8x8x8 LED Animated Cube Building Workshop

Update 2/8/13: 18:00

I have been giving some more thought on the cube building project.  We have 11 people signed up and I am considering breaking the project into 3 major chunks - YOU pick the chunk you want to work on (or any combination, as YOU see fit).  I am just thinking that having all 11 of use doing each step may not be the best way to do things and people may not be interested in the soldering part, for example.  If we do break up into three teams, these efforts will happen simultaneously.  If we don't, they will happen serially. So, here goes:

Part A) Kit parts inventory, sorting, LED testing, 8 LED "plane" assembly.  Includes basic component handling, soldering, etc.  You will learn/do parts ID, testing, soldering.

Part B) Breadboard assembly.  Includes circuit board reading, breadboard parts configuration, soldering, testing, etc.  You will learn/do parts ID, breadboards, wiring, component handling, testing (power supplies, meters, etc.)

Part C) Software - bring-up and display algorithms.  Get the development environment up and running, find test s/w, find display algorithms, get them up & running and ready for the final bring-up & test.  You will learn/do about the "Process" S/W environment for the Ardunio chip, the compiler, downloading, C programming, etc.

Part D) Final bring-up, test, fun - ALL of us will do this!

I think having a team lead (or two) for each chunk makes some sense.  This would be a person who knows how to get each of these tasks going and help others who know less (I am not, for example, a breadboard expert).

If you have expertise at one of these efforts and would like to lead, please let me know and we'll do it.  I was thinking I would take Part A and am hoping for someone to lead Part B & C (I have expertise and can help on C but am weak on B).

I want to again stress two things: 1) I will not be leading any kind of "class" - I will be there to answer any questions I can (as I am sure others will too) but my goal is to make progress on the project and help all of you get what you want out of the meetup.  2) This "plan" is just a suggestion and is not concrete.  I am open to any ideas and modifications that make things go best for all involved.  I will however not let things devolve into chaos...  I look forward to meeting each of you and haveing a  lot of fun!!


8x8x8 LED Cube building project















This is one of the coolest projects I've seen recently. The cube doesn't look like much...until you watch the video. It's fully animated!

Join Scott at the Sacramento Hacker Lab while he builds one. You can work on one of your own, check his out or lend a hand if you wish.  The Hackerlab has graciously opened up to allow this meetup to be at their location in downtown Sac.  This is a great opportunity to see the lab (I have not seen it myself, yet).  There should be great exposure to their facilities, other like-minded people, etc. Now that the meetup is at the lab instead of my house, I can lift the restricted RSVP count too!  If you do come and want to help and can bring a soldering iron and basic tools, please do.  Until we figure out what's at the lab, I have been ashed to be somewhat self-sufficient.

Here is what I am hoping for for this event:

- see the Hacker lab and become familiar with its organizers & facilities.

- Start work on the 8x8x8 cube project.  From what I understand, there is a lot of labor involved.

- get any and all help I can in assembly.  I hope this both inspires and teaches others to follow along.  If you'd like to solder, etc., you can be a co-builder.

- Once I get ready to "fire it up", connect to it with a PC and start the software evaluation and programming process (I have not researched this much yet).  I will hope for help if the cube does not come up correctly (hardware experts, oscilloscopes, etc.)

What you can expect:

- Exposure to the Hacker's Lab and it people.  This is a great way to see what's going on in the industry and maybe find work or look for good people.

See the parts for the kit - how complex is it.  I will gladly supply a photocopy of the parts list for those who want to purchase parts apart from a kit.

- An opportunity to learn to solder and assemble if you don't know how

- An opportunity to see how to do the final "bring-up" and initial testing (when we get that far - it may be at a subsequent meetup)

- An opportunity to see the software that runs the cube and how it works and how to modify it.  I am a software engineer so my sleeves will be rolled high for this part of the process.  I love to share my expertise :)

- I will not be leading any formal class or instruction - everything will be VERY informal.

Here is an instructable showing the entire project...


Here is video of the cube in action...


