Picture of LED CUBE: Without Programming [How to Build]
This is a STEP by STEP guide to making a usb powered led cube that requires NO programming.   I wanted to make a led cube after seeing a video on youtube but with the limited knowledge in multiplexing I devised a way to make one that only required hardware. Below is a video of the final product.

There are no animations as all leds change on there own as they are automatic colour changing led.
As these leds have cheap timing circuits inside them aren't precisally acurate and all go out of time, that is what gives it the random pattern, because it is random!

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Step 1: Parts List: Bill Of Materials

Picture of Parts List: Bill Of Materials

For this instructable you will need:

  • 100 pcs of fast flash 5mm RGB leds found here on ebay:  CLICK HERE -------£8 >>> $14 ish
  • 3mm Acrylic sheet A3 (clear, duh), can be found on ebay:  TRY HERE ----------£6 >>> $11 ish
  • Couple meters of solder, no joke -------------------------------------------------------------£1 >>> $3   ish
  • cellotape if you can't be bothered to glue the case (I confess) ---------------------------Already had
  • 1mm copper rod, about 70 cm -------------------------------------------------------------Found it in a skip
  • A USB cable -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Free
  • Scrap wood to make the jig --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Free
  • Squared paper and glue ----------------------------------------------------------------------------Already had
  • 3.3Ohm 2W resistor----------------------------------------------------------- dunno, look for your self, lazy
  • And a lot of patience ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Price less

Step 2: Research: Auto Fading LED's

Picture of Research: Auto Fading LED's

If we take a look at just one of these special leds, we can see it does this:
  • Fades from red to green to blue
  • Then flashes, red, green, blue, turqois, purple, orange.

This means it has three leds in one; a red LED, a green LED and a blue LED. The timer built into the led is not perfect so there fore the leds never flash completely in sync with one another. That is what gives it the random pattern, because it is random!  See the tagged photo. This led only needs 2 pins as all colour fading happens in the chip ( the black dot ) so you only need to supply power.

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Excuse my ignorance, how can you wire up so many LEDs with just one resistor? All the calculators/guides I've seen say one resistor per LED or per array in series. This cube of 100 LEDs must be drawing ~2w?
wobblycogs2 years ago

Looks like a great project, just a question before I start - I can't seem to find a 3.3ohm, 2W resistor, and just want to check that I shouldn't be looking for a 3.3kohm, or 330 ohm resistor instead?

eXtremeSomething (author)  wobblycogs2 years ago
Hello thank you for your comment, It is correct but try searching 3R3 2W resistor, it is a more common in industry than 3.3r. Also R is short hand for ohms.

try here:

ok thanks
fantastic :-)
Linkster9993 years ago
will this piece of plastic acrylic sheet work :

ON Ebay
eXtremeSomething (author)  Linkster9992 years ago
Sorry also that there has been a 5 month delay in my response. That plastic should work.
Linkster9993 years ago
Could u provide me with a link to the Rapid store?
eXtremeSomething (author)  Linkster9992 years ago
sorry I was a tad late with the reply (5 months) the rapid store is here:
erdosain93 years ago
Should we change something if you use 10mm blue LED? All I want is that light up and nothing else. I do not care that "anime". Does the USB port can power many leds?
Should I use a different value of resistance? Is the resistance where it is placed?

Excuse my ignorance but I do not know electronics. :-)

Thank you very much!

This is a translation of google.
Zikkurat3 years ago
Is it normal for the resistor to get very hot?
I am using the same RGB Leds as mentioned, the same value resistor, and a Nokia cellphone usb cord; but when I plugged the cube into the computer the resistor got so hot that it melted the shrink wrap that I had placed around it. I am not that familiar with electronics, and was wondering if this indicates that I have done something wrong.
Hey I know this question was older but it means that you're putting more current through it than it's designed for.
awesome job I should make one of these!
I've got everything. wanting to make a 8x8x8 cube. which resistors do you suggest? and should i place a resistor at every column in the 8x8 like i would in making a single colored led cube.?
just waiting to supply power. everything else is ready :O
Tycoon50003 years ago
Built a 3x3x3 cube. I cased mine in stained glass though. It turned out great I think. Thanks for the great instructable.
eXtremeSomething (author)  Tycoon50003 years ago
Sorry for the delay.... busy busy busy... uni and all.

Its very good, much simpler than mine and produces a faded outline of the led grid from the inside.

Also great use of the jig in the foreground :P
Linkster9993 years ago
i mean to say how many sheets of acrylic plastic did u order of of ebay ?
and what did u use to cut it ?
eXtremeSomething (author)  Linkster9993 years ago
Only one A3 piece of 3mm clear acrylic. You can buy the rubberfeet from Rapid, maybe radio shack they are for the bottom of enclosures. To cut the plastic

I used a laser cutter from (college). You might by able to use a band saw or a score and snap method but im not really sure.
Linkster9993 years ago
just another question how many shets didi u order off of ebay ?
Linkster9993 years ago
hey jw where did u get the self adhesive feet ?
sambo27113 years ago
Do you have any idea whereabouts I could buy the copper rod? I did a quick Google, with no success and hoped you would be able to help. Thanks!
eXtremeSomething (author)  sambo27113 years ago
You could Use braizing rod / wire, I got mine from my college, I hope this helps.
Do you think these would do the job? Thanks!
eXtremeSomething (author)  sambo27113 years ago
If you can solder it and it conducts electricity yes. You might have to go down to the store with a multi meter, or a 9v battery and look for sparks but I wouldn't like to say in case it can't
Okay, thanks. I think I'll just get them and try; they're only £3 so it's not a massive waste if they don't work. Thanks for your help.
Did those rods work?
Yes, they did.
ok heres an image as well
Okay im in the same boat that u were in Could u tell me if these will work ?
eXtremeSomething (author)  MikkoK13 years ago
It must have worked as they are still watching it in dark room somewhere, hence the lack of responce
Zikkurat3 years ago
I just started making one of these, and I was wondering what to do with the ends of the last LED (the middle most one) in each layer. The ends of all the other LEDs in the layer are soldered to those of the the next LED, but the middle LED is the last of the line and is not followed by any others. Do you solder the ends of the LED to the Corresponding LED on the next level beneath it? Do you just cut the ends and leave them?
eXtremeSomething (author)  Zikkurat3 years ago
Hello, sorry for the delay in my reply. you can cut off the legs of the middle most one, or you can be clever and try in reinforce the structure by soldering the legs of the middle most led to another place on that rail, on the same layer

(ie, follow that track of legs back along, till the leg of the middle led can reach)
Could u reply to my question asap please, id like to know before i buy copper brazzing rods
eXtremeSomething (author)  Linkster9993 years ago
I don't see why not, but you might not be able to get it hot enought to solder to. I would like to think it conducts electricity but im not sure. Try it an find out.
These shoult conduct as they are copper ill ask at the store for a voltemeter test
Im in the process of getting materials jw if brazzing rods will work
max1zzz3 years ago
Damn, i just blew my money on copper tape and supercaps, i want one of theses! but i want to get a load of 555's and control the led's with those, as soon as i have money im gonna do this :-)
cabbagehats3 years ago
liked this a bunch and took your wiring but instead stuffed it all into a raccoon skull. Now I have a USB 2.0 raccoon skull.
eXtremeSomething (author)  cabbagehats3 years ago
Well do feel free to make an photo instructable too inlighten us all. And it would be your first instructable, I can't wait to see it !
it has been done.

this guy is heating up some and I put one of the resistors on that came with the LEDs. I put it on the negative and the supplier said that the resistors for rated for 12Vs. Is this too small?
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