Total newb looking for assistance in building circuits

Thread Starter


Joined Sep 9, 2011
I'm very new to circuit building. I've played around with some minor stuff before but it was just following tutorials to accomplish something specific.

I would like to build on my skills, however I have a project that I need to complete fairly quickly, so I was hoping someone might know of a tutorial that I could follow for this project?

I'm a volunteer basketball coach for a non-profit organization. I need to get a scoreboard but the cheapest one available is about $700 which my team does not have.

I would like to find a tutorial online somewhere that can show me how to build a circuit board to handle a timer. It doesn't have to be too complicated, this is what it needs:

1. Set a time (ie. 4 minutes, 8 minutes, 12 minutes) and have it count down to 0:00.

2. Sound a buzzer when it hits 0:00

3. Have the Home/Away score keeping. +1 / -1 buttons

4. Have the Home/Away fouls. +1 / -1 buttons.

So, I guess I would need to put a keypad so that the time could be set. So, if there is a powerfailure or something, then I can set (e.g. 2:38) back on the clock.

Any ideas or resources anyone can point me too?


Joined Nov 16, 2007
I'd be hard-presses to say that building a scoreboard with all the normal basketball functions is a "total newb" project. Even a kit might be a lot of work and prone to many mistakes. I'm hoping someone else can prove me wrong.

Secondly, despite all the requested functions, we do not know how large a board you want or if it needs to be wireless or not.

Perhaps getting the team(s) to create a raffle that could provide some funds for the board would be one way to do this. Do your players know how to bake? (Bake-Sale!), sort of kidding there... sorry. Car washes, bottle/can drives...


Joined Oct 15, 2009
Googling "DIY scoreboard" will yield some good reading and completed projects that you should find very useful.


Joined Nov 12, 2008
Hi Jim,

Welcome to the forum!

A scoreboard you say? I love working on these!

Okay, so you can do this in one of two ways: 1) all digital or 2) microcontroller.

The microcontroller will allow you to do everything you mentioned, particularly using a keypad to reset the time. This option will have a lower parts count and may or may not save a little money. Of course, this requires learning how to program a microcontroller which isn't all that difficult, but it will add time to your project due to the learning curve.

Now, if you don't want or have the time to get into microcontrollers, you can do this completely with digital logic ICs, but you won't be able to use a keypad. Never fret though, because we can get clever by using a button or two to reset the time like you want like you do with a bedside alarm clock. Or, we could add a battery back-up that turns off the display and timer, but stores the time until power is restored.

Assuming you go this route, I'd recommend using a CD4510 and CD4511 to control your digits - that may change depending on the number of them you need. You can then implement Bill's one-second clock generator as your clock signal:

I'm working on something similar (although far less complex) for another member right now. I can help you with the design if you'd like.

Some questions (I know next to nothing about sports, so forgive me for not knowing how basketball is scored, fouled, or timed, plus you may want to do something different anyways):

1) What is the total number of digits you need for each section?
a) Countdown Timer? E.g., MM:SS (4 digits, max either 99 or 60 minutes and seconds)?
b) Score? E.g., XX (2 digits per team, up to 99 points each for home and visitor)?
c) Fouls? E.g., X (1 digit per team, up to 9 each for home and visitor)?
d) Any other digits?

2) How big do want the digits to be? You can buy them relatively cheaply here up to 5" tall:

Alternately, you can make them any size you want and for less money if you build them yourself using some plastic, a drill, and individual LEDs. If money is tight but labor isn't and you only need to build 1 or 2, this is the way to go. Either way, you can also do fun things like flash the display, use different colors for each digit section (home vs. visitor for example), and if you want to get crazy, you can change the LED color on the fly (more complex, but not hard).

3) Are you planning to mount it permanently onsite or make it portable?

4) How would you prefer to control it - with a wired or wireless controller?

To give you an inkling of what you're looking at, here is something I recently did involving two digits and a handful of options you may or may not want:

This is only about 1/8 of what you're looking to do. Not at all to deter you, just realize this will be a very good-sized (if not large) project to undertake, but I'm here to help if you want it. Personally, I think this will be a lot of fun.