If you're resourceful, you can collect the parts from several sources for $50-60 or you can buy a complete kit here...


If you'd like to come by and work on your own kit, see mine, help, etc., etc., by all means please do.

Please email Scott at [masked] for more details or call at[masked]-8608.

I am sure I missed some things so please email me with questions.  I will keep updating this posting as I think of new stuff to add.  I hope to see you there!

Please carpool, if you can.


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  • Art

    scott did a great job of keeping us on task -- we learned a lot and will have lots to share at the next meetup -- scott was well-prepared and everyone worked well --
    scott's son did most of the testing and soldering for the "wire frame"
    the consensus was that buying a prefab board would save a lot of
    tedious and error-prone soldering -- a csv file might be the best interchange for loading the cube's "volumetric imaging loops" -- each frame would have a control record for timing/pausing/effects and then 8 records corresponding to the eight "layers" of the cube -- we need a clear standard for the x,y,z axes depending on the orientation of the cube: tabletop, wall, ceiling, corner, etc. (e.g. accelerating drips make more sense if they go down)

    February 9, 2013

  • Alan E.

    Sorry I couldn't make it, I was busy with other things. Glad you all had a good time, got something accomplished. Maybe next time I'll be able to make it.

    February 9, 2013

    • Scott T.

      Alan, in a few weeks I will have the second installment. I hope to have the basic LED part done and will move to the circuit board part and then the software. Stay tuned.

      February 9, 2013

  • Alan D

    Unfortunately some unexpected work came up and will be unable to attend.

    February 9, 2013

  • Art

    I'll try to upload two of the arduino sketches to the files section so people can download them in advance.

    1 · January 18, 2013

    • Scott T.

      Art, I have JUST begun to look more into this coding project. Do you know where to go to get the compiler, etc. and examples, etc. I'd like to get this code to build, etc...

      January 18, 2013

    • Art

      The "compiler" (hardware emulator with serial port output) runs on Windows XP 32 and OSX (not Windows 7 64). The page where I downloaded it is gone and the name, etc. are not in the properties of the file.

      February 7, 2013

  • WildZBill

    It seems to me that it would be very useful to build a jig for soldering the LEDs, in order to get the spacing exactly right everywhere.

    February 7, 2013

    • Scott T.

      Bill, I have built 1 jig already. It would be helpful to have 2 or 3 but I am short on time...

      February 7, 2013

    • Art

      Bill, I think I saw a few jig schemes online, but I was looking for hardware emulators so I didn't save the links.

      February 7, 2013

  • Alan D

    I can bring soldering irons, blue leds (approx 400), oscilloscope, multimeters too...

    Perhaps I can also draw up a schematic and make some software (PIC microcontroller) for a mini 3x3 cube before Saturday....

    February 6, 2013

    • Scott T.

      Alan, sounds good! I am not sure what the lab has for public use.

      February 7, 2013

  • Mark

    Not sure if I can make it.

    February 5, 2013

  • Pamela

    Hello...i am new to this group and wondering if it would be okay to bring my very mature 11 year old to this event, if even just to watch? I want to teach him how to build stuff...not sure if right forum? Thanks!

    January 24, 2013

    • Scott T.

      Pamela, as long as you agree to manage him, he is more than welcome. I will have my 14 YO and maybe my 16 YO too.

      January 24, 2013

    • Pamela

      Ok great thank you so much.....i think he will be inspired!

      January 24, 2013

  • Scott T.

    I am working on getting this project moved to the Sacramento Hacker's Lab. I will post more when I know more.

    January 17, 2013

  • Alan E.

    Yeah, I'd like to be there, but not quite sure what I might be doing in February. Anyway put me down on the list.

    January 14, 2013

  • Scott T.

    I will email the RSVP "YES" list a few days before the event. For a point of reference, I live near the corner of Old Auburn and Cirby in Roseville. I look forward to meeting all of you. There are RGB versions of the cubes too as well as much bigger ones so for you who are very industrious, start looking on youtube :)

    January 14, 2013

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