Introduction: My 8x8x8 LED Cube

Picture of My 8x8x8 LED Cube

I have finally finished this project! Took about three weeks. If your soldering skills are not up to par before you start this, they will be when you are done! There are over 1300 soldering points in the cube alone. I estimate there are additional 700 or so on the two boards.

I must say that Chr did a magnificent job putting together the istructable for this project. You must, however, read every single comment before undertaking the build because there is a lot you need to figure out on your own.

Anyway, here are the photos of my build.


SuperTech-IT (author)2014-09-04

Thought I'd drop by and let you know that my RGB project is up.

SuperTech-IT made it! (author)2014-06-05

Thought I would drop by and show you my latest build for the 8X8X8 LED cube controller board.

Allows either ATmega328P (Arduino) or ATmega32A microcontroller.

Can take Mic module** and Wireless Remote Module

Has Line IN **

Works with original code and enhanced code with music response function

TTL Serial Input for PC based cube control

Front panel connector for control of enclosed board. All buttons, indicators and music input can be connected to this.

Allows "Skip Current Animation" function**

Can be cabled to a standard 8X8X8 single colour LED cube, or can clip directly onto the V2.0 Black Edition LED Cube Base Board.

(** denotes functions that require ATmega32A microcontroller)

This is the completed board with optional Mic and wireless remote modules attached.

bkeaton (author)SuperTech-IT2014-06-07

That is a nice board. Did you design and build the board? Would love to see it in action!

SuperTech-IT (author)bkeaton2014-06-07

No problem ! LOL!

Oh, here's the SMT board demo. And yes, I design these myself.

I also have an RGB board coming soon.

albinvadakkekara (author)2013-07-12

how can i control the cube using rs232?

Complete cube frames are sent to the cube via the RS232.
Each LED is a bit, therefore each row is a byte, each layer is 8 bytes, and as such, the whole cube is 64 bytes.
There are some minor things to know when sending the data to the cube.
Character 255 (decimal...FF hex, or 11111111 binary) is used as an "escape" character, telling the cube that the next character is a command.
For instance, sending the set FF, 00 (255 then 0) tells the cube to reset coordinates to 00 and clear the cube.
The problem this presents is when sending a byte of "all lights on" which obviously is also 255. So, in escape mode, if the next character is also 255, it uses it as cube data rather than a command.
So, in order to turn on all the lights in the cube, you would have to send it 255 128 times (255 puts it into escape mode, the next 255 it takes as data, the next 255 puts it in escape mode again, and the next 255 it takes as data again, and so on)
So any time you want to send 255 as data, you must send it twice.
Otherwise, it takes each byte as data, and once it has enough data to draw a frame, all the data is transferred to the cube.

How you get the data to the cube is your own decision.
Some use "Programming"(the language) or C language.
My first attempts at this I did in QBasic.
Anything that can send serial data can be used - even an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, PIC, iPod, anything with a serial port that you can program yourself to send the data to the cube.

LOOL...just wandering around and found this old comment of mine. The language is called "Processing" - not "programming".

Correcting my own error - "Programming" (the language) is actually PROCESSING (the language)

mnpumar (author)2011-08-18

Would you mind posting a list of the mistakes in chr's instructable? I have built the 8x8x8 cube and wired the circuits together but I am new to this so I have no idea where to begin debugging. Thanks for your help and the info.

bkeaton (author)mnpumar2011-08-19

Let me start by saying that I don't consider them mistakes. Chr's instructable is huge and took an enormous amount of time and effort to put together. I consider them either oversights or typing errors. Before or during building, you need to read all the comments and there are many. There is a wealth of information there from people that know far more than I do. That being said, here is what I have found:

Resistor values should be carefully examined.
Be careful of the wiring. The transmit/receive wiring from the max232 to the atmega is flipped.

