"useless machine"

How to build "The Most Useless Machine"

A couple of years ago I was on The Colbert Report showing some fun projects from MAKE, and Stephen fell in love with a project called "The Most Useless Machine." (Watch the episode here.) The Most Useless Machine is a box that shuts itself off when you turn it on. (After the show Stephen hinted that he wanted to keep it, so I gave it to him and he was really happy.)

Make:Projects just posted complete instructions for making your own Most Useless Machine. It's the simplest version yet, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who tries it.

Last year I saw a video of the "Leave Me Alone Box" built by Michael Seedman. Flip its switch on, and an arm reaches out of a door to turn the switch back off. To paraphrase The Terminator, that's what it does, that's all it does, and it will not stop until its circuit is dead.

I had to have one of my own, so I made one. Seedman's design uses a microcontroller to run two servomotors: one to open the lid, and another to push the switch. This makes for an impressive performance, but seemed too complicated, and actually, his circuit remains powered even when the box is idle.

For existential purity, I wanted a super-simple machine that really turned itself off. So I came up with a single-motor design controlled by a 555 timer chip, with a curved arm that both lifts the lid and flips off the switch.

Read the rest

Most Useless Machine gets more exciting

Here's a new wrinkle on the Most Useless Machine (a box with a single switch, which, when toggled, causes a mechanical finger to leap out of the box and switch it off). After a certain number of duelling on-off cycles, this jolly Most Useless iteration does something VERY EXCITING!


(Thanks, Colin!) Read the rest

Duelling useless machines: a metaphor for polarized politics

Here's an amusing metaphor for polarized US politics: take two Useless Machines (a box with a switch: when you press the switch, a hand shoots out of the box and switches it off again) and daisy-chain them so they battle to switch one another off.

Political Machines!

(via Neatorama!)

Lego recreation of the "Most Useless Machine" Make a machine that turns itself off MAKE Volume 23 is on newsstands! Read the rest

MAKE Volume 23 is on newsstands!

MAKE Volume 23 is on newsstands now!

In this special GADGETS issue, we show you how to make a menagerie of delightful machines: a miniature electronic Whac-a-Mole arcade game, a tiny but mighty see-through audio amplifier, a magic mirror that contains an interactive animated soothsayer, a self-balancing one-wheeled Gyrocar, and the Most Useless Machine – the creepy mechanical box whose only purpose is to turn itself off (as seen on The Colbert Report!). Plus: how Intellectual Ventures made their incredible laser targeting mosquito zapper, how to use the industrial-strength microcontrollers called PLCs, and a lot more.

Project highlights in MAKE Volume 23 include:

The Most Useless Machine Gyrocar Squelette, the Bare-Bones Amplifier Magic Mirror Solar Car Subwoofer College Bike Trunk and much more, of course!

MAKE Volume 23 Read the rest

Lego recreation of the "Most Useless Machine"

YouTube user Invisibules recreated Minsky and Shannon's "Most Useless Machine" (a box with a switch on it; switch it on and a hand emerges from the box and flips the switch to off) using Lego: 'The hardest part was probably getting the flap to operate easily and smoothly, and to open and close at the correct parts of the cycle. Careful design of the "pusher" allowed the hole to be fairly small in the later prototypes. There were probably around ten partial or complete prototypes before I found a reliable method and layout. I use the latest prototype(s) as a reference for the next, so I try to have enough bricks around to keep several on the go at once.'

The Most Useless Machine Ever Made in LEGO (video)

(Thanks, stagueve!)

Previously: Make a machine that turns itself off Read the rest

Make a machine that turns itself off

Instructables has instructions for building this Claude Shannon-style box that turns itself off.

The Most Useless Machine EVER! Read the rest

Previous Page