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Electronic Die 028

L. de Hoo R1


R2 D1
The simplicity of a traditional die 1
2 & 4k7 6 & 9 &
makes it exceptionally difficult to cre- +9V 1N4148
C1 +9V
ate a fully equivalent electronic version,
22n R5 R3 R4 IC1.D 13 12
if only because an electronic version IC1 = 4093


requires a power supply and a collec- 3x 22µ IC1
tion of electronic components that D4 D3 D2
7 11

occupy a much larger volume than a +9V
normal die. This article describes an 100k IC3
electronic die that can be built using 1 +9V IC2
normal components or SMDs as 16 16 9
B/D C9 9 7 a dp
desired, and which comes very close to IC2 IC4 10
EN [T]
10 6
8 8 5 6 b10 b
having the same format as a traditional G1 N10
11 4
12 2
die in the latter case. 4
6 5
d10 d
13 1
12 11 3 e10 e
Despite its simplicity, this electronic die J1
15 9
13 14 2 f
S1 9D,4
incorporates several interesting fea- open: 1 ... 6 3 2 4 g10
14 10
tures. For instance, the range of ‘spots’ closed: 0 ... 9
3 8
can be increased from 1–6 to 0–9 using 1.2CT=0
4543 R8 R7


a jumper, and it has standby function
that disables the display approximately
8 seconds after the die has been 030002 - 11

‘thrown’, in order to save energy. The

electronic die also uses energy efficiently by driving the dis- with resistor R5, act as a logic AND gate, so if the value of the
play in pulsed mode. As a result of the latter two features, the counter is greater than 6, the preset value of 1 is latched into
current consumption of the circuit is approximately 25 mA in the counter and it starts to count again from 1 to 6. This only
use and 12 mA in standby. This means that it can easily be happens if jumper J1 is open. If it is closed, the preset pulse
powered by a 9-V battery. The circuit consists of the following on PREN is suppressed and the counter range is 0–9.
parts: a free-running oscillator (IC1a), additional logic for dri- The A, B, C and D inputs of the decoder IC (IC2) are driven
ving the display (IC1c & IC1d), a timer (IC1b), a counter (IC3) directly by the counter. The series resistors normally used for
and a display decoder (IC2). the individual segments of the display are instead placed in
The oscillator is very simple. Its frequency, which is deter- the common-cathode lead (R7 & R8). This has the advantage
mined by R1 and C1, is approximately 225 Hz, with a duty of allowing the number of resistors to be reduced, although it
cycle of around 50–60 percent. The signal from the oscillator has the drawback that the brightness of the display depends
acts as a clock signal for the counter (via R2) and a blanking on the displayed number. If the segment current is sufficiently
signal for the display decoder (via IC1d). However, the counter large, (light) saturation occurs and this brightness variation is
will not count as long as the ‘throw’ switch (S1) remains no longer noticeable. The Blank input (BL) controls whether
closed, since the clock input of IC3 is grounded by S1. The the display is enabled.
blanking input of the display decoder is driven by a pulse If you choose to build this circuit using SMD technology, that
waveform, so the display is in principle illuminated only will not affect the schematic diagram, but it will naturally
around 50 percent of the time, but it appears to be constantly affect the choice of components. In this case, SMD components
illuminated due to the high clock frequency. must be used for the resistors and C1, the diodes must be
The standby mode works as follows. As long as there is a sig- replaced by BAS32 types, and BT versions of ICs IC1–IC3 must
nal on the clock input of the counter (S1 pressed), the output of be used instead of conventional types. An SMD version of C2
gate IC1b is low and the display is enabled. If S1 is released, the was not used in the prototype, since SMD electrolytic capaci-
counter stops and a number will be shown on the display. How- tors are expensive, and normally they are only sold in lots of
ever, the clock pulses will have charged C2 via D1, and C2 will 10, just like other passive components. It is also recommended
slowly discharge via R4. After approximately 8 seconds, the out- to use a socket for the display of the SMD version of the elec-
put of gate IC1b will go high, causing the display to be blanked. tronic die, to allow the space under the display to also be used
The design of the counter is relatively simple. It is wired as an and the dimensions of the circuit board to be further reduced.
up counter by connecting the U/D pin to VCC. The preset Any desired DC power source providing a voltage of 5 to 15 V
inputs (pins 4, 12, 13 and 3) are configured to binary ‘0001’, can be used as a power supply. Due to the low current con-
and the counter normally has a counting range of 0–9 (pin 9 sumption of the circuit, a 9-V battery will last quite a long time.
connected to ground). Diodes D2, D3 and D4, in combination (030002-1)

7-8/2003 Elektor Electronics