An Even More Useless Machine

Here’s the most useless machine we’ve seen so far. It comes from the workshop of [forn4x] and happily turns itself off whenever any one of its eight switches are flicked to the on position.

The build began when [forn]’s Canon 850i printer gave up the ghost because of a broken print head. All the other electronics and mechanics were still salvageable, so it was decided to turn this printer into something a little more useless.

The printer used a regular DC motor with an optical encoder to move the print head. [forn] easily found the schematics for this optical sensor, because of the TTL output was able to read out the position of the slider. The rest of the build is an ATMega8, a servo, and an octet of toggle switches. [forn] has been able to get the accuracy of the servo-controlled arm down to about 0.1 mm, more than enough to accurately turn all its switches off.

You can see [forn]’s most useless machine in action after the break.


56 thoughts on “An Even More Useless Machine

  1. Am I the only one getting a little sick of useless machines? I’m not saying they aren’t clever, or that someone hasn’t put in a lot of work, but this is hack a day. The whole point of hacking something is to give it MORE functionality than it had before. Machines that by design have zero don’t qualify, surely?

    1. Ever considered that the same topic could apply to half of the hackaday postings? It’s a place for creators and their craftsmanship love affair, it’s rarely about users and functionality. Lean back and enjoy the nerdfun.

    2. Not me. I love seeing different methods of getting something done. I bet you wouldn’t appreciate the CSS Zen Garden either. over 200 different website designs by only changing the CSS code. Nothing special about the website they use. It’s totally useless except for a platform for putting one’s mind to work, thinking of another way to build it. It’s still beautiful though.

          1. Obviously not spam, and that’s actually a really cool site!

            @Dario maybe it would make more sense when you realize it’s CSS Zen Garden dot com. I guess seeing cssz at the beginning scared you or something.

    3. What do you mean zero functionality, by design the machine is designed to turn itself off when turned on, as a joke, and this machine does this and does it very well, its most worthy of hack a day.

    4. Like most things on here, they get beaten to the ground by people trying to be clever. Sorry to break it to you, if you do one of these to be clever, it comes out kitsch.

      (Yes including this. Essentially you push a switch and a mechanical finger flips it back. WOW. That was cool the 1000th time I saw it.)

      Lots of shit on here is like that though. Remember those 3d printers? I think even wackaday got sick of them though LOL.

    5. I think the point of Useless Machines is they’re quite funny. They’re meant to be a joke. Giving one 8 switches and a CPU means this one isn’t funny.

      The point of the UM is, it has 1 switch, the “on” switch, and it’s whole purpose is to switch itself off. Like it’s annoyed, and has personality. Or just the surrealness of making a machine with the single purpose of turning itself off.

      Giving it 8 switches is confusing. What machine has 8 “on” switches? I can imagine a user’s reaction would be confusion, then “oh” once they figure it out. It’s not funny and therefore has failed in it’s purpose as a UM.

      What might be funny, if you took it even further, is to give a PC a robot arm that moves it’s own mouse to the shutdown option on the menu / types it on the keyboard. Have it do this every time you turn it on.

  2. I think this machine should have a few different modes…
    one where it does from left to right (current)
    one where it does in order in which the switches were flipped
    one where it does random order

    1. but how would the mode STAY activated if it just resets the switches anyway? ROFL

      oooohh i get it, this “useless” machine is actually allowing us to use toggle switches as pushbutton switches, just with a bit of mechanical lag

      i bit it throws a tantrum when you try to add new switches EDIT: surgerey XD

  3. Love it. Especially the printer-reuse. I think I need to build one.

    Does it pinch if you get a finger in the way? That could be a barrier to letting a young kid play with it. Wonder if it could have a sensor to avoid pinching the finger? Maybe capacitance or optical?

    How about giving the user an increasingly strong shock if they keep antagonizing it?

    Having it click out tunes via the tempo of the switch reset would be neat.

    1. Why include a shock feature if it could pinch the user? :-) Probably the force is not enough to cause real injury. At first you want to male the machine idiot proof and then to suggest giving it the possibility to punish “idiots” :-)
      On the other hand, the shock feature is much less obvious. :-) :-)

  4. Stop bitching folks! This Useless Machine is just a pretext to build something using scavenged parts. You should be grateful to him for releasing the design and source code which would teach you what a thousand potato launchers would never do.

  5. Related:

    I rescued an old Sansui SE9 “robot” equalizer from the trash on the side of the road, not knowing it was a “robot” equalizer(was gonna yank out the VFD) until I opened it up. Replacement for burned up motor, two darlington H-bridge transistors, and a 7406 later, and it was back in action…

    1. Oh, but you see, fun is a sin! We’re supposed to sweat and toil and gripe “for the good of society” until we wear out and die alone, never to laugh, never to love.


  6. I think it would make a good game. The device randomly picks a pattern. When you press the switches in the proper pattern it doesn’t turn them back off. If you get one wrong it turns them all off and you have to start again. You win when all the switches are on.

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