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The True Binary Clock

A visual JavaScript simulation (with hints) of what a "true binary clock" is really like -- mathematically elegant but not very practical.

JavaScript Simulation

6 3 6 8 3
Hints: LED Values

If your browser supports JavaScript and you have it enabled, the example above should be "live", showing the current time from your computer's clock and updated once a second just like the real-life binary clock, but with extra hints to help you understand the display. Click on the checkboxes to disable/reenable the various levels of hits as you gain experience.

If your browser does not support JavaScript or you don't have it enabled, the picture above will be static, sorry.

How to read the time in True Binary Mode

A true binary clock does not count in hours or minutes; it counts continuously in seconds, from 0 (midnight) to 86,399 (23:59:59).

The largest number we can represent with 16 LEDs is 65,535 -- not enough to our clock. With 17 LEDs, we can count up to 131,071, so out 86,400 seconds fit with room to spare.

In the above diagram you can see the LED values for a true binary clock. But as a result, we don't need to use the last three LEDs.

No other number bases besides binary are used here, unlike the BCD mode or the HMS mode. So, from a mathematical standpoint, this is the simplest kind of binary clock and thus the only one to really deserve the title of "true binary clock".

However, some LED values are in the tens of thousands and we may sometimes need to sum about a dozen such values -- too much arithmetic to perform in one's head just to read the time. Worse, we humans are not used to think of the time in terms of seconds -- we prefer the more familiar sexagesimal hours, minutes and seconds. That's the reason no one makes a binary clocks like that: it's just not practical.

Sure, there are whiz kids that would be able to use it, but most people wouldn't want to.

That's the same reason why I didn't bother implementing this mode in my binary clock project.

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