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.
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.
And a short video of it in action.