4017 Decade Binary Clock

A digital clock that displays the time in binary using LED's numbered from zero to ten.

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I've wanted to make a binary clock since I was a kid, and I've finally gotten around to it. My goal was to make a binary clock that uses only digital logic IC's to keep the time. A micro controller feels like cheating. This clock is the first of a series of similar clocks. The other two clocks will display the time as a binary coded decimal. While this one is a little easier to read, the next two clocks will require the user to do a little math to determine the time. My goal is to iron out all the kinks, and develop a final product on a printed circuit board that I will offer as a soldering kit on Kickstarter. I've added the schematic diagram of the clock to the project files. If you'd like to make this on a breadboard, I won't say it will be easy but it should work!

I've added a PDF of the schematic diagram of this project. If you'd like to build it on a breadboard, it should work.

Here's how it works:

Clocks were pretty simple when it was just numbers on a dial and a motor turning the hands. Keeping time with digital logic is pretty complicated!

Here's how I did it:

A 32.768khz crystal feeds it's output into a 4060 14 stage binary ripple counter. This divides the crystal's output down to 2 hz. This 2hz wave is fed to a 4027 flip flop to get a 1HZ signal that is fed to the seconds ones stage. 

The seconds ones stage counts to ten, then resets to zero and advances the seconds tens. The seconds tens counts to 5 then resets to zero and advances the minutes ones. The minutes count up the same as the seconds, and advance the hours when the count reaches 60. The hours count up from 1, and reset to 1 when the hours reach 13. Resetting to 1 not 0 and counting to 12 is a little tricky. To do this I used an and gate that resets when the hours are 13. To reset to 1 instead of zero I offset the LED's on the hours segment by one. So instead of the one LED being connected to the one output on the 4017, it's connected to zero.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 187.31 kB - 03/31/2021 at 17:21


Comma-Separated Values - 11.20 kB - 03/31/2021 at 17:21


  • Uploaded Another Schematic​

    Ian Dunn03/31/2021 at 17:28 0 comments

    I just finished assembling my latest PCB and found that I t still wasn't quite working perfectly. I found that I was missing two key resistors in my schematic that I had on my breadboard, and the hours still wouldn't advance. So I've added the two resistors. and I found that I had an error with U1 (Hours ones) not advancing U2 (hours 10's.) It works perfectly on my breadboard but I was using a pair of 2n3904 NPN transistors to form an AND gate instead of the AND gate on the schematic. I think everything should work at this point.

  • Uploaded updated schematic

    Ian Dunn03/14/2021 at 22:36 0 comments

    This clock is nearly working. I soldered together the latest PCB, and it works pretty well except the seconds wouldn't advance the minutes, and the minutes wouldn't advance the hours. Long story short, I solved this by replacing a few 1n4148 diodes with some 4.3V zener diodes, and added a few small caps. if you build it on your breadboard, I won't say it will be easy but it should work!

  • Schematic diagram uploaded

    Ian Dunn02/20/2021 at 19:47 0 comments

    Based on your feedback, (thank you!) I've uploaded the schematic diagram of this clock. If you'd like to try building it on your breadboard, it should work. Thank you!

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steverddrf wrote 03/15/2021 at 17:25 point

In 12 hour mode hours 10's goes to 0 at 12 twice a day, this could be used to set and reset a 2 or 3mm LED as a PM indicator, possibly with the unused half of the 4027.

 Adding a switch for setting mode to enable the set buttons and disable the clock while setting is in progress would be usefull.

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Ian Dunn wrote 03/16/2021 at 01:40 point

I considered the idea of the PM indicator too, and I guess i drifted away from it. I may just try to do this later on. First thing is to get it all working on a PCB, then fine tune and prefect it. I think I will end up changing the seconds to just reset to zero. That's how I had it on my other two clocks. The flip flop is high every 1/2 second, so pulling the seconds square wave high while it's already high doesn't do anything.

