Square Thoughts

an engineering student's blog

Let us Count


So I have been playing around with the Arduino for a while and believe me, you will be mind struck by the amazing capabilities of this little device.

A LED is a very versatile electronic component, it can act as an actuator, a sensor and you all know, how lovely they look when lit up.

This time, I am experimenting with  a 4 Digit 7 Segment Display, which I got hold of from an old microwave oven display panel. What’s with the fancy name? Well, it is a grid of 4×7 LEDs arranged in a manner so as to form digits. But this doesn’t mean it has 4x7x2 leads, absolutely WRONG! It only has 4+7 leads and the multiplexing is done through software on the Arduino. However, one could use external multiplexers/shift registers, I just didn’t feel the need for the same.

I have made this small, basic but useful counter using the 4 Digit 7 Segment display which counts up to 9999 and then resets back to 0000. Again, this project just under estimates the capabilities of the Arduino, though very good for learning. The counter speed can be varied in the software and the brightness can be controlled by varying the current limiting resistors.

NOTE:- I am shuffling through each LED one by one with a frequency of 10,000 Hertz or a time period of 10 microseconds due to which the duty cycle is considerably reduced. To maintain optimum brightness I have chosen a resistance value of 100 ohms.

Check out the video below to see how this counter works.

PS:- One should aim to use the least possbile I/O pins on the Arduino making room for further enhancements. So I would be working out the counter using shift register in the next weblog.

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