Introduction: How to Make an LED Cube!

An LED cube can be a great starter project for a budding electronics hobbyist or a student trying to learn the basics of circuitry. Through the process of building an aesthetically pleasing light cube, you'll learn the basic circuit setups, familiarize yourself with microcontrollers and programming, and begin to learn how to properly solder. Best of all, you'll have a beautiful piece of memorabilia once you're done.


You'll need:

8 LEDs (2x2x2) or 27 LEDs (3x3x3)

Batteries (at least 12V for the 3x3x3 cube)

Solder Iron

4020 IC (counter cd4020be)

555 timer (ne555)

Resistor (33 KOhms)

Capacitor (10u)

Step 1: Step 1: Build Your LED Cube

Here's the craziest thing about an LED cube: at any given time, only one LED is on. Seeing the cool patterns and light schemes people build, you would think that multiple LEDs were somehow lighting up. However, the truth is only a single LED lights up, but the switch from one LED to the next is so quick that the human eye cannot see it.

This is important. it would be challenging to light up too many LEDs as they use a lot of power. We use this phenomenon to our advantage in building the circuitry of the LEDs in the cube.

We will be building the 3x3x3 cube, but the same principles apply to the 2x2x2 cube.

The first sub-structure in the cube is the 3x3 layer. You build the layer by connecting the anodes of the LEDs (the shorter pins) together in rows and connecting the cathodes of those LEDs in columns (see picture above).

This way, turning on a specific LED means lighting up its specific column and row. This means we do not need to hook up every single LED, saving us a lot of time and resources.

Once you have your three layers, connect the four corners of all layers using wires.

And that's it! You have completed the architecture of your cube.

Step 2: Step 2: Program Your LED Cube

This design uses a ne555 timer, CD4020BE integrated chip, and a 12V battery pack. You already have the basic design done. You could just hook up the battery to specific columns and rows to light up LEDs. We use the timer and the integrated chip to skim through LEDs, making for a really cool looking project. The 4020 IC creates 512 unique patterns.

Connect the pins of the 4020 IC to all your wire columns (the vertical wires running down your cube, not the columns in the layers). Connect the IC to the 555 timer.

Don't forget to connect a resistor and a capacitor in series with the 555 timer in the configuration shown by the circuit diagram above.

Step 3: Final Step: Powering Your LED + Display Ideas

You're almost done with your cube. Add batteries to your 12 V pack and connect it directly to the IC and 555 timer. You should see the 512 patterns sequencing on your cube!

To display your cube aesthetically, you can build a stand out of wood or 3D print a stand. This will make for a more professional looking project