Back to the Future Alarm Clock Is As Real As It Gets

While real time-travel is obviously not happening anytime soon, with this Back to the Future themed alarm clock, you can go to the future in seven hour eight hour increments by going to sleep. Great Scott!

[CrossleyAcoustics] spent the past few months designing and building this movie-prop worthy alarm clock, and it certainly shows. After designing everything on breadboards, he had custom PCBs made, he modeled the whole thing in Sketchup (first time he’s used it!) and even tried his hand at the sheet metal fabrication after shops quoted him thousands for what he wanted.

The coolest part of the build is that [CrossleyAcoustics] had some detailed drawings that he had made himself… when he was 8 years old. Talk about a plan coming together!

Continue reading “Back to the Future Alarm Clock Is As Real As It Gets”

The Inaccurate Predictions Of Back To The Future

Sometime this evening, after we haven’t rehydrated a pizza for dinner, all of the events portrayed in Back To The Future will have happened in the past. This is it. This is the day all your dreams die.

So, what’s so special about the technology in Back To The Future that we don’t have now? Hoverboards, obviously, but a lot of people have been doing their part to make sure we have something like a hoverboard on this important day. Last week, the record for the longest hoverboard flight was broken by a Canadian company making large multirotor platforms. While it’s called a hoverboard, it’s really not in the spirit of the device that would recreate the skateboard chase scene in front of Hill Valley’s courthouse. For that, you’ll need something that doesn’t use propellers, at least.

There’s a better way to construct a hoverboard than by strapping a few blenders to your feet. Last summer, Lexus built one with superconducting materials and magnets. Yes, it’s effectively the same demonstration you’ve always seen with superconducting materials, only this time it’s dressed up with pro skaters. There are tens of thousands of dollars worth of magnets in the Lexus hoverboard, making this entirely impractical for anyone who wants to build their own.

next-yearThere is another option if you want a hoverboard. This day, last year, Hendo Hoverboards launched a Kickstarter with the best media blitz we’ve ever seen. They built a hoverboard that is basically a quadcopter, but instead of propellers, they use magnets. These magnets produce eddy currents in the metallic, non-ferrous ‘hover surface’. The grand prize for this Kickstarter? Today, October 21, 2015, you’ll be invited to a VIP event where you will not only get to ride a hoverboard, you’ll get one to take home. Price: $10,000.

News Drones
News drones. People still read newspapers.

This company isn’t in the market of building hoverboards; they have a much, much more grandiose idea: the founder wants to use hoverboards as a stepping stone to an active earthquake mitigation strategy for buildings. Yes, buildings can hover inches above their foundation, just in case an earthquake strikes. You say the power might go out during an earthquake, causing the building to fall inches to the ground? I never said it was a good idea.

Lucky for us, the Hendo hoverboard did prove to be a proof of concept that a ‘spinning magnet’ hoverboard is capable of supporting the weight of a rider. We know a few people have been working on this technology before the Hendo hoverboard was announced, and replicating the Hendo hoverboard build shouldn’t cost more than about $1000 USD. We’re eventually going to have to do this, and we’re going to replicate the Pitbull hoverboard, bojo, because we want powah.

So, what else of Back to the Future Part II hasn’t become a reality? News drones. People don’t read newspapers anymore. Self-driving cars are more realistic than hovercar conversions. Pepsi Perfect exists, but only at a Comic Con. Nike Air Mags exist, but not with power laces. The world of Hill Valley still has fax machines, and I really want to rehydrate a pizza.

cubbiesIt’s alright, most of the technology of Back to the Future was just a joke; ‘Queen Diana’ would have never happened, and what exactly was the point of Gray’s Sports Almanac if you can look everything up on the Internet?

There was one possibly accurate prediction in Back to the Future: The Chicago Cubs may win the 2015 World Series. Let me repeat that, for effect. The most accurate prediction of the future given to us in Back to the Future was that the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. That’s how inaccurate Back To The Future was.

Quick Marty! We Have To Go Back, With the Golf Cart!

Talk about an awesome project. [Lucas Evanochko] was commissioned to build this totally rad Delorean style golf Cart for Red Deer College’s 30th annual Golf Tournament.

According to him, it’s been about 600 hours in the making – and they only started building it in July. This past week was its big unveiling, and it has had an overwhelmingly positive response so far!

They started with one of the club’s golf carts and modified it heavily, relying on the automotive expertise of [David Keykants] and [John Perrin] to turn it into the aw-worthy time machine it is today.  It has a 7” tablet built right into the dash to play music and use the Fluxy88 Time Circuits app. A big array of arcade buttons hooked up to an Adafruit Audio FX board play various sound bites from the movie, including the theme music!

All the accessories are powered off of a separate 12V system from the main 48V drive line. Oh and the Flux Capacitor? It’s controlled by a Trinket Pro. Check it out after the break. We love the detail that went into this!

Continue reading “Quick Marty! We Have To Go Back, With the Golf Cart!”

Great Scott! A Flux Capacitor Notification Light

If you are into your social media, then you probably like to stay updated with your notifications. [Gamaral] feels this way but he wasn’t happy with the standard way of checking the website or waiting for his phone to alert him. He wanted something a little more flashy. Something like a flux capacitor notification light. This device won’t send his messages back in time, but it does look cool.

