We all know what it means to procrastinate, but what about actively spending time building a useless machine? You have undoubtedly seen the ornamental boxes with a tempting little toggle switch on the top. When you inevitably flip the switch, an actuator pops out from one half of the enclosure with the sole purpose of undoing its own power switch. [Paz Hameiri] took it a step further by adding some [Rube Goldberg] flavor, and with the help of a microcontroller, his levers take their sweet time powering themselves down. (Video after the break.)
We didn’t find any code or diagrams for the project, but if you know the useless machine’s internals, it shouldn’t be any trouble to recreate one for your desk. The most significant design factor is that the switches. Their contacts must be wired in parallel so that the controller has power as long as one is active. How would you spice up the useless machine?
Even though these are called useless machines, they serve the purpose of decoration, conversation-starting, or a way to show off your woodworking and programming skills.
Continue reading “Complicated And Useless Cancel Each Other Out”
What is it about useless machines that makes them so attractive to build? After all, they’re meant to be low-key enraging. At this point, the name of the game is more about giving that faceless enemy inside the machine a personality more than anything else. How about making it more of a bully with laughter and teasing? That’s the idea behind [alexpikkert]’s useless machine with attitude — every time you flip a switch, the creature of uselessness inside gets a little more annoyed.
In this case the creature is Arduino-based and features two sound boards that hold the giggles and other sounds. There are three servos total: one for each of the two switch-flipping fingers, and a third that flaps the box lid at you. This build is wide open, and [alexpikkert] even explains how to repurpose a key holder box for the enclosure. Check out the demo after the break.
We love a good useless machine around here, especially when they take a new tack. This one looks like any other useless machine, but what’s happening inside may surprise you.
Continue reading “Useless Box With Attitude Isn’t Entirely Useless”
We’ve probably all seen (and built) a useless box, in which you flip a switch that activates a servo that pops out a finger and flips the switch off. [Coffeman500] decided to take this a step further by building a useless box with multiple switches. Flip one, the finger pops out to flip it back. Flip several switches, and the finger pops out and flips each back in turn.
It’s a smart build that [coffeeman500] says is his first electronics build. The compulsively switching brain of this is an ATmega328 driving an A4988 stepper motor driver, with one stepper moving the finger mechanism and the other moving the finger along a rail to reach each switch in turn. [Coffeeman500] has released the complete plans for this wonderful waste of time, including 3D models for the box and mechanism, plus the code. Redditors are already planning bigger and more useless designs with more switches, a pursuit that we fully support.
Continue reading “Multi-switch Useless Box Is Useless In Multiple Ways”
Useless machines are a lot of fun, if not just a little overdone. Looking for a new twist, [bd594] decided to try making one that integrates a candle — it works quite well!
While not quite as impressive as some of [bd594’s] previous projects, like his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on old school computer equipment, we like how he used regular DC motors in this design, instead of servos (the easy way).
A PICAXE14M2 microcontroller controls the H-Bridge responsible for the geared DC motors (taken from a Mac floppy drive), and a light sensor checks for the flame. He’s also made use of some NPN transistors to invert some logic levels to show you if you’re running low on I/O pins, its always possible to incorporate some other discrete components like a transistor to achieve your design.
Among others, some great alternative spins on the “useless machine” include the moody useless machine, an even more useless machine (featuring 8 switches!), a pull-string version, and even a rather ridiculous elevator button pressing useless machine!
Stick around to see this one put out the candle (Caution: Very exciting).
Continue reading “This Useless Machine Now Plays With Fire”
The greatest – and last – question that will ever be asked is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased”. It follows then, that the worst – and possibly first – question ever asked is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively increased?” While for the former question there’s insufficient data for a meaningful answer, we’ve found the answer to the latter question. It’s a machine designed to waste energy, and the exact opposite of a perpetual motion machine.
The machine is set up along two stories of a building, with cables, pulleys, and levers constantly pressing an elevator button. The device is powered by the elevator doors opening, so when the elevator opens of the first floor, the part of the machine on the second story calls the elevator. This repeats ad infinitum.
Wait. It gets better. Inside the elevator car, there’s a modified printing calculator also powered by the elevator doors. Every time the doors open, it calculates the amount of energy consumed for each cycle of the elevator. It’s a hydraulic elevator without a countersink, so moving down is effectively free, but each cycle of the elevator still uses up 11.8 Kilojoules of the universe’s energy. To make the build a complete waste of resources, the printing calculator neatly empties it’s printed tape into a wastepaper bin.
We’re tempted to call this a [Rube Goldberg] machine, but that doesn’t seem to fit this machine that does absolutely nothing. Calling it a useless box is more fitting, but this is far, far more impressive than a box that turns itself off. Whatever it is, you can see a video of it in action below.
Continue reading “How Can The Net Amount Of Entropy Of The Universe Be Massively Increased?”