8x8x8 Arduino LED Cube





Introduction: 8x8x8 Arduino LED Cube

This is a fairly simple project, but it is time consuming and well worth the end product!!!

Step 1: Bending LEDs..

Make a jig, with two small nails jutting out @2mm from the hole which fits the LED nicely, but not too tight... I've found that 180 degrees from each other works the best for me.. Whatever you decide, just have to make all 512 of the LEDs EXACTLY the same to make a nice, neat matrix!!!!

Step 2: Cut the Excess Off...

I've found the best Flush diagonal cutters have been from "Beadalon".... I've tried MANY...

Step 3: Bend the CATHODE Loop Up...

It is advantageous to get used to having the anode on the same side when bending... It is frustrating when anode and cathode are reversed on a LED and it doesn't work after soldering all together... The second picture is of all 512, plus a few more...

Step 4: Drill a Jig and Assemble the Rows...

Measure the distance between anode holes on the board. This is the distance between centers of each LED. This is Important if you want a nice matrix. The holes on my board are 7/8 of an inch, or 23mm... The next important thing is to place a smaller nail above each hole at the 2mm mark you bent. each LED is then placed in its hole, with the unbent (horizontal) loop going over the nail. This will line up the vertical loops to receive the row wire. I use 20 gauge Tinned, straightened bus wire. To get this, buy a roll and look up how to straighten it. Or, you can buy it on eBay already cut and straightened. Only use 20 gauge. Smaller makes the matrix flimsy!!!!

Once the wire is through all eight holes, solder the LEDs to it and cut off the ends of the wire. This gives a neat appearance. You only have to make 64 Rows!!! Tedious, but worth it!!!


Step 5: Cut a Soldering Platform and Assemble Each Panel....

I used Formica coated shelving material from Home Depot... Because of the thickness of each soldered joint, a blade width will not work. One and a quarter will.... Make the cuts about 7/8 of an inch between centers... Place each soldered row in each cut. Line them up and the anode 20 gauge wire will go in the holes perfectly. Make sure they line up good before soldering. It will save a lot of time trying to straighten them to perfect 90's... I do the two center wire first, then work outwards. There are only 64 solder joints in this step...

Step 6: Test Your Panel...

The finished panel... You must test each LED before going on to the next panel. If one doesn't work, cut it out of the matrix, take one of your extra spares, Cut the loops open enough to place on the wire, and solder it in. You already have the soldering points from the LED you cut. Just heat up the soldered joint and leave the loop there. It will blend in with the new LED if enough solder is used. Remember the three second rule, so as not to burn up the LED!!!!

Oh- What I use for a tester: I use a two C cell battery holder from Radio Shack, with a 1k resistor soldered to the black wire. This has a small bend on the end to be able to hook it to the horizontal Cathode wire. I just do this for each level and run the tinned red wire from left to right over the anode wires. Use the resistor. The full 3 volts will work, but if using crappy LED's, one may burn out - It's happened to me many times!!!

Step 7: Solder Your Panels to Your Board...

This is fun... After getting all eight anode wires in their proper holes, I use small pieces of wood about 3/4 inch thick.. It doesn't matter the thickness, as long as all are the same!!! The second important thing is to get the panel perpendicular to the board. People say use a square. This is bull - I use a small paper pad on its side... Works just as well, and is small enough to place inside!!!! Solder the two outside wires to get the panel stable and then fill in the rest. Do this for both far outside panels... You'll see why...

Step 8: Add the Rest of the Panels...

I add them two at a time. to stabilize and space them properly...When you flip the board upside down on a perfectly flat surface, this is the orientation of the added panels. Gives you a PERFECTLY EVEN top!!! Its a little shaky... Use the paper pad underneath to stabilize it some!! The second picture is all the panels soldered in place. The third is looking down the panels after. Gorgeous!!!

Step 9: The Supports and Level Links...

This is a hard step, but very worthwhile.. First. you must solder a wire to the center top of the cube. This is the one where you have to adjust all panels to be even. Next, add the two top outside wires. This will give the cube serious stability. The second picture is of the next reinforcement: It is placed at level 4, on the opposite side of the P0 - P7 hookups. Each panel is soldered to each reinforcement. This one is a good practice before doing the level binding on the other side. Each panel level cathode must be hooked together. As you can see, anodes only go vertical and cathodes are only horizontal. Any slight difference in height of the mating wires can be weighted down before soldering. I use a small hemostat to do this. I'm a Dentist - I can't help it!!!!

