Machine Offers Cheap Advice – Charges More For Something Profound


[Nick Johnson] recently wrote in, sharing a neat project he put together in his spare time.

Our readers are most likely familiar with the ubiquitous “fortune” program that ships with many *nix distros, offering cheeky comments and quotes with the press of a button. [Nick] thought it would be cool to build a fortune telling machine using the app, resulting in the handsome device you see above.

The laser-cut wooden case is home to a Raspberry Pi which does the heavy lifting, a coin acceptor, an LCD screen for displaying the device’s status, along with a SparkFun thermal printer. Upon feeding the machine some money, the user can press the “Advise Me” button, prompting the RaspPi to present a printed fortune from its vast database of sayings. [Nick] took some time to do some rough categorization of the fortune databases, enabling the machine to offer more substantial content as the user inputs more coins.

Check out the video below to see [Nick’s] fortune telling machine in action.


17 thoughts on “Machine Offers Cheap Advice – Charges More For Something Profound

  1. Nifty. Something like this could be crafted (With the help of a bit of adver-evil) into a quirky marketing tool. Feed it 50c. Get a coupon for something (greater than 50c worth), a compliment, an insult or a random useless fact.

    1. Good question! The main reason is that the code needs access to a large database of fortunes to spit out – far more than an embedded processor can contain in (EEP)ROM. I could have used an Arduino with an SD card adapter, but I wanted to be able to have it networked, too – the original goal was to source advice from users online and pick one at random when people put money in.

      Also, given the cost of the RPi these days, it’s an attractive option for a lot of stuff like this, even if it is overkill.

      1. I did have an MCU with some form of large flash memory in mind but if you’re souring from an online database (I read your article after posting) then the RPi is a much more attractive option from a cost standpoint.

        I think Its very noble of you to donate it to your local hacker space. I always get more fulfillment when I give my projects away to someone who can use it then to store it away somewhere.

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