As my spring break approached, I looked for a good D.I.Y. project to tackle over the course of the week. I stumbled upon a post on Instructables about an LED cube that looked something straight out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. Me being the nerd that I am, I couldn't resist. Taking the basic concept from the original build, I set out to make my own piece of "advanced technology." Three days, $17, and 16+ hours of work later, I had completed my cube.
- Baseball (or Golf Ball) Display Case
- Aluminum Tape
- 3v Coin Lithium Cell Battery
- 100ohm Resistor
- A Strong LED (color of your choosing)
- Slide Switch (not pictured)
- Thin White Foam
- Painters Tape
- Scotch Tape (optional)
- Double-Sided Tape
- Electrical Tape
- Wire Stripper
- Wire Cutter
- Hot Glue Gun
- Soldering Gun (optional)
As with any D.I.Y. project, the first and most important step is planning your design. This especially rang true here. Make very detailed 1 to 1 plans of your design. Do this by cutting out squares of paper the size of each face on the cube. I went further and made 2 copies of blueprints. One I constructed into a paper model of the cube, and the other I used to cut my designs out of the aluminum tape with.
With your display case, attach your blueprints in such a way that aligns with each piece that makes up the cube. This makes cutting out the designs MUCH easier later on.
Set your layout aside and make sure you have everything for your LED circuit. It's important to do this before doing your outer design because you can hide your electronics behind the metal "armor."
Before assembling the circuit, find where the switch will emit to the outside of the cube. Mark this with painters tape, and use your drill to cut out the hole.
Make sure the switch has plenty of room to toggle between the "ON" and "OFF" settings.
For this step you can solder your wires together if experienced, but I am not, so I just twisted my wires together and wrapped them in electrical tape. Although it is not nearly as durable, my method does work.
Check and make sure your LED and switch both work properly. Once this assembly is installed, it can be difficult to get it back out for repairs.
Use hot glue to secure the switch in place. Cut out a piece of foam the size of the cube's base with a hole around the switch. Tape it down using double-sided tape and install the rest of your circuit.
Here comes the hardest part. Use your blueprints to start cutting out pieces of aluminum tape for the exterior of the cube. You can leave the tape smooth, but I thought the crinkled look gave it a more weathered and alien feel to the cube.
After finishing all sides of the cube, tape foam pieces on the insides of the cube making sure that you cannot clearly see the inside (if you can, this means light will escape from this section and not properly diffuse). Make a cone out of your aluminum tape and tape it together. This is to help spread the light from the LED across all sides of the cube.
Glue or tape the cone into the top side of your cube. Make sure it is located in the middle to ensure an even amount of light distribution.
Slide your cube back together and test it out. For best results, install your cube in a room without windows to allow it to glow in all of its glory.