bom2buy cube

The mysteries of the cube v2.0 are unveiled

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The bom2buy cube comes with LED's on the base and body, microphone, accelerometer, and USB and virtual UART ports! It is functional right out of the box, but it can be hacked for extended functionality.
The Cube's full BOM on FindChips is here -->

The bom2buy cube is going to be first presented in China, so that is why you will see some of the information in Chinese! 

All the electronics (boards, firmware) were developed by Voja Antonic, and the enclosure was designed and developed at Supplyframe's DesignLab in Pasadena, California by me, Giovanni, using some of the awesome equipment available.  

Connecting to a computer

If you establish communication between the cube and the computer, there's much more. The communication is performed via the virtual serial port, so if you should have some serial terminal program (RealTerm, or similar) in your computer, you can send a command to the cube, and it will send you back some data. Communication parameters are 9600, 8, N, 1. This port is used to issue the command or parameters to the cube, get the status, switch modes, turn lights on and off and so on. Don't forget to set automatic CR and LF characters after every command, as the cube firmware expects it after every command.
The command line is not case sensitive, so you can use uppercase or lowercase. It should contain one command word (or its abbreviation), one (optional) single-character operand or one (optional) numeric data, separated by spaces. All command abbreviations contain two characters, except the command HELP, which is abbreviated by a single question mark. So, if you type “?” (followed by <CR> and <LF>), you will get the HELP screen, like this:

This will give you an idea what the cube can do, but there are some stand-alone functions also, so you don't need to have the terminal software to operate the cube. However, USB connection is needed, at least for power supply, so you must have the USB cable connected to the computer or, at least, to the USB charger.

There are two lights inside the cube, the lower one, which employs 10 LED's at the bottom of the cube, and the main one, with 5 high power LED's at the top. The lower one blinks randomly by default, but it can be turned OFF or permanently ON by command MODE, followed by R (Random), P (Permanent) or D (Dark). The top light is ON by default (which is MODE 1), and it can be switched OFF (MODE 2), rotating CCW (MODE 3), rotating CW (MODE 4), or blinking (MODE 5). Please note that every command can be replaced by typing its two-character abbreviation.

You can also switch the mode by clapping your hands, or by beating with some object on your table. To perform this, you must record your patterns for every mode separately, and these patterns will be your "passwords" for turning lights on and off. We will talk about it later.

Command STATUS is used to read the current status of the cube: Attack threshold, Decay threshold, Notification period, Speed and Mode. We will talk about these parameters in detail later, but now we will say that all listed parameters can be reset to their default state by typing DEFAULT.
Inside the cube there is an accelerometer, MEMS sensor which senses gravitational acceleration for X, Y and Z axis, and thus the angular position of the cube. By typing ACCEL, you can read the current position of the cube. Command ACCEL_LOOP does the same thing in the endless loop, so you can watch how those parameters change while you are rotating and moving the cube. The loop can be terminated by sending character Q (this is the only command that can be issued without <CR> and <LF>).

During normal operation, the cube will send the position change every time it turns to a new position. Try turning it and it will communicate ‘Cube Left’, ‘Cube Right’, ‘Cube Bottom’ and so on. Also, after every mode change by clapping, it will communicate ‘Clap 1’, ‘Clap 2’ and so on. Both options can be switched OFF by command MODE N, and the first one can be switched on by MODE S (Side), and the another one by MODE C (Clap).

To program the clapping pattern for light ON (MODE 1), turn the cube to the left side. If the terminal program is connected, "Cube...

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cube 2 schematics.jpg

Cube Schematics

JPEG Image - 488.60 kB - 03/07/2019 at 18:55


cube 2 block diagram.jpg

Cube Block Diagram

JPEG Image - 358.09 kB - 03/07/2019 at 18:55


  • 1 × Plastic enclosure Blue ABS, plastic injection
  • 1 × Shroud ABS, plastic injection
  • 1 × Lightpipe PC + Titanium dioxide, plastic injection
  • 1 × PCB Rack Natural PP, plastic injection
  • 1 × Metal cylinder Custom made

View all 9 components

  • Picking up and placing on

    Giovanni03/14/2019 at 17:43 0 comments

    Here is a quick video of the pick and place machine that is making the PCB's for the cube. They are working on it right now. The clock is ticking. If you hire a third party to design your PCB's, it is always a good idea to ask them to optimize it for SMT as much as possible. This is pretty much assumed most of the times, but well, better be safe than sorry. 

    SMT is the acronym for Surface Mount Technology and in a nutshell, it is the technology behind Pick and Place machines and electronic components optimized for such equipment.  

    And this is a photo of a prototype of the PCB

  • Manufacturing

    Giovanni03/11/2019 at 23:07 0 comments

    We only have a few days before electronica and seeing WeChat notifications in the middle of the night has now become a ritual. Long after this project is done I am pretty sure I will keep waking up at ungodly hours.  Here are some photos of the assembly process. 

    Designing a cantilever snap fit was trickier than I anticipated and even with a few minor adjustments, snapping the light pipe onto the base required extra strength.

    I am very happy the jigs I made at the DesignLab are being used in China assisting the manufacturing team. I designed them in a way that would keep the cube in a fixed space while protecting the brackets during assembly.

  • The thing within the other thing works!

    Giovanni03/07/2019 at 19:47 0 comments

    The thing works!   Voja and I developed this LED-populated, X-shaped, flexible PCB that orients light at different directions without the need of separate PCB's. 

    A huge challenge was to design a plastic fixture that would, well, fix the PCB at all those planes securely, that would be easy to mount at the assembly line, and that would be made with an injection mold with no sliders. The first samples are here and they work like a charm!

    To the left there is a prototype we printed at the DesignLab, an actual production part, and the whole assembly to the right.

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Enjoy this project?



QuantumStar wrote 11/30/2019 at 06:57 point

This is awesome, any chance they will be available at other Supplyframe events, or are they available to order?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Giovanni wrote 12/02/2019 at 17:18 point

Hey! I am glad you like it!  This was given away at electronica Shanghai this year, and we may make more late next year, but the functionality may change. The shape remains the same. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

QuantumStar wrote 12/02/2019 at 20:12 point

If you make any more of the shells, I'd love to make a little IoT sensor node to put inside. Or, maybe we'll see the new version at Supercon 2020..? :) I loved the orange cubes Voja made for Supercon 2018.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Giovanni wrote 12/02/2019 at 22:02 point

You are in luck!  We do have a few orange shells left.  DM me and I'll send a few your way.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Starhawk wrote 03/01/2019 at 23:14 point

Your project page is missing the two most important points -- what is this thing, and what does it do?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Giovanni wrote 03/04/2019 at 17:16 point

It is a cube, and it is mysterious!  We will be adding more information soon, including function, electronics, etc.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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