Education Technology

Reading Binary

Activity Overview

How fast can you read binary text? In this activity students use the TI-Innovator to display an ASCII coded text message using an LED to display the data and a second LED as the clock pulse to synchronise the transmission. The activity provides students with an understanding of the complexities of data communication and prepares students for the later activity where they are required to produce a fully automated communication between two calculators using light as the communication medium.


Understand one of the many stages in Australia’s biggest infrastructure project, the NBN.
Convert numbers from binary to decimal
Understand and use the ASCII character set
Basic familiarity of the TI-Innovator
Improve coding confidence


For / Endfor, IF / Then, Dim, Wait
Send, Set, LED

About the Lesson

In this activity students read existing messages that have been coded into binary. The messages are displayed using an LED and synchronised using a second LED working as a clock pulse. Students program the TI-Innovator to turn an LED on / off depending on a data value stored in a list. Each time the second LED turns on, they read the light level of the first LED. Students can adjust the frequency rate of the LED with the aim of transmitting the data faster and faster at the same time understanding that communication speeds are limited to the rate at which the data can be read. Teachers are able to use a spare set of data stored in the TI-Nspire file to run a competition between students to see who can send – receive – interpret the message the fastest.
Two Power Point slide shows are included with the activity to help teachers lead students through the activity.