Anyway, on the side of P0 - P7, as you can see in pic 3, all levels must be complete for the cube to function properly. The fourth pic shows the inside orientation of the stringers.

Step 10: Adding the Level Controlling Wires...

These are easy. You should be VERY comfortable soldering by this point!!! Connect insulated wires for each level to the stringers you soldered as such: P0 is the top level, all the way down to the bottom level: P7. Also - You must install four 12- 15mm standoffs before the finished product will stand properly... Brass or nylon - it doesn't matter.

At this point, your cube is now physically together...

Now onto the final and most crucial step: Installing the Arduino Uno, and uploading the program...

Step 11: Add Your Uno...

Then you are ready to upload the code, using Arduino Software...

Step 12: Program Your Uno...

Download the software from


Download both .ino files and open one of them up with the software. I included two files, because the fireworks section will work without the text function enabled, and vise versa... I have not been able to figure this out!!! Any suggestions would be welcome to overcome this small problem!!! Enjoy your project. It's tedious, but well worth it in the end!!!

Step 13: The Schematic...

Modified from the cube made by Hackable Designs. Good group of people.

Step 14:

Here is the Excel file to order the board parts from www.digikey.com...



    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest

    18 Discussions

    Hi, did you finally get the boards to eBay? Also, could you please clarify to me what you meant by "Any slight difference in height of the mating wires can be weighted down before soldering"?

    Hey guys!!! The boards are now up for sale on eBay. Do a search for:

    8x8x8 LED Cube Board, Arduino Uno Compatible

    I just put one together and it works flawlessly!!!


    Hi guys!!! A small quantity of the boards are due in today. If they are good, I'll put them up on eBay. Gotta build one first to test it out... ;-)

    The neatest cube I have ever seen. Your jigs and alignment tips help remove the human error in placement that is seen in most other cubes; excellent work !



    2 years ago

    I'm currently building by this plan, easiest what i've seen! Thanks for sharing!

    Do you have de PCB desing? or where I can download o buy?

    Very cool. Can u pls make an audio visualizer wid dis led matrix n post it. please

    1 reply

    Hey. I don't design electronics, but you may find a board which you may be able to adapt from Supertech-it at http://www.theledcube.com/. My boards should be done soon. I will post them on eBay when I get and test them...

    What board did you use? Is this one available on eBay or is it your own design, and if so, will you post the schematic?

    5 replies

    I made my own board, based on the one made by www.hackabledesigns.com. It was not copyrighted, so I modified it to suite my needs!!! I added the schematic to the page. The boards will be available in about two weeks. I had to have them remade, with a couple of tweaks. I have to warn you - the board uses almost all SMT components. Have to use soldering paste and hot air to make it...The components will cost about $35 from Digikey Electronics. I will have the .XLS file on my eBay page when I can finally list it!!

    Thanks... Your cube looks great. Well aligned and nice and straight. Because I've had to replace several LEDs - both prior to and after cube assembly, I have found that the "bent-pin-to-adjacent LED" interconnection technique a little simpler. Still, I found your use of stiff wire rows and columns to be very clean and tidy.

    I do have some design questions (and I really am interested in your answers):
    1. why did you decide not to buffer the common clock signals from the Arduino? I have always found that a fan-out of 8 is on the high side and the signal noise immunity suffers.

    2. why choose the serial shift rather than parallel latch method? Given that you are dedicating an Arduino UNO / MEGA to this board, there are plenty of spare pins available to make a parallel load possible.

    Hey Wooduino, I'd like to Give you answers, but I did not design the circuit - I redesigned the board to meet my desires, following the schematic. You may be able to get the answers at www.hackabledesigns.com... They designed it!!!! My specialty is hookups, wiring and repairing anything mechanical... I've just gotten into assembling circuit boards and such. I was a field wireman in the USMC back in the 80s, I collect and repair clocks as a hobby, I build and ride motorcycles also and am a practicing Dentist in my spare time...

    Thanks for your answers and the brief bio and I'll do as you suggest and take my questions to the designers.

    Nevertheless, you are to be commended on creating very clear and comprehensive instructions for the most challenging part of the design of this type of cube. Congratulations!

    Thanks, guys. I'll be doing one about soldering the board next, then listing the board on eBay soon, with a bill of materials from DigiKey. I'm also going to be putting an addition to my web page: www.clockworksdental.com... One of my inspirations is

    SuperTech-IT - He is really cool at it!!!!

    Great method and tips! Love the jigs!