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18 LED Light Chaser Circuit Using Two IC 4017

The post explains how to build an 18 LED chaser circuit through a simple cascading of two 4017 ICs, and some passive electronic components.

What is a Light Chaser

Decorative lights arranged in different moving patterns look very interesting and are surely eye catching and that’s why these types of lighting arrangement have gained immense popularity in today’s world.

Though the more complex lighting might need the incorporation of microcontroller ICs, simpler yet very interesting light effects can be generated through ordinary ICs, which require very few components for the configuration.

A light chaser circuit is a configuration which generates a running or chasing light pattern which goes on repeating itself from start to finish, producing a very eye catching and fascinating light pattern. The lights connected are mostly LEDs, however it can be modified for using with mains operated lamps also.

Working Explanation

Here we are discussing how to make a simple LED running light which can be built by any newcomer in the field albeit the individual has some knowledge of soldering and regarding the commonly used electronic components.

The concept of a light chaser discussed here utilizes the popular Johnson’s decade counter IC 4017 for getting the desired light chasing effect. IC 4049 is used as the Oscillator

Another IC 4049 provides the clock signals to the counter ICs. We all have probably seen how the IC 4017 can be configured for creating the light chasing effect using LEDs, however the number of maximum LEDs supported by this IC is not more than ten. In this article we’ll learn how to make an eighteen LED light

chaser by cascading two of these ICs.

Cascading two IC 4017 Johnsons Counter for the 18 LED Effect

Looking at the above light chaser circuit diagram we see how the two ICs are configured so that the “chasing”  or "running"of the LEDs at its outputs are carried on for 18 LEDs. The diodes included in the circuit especially are responsible for switching the ICs into a cascading action.

The diodes make sure the IC outputs are carried forward from one IC to another, so that the “chasing” effect is pulled for the entire 18 LEDs in the array.

The whole circuit can be built over a general purpose PCB, and connected together by soldering with the help of the shown diagram.

The circuit can be operated in between 6 volts to 12 volts.


Parts List
R1, R3, R4 = 2k7,
R5 = 100k,
C1 = 10 uF/25V,
N1, N2, N3, N4, N5, N6 = IC 4049,
IC1,2 = 4017,
All diodes are = 1N4148,
PCB = General purpose

LED = as per choice.

The above 18 LED cascaded chaser circuit can be also conveniently built using a 555 astable circuit, as shown below:


18 LED chaser circuit two IC 4017 cascaded with each other

Video Clip of the above circuit in operational mode:


About the Author

I am an electronic engineer (dipIETE ), hobbyist, inventor, schematic/PCB designer, manufacturer. I am also the founder of the website: https://www.homemade-circuits.com/, where I love sharing my innovative circuit ideas and tutorials. If you have any circuit related query, you may interact through comments, I'll be most happy to help!

51 thoughts on “18 LED Light Chaser Circuit Using Two IC 4017”

  1. Howdy, Friend! Interested to Learn Circuit Designing? Let's Start Discussing below!
  2. Hi Swag, thank you for your fast and kindly reply… :-)… the one point regards a bar graph of 5 or 10 (2+2+2..) that switch on all leds with high sound frequency (approx 10-12 khz) and then switch off first the reds until the last blues (approx 20-30 hz in total relax) in response to only the frequency of the sound… bye.

  3. Dear Swagatam, allow me to thank you for your precious contribution to us small hobbyists … this is my little problem: I have a relax machine that emits a sound frequency from acute to severe to full relaxation: I would, if possible, translate it in: 1) a blue-green-yellow-orange-red vu-meter which, from totality, extinguishes them until blue. 2) a progressive slowdown of a 10 leds chaser. 3) a relay command to reach a certain threshold of frequency (regolable) … I assume you are very busy but I trust your vast genius electronics will know find suitable solutions at a fair cost . Thank you. Claudio

    • Hi Claudio, from your explanation, I assume you want an LED sound level meter just like an LED VU meter which will show a reverse forward chasing LED bar graph display in response to the sound intensity from the machine, right?

  4. Having trouble cascading additional cd4017s, could you please explain further, I am trying to make a clock out of LEDs alone

  5. I want to make a switch with 4017 and I just did it… But how to connect two 4017 to create a sequential switch of 18 individual switches to control various circuits…
    Thanks in advance…

    • you can use the above set up, remove the IC 555 section entirely, connect a switch across the junction of D1/D2 and the ground line.

  6. Hi Swag, I tried making the 18 LED chaser circuit with the two 4017’s and the NE555 Timer. I do not have too much experience with breadboards, but built the board and hooked it up to 9V power and nothing happened. I was wondering if I could send you a picture of my breadboard to have you look at it? I got a pretty clear picture which shows how I have everything connected. I don’t think there is anyway to attach a picture to this comment. Please let me know if you could help me out!



    • Hi Graeme, If you have used a breadboard then there’s a great chance you might have missed something or wrongly connected something, because breadboards for me are too messy, and confusing way of making electronic circuits.

      In my electronic life I have never used a breadboard for my experiments, I have always used and relied on strip boards and by practically soldering the components, in a layout that’s exactly similar to the circuit design, and due to this I could hardly miss anything and could succeed quickly.

