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Electronics Design Club

3D LED Cube

Spring 2012 - Nathan Reichenberger


This project started by a fascination with 3 dimensional displays. Having no background in creating high quality display units, I thought having my own 3D display was completely out of my reach. However, while browsing through instructables.com, I saw several designs for LED based 3D displays. All of these designs were based on the same basic principle of lighting selective LEDS at a time to create “limitless” 3D particle effects, limited only by the imagination.


The LED Cube sequentially flashes a layer of the particle effect, at a rate fast enough to fool the eye that all the led's for the effect are lit simultaneously, The current frame rate for the entire Cube is 125 Frames Per Second, allowing a each layer to be flashed for 1ms at a time. All said and done, the LED Cube is a simple, yet effective way to display 3D particle effects over 512 LEDS.

For a first time build, the LED Cube is using a ArduinoMega as the “brain” for the display. The ArduinoMega is around 100x more powerful than this display will ever need to be. This first design was developed on a prototype board with all through-hole components. Although this was effective for building only one of these, and without a time restriction on the build phase this was more practical and less expensive than to design and have a PCB board milled.

Future Modifications:

For future revisions, keeping a 8x8x8 display size a more efficient and practical design would be to have a dedicated PCB. When transitioning over to a PCB design, it would be more effective to redo the “brains” of the operation to have a dedicated microchip that is more suited for the LED Cube. Changing the brain would allow for a efficient system, by having a control system that is capable of doing all the pseudo calculations without all the unnecessary abilities of the ArduinoMega.