Back To The Future Time Circuits


What if we could travel in time? The blockbuster movie ‘Back To The Future’ from Robert Zemeckis is a mind twister. Everybody I guess has always dreamed to drive the DeLorean. The flux capacitor and the time circuits could become something like autoradios in the future, who know… Dreaming… One night, a friend of mine challenged me to make a replica of the time circuits and this is what we got.


Time Circuits Replica

Dr. Emmett Brown: If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit.

A full working replica of the time machine circuits from the 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis’ Back To The Future. Let alone actual time travel, it works as a talking alarm clock.

Display wiring

The display uses the multiplexing technique driving 360 bits from the serial line.

This is the display schematic:

The display board schematic

Lots of time tinkering with a pair of pliers and solder iron. Authentic craftmanship for this first prototype model. A PCB is easily designable and part of it has been already done.

Costs and suppliers

I am including the BOM costs with the suppliers (mostly from Italy). Prices are in EUR. Shipping costs and I.V.A. (Italian GST) is indicated where relevant as well.

Double sided PCB 160x50 (10days) 2 € 17,57 € 35,14
Shipping costs € 3,30
GST € 8,46
SUBTOTAL € 46,90
Display PSC08-11GWA (green 16 segs) 3 € 2,10 € 6,30
Display PSC08-11EWA (red 16 segs) 3 € 1,35 € 4,05
Display SC08-11EWA (red) 10 € 1,40 € 14,00
Display SC08-11GWA (green) 10 € 1,40 € 14,00
Display PSC08-11YWA (yellow 16 segs) 3 € 1,35 € 4,05
Display SC08-11YWA (yellow) 10 € 0,88 € 8,80
IC 74HC595D 9 € 0,32 € 2,88
Shipping costs € 10,00
GST € 14,59
SUBTOTAL € 78,67
Techstore A.G.
Numeric Keypad 4x4 1 € 5,00 € 5,00
Strip Connector IDC 2x13 pin 2 € 1,90 € 3,80
4 Mini Connectors eq. JST-XH 5-pin 1 € 2,50 € 2,50
Kit RTC DS1307 Real Time Clock I2C 1 € 3,90 € 3,90
Shipping costs € 4,65
SUBTOTAL € 19,85
E.B.M. Store di Gaetano Filigrana
breadboard 233x160 single side 2 € 6,50 € 13,00
DIL18 IC socket (10 pieces per pack) 1 € 1,50 € 1,50
PCF8574AP I/O expander i2c 8 bit 1 € 2,30 € 2,30
LM386N audio amplifier 1W 1 € 1,20 € 1,20
DIL16 IC socket (10 pieces per pack) 3 € 1,50 € 4,50
Shipping costs € 6,50
SUBTOTAL € 29,00
Rasperry Pi 256 MB 1 € 29,90 € 29,90
GST € 6,58
Shipping costs € 10,00
SUBTOTAL € 46,48
Miscellaneous € 10,00
GROSS TOTAL € 230,90

Credits and Aknowledgements

The project was born thanks to our group of friends and musicians. The actual idea has born from the mind of our great guitar player Emiliano Sabatini, the frilliest and coolest of them, who came to us and proposed this idea. We sought help then from our blacksmith and singer Antonio Di Tonto with his workshop and his craftmanship. Last but not least, the sage Guido Cammisano who always welcomes us all in his basement practise room to play music, and his technical knownledge, crisp jokes and drinks.

Time Circuits

RAI Interview

Ok, ok, allow me to be showy and tell you that we got interviewed by the Tv because of this Time Circuit gadget. The footage below is a summary from the local italian RAI TV news broadcasted on 12th April 2014 on RAI3 TGR Abruzzo for an episode of “Elogio della Creatività” or, in English “Praise of Creativity”, a weekly report on local activities, people, technical news involving a bit of fantasy and creativity. Somehow they got to know we were making this little gadget, and we met at Emiliano’s place (nice place he has) to shoot the episode. The RAI journalist was keen in asking us just few questions (we felt both a bit embarrassed) and we ended up showing a couple more things made by us: Emiliano does paintings and artistic objects too while me, staying on the tech side, showcased my theremin and my tube amp.