5x5x5 to 10x10x10 Bi-Color LED Cube

What is the biggest (up to 10x10x10) B****I-Color LED Cube I can make before I run into issues?

What I have availible to use:

  • 1x Arduino MEGA 1280
  • 1000x Red/Green Bi-Color LED's (DataSheet)
  • lots and lot's of scrap pcb's that I can extract anything else I need (all parts work)
  • around $100.00 USD for this project

Thanks for your opinion...

What do you have for a power supply?
Current limit resistors?
Perfboard or something to mount a bunch of shift registers onto?
Assuming you managed to turn all 1000 on at one time, that would be quite a bit of current (say 20mA each, you'd need 2 amps)

I would suggest a couple of these to start, as a debugging aid. Wire them up with shift registers like they were the first 2 levels of your cube, get your multiplexing working across 1 level, then expand to 2 levels, then start expand to your 10x10x10 cube.

Is nice because you can also mimic the schematic for your cube for each level.

Basically in a led cube design you design a matrix scanning method where you enable one level of the cube at a time and then just switch to the next level and enable that level. As long as your program can scan all the levels faster then the human eye can detect flicker then it will look like all the leds can be turned on and off instantly. In my 5x5x5 blue led cube I enable each level for 2 millisec for a total of 10millisec cube scan.

the biggest electrical huddle is designing and building the output shift register that wire to all the vertical columns of cube, so for a 10x10x10 cube using bicolor leds that is 10x10x2 = 200 bit output shift register. Then you need 10 arduino output pins to drive the common level driver for each level. That means the program shifts out 200 bits of level data and then enables the level driver source voltage on, and then moves on to the next level. Also a means of limiting the led current to a safe value is needed. I used special shift registers that have constant current output drivers build in the the chip. That saves a lot on the component count.

Calculating worst case current requirements is for example 10x10x2 x .020 amps = 4 amps of current.

Having built a 5x5x5 cube I found the biggest issue wasn't the technical design but just the high effort to keep all the leds in alignment while soldering and wiring all the level and column connections to the electronics. You have a very significant building challenge ahead of you if you go for a 10x10x10 cube.

By the way having watched a lot of cube patterns I think that cubes with odd numbers are better as there is a true center led for each surface and therefore more interesting patterns can take advantage of that aspect.


i have everything i need and more plus $100usd(and growing)...
also i do not have any limits on avalible parts(as i said i can get anything i need online, as i have some money)
another thing is that i want to do somthing simmaler to this except in a 10^3 format: "link to good Instructable"(in pdf. format)

i need to know the limits of the arduino mega 1280 when used to control my cube...
including but not limited to:

  • minumum speed that i can have it refresh and not look like a strobe light...
  • the amount of animations i can get onto a single mega1280 (128K bytes)...
  • is it possible to have the mega act as some sort of decoder, like having it interperat signals comming from my laptop(the laptop controls the cube via the arduino as a decoder
  • are TIP120's a suitible match for this project? if not what should i use?
    i plan on having 3 sets of 10 layers making 3 sets of 10 planes with each set on 1 of the 3 dimsions...