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Ian Dunn wrote 03/31/2021 at 17:30 point

Steve, how's your clock coming? Did you get your parts yet? I just got another PCB put together and it still didn't quite work correctly. I posted a log entry, and uploaded another schematic.

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steverddrf wrote 04/01/2021 at 00:16 point

Using 2 descret tansistors is still in the spirit of the project :)

All the components are here, first attempt ended when I plugged the psu into the wrong end of the bread board and reverse polarityed it, other isseus such as chips having legs mangled and broken in the post and being tied up on another project :(

32.768 clock not running for some reason, probably different capacitance required when I get the chance to look at it.

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steverddrf wrote 03/14/2021 at 23:41 point

I have drawn the Schematic in EasyEDA and am converting it to an SMT version :)

I think a method for fine adjustment the crystal frequency is going to be required for acurate time.

Adding a 7th 4017 would give a day indication :)

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Ian Dunn wrote 03/15/2021 at 01:47 point


I can't wait to see it! :) I don't know if I mentioned that I'm simultaneously working on 2 other clocks similar to this one. Once I get them a little more fine tuned I'll probably make an SMT version of them (and separate Hackaday projects) too.

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steverddrf wrote 03/17/2021 at 22:16 point

Once this project is finished I have another clock suggestion for you, one that has workday temporal compensation :)

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steverddrf wrote 03/14/2021 at 13:12 point

You could change the display on/off switch for a 3 way one to give a dim setting by using one or two diodes to gound, K3-2346D will do it (th), or K3-2346S (smt)


I have ordered the parts and will be building one on a breadboard.

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Ian Dunn wrote 03/14/2021 at 14:28 point

Awesome! I'll be excited to hear how it goes! I'm with you now on the 2 pin micro USB, I found what you are talking about. It's perfect! I ordered some. I did change the schematic last night. I've got it working on a PCB at the moment, except the seconds didn't advance the minutes and the minutes didn't advance the hours. It worked on my breadboard, or so i thought. I fixed this by changing the diodes that go from reset to output 6 (on the 4017's) to a 4.7V zener, and I added a small cap from output 6 to ground. This causes the next digit to advance before the lower digit resets to zero. It was missing the pulse. So, you'll need some zeners (about 4.3V) in addition to everything else.

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steverddrf wrote 03/13/2021 at 17:03 point

For the power socket I suggest a 2 pin micro usb, as it is sutable for both trough hole soldering and SMT. The EASYEDA footprint is a user created one  MICRO-USB-SMD_U254-051T-4BHJ25-F2S_MINE_POWER_ONLY

£20 per 1000 on Aliexpress, search for

1000Pcs Micro Usb 2Pin B Type Female Connector For Mobile Phone Micro Usb Jack Connector 2 Pin Charging Socket

You could buy a smaller quantity such as 20 for £5,  yes I bought 1000 :)

The footprint does not have a symbol, so you will have to make your own and link it to the footprint, I have done this but have to double check the polarity on mine :)

One thing missing from the schematic is the Load Capacitance ( CL ) of the crystal ?

For setting the seconds it may be easyer if the button were conected to the Reset pin on C6 rather than adding to the clock pin, that way it goes to zero when the button is pressed.

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Ian Dunn wrote 03/13/2021 at 19:50 point

Thanks Steve!

These are all good ideas. I think I'm going to try to do a DC barrel jack and a micro USB like you suggested. This will add a little more flexibility. Micro USB looks really nice, but it's not the easiest to solder. I'll probably add an L7805 so the barrel jack can be used with any voltage too. I'm not sure what you mean about the load capacitance? The way I put it together works great, but I suspect you may know a better way. It is a little tricky to make the crystal oscillate at exactly the rite speed. Through weeks of trial and error I've found that 10pf and 30pf makes almost exactly dead on. If you ask me there's not a whole lot of information out there about crystals.

