Although many beginners enter the world of electronics through experimenting with Arduino and other development boards, then can miss out on the fun and education that comes with digital electronics - that is, using the ICs that would make up computers and other devices in the past. An instructables user 'laserjocky' has found the old technology interesting and in doing so written a great tutorial on how to use 74LC161 counter ICs - and then how to extract the value from the IC into an Arduino for further computation.
Although using an external counter IC might seem redundant - it isn't. For example, if you wanted to count four different pulses simultaneously then work with the results - reading external counters would be easier then programming the code.
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The tutorial in the link uses 74HC595 shift registers, and instead of working with fragile DIP-package versions - consider our EXPAND: shift register module. Containing the 74HC595, nifty blue power LED and labelled pinouts, it's easier to use and physically stronger for constant prototyping. For more information and to order, visit the product page.