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Fourcube

Parts
“The Mad Scientist” sent in these Hypnocubes, they are 3D LED cubes that come in 3-channel Red-Green-Blue (with 4096 possible colors), 2-channel Red-Green (256 colors), and 2-channel Red-Blue (256 colors). The kits are available too, starting at $300-ish – Link.

Update: Dirkus writes – “Actually, the cheapest kit they have is $120, plus $10 shipping for a 2-color cube. The tri-color cube shown here is $170 plus $10 for shipping in kit form. The $300 price is for a completely pre-assembled and tested 2 color cube. If you want to lay down some real cash, you can opt for the tri-color cube pre-assembled: $380 plus $20 shipping. Ka-Ching!”

Related:

  • Chris Lomont’s LED cube – Link.
  • Kits @ MAKE – Link.
  • Cubes cubes cubes @ MAKE – Link.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. Dirkus says:

    Phillip: Actually, the cheapest kit they have is $120, plus $10 shipping for a 2-color cube. The tri-color cube shown here is $170 plus $10 for shipping in kit form. The $300 price is for a completely pre-assembled and tested 2 color cube. If you want to lay down some real cash, you can opt for the tri-color cube pre-assembled: $380 plus $20 shipping. Ka-Ching!

    Now, that looks really cool and all… but $170 for this thing in kit form does sound a bit steep. Maybe if they drop it to about $100 I’d bite. I can’t imagine the parts are THAT expensive.

  2. ladyada says:

    tricolor LEDs are like $1 each so all the parts together cost about $100
    its a shame they decided to make it ‘closed source’…

  3. Oracle1729 says:

    You just need to know where to shop. Ledshoppe.com has them for 60 cents each shipped when you buy 20. It’s probably cheaper for 100 since that price includes shipping.

  4. trialex says:

    Surely they deserve some compensation for the development of the kit! They didn’t just copy the PCB design from a textbook and throw some LEDs into a bag!

  5. Oracle1729 says:

    Trialex, sure they do, I didn’t comment on the total price of the kit. I was just pointing out that the LEDs are a lot cheaper than ladyada seemed to think.

  6. ChrisLomont says:

    We received orders based on this article, so I thought I’d read the feedback, and answer some questions/comments.

    As to the price – believe me, we want to make them as cheap as possible to sell a lot. The $170 kit price represents a lot more than just parts, although parts are running right under $100 a kit. We cut the case, pack the components, and deal with shipping issues. We flash the PIC and test it before shipping. We have to pay tax on the sales, which takes a decent chunk. We sort and bag parts, which is tedious and does take time per kit. So on a per kit sale if you add the time we spend per kit we are probably losing money right now.

    For a finished cube we put 6+ hours in building a cube, plus set-up/take-down time, plus costs of related materials and space to work. Then we test the cube to make sure it works well. So adding $220 for labor again is a very cheap rate for the finished $380 three color cube.

    There were plenty of fixed costs. We had to design, test, and fab the PCB through a few revisions. We designed the hardware, tried various cases, and selected one based on price/quality. We went through over a dozen LED types to select the one that we think makes the best images.

    Probably the best value is in the software. Almost every person who has bought/built one says how amazing the images are, and we think the real beauty of this project is the final animated images. The code running on it is over 10,000 lines of C and assembler, and supports a LOT of features. After we reach enough sales to justify spending more time on the code, we will add features, but this will not be anytime soon. Post any suggestions to our forums or email me (address easy to find on web). High on our list is providing more hacker extensions so people can hook these up to other devices.

    As to the LEDs – we are currently getting them around $1 each in quantity, but are searching for a cheaper place that is STABLE to get them. Every type of LED has slightly difference performance curves, and to make the cube look best we tweak parameters. For example, the relative strengths of the blue and green color vary with manufacturer under different pulse modulation, so when we change LEDs the colors that we tuned come out differently. Changing LEDs is time consuming and takes time and effort, so we do not change sources lightly. Thanks ladyada for the source – note that is a sale price and usually they charge $1 each also. We are currently in talks with various places to get cheaper LEDs. LEDs are the biggest part cost right now, and will be very expensive for our 8x8x8 cubes.

    So in short, when you consider all the effort in making these available, we are certainly losing money at the price point we have chosen if we include labor to develop them. We hope to make it back though once we get these in stores.

    We’ll likely never make back the value for the time we have put into designing/programming them :) But that was done for art’s sake…..

    Please post any more comments or questions through our forum, and I’ll try to answer them.

    If anyone can cut our part costs down significantly, we’d love to hear how!

    Thanks for your interest!

    Chris Lomont

  7. Unbwogable says:

    Try LedShoppe.com. I buy ALL my leds from there. First time I ordered, shipping was slow, but since then, things have been pretty fast.

  8. Unbwogable says:

    Try LedShoppe.com. I buy ALL my leds from there. First time I ordered, shipping was slow, but since then, things have been pretty fast.

  9. Unbwogable says:

    Try LedShoppe.com. I buy ALL my leds from there. First time I ordered, shipping was slow, but since then, things have been pretty fast.

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