything being shipped to me, I confronted him, just to get a stream of insults directed at me. I forgot to mention he actually expected me to pay $50.00 for a music module. Talk about weighing gold.

That was it - I decided then to part ways, and fortunately, I got my money refunded without having to go through PayPal's channels. The refund went straight to help funding an L3D order, which I just placed today. ;-D

Undoubtedly, the L3D is far more elegant, full-featured and easier on the eye and I can't wait to start experimenting in porting Nick's and Kevin's animations to this one.
Should be challenging, but also fun.

I am more than happy with my decision. Hope this helps others who may be in doubt whether or not to buy the L3D or 'some other cube' that's someone's excuse to make a quick buck out of people who are just on the lookout for a fun and educational project.

And as a bonus, I no longer have to cope with that other guy's 'charming' personality and hightened 'God' complex - as he certainly fails to understand the basic laws of demand vs. supply. ;-D

author
Pedro HenriqueT (author)2014-11-29

This page don't show clearly how to assemble. Its a shame because I'm an engineer and fully capable to recreate this marvelous ideia. It's a very big shame! You guys are thinking just in money and not to disseminate knowledge.

author
WernerM1 (author)Pedro HenriqueT2015-02-03

I think you're mistaken.

In case you missed it in the description, the L3D is a fully open source project. You can get all the schematics, PCB layouts, panel cutouts, everything is freely downloadable.

Cube hardware: https://github.com/enjrolas/L3D-Hardware (in case you missed it).

author
senohpoxas88 (author)2014-12-26

What I would love to see is a way to take people who have made other cubes (like SuperTech-IT's board) and make it compatible with the L3D. The Fact is that they found a way to bring LED cubes to the masses, and that can bring a lot of change to the cube community.

author
sfrayne (author)senohpoxas882014-12-26

Thanks! Agreed, hopefully mods for other cube designs to enable shareable content between different cubes are coming soon -- neat stuff is starting to happen already....check out the new all-things-led-cube forum here:

http://cubetube.org/forum/

author
senohpoxas88 (author)sfrayne2014-12-28

Awesome, thanks! I will be checking up and seeing what I can do to make mine compatible. I'm using the SuperTech board, which seems to be the most popular Instructable on the subject.

author
terrefirma (author)2014-12-06

Now if only someone would make an instructable on how to sue someone, everyone will be happy.

author
Frogz79 (author)2014-11-25

Great idea and it looks awesome but correct me if I am wrong instructables is a place to come to learn how to build things or make things... When did it turn into an advertising post for kickstarted

author
sfrayne (author)Frogz792014-11-25

Hi Frogz79 - I agree, and was actually hesitant to post this Instructable. However, there were enough people asking me about how to run a Kickstarter project of their own that I figured a post about the detailed day-to-day running of a Kickstarter would be useful to folks.

I was inspired by these guys' post for their product, which I found to be really useful: http://therussiansusedapencil.com/post/2794775825/idea-to-market-in-5-months-making-the-glif

But I understand where you're coming from. I'll be working on growing this instructable as we take this product forward and hopefully it gets more useful to folks.

-Shawn

author
eschneck (author)sfrayne2014-11-29

Personally I found it interesting. As a small business owner myself, there's a lot of things that go on "behind the scenes" that the average consumer doesn't realize, understand or ever get to see. I can relate to how you need to maximize spending on advertising, etc. and the constant struggle to balance it all. Everyone things success happens overnight. This shows the hard work and determination behind any good project. Kudos! I like the product, and when I get some extra folding money I might come see you for one. Right now it's a little out of my price range (unless I turn it into advertising somehow) ..

author
nqtronix (author)eschneck2014-11-29

I did not thought about this, but it is a valid argument. Good thing you can put other people experiences to good use.

Fun side fact: Instructables shows just the matching advertisment for the L3D campain on kickstarter. Also, congratutalions on reaching your goal that early!

author
void_main (author)Frogz792014-11-27

Yeah, while it was an interesting read, there is no how-to here. Perhaps instructables.com should classify those type of posts differently (easier said than done, where to draw a line?) and not make them 'featured'.

author
Raitis (author)Frogz792014-11-25

I think with the title saying something more along the lines of "Development of ..." it would check out as an 'ible for business development or something similar.

I like the concept and the end result and hope that you will update this 'ible eventually.

author
nqtronix (author)Frogz792014-11-25

Even thou this project is awesome, I've to agree with you. This
instructable is basicly just a rather long diary entry, it does barely
contain any additional information valuable for an own build.

True,
the title clearly says "Making of" so I don't blame you. However I
expacted you to share at least *some* personal experience (general stuff
that could be done better, if you knew about that before) you gathered while working on your project.
You don't need to reveal all your secrets, but some tips and tricks
would be nice, especially because you got inspired by our community.

After all it's all about sharing. If you're just searching for a place to advertise with, I'd suggest to keep looking.

author
Antzy Carmasaic (author)2014-11-25

The primary benefit of using traditional LEDs in LED cubes is that they are visible from all directions, hence a cube will look pretty much the same from each face. The SMD 5050 LEDs have the limitation of projecting most light in one direction only, the direction they are facing. Did you put these SMD LEDs on both sides of the strips? Is there a visible difference in looking from different sides of the cube, especially top?

Cool build nonetheless and best of luck with your kickstarter :)

author

The picture in step 2 shows LEDs on one side only. That's quite limiting but it's still a clever shortcut, just put the cube in the corner of your room

author
aflores32 (author)2014-11-27

Try indigogo

author
mcarsner (author)2014-11-26

This would be a awesome idea to make 3D holograms. if we could add about 720x480 small low level led's you could make a HD 3D model that talks or something. maybe in the future we will have led's that act like colored displays for one pixel on a HD TV now that would be amazing I would love to make a game using something like that.

author
tomita (author)mcarsner2014-11-27

Using qdleds this will be done. Also the first LED 3d printer has been showcased, so there is not much time until amazing new lighting solutions appear

author
jbarrett7 (author)2014-11-26

This is the third instructable I saw today that was just a useless add. This used to be a fun site, now its being taken advantage and ruined by people posting promo garbage. I usually dont complain but its getting outrageous.

author
trautenbach (author)jbarrett72014-11-27

I second that....

author
dpizetta (author)2014-11-25

Amazing!

author
jvoutselas (author)2014-11-25

Best idea I have ever heard

author
iam_maker_leo (author)2014-11-24

Very impressive.. and good idea...

and Good luck..

About This Instructable

44,409views

481favorites

License:

More by sfrayne:Making of the L3D Cube: Idea to Product in 4 MonthsInto the Looking Glass: 3D Scanning Scenes 101Free Range Color 3D Scanning with an iPad
Add instructable to: