The Annoying Machine

The Useless Machine – a machine with a toggle switch, a mechanical arm, and something that only exists to turn itself off – is a staple of Instructables and builds from random workbenches the world over. It’s cliché, and now has a better project: The Annoying Machine, a machine that exists purely to annoy.

According to [unigamer], the Annoying Machine is the evil cousin of the Useless Machine. On the outside, it’s extremely simple: a switch labeled ‘on’ and ‘off’, and a hole for an LED. Turn the switch on, and the Annoying Machine will emit an annoying buzzing sound. Switch the Machine off, and the buzzing will go away. Then the switch will flick itself back to on. Insidious.

A switch and buzzer is easy enough, but the key component of this build is an actuated rocker switch. It’s basically a normal toggle switch with two additional terminals for a coil that can move the switch back and forth electronically. Throw in an Arduino, buzzer, battery, and a boost converter for the switch, and that’s just about all there is to it.

How to deactivate the Annoying Machine? There’s an accelerometer attached to the Arduino, and by throwing the box up in the air after flicking the switch off, it will reset. There are already plans for a Version 2 of the Annoying Machine that will be even louder and made out of aluminum. Anything to protect it from the inevitable hammers of frustration.

Video below.

49 thoughts on “The Annoying Machine

    1. Industrial control panels I think. At £13 per switch they are not cheap! I got the idea for the project before I knew for sure they existed, I found this page while I was searching for one:

      The otherwise superb :) summary has a small mistake when it says it can be actuated back and forth, it can only go in one direction. I will make that clearer in my description soon.

      1. Now if I could find one that could be activated back and forth AND had a position indicator (well if DPDT I could use one side) then I’d have a direct drop in replacement for the common every day light switch that would allow me to control my lighting remotely but making it 1000000% SWMBO friendly as anyone else could take over control of it manually.
        Plus it’s a hellova cheap way to integrate into an existing lighting system. 1wire IO chip to the light switch point with some 12V for driving things.

    2. Lots of old lab equipment have them. Think emergency POWER OFF, one panic button will turn off the 17 switches required to configure/run the equipment. That way when the problem is fixed, you know all the running switches are in the correct OFF position. Some equipment have a test cycle, so you can watch the banks of rocker switches (and their corresponding lights) cycle off, then on, then off in a nice little switch ballet.

    3. How about a defroster circuit where it goes off automatically, but you want to retain the option to turn it off early?

      The cheaper option is a latching pushbutton switch, where an LED lights when on and the momentary pushbutton will toggle the circuit off and on. But I like seeing the switch snap off with such a satisfying “snick”.

    4. Our coffee machine at work has one. It’s so that when the machine is off it really is off-off (no standby current). The reason they went with an actuated switch is that the machine wants to run a short cleaning cycle before switching off. So you’re not supposed to use the rocker to switch the machine off. Instead you push a push-button and it will run the cleaning, then, clack, switch the machine off. Second reason: It also does this automatically when not being used for one hour.

    5. I’ve always liked motorized slide potentiometers, like used in mixer consoles. It’s cool to watch them all slide to a preset position like an invisible hand is sliding the knobs.

      1. I considered using a motorised slide potentiometer but I didn’t think it would last long in this project. The switch gets a lot of abuse. They are cool though, I must think of something to make so I have an excuse to buy and play with some.

  1. A cheaper & more easily available alternative to that switch would be a low-current circuit breaker (or pull apart an RCD for a lower activation current). You’d just need to arrange things to beep when open.

    1. According to the datasheet, at least 10,000 resets. That’s if the rest of the spec is followed, but it looks like he far exceeds the switch limit of 7 times per second

  2. Look at any high end organ console with 20th century stop tabs. Any tab can be turned on or off at will. Any group or all can be preset, unsetting what was and setting from different memory. Or hit the button in the lower right and general cancel, they are all off.
    Most important is that you can see what is on at the moment, some organ’s presets are blind. They are inferior, specially if you are blind.
    There are two coils to set and cancel.

  3. Ok. Now I want an annoying boombox, with motor-controlled pots for the volume control, that keeps turning the volume back up (to 11!) Or perhaps at my age, one that keeps turning the volume DOWN.

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