The new LED Cube from RadioShack offers intermediate DIY’ers a chance to step up their building skills. As my friend Gerald the engineer told me, “Building in 3D space is not for beginners.”
As I built my cube, I realized how true his words were. This was my first attempt to build an object above the board, and it was a truly unique experience. It wasn’t easy, but when I finished and had uploaded the sketch to my Arduino, I was very proud of my accomplishment. Hearing “Wow!” and “That’s cool!” from people passing by my desk was nice, too.
First, so that I made the correct bends in the leads, I had to visualize how the LEDs would fit together. To avoid having to re-bend any leads, I made sure to follow the directions carefully. Also, before soldering the leads, I held the LEDs together to see how the rows and layers would fit together. I did have to (carefully!) re-bend an early attempt; but after that, I felt much more confident about the rest.
I soldered slowly, first making nine rows, then using three rows to make each layer. Row by row, layer by layer, the cube started to take shape.
Once I formed the cube, the next challenge was to complete the connections between the positive leads and to connect the negative leads to the board. You can make these connections using the lead trimmings, but I found it much easier to use small pieces of wire that I cut myself.
Finally, I soldered in the resistors and pin headers, applied the included tape cover for the connections, and I was ready to try out the LED Cube shield on my Arduino.
The provided program let me try out several patterns for the cube, and I marveled at the awesome light show I had created.
I’ve had fun thinking up ways to tweak the code to come up with new patterns, and I hope you have as much fun with your LED cube.