You say everything is wired and you need to debug. What is wrong with the cube?

mnpumar (author)bkeaton2011-08-19

Im on step 46 where you load the test code. I programed the avr successfully but when i connect the cube nothing happens. The status leds flash and when i push btn 1 one of them stays constant. I think the problem is with the resistor values at the transistors. If im using the same ones as chr, how do i calculate the values for the pullup and base resistors? As per the comments i tried 1k and 100ohms at the base along with 4.7k and 1k for the pullup resistors. I think the problem lies here because the voltage at the bases is around negative 3.

Thanks again for your help, it is greatly appreciated.

bkeaton (author)mnpumar2011-08-19

I'm using 220 ohm base resistors. The circuit calls for 100 ohms but since there is a pair of transistors and resistors, and you are wiring the resistors in parallel, that halves the value. You have to account for that. The actual value as calculated using Ohm's law is around 105 ohms. 220 ohms is close enough.

I am also using a 4.7k pullup resistor.

How are you powering the cube?

SuperTech-IT (author)bkeaton2013-10-02

Every once in a while I go through these instructables even if the original post was ages ago to correct a few things. Since the transistor bases are not tied together, the resistors are not in parallel at all.

mnpumar (author)bkeaton2011-08-19

I'm Powering it using a modified atx power supply. Did you also use 10k for r2 on the avr board?

bkeaton (author)mnpumar2011-08-31

I'm thinking about getting a computer power supply. What type of mods have you done to your supply?

mnpumar (author)bkeaton2011-08-31

I got the smallest ATX power supply i could find at a store near me and I used this instructable to turn it into a lab power supply:

I'm gonna get a cheap dedicated 5v supply from ebay and use that after i solder the boards together on pcb so that I can keep the lab supply I made.

bkeaton (author)mnpumar2011-08-19

Yes, r2 is a 10k resistor. The transistors are PN2222A's. Not sure what the "TA" means, but it may refer to a packaging type. It's best to check the specs because, as you point out, there are many types available.

Can you post some good quality photos of your build? Especially the wiring side.

bkeaton (author)mnpumar2011-08-30

Sorry I took so long to respond, I was away. Glad to see you got your cube working.

BTW, that is an incredible job of breadboarding you have done. Do you plan on transferring all that to a pcb?

Your photos are great too, in focus and bright. So many photos here are dim and out of focus as to be useless.

mnpumar (author)bkeaton2011-08-31

Thanks! I do plan to transfer it to pcb, but I'm back in school now so I have to wait until winter break. I made a video of it here:

mnpumar (author)mnpumar2011-08-20

I got it working! Turns out I had two of the pins switched on the 74HC138...just incase anyone else has trouble with this:

A0 A1 and A2 correspond to A B C respectively on chr's schematic, and E1 corresponds to G1, E2 to G2A, and E3 to G2B.

Thanks for your help, it was very encouraging.

SuperTech-IT (author)mnpumar2013-10-02

Sounds like you might be pushing the SERIAL mode button - maybe both buttons are wired to the same pin or they are shorted together.

Daasu72 (author)2013-02-27

Thanks bkeaton for your help, you and CHR have very nice builds and these
instructables are very helpful. I am glad you guys are keeping them alive,
I was worried at first. I am still in the ordering phase, and am sure I
will have more questions. I like doing projects like this piece by piece as
I learn better that way.

Somethings to recap from our pvt msgs so everyone can learn:

1.I found the Eagle software by googling it, this is a great free program to
read/print the sch files.

2.I ordered a usb charger like those for Iphone/Ipad, and then found out
this will not work due to low amps. I will either use a HD enclosure that I
already have, or order a Computer PSU. From all the notes, they seem to be
the same.

3.I asked the difference between the two interfaces (Serial/TinyUSB), this
is what bkeaton told me:
-The serial connection is used to run the cube from your computer. Some of
the more math intensive programs are not handled well by the ATMega
-The USBTiny connection is used to program the microcontroller.
I think I will still do both as I have already ordered the parts, and might
as well add them to keep the option for later.
4.I'm sure I will have more questions later when it comes to the programing

Thank you again bkeaton and CHR.

