Big Bits

Device displaying 7 in binary

Big Bits is a visual representation of binary, aimed to help students learn what binary is. Big Bits can hold 16 different states (4 bits).

Planning and Design

Problems with learning binary:

  • It is overwhelming
  • A learning curve
  • Usually only taught from reading texts

Learning binary can be overwhelming and complicated for new student. Others have attempted to find a solution to this problem, such as intricate wooden devices. You can find one here.

 I believe a device that is interactive but still simple is the best solution to this problem.

A very early design of the project

My teacher contributed a generous amount of code. How it works:

  1. The program starts with the decimal number 1
  2. Decimal number is converted into binary
  3. Move the correct bit’s motor (up if bit is 1, down if bit is 0)
  4. Increment the decimal number by one and loop

My motive for the project was to help teach binary.


I was originally creating a braille character displayer which used the same motors, when my teacher suggested a better idea. I believe it turned out for the best.

If I had more time I would add four bits onto it, so I could have a byte.

Animation of Big Bits changing values
Table of 4 bit binary combinations
Code showing decimal to binary

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