RadioShack LED Cube for Arduino Offers Fun Challenge


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.

RadioShack 3D LED Cube Kit Support Files


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  • andrew radtke

    my name is andrew i work at the corona radioshack in district 509. this was a fun little project that i was able to complete and have operateing with in an hour of unpacking it. it will be interesting to play with and set up more code sequences to run in the store. cheers

  • michael Picard

    I would like to see more code examples and a little more info on modding the code myself

  • Chad

    Enjoyed this project. Had seen these things on the Web and had been wanting to make one. Bending the LEDs was a little confusing but was overall very easy to put together.

  • Peege

    Everything went together just fine and fired up with the sample sketch with out a hitch on the first try!

    but I cant seem to get the rain drop demo code to run? I removed all the “//” from the section of code under “raindrops” and it comes back with “none” was not declared in this scope.”

    what am I doing wrong?

    • Jeff

      If you haven’t gotten it working, try this. Go to the Rain Drop section. Replace the entire section with this:

      // Raindrops
      {0x000}, //= none
      {0x001}, //= LED 1
      {0x201}, //= LED 1
      {0x004}, //= LED 3
      {0x010}, //= LED 5
      {0x020}, //= LED 6
      {0x100}, //= LED 9
      {0x281}, //= LEDs 1-8
      {0x101}, //= LEDs 1-9
      {0x301}, //= LEDs 1-9
      {0x221}, //= LEDs 1-6
      {0x211}, //= LEDs 1-5
      {0x411}, //= LEDs 1-5
      {0x009}, //= LEDs 1-4
      {0x006}, //= LEDs 2-3
      {0x030}, //= LEDs 5-6
      {0x050}, //= LEDs 5-7
      {0x814}, //= LEDs 3-5

      {0x034}, //= LEDs 3-5-6
      {0x514}, //= LEDs 3-5-9
      {0x381}, //= LEDs 1-8-9
      {0x121}, //= LEDs 1-6-9
      {0x385}, //= LEDs 1-3-8-9
      {0x712}, //= LEDs 2-5-9



      int scannow=0,scandir=0;

      It took me a few minutes, but I got it working. I am fairly new to DIY electronics but, I have had this type of issue before. Each time, I see what is working & what is not and, I learn something new. Sometimes it takes searching for a working sketch on the web.
      Once you change it, you can “Save As” and, then study the differences in the code. After having to do this on various projects, things will start to make more since & will be easier to spot.
      Hope you’re having fun! I am!!! :)

      Jeff – RS Employee
      S.E Indiana

      • Jeff

        Please Note: Margins did not paste correctly! I lined up the lines with the lines of the active parts of the sketch (code). I pretty certain that it WILL matter.

    • DNEBOY

      The raindrop code works fine for me. It took a few tries but then I realized you arent supposed to remove the // from the top section where it says led 1, led 2, led 3 and so on. Once i tried that it finally worked. Looking at the rest of the code for the other effects I finally got the idea to try it a different way.

    • Jerrid Mutter

      On the Arduino 3D cube sketch, change the #define page to read how many lines of code you want it to read.

  • chuck weiss

    Just built it today, uploaded the arduino sketch and it’s working perfectly! Tomorrow I’ll experiment with tweaking the code a little bit to see what other patterns I can come up with. This is a great little kit!

  • RMCS

    Not able to get sketch running. I compiled sketch w/o any errors. Binary sketch size: 2,022 bytes
    (of a 32,256 byte maximum)

    avrdude: stk500_getsync(): not in sync: resp=0x30

    Any suggestions?


  • RMCS

    Persistence pays Off! Found problem to be the Arduino Uno itself! I tried other sketches on the Uno and received the same error message. I then placed the 3D Shield on my MEGA 2560, downloaded the sketch and all worked as advertised!

