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An easy to build LED cube with great animations that makes it worth the effort to build

Most people love LED cubes, but big ones, like 8x8x8, are a lot of work both to build and to program. Small ones (3x3x3 or 4x4x4) are easy to build, both because they don’t require large numbers of LEDs, but also because they don’t require external hardware like shift registers and high-side drivers to manage the cube. But they really aren’t the same as a big cube.

My objective from the start of this project was to create an easy to build cube and then create enough cool software to make it possible to enjoy the feel of a big cube without all the drudgery required to build a big one. So this is a 5x5x5 cube that can be powered directly by an Arduino Mega without any auxiliary hardware other than 5 transistors (used to pull a whole layer - the cathodes of 25 LED’s, to ground). I have written a whole lot of code for big cubes in the past, so I have adapted a bunch of existing cube animations to run on this 5x5x5 cube.

NOTE: Before I go any further here, I’m not the first to suggest a 5x5x5 cube powered with a MEGA. MEGA DAS published a similar project here in 2017. The hardware in both projects is almost identical. I hadn’t seen the earlier one until I started this writeup, so my pinouts are different, and the resistor values are different, but otherwise,the hardware is almost identical. I am publishing this mostly because I have a lot of experience writing cube software. I’m hoping my software will convince a few people to build a cube who might not otherwise!”

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