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Home > Other > 4-Bit Binary Counter: Working, Circuit Diagram & Applications

4-Bit Binary Counter: Working, Circuit Diagram & Applications

Update Time: 2024-05-30 10:35:32


In every piece of electronic device, counters hold significant importance. Their output functions in various devices for purposes such as counting pulses or initiating interrupts, among other applications. This article explores a critical cornerstone in digital electronics: the 4-bit Binary Counter. This isn't merely a passing significance component but an indispensable element that governs timing, data storage, and complex arithmetic operations within digital circuits. Prepare to scrutinize its inner workings, dissect its circuit schematics, and explore its applications.

What is a 4-bit Binary Counter?

A 4-bit binary up/down counter cycles through a sequence that ranges from 0000 to 1111 and then reverses from 1111 back to 0000. If the external input labeled 'UP' is set to 1, irrespective of the 'DOWN' input status, the circuit functions as a UP counter, iterating through a sequence from 0000 to 1111. Conversely, when the 'DOWN' input is set to 1 and 'UP' is at 0, the circuit acts as a DOWN counter, cycling from 1111 to 0000. Should both 'UP' and 'DOWN' inputs register as 0, the flip-flop output retains its current state.

4-bit Binary Synchronous Counter

The 4-bit binary synchronous counter comprises four JK flip-flops and represents an M=2 4-bit binary synchronous counter. The counting pulse N is simultaneously applied to the clock pulse input CP terminal of each flip-flop. When the counting pulse arrives, all the flip-flops are triggered simultaneously. The state of each subsequent flip-flop is determined by the current state of its preceding flip-flop. Flip-flops that need to toggle do so simultaneously, eliminating the issue of accumulated time delays between stages.

4-bit Binary Synchronous Counter.jpg

4-bit Binary Ripple Counter

A 4-bit Binary Ripple Counter is a specialized digital counting mechanism comprising a chain of flip-flops, often of the J-K or D type. These flip-flops are arranged such that the output of one serves as the clock signal for its successor. In a typical 4-bit layout, four flip-flops enable the counter to cycle through binary numbers from 0000 to 1111 or 0 to 15 in decimal terms.

Each flip-flop changes its state during its operation in response to an incoming clock pulse. Because every flip-flop is clocked by the output of its predecessor (except the first, which is triggered by an external clock), changes propagate—or "ripple"—from the least significant bit (LSB) to the most significant bit (MSB), which is the reason behind the term "ripple" counter.

4-bit Binary Ripple Counter.jpg

4-bit Binary Up/Down Counter

A 4-bit Binary Up/Down Counter is a specialized digital tallying device designed to increase or decrease its numerical value. This is typically executed through an array of linked flip-flops, most commonly of the J-K variety. In its 4-bit form, the counter incorporates four such flip-flops, representing binary values from 0000 up to 1111, corresponding to the decimal range of 0 to 15.

This counter's distinct feature is its bidirectional counting capability, governed by external inputs commonly marked as 'UP' and 'DOWN.' With the 'UP' input activated, the counter progresses from 0000 to 1111. On the other hand, when the 'DOWN' input is enabled and the 'UP' is not, it counts in reverse from 1111 back to 0000. This dual-mode operation renders it highly adaptable for scenarios demanding forward and reverse counting.

4 bit Binary Up Down Counter.png

4-bit Binary Up Counter

A 4-bit Binary Up Counter is a distinct digital counter engineered to increase its numerical value. It's typically built from an assembly of four linked flip-flops, commonly of either J-K or D variety. In its 4-bit configuration, the counter can represent binary figures spanning from 0000 to 1111, which equates to a decimal range of 0 through 15.

Functioning on a 'UP' input directive, the counter escalates its count sequentially from 0000 to 1111. With its exclusive orientation towards upward progression, it is optimally designed for use cases necessitating one-way, incremental tallying.

4-bit Binary Up Counter.jpg

4-bit Binary Down Counter

A 4-bit Binary Down Counter is a specialized digital counting device designed explicitly to decrease its numeric count. Generally constructed using a series of four linked flip-flops, often of either the J-K or D type, this 4-bit counter can represent binary values ranging from 1111 down to 0000. This translates to a decimal span from 15 to 0.

Activated by a 'DOWN' input, the counter descends through its sequence from 1111 to 0000. Its sole orientation towards decrementing makes it exceptionally suitable for scenarios that demand one-way, decremental tallying.

4 bit Binary Down Counter.png

74LS93 4-bit Binary Counter Circuit Diagram

The 74LS93 is a 4-bit counter-integrated circuit comprising 4 JK flip-flops that respond to input pulses regardless of origin. Pulse inputs can be sourced from a microcontroller or a timer IC. The chip has two reset, two clock, and four output pins. Internally, it's segmented into two counters: one is a mod-2 counter, and the other is a mod-8 counter. Collectively, these counters produce a 4-bit output that counts from 0 to 15 in binary notation.

74LS93 Circuit Diagram.png

How does a 4-bit Binary Counter work?

A 4-bit Binary Counter is a specialized digital device engineered to track numerical values by incrementing them. Composed of a series of four linked flip-flops—usually of either the J-K or D variety—this 4-bit counter can signify binary digits ranging from 0000 up to 1111, which equates to a decimal range of 0 to 15.

An external clock input synchronizes the counter's operation. With each received clock pulse, the flip-flops shift their states, causing the binary numeral to sequentially escalate from 0000 to 1111. Upon reaching 1111, the counter reverts to 0000, thus initiating a perpetual cycle of counting. Given its exclusive orientation towards ascending values, it's particularly well-suited for unidirectional, incremental counting scenarios.


