Using MatchBox cars as a switch


[atduskgreg] posted this interesting setup to flickr. He’s using two toy cars as a switch. He has wired into their metal undercarriages so when they collide, the circuit closes. We’ve seen some pretty nifty home made interface items, but usually they are posted with a clear purpose or a project. This one is a little puzzling. Does he intend to keep using the cars or was he just fooling around? Is he working on a toy that does something when they crash? Was he merely bored and wanted to see what he could attach to his Arduino. We may never know.


  1. Greg says:

    For whatever its worth, this photo was documenting an early stage of a project that actually did have a practical application (however modest). I used the ability to detect the moment of impact between the cars to flash a bank of LEDs. That way, I could take a picture of the moment of impact between two rolling cars by leaving a camera in position with the shutter open. With the lights off, a short enough LED flash would act like a short exposure of just the collision. Check out the rest of the documentation photos and some of the results here: I’ve also written up the results of the process and what I learned here:

  2. ArduinoFreak says:

    Wait, so why is the arduino not centered in the picture. Like its impossible to see which wire goes where?

    This is a really good hack. 100% New stuff, now I don’t need to buy these really expensive switches.

  3. strider_mt2k says:

    Oh, the Huge Manatee!

  4. Greg says:

    ArduinoFreak — The wires aren’t centered in the picture because the circuit is so damn simple that I thought people could mostly figure it out and it was worth sacrificing really clear documentation of that for a nicer picture. If you want a step-by-step walkthrough of using a switch to turn on an LED with an Arduino, checkout the tutorial from my class at ITP:

  5. ArduinoFreak says:


    You ever heard about sarcasm?

  6. Greg says:

    ArduinoFreak — It’s hard to detect in this crowd. The amount of vitriol here (mostly aimed at the Hackaday folks themselves) is pretty astounding.

  7. scott says:

    Greg – The vitriol isn’t hard to understand; previously this was an awesome site. Now the person who brought us slothra and the arduino mousetrap managed to sink even lower – an accomplishment many didn’t think was possible.

    Not that anything you did was inherently wrong, but do you honestly think it was newsworthy? That using an arduino as yet another common simple device was an accomplishment needing coverage?

  8. strider_mt2k says:

    If we hook up this guy with grow light guy we could kill two birds with one stoned.

  9. Remarknl says:

    “All contents copyright © 2008, Hack A Day. All Rights Reserved.”

    I think this shows exactly how bad this site is managed…

  10. vic says:

    I think this post is a troll. Or at least I hope so. The “hack” itself is part of a flash trigger used to take picture of car crashes, so it’s not entirely without merit.

  11. bobob says:

    i wish someone would post a hack about how to delete websites from a remote location,so i could put this miserable “hack” site out of it’s misery.

    no court would convict me,since it would be OBVIOUSLY be a mercy killing.

  12. lapubell says:

    why is everyone so pissy on this site now a days? I for one love these little posts, because it gives me ideas.

    attach two matchbox cars and use them for circuit bending. epic on stage performance. never would have thought of this with you hackaday.

    keep it up!

  13. fluxster says: if you replace the toy cars with two golden spike dildos and shove one in each of Caleb’s orifice, that should trigger a reaction of some kind..maybe upgrade to a voltage regulator and…and…what’s the use, nobody listens to me anymore…silly wabbit

  14. Spiff says:

    so far as hackaday replacements, is decent I think

  15. 3Rix says:

    :”“All contents copyright © 2008, Hack A Day. All Rights Reserved.”

    I think this shows exactly how bad this site is managed…”

    I think so too.

    BTW: I think the site should enforce email confirmations again so idiotic noobs such a myself don’t flame… Or maybe we can all have accounts someday. (When pigs fly) I say we will never have an account system. Prove me wrong.

  16. thedudefrommiamivice says:

    Word hackedgadgets > hackaday

  17. Zymastorik says:


  18. ngth says:

    ugh. Can we please have some actual content posted?

  19. therian says:

    How stoned author of this article was when he wrote this. What drugs he use ? can I have some ?

  20. bobob says:

    definite big thumbs up for,it’s what this site should aspire to. also,lifehacker (while having a lot of silly crap) does also bust out some interesting stuff once in a while. you sure as shit do NOT see the ridiculous and repetitive product placement that you get beaten over the head with here at hackaday.

  21. Dim says: is also a great place….
    i used to lurk at pyroelectro but the site’s dead

  22. Remarknl says:
  23. Roly says:

    (sigh) The arduino-equipped toothbrush arrived even sooner than I expected.

    Coming up – turning an arduino into a 555. (Oops. My bad. That’s what this already is.)

  24. Shadyman says:
  25. vikki says:

    @ Strider

    HA Good one

  26. jamieriddles says:

    God I love these comments

  27. Frank says:

    @jamieriddles – I like the hack! I liked it so much, it got a link on my site :)


  28. William says:

    I’m thinking Rube Goldberg.

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