Back to the Future Time Circuits

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Valor

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Coming off of a Flux Capacitor build I wanted to bring the Time Circuits to life. And I know a lot of people have done amazing versions with Arduino and 7-segment LED characters. But what I'm looking to do is something a bit more analog. I read that for the film the Time Circuits had a simple back-lit solution for the NOV and OCT characters because there were not solutions to do this as actual 7-digit LED characters. This got me to thinking. Could I do the entire thing with backlit characters? I recently bought a Cricut so I thought simply cutting the characters out of black vinyl and use a red plastic filter would give me the look. But one thing bothered me:

If you look closely at a 7-segment LED character, you see the illuminated segments, but you also see the UN-ILLUMINATED segments slightly. I wanted this depth. So, what I've landed on is a three layer approach:
1) Red filter sheet (and green and yellow for the other two)
2) The "Lit" segments cut out of a limo-dark window tint
3) All segments cut out of a black (opaque) vinyl

When I line all three of these up over a lightbox it looks really convincing.

I have the face plates being cut and bent at sendcutsend. From there I'll put all this together.

more to come ...
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Valor

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I started working on the enclosure ... I had two plans in my head. One is to use the original/accurate LMB Heeger cr852 electronics enclosure. My second plan which I'm showing here is to have the faces cut and bent from sendcutsend. I got those pieces today and whipped up a simple acrylic enclosure to hold them. Its not bad ... A tad off-accurate with the more rolled corners.

I also have the Heeger boxes on order ... so I might just scrap what you're seeing here. don't know yet.
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13doctorwho

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Pretty cool. I'm curious... for the numbers why not use real 7 segment displays and just hard wire them to the numbers you chose? You're idea is clever and cheaper... I guess I kind of answered my own question. It really does look realistic. Great work.
 

Valor

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Pretty cool. I'm curious... for the numbers why not use real 7 segment displays and just hard wire them to the numbers you chose? You're idea is clever and cheaper... I guess I kind of answered my own question. It really does look realistic. Great work.
You nailed it. I'm clever, and cheap ... also I don't know how to program those. Nor do I really want that much functionality. I just want a lit display for my shelf. See? Clever and Cheap.
 

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Valor

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Okay, here' the final piece. Overall I'm really happy with the results. To get the effect of the 7-segment digits there are 5-6 layers of transparency. The digits are more clear in person. These photos are a bit blown out. It's essentially a big lightbox illuminated by two strips of 3-row LEDS.

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Markus

Well-Known Member
Okay, here' the final piece. Overall I'm really happy with the results. To get the effect of the 7-segment digits there are 5-6 layers of transparency. The digits are more clear in person. These photos are a bit blown out. It's essentially a big lightbox illuminated by two strips of 3-row LEDS.
It looks fantastic! Congratulations!
 

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Valor

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Okay, I wasn't happy with the contrast between the "Lit" segments and the "Unlit" segments. I wanted the Unlit to be darker. So, I bought some more window tint and did another layer of "Unlit" segments. It's tricky to photograph, but I feel like the effect is much more accurate. Maybe this only makes sense to me :)

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