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How to Read and Understand a Binary Clock

Updated on June 23, 2013

Binary Clock


What is a Binary Clock?

Okay I admit it I am a math geek. If you read my other hub you already knew that so it shouldn't be a surprise. This is one of those fun math puzzles that people like me get and understand and other people are confused that this actually represents time.

Binary format is a base 2 system. All numbers are represented with a 0 or 1 in binary. The phone you use everyday most likely is programmed with the binary number system. Fun stuff, right?

A binary clock uses 6 columns that are represented with 0 or 1. The illuminated dot indicates a value of 1 for that column and row.

Binary Clock: The Rows

There are three rows in the binary clock. The rows from top to bottom represent the hours, minutes, and seconds.

The Rows

Rows of the Binary Clock
Rows of the Binary Clock | Source

Binary Clock: The Columns

There are 6 columns in a binary clock. The columns represent part of the whole of the number that is is creating. The columns are represented by the numbers 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, and 1.

Binary Clock: The Columns

The column of a Binary Clock
The column of a Binary Clock | Source

Binary Clock: How to read the rows and columns

Let's start with the last row of the clock. We are going to learn to read the seconds of the binary clock.

The first dot is indicating that 32 is 1.

32 -1

16- 0

8- 1


2 -1


101010 is the binary code for the second - wait what???

Is basically equals 32 + 8 + 2 or 42 seconds.

hmmm that is a lot of work to find 42 seconds.

The Seconds

Finding the minutes

The binary code for the minutes row is 110101.

There is that 0 and 1 code again.

Keep in minds the represent 32,16,8, 4, 2, 1

32 + 16 +4+ 1 = 53. It is 53 minutes past the hour.

Finding the hour

Just a note that the binary clock give the hour in military time or 24 hour time.

So the binary code for the hour is 010110.

Reminder hour code will always start with 0 since there are only 24 hours in a day.

16+4+2 =22.

So the time is 22:53:46 or 10:53:46 pm.

Let's tell time on a Binary Clock

Now it is time to test our knowledge and put it all together. Looking at the screen shot below of the binary clock time, let's figure out what time it is.

The hour

8+2+1 = 11

This means it is 11 in the morning.

The minutes

8 + 1 = 9

It is 11:09 in the morning.

The seconds can also be calculated if you care about the,

32+16+4+1 = 53 seconds

so it is 11:09 am and 53 seconds.

It you are not concerned about how many seconds it is it is easy and practical to simply read the two top rows. of the binary clock.

What time is it on the Binary Clock?

What is the time in BInary?

Let's do one more binary time test.

The first thing to look at is the top row or the hour.

8+4+2 = 14

It is the hour 14 in the day or 2 pm

The minutes are 16 + 4 = 20. It is 20 minutes after the hour.

It is 2:40pm

The seconds are 32 +4 or 36 seconds after the minute.

Another Binary Time

What time is it?
What time is it?

What time is it??

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Quiz : What time is it?
Quiz : What time is it?


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    • kthix10 profile image

      kthix10 4 years ago from IL

      It is a bog math puzzle, I have been debating buying on for my dad for years.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      This is so interesting. And fun for those who like math puzzles. You explained it so well, I never heard of binary clock before.