He started with an off-the-shelf flux capacitor USB charger. Normally this device just looks cool when charging your USB devices. [Gamaral] wanted to give himself more control of it. He started by opening up the case and replacing a single surface mount resistor. The replacement component is actually a 3.3V regulator that happens to be a similar form factor as the original resistor. This regulator can now provide steady power to the device itself, as well as a ESP8266 module.

The ESP8266 module has built-in WiFi capabilities for a low price. The board itself is also quite small, making it suitable for this project. [Gamaral] used just two GPIO pins. The first one toggles the flux circuit on and off, and the second keeps track of the current state of the circuit. To actually trigger the change, [gamaral] just connects to the module via TCP and issues a “TIME CIRCUIT ON/OFF” command. The simplicity makes the unit more versatile because an application running on a PC can actually track various social media and flash the unit accordingly.

Nikes With Power Laces, Just in Time for Next Year

With the world’s first hoverboard being shown a few days ago, we’re on the verge of the fabulous world of tomorrow from Back to the Future. Hoverboards are cool, but there’s a wealth of other cool technology from the far-off year of 2015: Mr. Fusions, inflatable pizza, Dustbusters, and of course, Nikes with power laces. [Hunter] just built them, and with the right shoes, to boot.

[Hunter] is using the BttF-inspired Nike Air Mag shoes for this build, along with a few bits of electronics – an Arduino pro mini, a force sensing resistor, and a motor. The build began by carving out a notch in the back of the shoe for the electronics. A small bit of fishing line goes around the shoe, providing the power behind the power laces.

A force sensitive resistor under the heel of the insole tells the microcontroller when a foot is inside the shoe, and a rotary encoder on the motor shaft makes sure all the power lace cycles are the same. It’s not quite the same as the shoe seen on screen – the lower laces can’t be replicated and it’s certainly not as fast as the BttF shoes, but it does work, and as far as shoelaces are concerned, they work well.

Videos below.

Continue reading “Nikes With Power Laces, Just in Time for Next Year”

Oculus Rift and Wii Balance Board make Hoverboards a (Virtual) Reality

It’s almost 2015 and still don’t have the futuristic technology promised to us by Back to the Future Part II. Where are the flying cars, Mr. Fusions, or 19 Jaws movies? Most importantly, where are our hoverboards?

[cratesmith] got tired of waiting around and decided to take matters into his own hands. He combined the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset with the Wii Fit Balance Board to create a virtual hoverboard experience. He used the Unity3D engine (a favorite among Rift developers) to program the game engine. It’s a very rough demo right now, but the game comes complete with a simulated town to float around in and of course includes a model DeLorean.

Before you try to play this demo, you should know that it’s not without its faults. The primary problem [cratesmith] has experienced is with simulation sickness. His virtual reality system has no way to track body motion, which means that leaning back and forth on the Wii Fit board does not get translated to the equivalent virtual movement. The game must assume that the player stands straight up at all times, which is not an intuitive way to control something similar to a skateboard. The result is an off-putting experience that can break immersion and lead to a feeling of nausea.

A possible solution to this problem would be to use a camera style motion detector like the Microsoft Kinect. In fact, another Reddit user has recently posted a teaser video of another hoverboard simulator that uses the Oculus Rift, Wii Fit Board, and Kinect. Not much information is available about this second project, but we look forward to seeing updates in the future.

[createsmith] has not published the code for his demo because it’s still in the very early stages, but he has stated that he’s been giving it out to anyone who goes out of their way to ask. The hoverboard is probably the most coveted fictional technology from the 1989 adventure film. We know this because we’ve seen multiple projects over the years that were inspired by the movie.  We’re excited to see it come to fruition in any form.

[via Reddit]

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Thinking 4th Dimensionally

Notwithstanding [John Titor] and his time travelling ’67 Corvette convertible, the coolest time machine on wheels has to be the DeLorean from Back to the Future. BTTF is apparently a very popular theme for our sci-fi contest, with a lot of great entries.

You mean to tell me  you made a time machine? Out of a Hyundai Accent?

fluxAfter a careful bit of research, it appears the Hyundai Accent (GLS) has both a higher top speed and faster 0-60 time than a DeLorean, and that’s before the installation of time circuits, a flux capacitor, and plutonium reactor. [docbrownjr] and [Jennifer] decided their Accent was the perfect vehicle for a time machine conversion and decided to add a Mr. Fusion  to the mix.

Like the on-screen version, this version of a Mr. Fusion is made from a kitchen appliance. With the original Krups coffee grinder out of production, the team settled on an iced tea machine. There will, however, be copious amounts of dry ice involved,  as will half-empty beer cans and banana peels.

WiFi-enabled Flux Capacitor

ledAfter knocking his head on a toilet, [Beamsjr] came up with a great idea – a networked flux capacitor, able to display the Teamcity build progress.

This build is going all out with custom PCBs – one for the controller board, and three for the shift registered LEDs underneath the acrylic knobbies in the flux capacitor. WiFi is provided by the TI CC3000 module, with the main microcontroller being an ATmega 328p,

Time circuits on

segmentsHonestly, we’d be a bit disappointed if this contest didn’t have a BTTF time circuit build entry. Luckily for us, [atheros] and [bwa] are on top of things with their time circuit clock, complete with an alarm and FM radio receiver (FM isn’t going to work in 1955, guys).

Unlike a few other time circuit builds we’ve seen over the years, the guys are doing this one up right, with 14-segment LEDs for the month display. They’re etching their own boards for this one, and it’s looking like it’ll be a very cool project when it’s complete.