LCD-LED Display

3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit

This article provides a comprehensive guide on constructing a basic LED cube circuit and elucidates its operational principles. While the majority of LED cube circuits rely on microcontrollers, we have chosen a simplified approach that involves solely a timer and counter arrangement to minimize programming complexities. Our design encompasses a total of 27 LEDs arranged in a cube formation, creating 9 sets, each comprising three LEDs. Alongside the LEDs, the core components employed include a 555 timer and two 4017 counter ICs. The 4017 IC is a CMOS decade counter that integrates both a counter and decoder. We opted for the 4017 IC due to its capacity to directly drive LEDs, obviating the necessity for a BCD decoder.


  • 3X3X3 LED Cube Principle:
  • 3X3X3 LED Cube Diagram:
    • 3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Design:
    • Working of 3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit
    • 3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Applications:
    • 3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Limitations:

3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Principle:

The operation of this circuit is founded on the utilization of clock pulses to control the LEDs. The objective is to systematically transition from one set of three LEDs, representing each face of the cube, to illuminating the entire cube. This process is executed by employing two counters. The first counter takes charge for the initial nine pulses, causing the trio of LEDs to illuminate sequentially with each pulse. On the tenth pulse, the second counter comes into action, leading to the illumination of each face of the cube. To generate the requisite clock pulses, a 555 timer is configured in astable mode.

3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Diagram:

LED Cube Circuit

3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Design:

The initial phase of this procedure entails configuring the 555 Timer as an astable multivibrator. Assuming our desired time period is approximately one second, we can calculate the resistor values to be around 10K based on the output signal frequency derived from the formula f = 1.44/ (Ra+Rb) C, with the estimated capacitance (C) value being approximately 100uF.

Next, we move on to the counter unit, which is the second component of our design process. In this setup, we leave the “divide by 10” output pin unconnected, as we are only employing a single counter. The cascading operation involves connecting the “divide by 10” output pin or carry-out pin of one counter to the clock pin or carry-out pin of another counter. Both the master reset pin and the clock enabling pins are grounded.

The third and most crucial step in creating the LED cube circuit is the actual design. We achieve this by arranging 9 sets of three LEDs in a cubical configuration, where the cathodes of each LED are linked to the anodes of another, and each trio of LEDs is connected in parallel to one another, forming a 3 by 3 by 3 LED cube layout. All the LEDs’ anodes are connected to the ground potential.

Working of 3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit

The initiation of circuit operation occurs when switch S1 is closed, marking the beginning of the process. The generation of clock pulses essential for triggering the counters is orchestrated by the 555 Timer IC.

This task of generating clock pulses is achieved through the astable operation of the 555 timer, producing alternating high and low clock pulses at the designated interval. The output pulse from the IC is then simultaneously directed to two counter ICs, arranged in a parallel configuration for synchronized clock signal delivery. Notably, these two counters are linked in a cascading manner. Within this setup, the IC 4017 functions as a five-stage Johnson counter and encompasses display decoder circuitry.

When the input clock pulse maintains a high logic signal, it mirrors this signal by outputting a high logic signal from its respective output. In essence, whenever a positive clock pulse is received, the corresponding counter output at the associated output pin transitions to a high logic state.

Crucially, each output pin is connected to a distinct series of LEDs. Consequently, whenever an output pin switches to logic high, the corresponding series of LEDs illuminates.

For instance, during the first clock pulse, when pin 3 of the counter IC goes high, it prompts the trio of LEDs connected to it to begin glowing. This pattern continues for the first 9 clock pulses, with each trio of LEDs lighting up sequentially.

In summary, this circuit creates a captivating LED cube display, with each clock pulse causing a different trio of LEDs to illuminate. Due to the relatively short time period of the clock pulses, the cube appears to blink, creating a visually striking effect.

3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Applications:

  1. This circuit can be used as at homes for decoration purpose.
  2. This circuit can be modified with further changes to make the LED cube glow as a whole.
  3. It can be used at home lighting system.

3X3X3 LED Cube Circuit Limitations:

  1. The circuit is complicated and requires complex connections.
  2. The use of digital counter ICs causes time delay owing to propagation delay of the digital ICs.
  3. This is a theoretical circuit and may require changes.
  4. The use of CMOS devices causes problem of being static and cannot be handled with bare hands.
  5. This circuit does not have the provision to switch on all the LEDs simultaneously.

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