4-bit Binary Counters are ubiquitous in various digital systems, given their specialized role in sequenced counting. Below are their essential uses:

  • Timekeeping in Digital Clocks: These counters are the foundational elements in digital clocks, handling the task of time measurement.

  • Oscillation Frequency Division: In signal processing, they play a crucial role in partitioning oscillating waveform frequency.

  • Data Management: Employed within memory storage systems, they enhance data read and write functions by maintaining an organized index of data locations.

  • Operational Aid in Microcontrollers and Microprocessors: These counters are inherent to the architecture of such computing devices, assisting in scheduling and timing tasks, among other functions.

  • Industrial Event Tally: Used in automation setups to count specific event occurrences, aiding in informed decision-making.

  • Analog-to-Digital Conversion: These counters contribute to the orderly digitization of analog signals in digital signal processing.

  • Logic Circuit and State Machine Design: They are used in constructing intricate logic circuits and state machines, particularly for conditional actions.

  • Precision Motor Management: These counters assist in accurate motor control and operational sequencing in automated and robotic systems.

  • Traffic Signal Regulation: They control the operation of traffic lights, either based on preset time intervals or sensor-derived data.

  • Computational Arithmetic: In digital calculators and computing systems, 4-bit counters streamline arithmetic processes by effectively managing incremental numerical values.

Popular ICs Used for 4-Bit Binary Counting

74193 IC

IC 74193 is a 4-bit presettable synchronous MODULO-16 Up/Down binary counter integrated circuit. This IC comes equipped with two distinct clock input pins, one for counting up and another for counting down, ensuring output synchronization with these clock inputs. Additionally, dedicated Terminal Count Up and Terminal Count Down pins are useful for developing higher-level counters or cascading multiple IC74193 units. A master reset pin is also included for resetting the entire integrated circuit, and an active low parallel load input pin enables the counter to commence from a user-specified number.

74193 ic.jpg

7493 IC

The IC 7493 is a 4-bit binary counter integrated circuit with 4 JK Flip-Flops. Three of these flip-flops are interconnected, while one operates independently. The IC incorporates mod 8 counter and a mod 2 counter, which collectively function as a mod 16 counter.

7493 IC.jpg

How to Design a 4-Bit Binary Counter Circuit?

Creating a 4-bit binary counter circuit involves several essential steps, from selecting suitable flip-flops to correctly establishing the connections. Below is a streamlined guide to help you navigate the process:

  1. Choose Your Components: Decide on the flip-flops you want to utilize. Usually, J-K or D flip-flops are the go-to options.

  2. Draft the Schematic: Outline your circuit on paper or computer-based simulation tools. Make it a point to indicate the placement of each flip-flop and other supplementary components like resistors and capacitors.

  3. Clock Source: Opt for the clock input source that will be responsible for driving the counter. You can use an external oscillator, a 555 timer circuit, or a microcontroller-generated signal.

  4. Arrange the Flip-Flops: Line up four flip-flops in sequence. The output of one should serve as the clock input for the following flip-flop, generating a chain reaction or "ripple."

  5. Initial Setup and Resetting: Specify how you want the counter to start. Generally, a manual reset button or switch is integrated to revert all flip-flops to their initial state.

  6. Flip-Flop Connections: Begin linking the flip-flops based on your drafted schematic. The first flip-flop should be connected to the external clock, and its output will act as the clock for the subsequent flip-flop.

  7. Visual Indicators: Incorporate LEDs or a digital readout to the flip-flop outputs to visually validate the counter's functionality.

  8. Trial Run: Energize the circuit and introduce a clock signal. Observe the outputs to confirm the counter is advancing as intended, from 0000 to 1111, before looping back.

  9. Troubleshoot: Should issues arise, re-examine your connections, component health, and original configuration.

  10. Seal the Design: After successful testing, you may want to transition your prototype into a more lasting form, perhaps on a printed circuit board (PCB).

  11. Record Keeping: Maintain comprehensive documentation of your design journey, any tweaks made, and the conclusive schematic. This is beneficial not just as a good engineering habit but also for any future needs for problem-solving or enhancements.

Where to Buy 4-bit Binary Counter

To purchase high-quality 4-bit binary counters, you can visit Digikey, Jotrin, and Xecor, which offer various electronic parts and accessories suitable for building digital circuits, including 4-bit binary counters. They provide detailed datasheets and application notes to help you with your projects.


In digital electronics, the 4-bit binary counter is nothing short of a linchpin, crucial to both elementary and intricate systems. Its versatility is unparalleled, serving as the foundational element in everything from basic digital timekeepers to sophisticated data storage architectures. Simply put, this counter is an indispensable mainstay no engineer can overlook.

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  • How many D flip flops are needed for a 4-bit binary counter?
  • A 4-bit counter is constructed with 4 flip-flops and a related logic circuit. It can tally up from zero to 2 raised to the power of n minus one, yielding 2 to the power of n total numbers.

  • How many of states are there in 4-bit counter?
  • 16 states.

  • What is the maximum count that a 4-bit binary counter can generate?
  • Using 4 bits, you can represent a maximum of 15 in decimal form or 1111 in binary. With a single byte, the highest numerical value you can express is 255 in decimal or 11111111 in binary.

  • What is the range of a 4-bit counter?
  • A counter that uses 4 bits in binary can cycle through 16 distinct states, ranging from 0 to 15, either ascending or descending [4]. Specifically, it starts at 0000, proceeds to 1111, and then resets to 0000.

  • What is 4-bit binary counter using parallel load?
  • A circuit employing flip-flops and reverse gates to generate any sequence of numbers is known as a counter with parallel load. When this circuit is specifically designed to generate a 4-bit binary sequence, it is called a 4-bit binary counter with parallel load.

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