The Amazing Persistence of Vision LED’s and LED Cubes, LED Displays with a Techno Beat…

LED’s, the little silicon wonders that are able to convert electrons to photons are slowly changing the way we light up our world. Over recent years two incredibly clever designs that put LED’s to good use have become popular, emerging from the tinkering of some very clever electronics whiz kids.

POV or Persistence of Vision displays spin LEDs at high speed to form an image while LED cubes use an intricate array of LED’s. Both produce incredibly hypnotic and visually stunning displays and designs for both can be found on the web.

Presented for your viewing pleasure are the most visually stunning uses for LED lighting. Sit back, relax and turn up the volume, these are some catchy LED beats.

Harnessing the power to be brighten our lives creative gadget engineers have developed some amazing ways to use LED’s to create animations. Two incredibly clever techniques have emerged from the tinkering of these experiments in animation. Both offer spectacular ways to create funky animation to whatever beat you wish.

POV Animation Spinners

VodCarts USB POV LED Fan
VodCart’s USB POV LED Fan

Persistence of Vision animations rely on a characteristic of human vision in which an image viewed by the eye persists for for a 25th of a second. Some very creative electronics boffins have combined this fact with the spinning and flashing of LED’s to create possibly the coolest looking high tech animations available.

 A number of different styles of POV display are now available online but they all generally involve spinning an LED at a set speed and controlling the LED’s flashing so that it creates an image. The optimal spin rate for the effect is around 240 rpm or 4 rotations a second. At this speed the eye losses track of the spin and the image is built up by our eyes.

The spinning globes are the original and still most impressive POV animations but now even USB fans can display a clock using this technique. VodCart’s USB Fan with embedded LEDs is the cheapest and easiest way to experience this for yourself.

By far the most impressive design easily available is by Alan Wang who’s spinning LED stick can not only display many clock faces but it also has has some amazing animation abilities. See above for a preview.

LED Cubes
LED Cubes as the name may suggest are a 3D arrangement of LED’s that offer a true 3D animation capability. A DIY project of choice for a couple of years now they have matured to the point that kits and pre-built cubes are available for those unwilling to sling a soldering iron.

highpants-led-animation-CubeThe animated light emitting cubes come in various sizes, build it yourself kits for beginners generally start with at 4 x 4 x 4 arrays that contain 64 individual LED’s. Even at this smaller size these arrays can take a few weeks to build.

Larger kits generally contain 8 x 8 x 8 (512) LED’s should only be attempted by people with a little electronics assembly experience. Ultra large arrays have been built with 32 x 32 x 32 (32,768) LED’s but they are extremely time consuming and prohibitively expensive.

Pre-built kits are available from a number of electronic retailers; StarCubes have a beautiful example of an 8 by array that comes pre-programmed and ready to impress.

Building the cubes is only half of the equation though, once built the cubes must be programmed with animations or connected to an audio analyser to react to music. Animation software is available and a few clever cookies have even written games that run on the cubes.

The future of the LED is a bright one, as they slowly invade man caves around the world the potential uses are mind boggling. Once combined with a liberal dose of beer and imagination the possibilities are endless.


8x8x8 LED Cube
The POV Globe