Useless Machine Is A Clock

Useless machines are a fun class of devices which typically turn themselves off once they are switched on, hence their name. Even though there’s no real point, they’re fun to build and to operate nonetheless. [Burke] has followed this idea in spirit by putting an old clock he had to use with his take on a useless machine of sorts. But instead of simply powering itself off when turned on, this useless machine dislodges itself from its wall mount and falls to the ground anytime anyone looks at it.

It’s difficult to tell if this clock was originally broken when he started this project, or if many rounds of checking the time have caused the clock to damage itself, but either way this project is an instant classic. Powered by a small battery driving a Raspberry Pi, the single-board computer runs OpenCV and is programmed to recognize any face pointed in its general direction. When it does, it activates a small servo which knocks it off of its wall, rendering it unarguably useless.

[Burke] doesn’t really know why he had this idea, but it’s goofy and fun. The duct tape that holds everything together is the ultimate finishing touch as well, and we can’t really justify spending too much on fit and finish for a project that tosses itself around one’s room. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more refined useless machine, we have seen some that have an impressive level of intricacy.

Thanks to [alchemyx] for the tip!

15 thoughts on “Useless Machine Is A Clock

  1. another idea in the same vein – make it that when someone looks at the clock, it changes the time from the actual time to something random.. then it goes back to the actual time when they look away.

    1. I know, right? I was impressed just when I got my old TRS-80 to distinguish a few spoken words by reading the cassette input and matching sound levels to what was “trained” (and I found the algorithm in a book). But a computer that can recognize a face and do something? Pure science fiction!

  2. Good idea, but bad execution. An improvement would be to have a permanent magnet (able to bear the clocks weight) with a coil that cancels it out. So when you look at the clock, it pulses the coil so, it just falls down, like its mounting failed just at the exact time you looked at it.

    When you make it knocks itself down, it kind of gives away the joke, making it no longer fun.

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