The Time Machine

Improving the Functionality of the Time Machine

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Rob NiosiBuilder of Time Machines
Rubel Eng
Bkpraveen Kumar
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Help to Complete the Time Machine

As a project of passion, I have spent the last 12 years constructing a full scale replica of the Time Machine from the 1960 MGM film. I’m primarily an artist and I have plenty of experience creating mechanical stuff but when it comes to electrics, I’m pretty much lost. Here is a very short video showing my Machine…

There are several functions of the Machine. Lights flashing or dimming, dish spinning and more all controlled by a lever pushed forward (to travel forward in time) or pulled back ( back in time).
An Arduino and Raspberry Pi are being used but it seems less then ideal. The most complicated function is a gauge on the console of the Machine which shows the month, day and year one is traveling in. I’m currently using a mini video projector, which rear projects a single image on 3 small screens (month, day, year) on the console . As one pushes the lever of the machine, some lights fade on, some blink, the dish begins to spin and the date gauge changes. As the lever is pushed further, the dish, blinking lights and dates move faster and faster.
Here is a video of a test for the dates changing on the gauge. It looks good but it is still fraught with problems. I cheated with the sound and added it to the video. As part of this project, I would also like to get the sounds of the Machine working in conjunction with the lever, dish, lights, etc…

Some of the issues are that it takes a long time (nearly a minute) for the Raspberry Pi to boot up and it crashes if the lever is moved too quickly. Sometimes when the Raspberry Pi booths up, the numbers are the wrong size. There are several inconsistencies like this. The changing dates increasing speed does not correspond well to the position of the lever. It starts out slowly, which is great, but it does not increase until the lever reaches a certain point and then the dates suddenly move at a very rapid speed.

I was at Atlantic City recently looking at all of these amazing slot machines which are showing multiple video screens which are very interactive with the player. When I get into my Prius and press the power button, instantly there is an animation playing on the gauge panel of a car driving through a city and then there is so much interactive video information such as the digital image of the driving speed numbers changing as you accelerate or slow down. I wonder how all this is done and if I could somehow apply it to my Machine.

Current Task in Progress

I guess the best place to begin is at the lever which controls nearly all the functions of the Machine. I wonder what is the best device is for interfacing with the various factions of the Machine. Lights fading on and off, some lights blinking at different rates, the motor spinning the large dish the video projecting the dates and also the sounds. Currently, the Machine is using an encoder which is rotated by the movement of the lever. Does this seem like a good idea?

A side note: Back in 2010, Jay Cheel, a documentary filmmaker heard I was working on building my Machine and asked if he could interview me. 5 years later he finished his film How To Build A Time Machine. Here is a teaser trailer for it… https://vimeo.com/94198854

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