Introduction: 555 Useless Machine

Picture of 555 Useless Machine

Almost every project that I made in my life use arduino or just atmegas, but on last electronic lesson in my school I found small integrated circuit called 555. I have heard about it before but I was thinking that microcontrollers are better. I read something about 555 in the internet and I found that this is the most popular integreted circuit in the world! And I have never used it :( I thought that it can be nice to make something completely without any programing and just with basic electronic components. I started to think what can I do with 555, but couldn't find anything intresting. Than I talked with my friend about useless machines and I thought that I can make useless machine with 555, servo, some resistors and switch. And it will be very simple and I don't need microcontroller to make it! I order some 555 on the internet and thought that I can test my design in some simulator. In school we are using electrosym but it's very old and I don't like it. But I read about and I thought I will try it, after testing everything I can say that this program is pretty good to start with, it's simple to use and very intuitive. Additionaly it looks soooo good like every autodesk's program :)

What is useless machine? It is machine that haven't anything to do, it is just for making useless things. Like switching off switch :)

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

- 555 timer I think that you can buy it in any electronics shop, this is head of our useless machine

- servo, the most popular small micro servo you can find it in RC shops or electronic, it will switch off our switch

- lever switch, it's important because we will switch it off with servo so it can't be any other type of switch

- resistors, I will tell you values in next steps

- capacitor 100nF

- diode (not LED, rectifier diode)

- batteries (1 cell lipo, or 2 AA batteries)

Step 2: Some Math

Picture of Some Math

On the above photos you see how I calculate resistors values.
I spent 2 hours on calculating values for resistors and all the time I got minus resistance which is impossible I don't know what is wrong. Next day after like hour of searching in google I found that if high state is shorter than low we need to add diode and change formulas a little bit :)

Servo is controlled with 50Hz PWM signal, if we set high signal in this pwm for 1.5ms servo will go to 90 degrees, if you set 2ms it will go to 180 and 1ms to 0 degrees. So when switch is off as high signal I get 1ms and as low signal 19ms together it is 20ms (0.02s) to get the frequency you need to divide 1/0.02 = 50Hz. When switch is turned on I just change high signal to 2ms and low to 18ms. I hope you understand it :) if you want to know more, google 555 and you should find plenty of good tutorials about it.

Step 3: Simulation

Picture of Simulation

While I waited for my parts I started simulating my design in It went very well and everything is working. BTW is great program it shows you that servo is moving or if you give to big voltage to LED. In my circuit I added oscilloscope to see the signal while experimenting with resistors. Here is link to mys design if you want to check it out:

Step 4: Scheme

Picture of Scheme

Here is the schema from and eagle (I made an eagle schematic to mill a PCB for it, while writing this instructable I found export to eagle option in circuits :)) Below you can find resistors values, they are a litle bit diferent than calculated because there are no as precise resistors, It is possible that you should experiment with resistors values to get it working because resistors are not ideal and have 5% tolerance of value.

C1 = 100nF

R1 = 10 000

R2 = 0

R3 = 247 000

R4 = 16 400

Step 5: 3D Files

Picture of 3D Files

For my useless machine I had made 3D printed enclosure. If you want you can make it out of wood (it will looks much more better) unfortunately I am not talented in hand making things, so I just designed and printed it.

Step 6: Assembling

Picture of Assembling

Begin with assembly flap with top, is to this you need to use piece of filament (diameter of 1.75) or something similar. Then to top you can screw on micro servo and switch. For screwing servo you should use M2 screws at least 8mm long. To screw arm you should use again M2 screw and screw it on very strongly.

Step 7: PCB

Picture of PCB

I also made PCB for my machine, I like making PCBs, if you don't just solder it like leg to leg or something I don't know how to say it, just without PCB :D This is my first milled PCB, instead of thermotransfer methodod I decided to mill it with small CNC machine. And at least for this PCB this method is much better because you don't need to deal with ironing it and using acid. But I am aware that milling small traces and pads for SMD componnents can be impossible.

Step 8: Enjoy It!

Picture of Enjoy It!

Right now you can use this super machine to make something creative, to change the world, or no, this is just useless thing that turns off itself. But I learned a lot during building it so maybe it is not so useless? And don't forget how many fun it can gives you :D Thanks for reading!


nigel.trewartha (author)2016-11-28

Needs a much longer delay to switch off - make it a bit more fun.

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2016-11-29

Yeah, and the next guy say's "why not to put a delay on that?", "because....... I don't know why to put a delay on a thing not doin'g what?, it still does nothing?".

Quote: can you "DO" doin'g nothing? Isn't that not "do'ing?" ?? .

Gramma: to do is a verb... (I guess), summa: this Ible does something but wan't achive some expections that our "newbe" society expects.

Heil to "Leanardo da Vince", (my mentor, my gee....), HE WAS THE MAN.

HE WAS THE ULTIMATE innovator of the impossible.

The wery srtange thing just accourd me:

Them all these odd guys, (Arist.. Sofo.. Leonard.. Marc.. Tes.. Watt.. Volt... Amp... M'm Curie.. Einstein.. Oppenh.. etc... etc.. ), do NOT come from the USA.

