The next several pages will interleave software setup and final build steps. This seems odd, but makes troubleshooting much easier. It’s essential to test things in stages before the case is assembled!

Begin by getting the Raspberry Pi set up with the minimal software needed for testing. Later, after you know everything’s hooked up properly and matrices are working, additional software components will be installed.

System Setup

Basic Raspberry Pi setup is already covered in other guides… so if this is your first time, start there. You can do these initial steps with the Pi alone, no matrices wired up.

Pi power users may have their own setup ritual, but for most folks we recommend using Raspberry Pi Imager to create a bootable micro SD card.

Choose “Raspberry Pi OS Lite (32-bit)” as the operating system. If you require a GUI for setup, use “Desktop (32-bit)” instead…but understand that once inside the cube, the HDMI ports will be inaccessible. Avoid the 64-bit OS versions for now…these are cutting-edge and often problematic.

Click the gear icon, or press Control+Shift+X (Windows) or ⌘+Shift+X (Mac), to show advanced options. Essential system info (hostname, WiFi network, etc.) can all be configured before the system is even booted the first time…it’s so much easier this way! Tip: remember to also set the Wireless LAN country to get WiFi working.

So suppose at this point you have a Raspberry Pi that’s booted and accessible via an ssh remote session…

Prerequisite Software and Setup

If you’d like to read about the Matrix Bonnet in depth, there’s a whole guide for that, but here we’ll just speed-run through the essential bits for this project.

We’ll start by downloading and running a script to install the underlying LED matrix-driving library:

curl >
sudo bash

The LED-matrix library is (c) Henner Zeller [email protected] with GNU General Public License Version 2.0

When first run, the script will explain its plans and give you the option to cancel.

Next the script asks whether you’re using an Adafruit RGB Matrix Bonnet or RGB Matrix HAT. The cube project can work with either, but the Bonnet is what we show throughout this guide.

Then a question about “quality” vs “convenience.” Choose the quality option…a long chain of six matrices requires it! You should already have the pin-4-to-18 jumper installed as explained on the “RGB Matrix Bonnet and LIS3DH Wiring” page.

The script will confirm your selections and offer one more chance to cancel.

There’s a lot of software to update, download and install, so it may take up to 10 minutes or so to complete. Afterward, you’ll be asked whether you want to reboot the system. You can answer “n” as there’s one more small change to make first…

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt

(Substitute your editor of preference in place of nano if you like.)

This file is one continuous long line. Append isolcpus=3 to the end of this line. It should look something like this (but maybe not exactly, don’t copy and paste this whole line, items like the root partition ID may be different):

console=serial0,115200 console=tty1 root=PARTUUID=8ba04c84-02 rootfstype=ext4 rootwait isolcpus=3

Save changes to the file and exit the editor, then initiate an orderly system shutdown:

sudo shutdown -h now

Allow about 10 seconds for this to complete, or watch the Pi’s status LED. When it stops flashing, you can disconnect power. We’ll start poking at some hardware next…

This guide was first published on May 04, 2022. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Initial Software Setup) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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