SuperTech-IT (author)Daasu722013-10-02

You can use that charger to run it. The project doesn't use as much power as everyone thought, and I address that in my "revisited" instructable.

sdevi reddy (author)2013-09-24

sir small doubt regarding the power supply!
im doe with ther cube and im using our clg LAB RPS to power my im planing to use pc i dircetly conect the smps 5v rail same as rps? smps has very high current ratings,does it make any damaga to my cube?

SuperTech-IT (author)2013-08-25

Other than CHR's and my own, this is without a doubt one of the cleanest builds I have seen. Your P2PS board may even be cleaner than mine (Point to Point Soldering). But my controller had the transistors on it too - basically everything but the AVR. And I had to bring all my outputs to a single pair of 40 pin connectors. Then I made PCBoards with everything on them - even a spot for an alternate Arduino microcontroller. I started with a discrete component board, then a hybrid of discrete and SMT, and finally an all SMT board. I'd love to have you drop by my instructable HERE.
Here's a pic of my current SMT controller, and my cube.

Daasu72 (author)2013-02-28

Couple of things.

I can't post from my work computer, and I can't reply to below messages because I don't get the Captcha (spam reducer)

I printed out yours and CHRs instructables and I am in the process of going thru all the comments and transposing them to the printed instructions. I am learning a lot. Plus I started to watch YouTube videos.

So I looked at my computer, and realized I don't have a serial port. Do I need to buy a card for my computer?

SuperTech-IT (author)Daasu722013-08-25

The serial input is rarely used by most people that complete this project. You will need an AVR programmer though. I suggest the USBTiny AVR. I have also revisited CHR's instructable which can be seen HERE.,
I have made improvements on how to construct the cube itself with a method that almost always produces a neat, and near perfect cube.

For those that cannot wrap their minds around the circuit construction, I have also produced 3 different PCBoards for different skill levels (Discrete component, discrete/SMT, and all SMT)
I will include here a picture of the SMT board, and a couple pictures of the cube itself.

Many other aspects of the cube are explained beyond CHR's instructable.

mrsyfy (author)Daasu722013-06-24

No you can just buy a USB to serial adaptor.

bkeaton (author)Daasu722013-02-28

You should try another browser. I have four that I use for different things.

You certainly can get a serial port card, but I wouldn't get one right away unless you are sure you'll be running a program on your computer. You also need a free PCI slot for the card. You may want to build it first, run the program from the microcontroller and see if you're satisfied with that.

eltmco (author)2013-04-03

please give this project pcb and schematic and bascom or program source files

bkeaton (author)eltmco2013-04-03

sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about. :)

bkeaton (author)2013-02-28

My pleasure Daasu72. Let me know if you have any other questions.

One more tip: Read all of the comments posted on CHR's instructable. I know there are a lot of them, but there is a wealth of information there.

bkeaton (author)2013-02-08

Thanks for the compliment pilot. I quickly realized that you can get real creative in laying out the components. I like a neat and tidy build.

avionicskypilot777 (author)2012-07-15

One thing I noticed about your work. Excellent organization and layout. Looks real clean. All components are lined up and straight. I'm surprised that you were able to do it in 3 weeks. Would probably take me a little longer. I also like to solder as I find it to be relaxing. If I ever can get up the guts I will try an 8x8. Right now I am starting with a 3x3. Good job! Thanks for sharing!

matiasvan (author)2012-06-22

can I use an Arduino Mega 2560?

mnpumar (author)2011-08-19

Those are the transistors i'm using...i think they are the same but there were many options on mouser when i typed in the name on chr's parts list

bkeaton (author)2011-08-03

Thanks for the compliment chr. I should also mention that I got my feet wet first by building a random flashing 3x3x3 cube per an instructable here. Then I found your 4x4x4 and built that which seemed complicated to me at the time. After building the 8x8x8, the 4x4x4 is not nearly as scary!

chr (author)2011-08-03


I'm glad you liked my instructable!

Good job. Very nice build :D


About This Instructable




Bio: I love to solder. Go figure...
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