3-Bit Binary counter

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

This circuit `cheats` by using only two J-K flip-flops to make a three-bit binary counter. Ordinarily, three flip-flops would be used - one for each binary bit - but in this case we can use the clock pulse (555 timer output) as a bit of its own. When you build this circuit, you will find that it is a `down` counter. That is, its count sequence goes from 111 to 110 to 101 to 100 to 011 to 010 to 001 to 000 and

3-Bit Binary counter
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then back to 111. While it is possible to construct an "up" counter using J-K flip-flops, this would require additional components and introduce more complexity into the circuit. The 555 timer operates as a slow, square-wave oscillator with a duty cycle of approximately 50 percent. This duty cycle is made possible by the use of a diode to "bypass" the lower resistor during the capacitor`s charging cycle, so that the charging time constant is only RC and not 2RC as it would be without the diode in place. It is highly recommended, in this experiment as in all experiments, to build the circuit in stages: identify portions of the circuit with specific functions, and build those portions one at a time, testing each one and verifying its performance before building the next. A very common mistake of new electronics students is to build an entire circuit at once without testing sections of it during the construction process, and then be faced with the possibility of several problems simultaneously when it comes time to finally apply power to it. Remember that a small amount of extra attention paid to detail near the beginning of a project is worth an enormous amount of troubleshooting work near the end! Students who make the mistake of not testing circuit portions before attempting to operate the entire circuit often (falsely) think that the time it would take to test those sections is not worth it, and then spend days trying to...

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