  • RMCS

    oops! There was a flaw in my troubleshooting analysis. I purchased another “Uno” u-Controller and had the same error as the other “Uno” but not with my “Mega 2560″. When I checked the Serial Port assignment, I went to the next serial port to see if that was causing the problem and woolaa! Now both “Unos” “sync” properly and the sketch runs the LEDs just fine. I am having a problem with the “Raindrop” portion as did Peege but I feel confident Jeff’s approach will do the trick.

  • johnny

    I think that this is a great holiday gift for people who like hobbyist kits!

  • Dave

    I picked up a Radio Shack Digital Soldering Station and was looking for a challenging project to solder. I always wanted to try to build a 3D cube so I picked up this kit. This is a nice kit and good instructions and plenty of challenge. Here is a pattern I came up with:

    // Sheet


  • Siro

    Does anyone know the specs on the LED that comes in this kit? Lost 1… I got excited and was looking through the kit before i was ready to work on it. I’d like to get another.

  • Jeff White

    Fun project too a couple of hours but worked right the first time. It was on sale too!

  • Amanda Trozzi

    I built my 3 by 3 LED cube, but when I go to the site recommended to get the codes, it says “ERROR 404:” I was just wondering if anyone had the code for the LED cube to light up. Much appreciated. Thanks

  • Tim

    The link for the Arduino code does not work. Please help I just paid $20 for this and I don’t have a code!!

  • papadoug

    Put it together and ran the sketch. It is working but two of the LEDs are not lighting. I assume I messed up the soldering. Any suggestions for troubleshooting? Is there any way to validate that the LEDs are functioning properly without unsoldering them from the array?

    • erikn

      papadoug I’m having a similar problem but worse. The whole bottom layer won’t light up. All the sketches seem to work as they should but no light on the bottom. Anyone has an idea how to troubleshoot I will be grateful. All the solders look good to me and touching battery leads to the individual LEDs on the bottom shows they all work.

      • erikn

        By the way, it works on an Arduino Duemilanove Atmega 328, too. Tho still no bottom layer for me.

      • erikn

        Resoldered some of the connections on the board and now it’s working great. Sometimes a solder that looks good isn’t.

  • Pbf00t

    Fun little project, I did it with my 9 year old for a school science fair project. What I’d really like to know is the theory of operation with the sample code, there is quite a bit of bit-shifting and logical &’ing going on there. Some more comments in the code would be great.

    From what I can tell, pins 2,4,7,8,9,10,11,12 and 13 will light a column of three LED’s and pins 5,3 and 6 can be used to toggle the layers.

    Perhaps RS could also include a simplified code sample showing a more “brute-force” approach which is simpler to understand.

    I bring this up because explaining a triple nested “for” loop against hexadecimal data in a table is really hard to explain to a 9 year old.

  • Chris

    Finished building the cube. Down loaded the sample sketch from Radioshack’s website. Upon looking at the sketch I notice that not all the code is working. I only have Ferris Wheel and Merry go Round. Upon looking at it again I notice that most of the code is commented, //. So how do we get the rest of the code to work? Which // do we remove to employ the rest of the code.


  • Chris

    I know I’m late to the party but, any help would be appreciated. So, I removed the comment lines // from the patterns I wanted. I have also added a #define page 96 so, I can run up to 6 patterns. Right now I have Merry-go round, Ferris wheel 1, Elevator, Spiral, and Sweeper. However, I could not get Rain Drop to work. I followed Jeff’s code yet, did not work. First, question how many patterns can you run? Is six too many due to memory issue. Also did I miss something with the rain drop code replacement? Any comments welcomed.

  • Chris

    I got Rain Drops to somewhat function so, I think. The issue is rain drops run for a very short time. It would be nice if it ran for longer. Any suggestions.


  • travelerman13

    I found this project to be loads of fun, and recommend it to anyone looking to improve soldering skills.
    I also found the programming easy to manipulate and even control with all Arduino, and even the R-pi.
    Thanks for a wonderful kit!