Binary coded decimal is another system used to represent numbers. Binary coded decimal is great for number systems such as those on a digital displays such as a clock. The binary coded decimal system also allows use to represent the calculation of decimal numbers.
The main principle of BCD is that 4 bits (1 nibble) are used to represent a single character/number. This means that a single BCD nibble can only represent 0 - 9. Because BCD can only represent 1 digit, anything larger than 9 would be more than 1 digit long therefore would need to be represented with multiple BCD nibbles. The below chart shows 94 in BCD.
A common error is to try and represent numbers greater than 9 using the 4 bits. Remember the key rule is BCD can only represent a single digit with one nibble(4 bits). For example: 194 in Binary = 11000010 194 in HEX = C2 194 in BCD = 0001 1001 0100
ADDITION WITH BCD (A-LEVEL ONLY)
Because a single BCD nibble can only represent 1 digit 0 to 9, but the nibble itself could represent up to 15. This presents a slight issue that if you add 1 to 9 the representation will not carry over to the Tens column, therefore when doing addition an intermediate test is needed to see if a carry over is needed. This methods adds 6 to each addition to check if a carry over has occurred. Check out the example below, adding 1 to 9 in BCD.
As can be seen in the calculation error above, the BCD value of 10 is not possible as a single BCD representation can only represent 1 - 9. We can fix this error by adding 6 to the result to test if a carry over is needed, this may seem strange but this is how it works.
The calculations above show how adding 6 to the BCD addition to test for if a carryover is needed. If the carryover is not needed then the test calculation is discarded as can be seen in the example of adding 7 + 2 below.
The above diagram shows that if a carryover is not needed then the process of adding 6 is discarded and the original result from the calculation is used. Below is an example showing the addition of two decimal numbers.
1: Convert the following Binary to BCD
2: Convert the following Hexadecimal to BCD
3: Convert the following Denary to BCD
4: A digital clock uses BCD to represent each number displayed, if the time was represented by 0000 1001 : 0101 0010 what time would the clock be showing? 5: Why is BCD an appropriate solution used to represent each individual digit on a clock? 6: Give another example of where BCD might be used and describe why it would be appropriate for your give situation. 7: Add the follows BCD representations, use the table provided to help you (show your workings). 1001 1001 + 1001 0110