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Picture of A Back to the Future Clock

This project started life as an alarm clock for my son. I made it to look like the time circuit from Back to the Future. The display can show the time in various formats, including the one from the movies of course. It's configurable via the buttons on top of the enclosure but also via a web page served by the Raspberry Pi Zero inside. In one of the display modes it will show the local weather (from my Arduino-powered weather station) as well as the forecast and any daily reminders, configured via the web interface. It also has audio thanks to a DAC and will stream music using the AirPlay protocol. The alarm sound can be any audio file you choose. It will dim and brighten the display automatically at given times of the day (e.g. dawn and dusk).

Step 1: Background

Last year I was searching for a new Arduino project having just finished my first ever one, a home weather station. My 11-year-old son had just watched the Back to the Future movies for the first time so I thought it would be fun to build him an alarm clock that looked like the time circuit in the Delorean for his birthday. This isn't a new idea, there are quite a few similar projects out there (this one for example), so I thought it would be a nice project to learn from others and pick up some new skills.

The first version worked quite well (it wasn't ready for his birthday: I got it done by Christmas) but I got quite ambitious in what I wanted it to do and found that my sketch kept running into the memory limit of the Arduino. I also had several small external hardware modules (WiFi, MP3 player, audio amplifier, RTC etc), so it was all getting a little bit unwieldy. In the end, I decided to move to a Raspberry Pi platform which simplified the hardware and allowed me to pack in a lot more functionality and features.

MrJoosh1 year ago

Looks great! Would be good to see the code, i'm a Python n00b really, so I'm sure there's a lot I could learn from it :)

I've added this to my todo list :)

jejl (author)  MrJoosh1 year ago

Hmm, I guess I should get around to tidying up the code then! :-)

Maybe it would be better to put light sensor for dimming instead of linking it to sunset and sunrise. I mean, if the shades are down or it is clowdy it will make wrong reaction
jejl (author)  Keko Croatia1 year ago

Thanks, what a good idea! Why not do both? :-) Adding a LDR would be quite easy and it could override the sunrise/set function.

Parky19721 year ago

Looks amazing!

I hope you get to post the code up soon as I can't code in Python at all.
So would not be able to re-create it.

I assume that this would run happily on a standard Raspberry Pi 1?

jejl (author)  Parky19721 year ago

Yes, it should work fine with any Raspberry Pi version I think.

The code will need some tweaking to suit your location though, so some basic familiarity with Python is probably necessary.

That looks awesome! Great job of replicating the time circuits.

jejl (author)  DIY Hacks and How Tos1 year ago


LaurentV111 year ago

Really nice one !
Remembers implementation is a great idea :)
Check at this one :

tercero1 year ago

What's next?

Well. You need Delorean obviously. And don't forget. Don't mess with the time line and watch out for a character named Biff.