And all of them had a idea of "USELESS" thing

Still, USA claims to be the most educated of what?

nigel.trewartha (author)KISELIN2016-11-29

um, sorry old boy, hardly understood any of that.....

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2016-11-30

*) my bad, it should read "Leonardo" not "Leanardo", please forgive me Leonardo.

Bonzadog (author)KISELIN2017-10-05

You appear to be a very young person who cannot handle mild criticism.

You last three messages show this.

Well, good luck to you.

PS: I do speak other languages.

KISELIN (author)Bonzadog2017-10-09

Ooh... the picture of me is when I was 15years old in 1966. My 1'st native language is Finish, (reads Suomi), my 2'nd native language is Swedish, (reads Svenska), I can helpfully understand Norveigian, Danish. I guess I can read and write, speak, and understand the heard spoken English good enough to get by. Let's have a smile here okay?

Bonzadog (author)KISELIN2017-10-09

Here is your smile!

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2016-11-29

There you go. Neither did them in those days living "average" people understand of them "innovators" creating totally useless things.

nigel.trewartha (author)KISELIN2016-11-30

Your reply seems rather gramatically challanged. I suggest taking an English course.

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2017-10-05

OK. I'll take a course in English, if You promise me to take a course in Finnish or Swedish, and then we can conyinue this discussion

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2017-10-05

Gee.. My B,, BRB.. LOL.. to ? ENG.. UK.. or US? again LOL.. them f***. dont? If You don't understand them ible's here wroten, (they come from Global Wide, surprice.. surprice there's a WORLD beoynd the USA), maybe this Instutructable site should be forbidden for NOT US people?

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2016-11-30

OK. I'll take another lesson in english, (by watching another film on TV), if you promise me to take another session with your "shrink"

KISELIN (author)nigel.trewartha2016-11-30

OK. But what is "challanged"?. English is my 3'd native language, how about you?, any other language's but in the world the 12'th most spoken language's, english. If we go by "gramma" then about 92% of in instr. are "miss-spelled". I don't mind, DO YOU?

nflpanthersfan (author)2017-03-20

Well it could be used to annoy the pants off someone

frikkie (author)2017-02-13

and the 555 is much cheaper than arduino. So maybe save arduinos for projects with more functions.

Nikus (author)frikkie2017-02-13

That's exactly what I thought!

frikkie (author)2017-02-13

very very nice!! I also thought of using 555 for mine. you can put in a potentiometer and always adjust the speed of your arm attached to the servo.

Nikus (author)frikkie2017-02-13

Thanks! Actually you can't adjust speed of servo with this circuit.

culley73 (author)2017-02-09

What are the resistor values and the size of the parts, I bought a bunch of servos but we have really been trying to get the resistors correct.

pachytrance (author)2017-01-18


The-Skint-Woodturner (author)2017-01-12

I've had some trouble finding resistors with the same values that you have in the ible, can someone point me in the right direction?

ГеннадийБ2 (author)2016-12-10

I have done such a device, and I got like this!

TheSuperSewcio. (author)2016-11-22

Good project, but a bit too useless for me :)

Nikus (author)TheSuperSewcio.2016-11-22

Maybe it is useless, but I'm still waiting for your new instructable, show me your plotter :)

TheSuperSewcio. (author)Nikus2016-12-04

Plotter ready!

TheSuperSewcio. (author)Nikus2016-11-22

Working on it right now!

Nikus (author)TheSuperSewcio.2016-11-22

We will see :)

KISELIN (author)2016-12-03

Gee... I guess I'll take the price with totatally useless things. Haven't done this yet but, because it's so useless, anyway: a "Light-switch controller in my living/ working-room, to turn On-Off them lights there randomely. Why randomely? Mostly I don't know if I'm producting something usefull or not, who can tell? So, who cares if the light is "On" or "Off"?

Dazzjh (author)2016-12-02

Just as useless as all the blinking led 555 timer projects but at least this is amusing too - well done

KISELIN (author)Dazzjh2016-12-03

Yes, this is "really" amusing. But the "Main" question still remains:" Do I want the switch to stay "On" or "Off"?, So actually we have to ask the switch itself, rather to be "On" or "Off", I'll wait for the anserw from the switch, (of course you could build in some Artificeally Intelligence in the logics for the switch), but that would still be something that a person with he's own logic's put in there So, still the switch hasn't a mind of itself. So this is totally "useless" and fullfills them requirements of beein'g useless. Again Congrat's with a fine work, (gonna try to beat you :))