      So I am really sorry it would be difficult for me to check your breadboard connections because I have myself never used them.

      If you are seeing nothing then the possibilities are that ICs are not getting powered or you have connected the Vcc/Vss of the IC wrongly and in that case the ICs could get quickly damaged

      At least one LED has to come ON…I think you should go step-wise and first confirm the IC 555 stage, and whether it is oscillating or not, and then slowly proceed with the IC 4017 stages.

      If you have any specific questions, please feel free to drop them here

      • Hi Graeme,

        first of all I must apologize for saying that breadboards are clumsy, they are actually much convenient than assembling by soldering. I have updated the working video of the 18 LED chaser circuit. Also I am extremely sorry, your circuit was not initiating because I had missed one capacitor in the diagram, across pin#15 of the two ICs and the positive line. I have corrected the diagram, and your prototype should work now. If you have further questions, please feel free to add them here….

    • Thank you for answer.
      Can you tell me how can I reduct the number of channel, for exemple to 15 channel. Or if I what to an one more ic4017?

    • You can disconnect pin#15 of IC1 and connect it with the subsequent output pinout which may come just after the selected last output pinout of the same IC.

  7. Let's assume the sequence begins from pin#9 (or any other pinout) of IC2, during this time its pin#3 is "low" which inhibits the clock from reaching IC2 pin#14 which keeps it inactive, but allows IC1 to continue with its sequence since its pin#14 is enabled to erceive the clocks.

    As soon as the sequence reaches pin#3 of IC1, D4 gets reverse baised, and this instantly flips the situation…..this immediately blocks the clock from reaching pin#14 of IC1 and allows the clocks to reach pin#14 of IC2, so that now IC2 begins with the sequencing process…until its pin#11 becomes, which blocks the clock from appearing at pin#14 of IC2 but opens it for IC1.

    remember the positive clocks at pin#14 of the ICs are obtained from R1, R3, D1 and D2 only help to enable to provide the negative clocks…and D1 and D2 are actually blocked and opened by the forward/reverse biasing actions of D3/D4….which are in turn toggled by the high/low logics of pin#3 and pin#11 of IC1, IC2 respectively

  8. Just starting some electronics projects. How could I use 555 in place of the 4049? And where do n3,n4,n5,and n6 connect to the whole thing.

    • That's possible by simply connecting the output of the 555 astable at the junction of D1, D2…and with the negatives of the 555 circuit and the 4017 circuit connected in common

      N3, N4, N5, N6 are unused gates, but there inputs need to be terminated to the positive or ground rail

  9. Sir. I already madethe EMERGENCY LIGHT CIRRCUIT 150 leds modified by SATY. But theproblem is, when it is plug in to the socket(in AC) th e led will be lights on. It should be recharge right?

    • Gela, it means your circuit has some problems…or may be the transistor is not connected correctly,,,because with mains ON the LED must stay shut off, and illuminate only when it's absent

  10. Sir can i use a 555 astable multivibrator section as shown in the picture ( in the link given below ), instead of the 4049 Oscillator section ?


  11. Happy Diwali Sir
    Sir in this design, I have used 555 stage instead of the Oscillator section given in this article ( simple astable multi vibrator )…
    I didn't get the intended result.. Moreover both ICs functioned simultaneously.
    What to do ?

    Will the schematic given in this article function properly ?

    • Happy Diwali Arun…according to me it will function in a cascaded manner not simultaneously…you might have connected one of the diodes wrongly, please check it carefully

  12. dear sir do you have circuit i want to on security light at night 12 o clock and off at morning 5 o clock every day

  13. Sir, may I ask if you have a countdown timer circuit which can be set to 5, 10 or 15 seconds, beeps every second and a buzzer sounds when time reaches 0? (Like the ones used in game shows where a contestant is given a couple of seconds to answer.)

    • Ronald, you can use the above circuit design for your application. Remove all the LEDs and the resistor from the output, set N1/N2 for generating 1 second frequency.
      After this the outputs will start sequencing from pin#2 upwards, each pinout shift will correspond to 1 second time elapsed, so you can select the particular pinout and connect final countdown buzzer through an SCR.
      For the 1 second buzzer, you can use the N2 ouput

  14. can u post a circuit for 12 led chaser with comet tail effect? i mean followed 3 or 4leds to be faded and off as a tail( sweeping pattern) thank you

    • it is simple, just modify a standard 4017 chaser circuit in the following manner:

      connect each led via 1N4148 diodes and individual resistors.
      And connect capacitors across each diode/LED junction and ground. The value of the capacitor will determine the length of the fading effect.

  15. ok sir thank u so much…i m gonna try it…just tell me one more thing what is vr1 & vr2 in above link circuit??? is that the resistance or volume cone which we oftenly use to control volume…….?????? and pls mail or message me a circuit of it if u get time…i m on fb friend list of urs…i would really appreciate that…..

  16. hi mr majumdar ,,, i want to use this curcuit on ac lights…pls help me…and also tell me how to make a three light chaser with one minute intervel time…????
    thanxxx in advance…..

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