Make:DC LED Cube Workshop

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2008-01-20) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

You can read my experience at the workshop in my previous post, but just wanted to post that even making it home without a copy of the instructions, I figured it out, and actually got my cube working. Well, aside from the two dead LEDs, at least.

Here’s a short video of the test, where you can see I have 2 dead LEDs in the middle plane. Guess I should have tested all the LEDs before building the cube, instead of after.

The cube is built on top of a board that connects to headers that plug right in to the Arduino board, and the USB cable leads to my MBP whence I just uploaded the code.

Thanks to Tim Slagle of the local Make:DC group for the test code and putting this project together for the group. I’ll upload some more video once I find a couple of replacement LEDs and work up a fun animation.

UPDATE: Three dead LEDs later, time for some fun flashies:

If you want the Arduino code, you can download it here.

12 thoughts on “Make:DC LED Cube Workshop”

  1. I was looking at your project and found it very interesting. As such i have decided to build one. Unfortunately i hit a snag, while i have the schematics for the cube from make magazine, i have no idea how to connect it to the Arduino. The one set of schematics i found seemed to be a little more complicated than the one you had ( ) Would it be possible for me to get some kind of schematics or an idea of how to connect the cube to the Arduino.

  2. Thanks for catching that. I had an issue with using the TextMate blogging bundle to post to my blog, whenever I edited a previous post, it would change the time stamp -5 hours, sometimes even making it the day before, which would change the archive link. Fixed now, thanks!

  3. Thanks! Works great for me.

    int LEDPin[] = {16, 3, 1, 15, 4, 6, 14, 5, 7};
    I’m not quite sure why the pins are in that order – seems arbitrary.
    int PlanePin[] = {19, 18, 17};
    These make sense, three from the last.

    Since you’re using pin 1, you get 16 + 3 pins – which means you could do a 4x4x3 cube, I believe; if pin 0 works then 4^3, er, pow(4,3)! Of course the map table would have to be rewritten.

    Had a bit of a hard time finding the link to how the cube is wired (before I realized how simple it is – ground per layer, positive per column!)

  4. I was just wondering what method you used to switch on and off your layers. I’m building a larger cube and I was hoping to use your code as a stepping off point to animate it. The reason I ask about your methodology is because your logic doesn’t seem to work for my cube. I am using NPN transistors for my planes, so they are all naturally off. Is this how you’ve done it, or have you found another way to connect and disconnect your planes from ground?

  5. I want to know where the schematics for this are as I want to recreate this this project too.

  6. Hey Mark This Lil project was awesome Man, I actually Have Been seeing these around The web for a Long time Now and Finally Decided to make One using Your method and code as I am Just teaching Myself how to program, and This was My First ever Chip Program, "Even Though I Cheated " Using Your Code But I Had never Been able to figure things Out yet til I did This… Now I am trying to Figure out How to write My own for My Cube, Trying to Visualize It is Kinda Hard right Now, Til I find a way to Make It easier and get any Kind of Insight On Visualizing The Patterns I want… If You Have anything That May help me Make some More Pattern Programming for this Cube, Or any New Patterns That you Made That Came Out Kewl Please email me and Let Me Know of anything, I do Have The One thing I want to add to this, Is The Rain drops Effect!! You Know The One I am Talking about? Thanks for The Great Project and code Man… I am Making a new One with Other Color LEDs, This was was a Little 3x3x3 Green 3mm LEDs… Going to The 5mm Blue Next and Then after Maybe a 4x4x4. Good Job Man!

  7. Could you lend a hand with the code? I had it working a few months ago but my computer got wiped (and I had a different code on the arduino). I remember just copy and and pasting it and being good to go, however now I get many errors. Let me just inform you that I don’t remember how to code at all, so what I am doing is all blind guess and check work. I started off by adding <avr/pgmspace.h> to the #include at the beginning. That got me past one set of errors. Now when I get down to the “for” statements at line 180 I am getting errors. Am I supposed to edit anything there? Thanks for the help!

  8. Hi there, Good howto but like Alec (previous post) i’m having some problems when verifying the code.
    Is this common?? First error is (on line 181):
    In Function ‘void setup()’:
    fout: expected ‘;’before ‘pinMode’ At global scope:

    After adding an ‘;’ on line 180 more errors come forward.

    Thanks in advance, Wim

  9. Hi, your work is fantastic! really! I would like to make a cube led like yours. would you also have a wiring diagram of your project? thank you very much 🙂

  10. Roxye,

    The original Make podcast that this is based on can be found here. That’s as close as I get to a wiring diagram.

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