Moody Useless Machine

moody_pic

If you ever get bored of trolling the internet seeking inspiration for your next big project, try a YouTube search of “useless machine”. After a few hours of watching these pointless, yet hilarious creations, we’re sure you’re going to want to build one. Luckily for us, [Arvid] documented the design of his moody useless machine to get you started.

Why is [Arvid's] machine moody? Well, to fully appreciate the emotional sensitivity of a useless machine, you first need to understand what it is they do don’t do. A one sentence explanation is all that is needed here; you flip a switch and the machine flips the switch back… that’s it. [Arvid] implemented a two servo system with a stand-alone Arduino, which allowed him to give his machine a “personality”. Sometimes the switch is thrown back quickly without argument, other times the machine throws a fussy tantrum.

Although the machine is useless, the electronics inside are anything but. To keep everything clean and innocuous looking, the machine is powered by batteries, so [Arvid] places the Arduino into a ‘sleep’ mode until the switch is toggled. The switch is configured as an interrupt on the Arduino, which when toggled, wakes the Arduino.  Once the Arduino is awake, it enables power to the servos via a power MOSFET, then everything’s ready to go; the machine makes its response and goes back to ‘sleep’. This was a great project, but believe it or not, things can get more useless, like with this advanced useless machine.

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Stupid Friggin’ Robots

 

Some robots aspire to greatness, revolutionizing our humanoid behaviour in ways we struggle to understand. They have traveled in space, photographing the stars like celestial paparazzi or snatching Martians up like interplanetary bed intruders. Some robots are happy to perform their everyday functions with dignity and grace, scrubbing our floors and thanking us for recycling.

It may seem that every robot has a calling that–whether grandiose or humble–makes it a valuable part of our society. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some robots use our hard-earned energy resources to no good use, lazing around without a useful function, drinking flux and tonic all night while watching reruns of Lost in Space. They are stupid robots.

Many humans look upon such pitiful automatons as nothing more than flotsam in the whitewater rapids of human achievement, but the more empathetic among us are ready to celebrate the unique uselessness of stupid robots in grand style. Enter Bacarobo (translated), the premier event showcasing the quirkiest and most amusingly useless robots of our time.

This year the contest was held at the end of October, and the entrants were hilarious to say the least. The dancing olé-bot drew much applause, while the shivering toque robots wooed the crowd in a desperate attempt to escape their frigid prison. It will be fun to see whether any stupidly adorable robot designs will come out of our own Santa-bot competition, considering the source material. If you’ve ever built a stupid or useless robot (accidentally or not) please share your story in the comments. Sometimes the most endearing things about our technology are the parts that don’t work the way they’re supposed to.

Great ball contraption

The idea of the Great Ball Contraption is to take modules from many builders and combine them into one large machine. The modules need to find some way of moving LEGO soccer balls and basketballs from an input point to an exit are that passes them onto the next module. Some of them sort the balls, but in the end the eight-and-a-half-minute video above shows the orbs going around and around. That’s just fine with us, it’s no secret that we love machines that are overly complicated and may be completely useless.

Hoverboard comes to life

This installation by artist [Nils Goudagnin] is a recreation of the hoverboard from Back to the Future II. We would like to see inside that plinth. We’ve seen levitating magnets before, but this is particularly stable. He says he is using lasers and a control system of some kind to stabilize it. Just to guess, we’d say that the lasers determine the distance of the board and an array of electromagnets below is adjusted to keep it level. Then again, we might be over thinking this. Even though it can’t be ridden, we’d love to have one around the office just to look at.

Simplest most useless machine

[Brett] posted about his most useless machine build. His project gives us a chance to massacre the language in the title because it uses the lowest parts count we’ve see with these machines. The logic is controlled by our friend, the 555 timer. Add to that just one servo motor, two switches, three resistors, two caps, a diode, and a battery pack and you’re in business. The hardest part to find locally is the servo but check at a hobby/RC store. If you don’t have to put in a parts order this can be your next impulse project.

Show us your most useless machine

We were fortunate enough to StumbleUpon the most useless machine ever. Delightful! Eclipsed perhaps by the world’s most useless machine copy. We say that because the doll arm looks more realistic which creeps us out in a very entertaining way. So these machines aren’t useless, they provide entertainment.

We, on the other hand, have had some projects that really fell on their faces. With that in mind, show use your most useless machine. Please leave a comment after the beep.

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