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steverddrf wrote 03/13/2021 at 21:10 point

The micro USB that I suggested are very easy to solder as they only have 2 well spaced pins, it was the famouse Big Clive that found them, ideal with a poundland cable :)

There is a formula for calculating the capacitors required, but it requires the CL of the crystal to be known. There are 3 specifications for a crystal, frequancy, accuracy, and the CL capacitance

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steverddrf wrote 03/07/2021 at 17:55 point

How about making the PCB 100 x 100 to take advantage of the offers from the various PCB manufacturers, or sizing it to suit photo frames that it could be mounted in ?

As a kit then through hole will be more popular but look awful unless the chips are on the front, a SMT version would look tidy with the chips on the back and would sell more if the chips were pre soldered, JLCPCB are currently offering a free setup for SMT assembly :)

Edit, I did a quick check and the 3 chips are in the extended range so there is small charge for loading the magazines onto the pick and place machine, I think it's around £1.50 each

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Ian Dunn wrote 03/11/2021 at 18:51 point

You think like I do! I think I'll do all of this. I just have to get all of it working perfectly, then I'll develop an SMT version. 

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Ian Dunn wrote 02/19/2021 at 18:02 point

Thank you all for your feedback! I'm going to offer this as a  soldering kit on Kickstarter. goal number one is to make it affordable. I don't actually have a working PCB prototype yet. The first attempt didn't quite work. It's really tricky to get the seconds, to count to 60 then reset to zero, advance the minutes and so on. Once it's working I'll be sure to post an update! in the meantime I've added my schematic diagram.

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Andre wrote 02/18/2021 at 04:45 point

Please open source the project. The satisfaction of your work being reproduced worldwide is amazing. If you don't then all that is left is this article and some photos on the Internet... Open Source also allows others to suggest modifications and improvements. Yes, you will get some negative comments etc... just ignore them!

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nerill.dp wrote 02/17/2021 at 20:30 point

I kinda like the module without the faceplate. Nice project. I agree about having a dilemma about how to offer this. I too am a proponent to open-source, but it's clear you have spent considerable time on this and it truly could be a commercial product. I've heard of at thing called "Common Clause" that somehow works like open source but protects for commercial use. It appears mostly to relate to software though.  I can't give you all the details, it's pretty  complicated. Maybe, you might want to try a lawyer: hopefully you can find a free or cheap one just for consult. 

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Ian Dunn wrote 02/19/2021 at 18:09 point

Thanks Nerill!

I'm thinking the best way to share it may be to open source the schematic, and offer the PCB as a soldering kit on Kickstarter. This way you could build it on a breadboard if you wanted to, or buy the soldering kit if you want a more permanent version.

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nerill.dp wrote 02/19/2021 at 20:33 point

Now, that would be a fun kit. Add my name.

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Brendan Leber wrote 02/17/2021 at 19:57 point

I hope you do make it available because I would love to build this for my office.

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Ian Dunn wrote 02/19/2021 at 18:10 point

Thanks Brendan,

Once I have a final prototype, I'll have it on Kickstarter, and I think I'll probably open source the schematic.

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Mike Szczys wrote 02/16/2021 at 15:32 point

Came out great! The spacing between the functional PCB and the faceplate turned out great!  Did you use the faceplate as a jig for soldering the through-hole LEDs?

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Ian Dunn wrote 02/19/2021 at 18:05 point

Yes, I sure did have to use the face plate as a soldering jig. I think I may just ditch the face plate. You have to solder the ic's directly to the board in order to have enough room for the LED's to poke out, and I'm not sure that it really adds a whole lot.

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Alexander R Pruss wrote 02/09/2021 at 00:12 point

This looks really elegant! 

BTW, I don't understand why most of the binary clocks I see use BCD instead of plain binary. 

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Jon Mayo wrote 02/09/2021 at 18:30 point

This is BCD.

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Ian Dunn wrote 02/09/2021 at 20:49 point

Thanks! I'm glad you like it. I think this is because every single counter chip out there outputs it's count as a binary coded decimal instead of a zero to ten count, except the 4017. Stay tuned for more!

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