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Shift registers

I was wondering could someone explain to me how shift registers work and how to program them i want to use it with my arduino to make a led cube.

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wow charlieplexing is complex i dont understand it but im trying

ill check these out thank you.

Also, if your LED cube isn't too big, then you might be able to get away with charlieplexing! (n*(n-1) LEDs from n pins)

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-drive-a-lot-of-LEDs-from-a-few-microcontrol/step2/Charlieplexing/

http://arduino.cc/playground/Code/Charlieplex

I found these great pages that go into a lot of details:

http://bildr.org/2011/02/74hc595/

and even a simulator where you can play with a shift register:

http://conductiveresistance.com/interactive-595-shift-register-simulator/