8x8x8 LED Cube

Introduction

This must be one of the oldest project I’ve done. I think it was actually one of the first project I did with a PIC microcontroller from Microchip back in 2006. I got the idea from the internet when I came across some videos of LED cubes in action and I was quite amazed and wanted to make one myself. After doing some googling, I once again found the page from where I got the idea, it was Chris Lomont’s LED cube, check it out, it is a lot more neater than mine. This was a fun project and I learnt a lot from it. If I ever make another LED cube, it will for sure be made out of RGB LEDs instead of just plain old red leds.

Construction

Anyhow, after deciding to build one for myself, I made a list of the parts I needed to make this work and ordered them right away. The biggest problem was finding cheap LEDs. Eventually I found one company that sold LEDs in quantities of 1000 at a very low price. But as they say, you get what you pay for. Those LEDs were of low quality, some of them didn’t work and the light intensity for each led varied a lot. So I had to test and sort each one of those LEDs manually before even thinking about using them for the cube. I can tell you, this was not a fun task to do but it had to be done.

When all leds had been sorted, another boring and patience testing task began, to solder all those 512 LEDs together into a cube.

As you can see, I made a simple template in wood to make it easier to position the LEDs in each layer. 8 seperate layers were made and these were soldered together to form the cube.

An old scanner case was used as the base for the cube and next up on the todo list was the column and row driver board. The driver board was made on a breadboard. Back then, I didn’t have viable method for creating PCBs. All those wires, what a mess.

And now, time to hook everything up and start development of the software for the microcontroller. PIC16F877A was the microcontroller used and an old modified Smart Card reader/writer was used to flash it.

It’s alive!!

And a short video of it in action.


6 Comments


  1. Hi, I love led cubes and have been trying to build one forever. Like you said the hardest part was getting the leds. I eventually got 30 from my college ee store for free and was able to build a 3x3x3 cube. Being as inexperienced as I am. I had to find a tutorial on how to construct one and the code had to be included because I am a novice in Java programing and that’s quite a bit different from programming a pic chip. But I do believe I learned a lot while building my cube. It was pretty simple. It had a 9v source going to a 5v regulator with a cap that steadied the voltage ( still not sure how that is accomplished) and then the chip had 9 outputs for the columns and 3 for the rows. But basically I want to proceed to a 8x8x8 cube. This is a lot more complex obviously and well I was wondering if you could email me a schematic for the circuit and the code for chip? I would really appreciate this! And ill remember to not go cheap on my leds lol. To be honest i was close to buying some really cheap leds andbim glad I didn’t now lol. But thanks you again for your time.

    Reply

      1. That is a great tutorial and i actually stumbled onto it even before you sent me the link. the only reason i didnt follow it is because i really dont want to go the adruino rout. i want to get and adruino dont get me wrong, but i would prefer to use a pic chip. this is because i want to dedicate the chip that i use solely to the cube and an adruino pretty expensive to do that. but beggers cant be choosers i guess and i should start dedicateing my time to learning the basics to programming micro controllers. but thanks again fot the reply. i always appreciate any advise/help.

        Reply

  2. hi i am so dum struck to see that u can do this with LED’s.
    were do i start if i want to build a 8x8x8 cube i cant find no wear info on wear to start and a step by step process. my son is has i lurning problem but love to fidel with LED’s and flip flop curcets is there any one that can help me pls.

    Reply

  3. Can you please send the circuit diagram and code for this project I shall be very very thankful to you

    Reply

    1. Sorry I can’t, they got lost in a harddrive crash.

      Reply

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