KISELIN (author)2016-12-03

I'm an "oldy" 65+ years, took my first classes in TTL-logic's, (Transistor-Transistor-Logic, in them early 70's, (in those days there were allso logics called DTL, Diod-Transistor-Logic, and ewen RTL-logic, Resistor-Transistor-Logic). Gee.. then there came this "Revolutionary " 555... We were stunned??? What?? Can you do something like that with a "chip", ( a chip as a component, wasn't declared then yet), the chip actually became with the first microprosessor's. I bought my first "Microcontroller" in early 80's. It was 1byte, (yes, 1 byte in data), and 16byte adress, (yes 16bytes). And having a total of 6, (yes, 6), different commands. I just wonder, "could one create something totally useless of that in those days?" Gee.. they wenth to moon with less of 1Megabyte of microprocessor power, so it could actually be called for "totally" useless, (that is: so what?.. been to moon so what.?). Next step: Mars? useless?? naaah.. we, (the mankind), do really need these useless innovations, they'w showed to be be them of gratest innovations of all

Oggar2 (author)2016-11-30


KISELIN (author)2016-11-30

Yeah! Me a "total" fan of 555. Gee.. use the bigbrother to 555, 556, a dual 555, and make the other to be "random", that is: charge/discharge/the treshold of the other depending on the delay of your toggle of the switch... reset pin 4. on 555 :)

And again: take the advantage of the recharge-pin #7

LOVE your ible

GTO3x2 (author)2016-11-23

It's not useless, it shuts that switch off very well ! Nice job. Watch your finger, LOL.

KISELIN (author)GTO3x22016-11-30

Right you are. It's useful by acchiveing the function of "not" to be usefull. Or vice versa. A'm I usefull by writing this comment?, guess not, still, someone reads my comment. Is that usefull or not?

The Ible is Fantastic, (I'll try to come with a more useless something like ... to not "breath", it's not the intake but the outbreath which is the pollunitation of the enviroement.

Phuuuh... if I don't reply to this then I succeeded with my "antibreathing"

trepisky (author)2016-11-23

Hi, looks like you have some corner-curling problems with your printer. Try using a brim next time. It will stick to the platform better. Just my little 2 cents... :-)

Nikus (author)trepisky2016-11-23

I don't use brim for it because it is quite big (I mean the base of it) the reason of bad corners is speed I just want to make it as fast as I can and I set my printer to 350% of normal speed

budrow01 (author)Nikus2016-11-30

Your nozzle is to high from the bed. That is why you aren't getting good adhesion. Did you make you own printer?

KISELIN (author)2016-11-29

Just a note for them not have used the 555. Take the advantage of the pin 7, recharge, it's an open collector output to recharge the cap/res for the treshold.

It can be used the same way as the output pin 3, thus beeing active when it's time to recharge the cap

KISELIN (author)KISELIN2016-11-30

*) correction: "to discharge the cap/res...."

Whats the use??

Gee.. ewerything that's useful is allready there for sale, BUT to create something that's NOT useful is kind of a skill of art to create something nobody else have done before. To create something "not usefull" takes as much of effort to create something useful... & vice versa

KISELIN (author)2016-11-29

You saved my day. Got a big, Fat, Good laugh. "This" is a real "BONK", useless thing, excellent. Once upon the time there were people saying: "This monster, a Automobile, what on earth do we need it for?", "for god's sake we have them horses". And then there was this Italian guy "Marconi", he disclaimed something stupid of to communicate electrically "wireless, (via Eter),". Then them "REALLY BIG guys from IBM said: "the whole WORLD will do with 6, (read: six), powerful computers, say: 100MHz/ 4bit pros./ .... ++++ many other's in those days concidered constuctors of "USELESS" machines to be stupid.

How wrong were they???

Trust me if I say that this your 555 inspires 1000's of people, because of it's reversed logik, (in psychological matter), beeing useless, (not the 555, I LOVE it), just wait and see when someone apply's this function, (your Ible directly or indirectly into the real life, ewen as it is as simple as it can be).

Again "Hurray" for your contribution, (quote Neil Armstrong, (or was it Allan Sheppard? : "It's a small step for a man, but a giant leap for our YOUTH of a mankind in a way of inspiration"

mdeudon (author)2016-11-29

Perfectly useless !! I love it ?

bluesea8 (author)2016-11-24

I have seen this before. It is a great little do nothing item. The only thing that I would do different is maybe put a few second delay in it so that the switch is shut off a few seconds after you turn it on instead of right away.

flagtrax (author)2016-11-22

555's have been around since the 1970's. They're great ic's with multiple uses. I used one years ago to make a custom turn signal circuit for a dune buggy built from a VW. Google 555 timer, you'll find lots of projects.

JRDUKIE (author)2016-11-22

It's not entirely useless. I like it.

OhYeahThatGuy81 (author)2016-11-22

Awesome job, dude, for using the classic 555 IC as an "out-of-the-box" solution for the Useless Machine. You got my vote!

Nikus (author)OhYeahThatGuy812016-11-22

Thank you so much! :)

stumitch (author)2016-11-22

there is a version of the useless machine that uses an arduino with all sorts of different ways of hitting the switch... a slow, prolonged one, a version where it shoots out really fast, one where it fakes you out. pretty cool. This one is excellent though, because it uses a 555 which is great! nice thinking "outside the box" sorry. had to use that.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi, my name is Nikodem Bartnik. I live in Poland, I'm 18 years old. I like to program and create robots, devices and things ... More »
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