A Clockwork Useless Machine Prototype


Most of us have seen the [Useless Machine] where a switch is flipped and a finger comes out to turn it off, retreating into it’s box again. Most of those are electrical, but why not a [Useless Machine] made only of mechanical clockwork? Apparently this has been done before, but why not one more?

After some rough, sketches, and almost no research, I finally “came up with” a way to do this mechanically. A small wheel acts as the driver for the assembly, which is weighed down by a T-handle attached to a string wrapped around it. When released, this smaller wheel fully rotates causing the larger wheel to rotate up around ninety degrees then come down again. In reality, the flipped switch doesn’t reverse the motion of the finger at all, it instead stops it from cycling over and over. The video after the break may explain it a bit better.

This machine currently is a prototype. Although it works well without a lid on at simply reversing the switch, it’s much too fast and isn’t capable of lifting any sort of weight. Like a lid to come out of, for instance. This whole assembly was made possible with my CNC router and inexpensive/easily machineable MDF.


  1. fartface says:

    Someone needs to learn about governors to slow the speed of the attack spike.

  2. asdf says:

    What about a music box? They are like $3 at a hobby shop and come with everything you’ll need to run that thing…. and it plays a sweet ass tune.

  3. Mike says:

    “After some rough, sketches, and almost no research,”

  4. Mike says:

    “I finally came up with a way to do this mechanically.”

    Nice work, I find that mechanical projects take a bit more forethought than simply throwing a µC at things. Plus, it’s got the benefit of never running low on batteries.

    • Jeremy Cook says:

      Thanks Mike! Yeah, no research, in the fact that I thought this was the first mechanical version! I came up with the concept after some thought and sketches, but there was also a lot of working things out on Draftsight (free Autocad).

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