Hello! My name is Mauro and I am a rising senior at New Heights Academy Charter School. Throughout my time at Bluestamp I built a 4x4x4 LED Cube. I honestly knew nothing about my project beforehand in terms of its circuitry, the programming that will be involved, how LED’s work and there correlation to the Arduino platform. Before I started the intensive project(LED Cube) I put together a Big Time Watch as my starter project which is explained in more detail at the bottom of this page. Anyhow the Big Time Watch as simple and straightforward as it might have been to build, it was crucial in setting the path for me for the rest of the program as for I acquired a good amount of knowledge that I later carried on and was able to apply such insight on my intensive project. One thing I absolutely cherished about BlueStamp is it’s individualism and how students are challenged to go forth and complete there projects with as little help possible from the instructors. I believe taking this initiative of relying on myself will make me a more self-sufficient person which I consider to be a good attribute to have throughout life.
Bill Of Materials: BOM 4x4x4 LED Cube
Build Plan: LED Cube Build Plan
4x4x4 Programmable LED Cube: Completed!
The BlueStamp staff took amazing footage throughout the course of the program. Below is my demonstration of the LED Cube! Enjoy!
As BlueStamp engineering wraps up I’ve come a long way from constructing the cube which involved a lot of soldering to placing wires to pins to the Arduino which is an open source platform used for building electronic projects. During the process of putting together all the components that will make for the cube I learned a ton about LED’s and how they’re one way diodes meaning they only allow current to flow through them in one direction. I also learned about transistors and how they are regarded as a type of switch, as can many electronic components. In my cube I used 4 transistors as on and off switches which power specifically each of 4 layers on the cube. I used twenty five 100 OHM resistors which are used to limit electrical current entering the LED’s so that the LED’s wouldn’t ‘burn out’. With all the knowledge I obtained throughout the six weeks at BlueStamp I believe I can take my project to a whole other level and have it synced with music which ideally I would have different LED’s lighting up throughout the cube depending on the rhythm of the music. At the beginning of BlueStamp I seriously didn’t believe I would finish this project as for there weren’t any instructables for the specific way in which I wanted to build the cube which was to address the LED’s individually in programming.
This is the schematic I used for the Cube, they’re separated into 4 layers due to the cube being 3 dimensional.
Second Milestone: LED Cube illumination!
I was finally able to finish all the wiring between the LED cube and the Arduino which therefore allowed for me to generate a code that got the cube illuminated! The way the circuitry is assembled is, the Arduino applies power to a programmed number of anode columns (my pins are 23-38). The Transistors grant ground to only one cathode layer at a time (pins 2-5). The way the cube animates is by the phenomenon of persistence of vision. Persistence of vision is the illusion of moment, so in my case if I have one LED turning on and another LED turning off at a consistent rate the human eye will be ‘tricked’ into thinking there’s some sort of animation running throughout the cube(its quite amazing). I came in contact with a recent BlueStamp student in which built the cube about two years ago and we discussed about creating a more efficient way to animate or create different patterns throughout the LED cube rather than just hard coding different patterns/animations in which will honestly take up a lot of time. We came up with an HTML form of check boxes which will output an array of code that Arduino syntactically will comprehend and will therefore upload a pattern based on whatever check boxes I click. In order to get the check boxes up and running however you need to install MAMP on your PC. MAMP is an application you can install on your computer which allows you to have access to a local PHP server and MySQL server. In this case all you need to do is install MAMP and have it running, MAMP acts as a ‘fake server’ to run the html code.I have also added a joystick and two push buttons as input devices that can be used in any way. I’m now working on maneuvering the LED’s around the cube using two push buttons and the joystick. If I can successfully get the two push buttons and the joystick moving LED’s around the cube I will work on a 3D snake game and possibly work together with the former BlueStamp student whom built the cube to publish this project as an open source kit.
Each of the check boxes represent LED’s, when you click on a desired LED it will output code that you then copy and paste onto Arduino. This program saves time, and is also pretty neat!
First Milestone: Construction of the Cube
The completion of my first milestone involved A LOT of soldering. The way that I built the cube was by first making a jig/base in which I drilled 16 holes in. I made the jig based on a diagram I created which has the exact dimensions of the holes where the LED’s will be placed in and the precise measurements of the difference in between the holes etc. The way the cube is setup is there are 4 layers of 16 LED’s which will make for 64 LED’s.The anode columns(LED’s going vertically) are all connected by solder and the cathode layers(LED’s connected horizontally) are forming a proper connection by two strips of wire which I tinned thus allowing current to flow through the wires to the LED’s in which therefore lights up all LED’s on each layer. For my next milestone I will place different sets of wires from the LED Cube to pins on the Arduino in which I will then input code that will therefore allow for the cube to illuminate!
<--- Diagram for the Jig/Base of the cube.
Big Time Watch(Starter Project)
For my starter project I was able to put together a ‘Big Time Watch’. It came as a kit with a board, a resistor, two capacitors, a crystal, a microcontroller,a button, display,a battery, a battery holder, and the enclosure for the watch. A resistor is used to limit or regulate the flow of electrical current throughout the watch.However in this case I wouldn’t need a resistor I will only need it if I later on want to hack the micro controller by bringing down voltage on the reset pin. Two Capacitors, which act as batteries in a way as for both store electrical energy are used to hold charge for when the display needs a lot of energy spontaneously. A 32 kHz crystal is used to count the time. A preprogrammed microcontroller is used which is like the “nucleus” of the watch that runs the clocks program. The display, which is the piece at the very center of the watch, displays the time. A battery holder is then used to hold the battery which powers the watch. After soldering everything together I then set up the enclosure for the watch which holds the display and all the other components of the watch, attached a strap which therefore concluded the Big Time Watch.