Introduction: Advanced Useless Machine

Picture of Advanced Useless Machine

Hi everyone today I'd like to present my unusual useless machine. I hope everyone heard about useless machine, but I built advanced version with seven toggle switches.

The idea of doing this box came up the husband of my cousin. As approached their wedding, I decided to do this them as a gift.

Elements I used:

  • Microcontroller Atmega8
  • capacitors (electrolytic and ceramic)
  • resistors to reset pin
  • quartz 16MHz
  • connectors
  • many wires
  • DC motor driver L298
  • 7 toggle switches
  • limit switch
  • power connector
  • two wires supply switch
  • power supply - I have witch four wires - GND, "-", 5V/2A, 12V/2A
  • two servos - I dismantled from old toy
  • stepper motor
  • from old printer
  • rail on which the carriage moves - also from old printer
  • arm - I made of the nail
  • boards, screws, hinges, timbers - everything needed to build the box

Step 1: Box Construction

Picture of Box Construction

Build my box started by gathering all the items I needed. It included elements from old printer, motors, servos, etc. Many items I took from recycling. At first I had to found old printers. I asked my friends and they gave me three printers. outside stepper motor and rail I dismantled capacitors and many wires. Testing my elements lasted a very long time. I wrote testing programs for servos, stepper motor, switches. When I was sure that all working I started to build wooden box. Everything else I bought at a DIY store.

For this I used:

  • Planed board(?) with dimensions 2000mm x 80mm x 15mm (78" x 3.14" x 0.5")
  • Planed board(?) with dimensions 2000mm x 120mm x 15mm (78" x 4.7" x 0.5")
  • Timbers with dimensions 2000mm x 30mm x 15mm (78" x 1.2" x 0.5")

Also I needed two hinges and many screws Torx T25.

My rail is 400mm(15.7") long so size of my box is:

  • Width 430mm (17")
  • Height 120mm (4.7")
  • Length 160mm (6.3")

Before installing all the elements in box I had to adapt the stepper motor to the transtainer. Originally there was DC motor with perforated tape and encoder. Unfortunately I had problems reading value of the encoder, so I exchanged DC motor on stepper motor from another printer.

The next step was the location in the box all the elements. At the beginning Of the two wooden beams I have placed transtainer.

I screwed on the sides another two timbers and to one fitted a servo, which open the flap, while the second contactor. Then I drilled holes for switches. Construction of the box was finished.

Step 2: Electronics

Picture of Electronics

From the power supply 12V I connected by the L298 driver to stepper motor. At first I wanted to use L293 driver but it too much warming because my stepper motor receiver 2A.

5V I used to supply logic part and servos. I started tests on a breadboard. When everything worked I moved everything on the prototype board.

Program on Atmega I wrote in Arduino IDE. At the begin I wanted to do it in C in Eclipse, but I didn't have experience. (program code) In a large summary, box starts its operation in position "0", while holding the contactor. when is more switches on , flap does not close. If it turn of all the switches flap closes and a few empty loops scanning, arm returns to position "0".

Step 3: Program

Picture of Program

Program on Atmega I wrote in Arduino IDE. At the begin I wanted to do it in C in Eclipse, but I didn't have


Program code is not so complicated. If you know a little bit C language or Arduino IDE you can understand everything.

In a large summary, box starts its operation in position "0", while holding the contactor. when is more switches on , flap does not close. If it turn of all the switches flap closes and a few empty loops scanning, arm returns to position "0".

Step 4: Conclusion

I built this useless machine for almost 3 months. Sometimes I had a big problems, which took me many days to solve, but I'm so proud of my box. It got me so much pleasure and knowledge during building it.

I know that article is not so long but I'm from Poland and I'm not writing in my language. If you have some questions, please ask me in the comments section, I will try to answer :)


ianjgough7 (author)2017-12-16

Looks and works great but please re-post the code so i can have a peak.

larystoy (author)2017-02-28

English version of source code please, Google translate didn't help me with it, such as what is "frame", "flap", and other words? Thanks if you can help with this. larystoy

mysior103 (author)larystoy2017-03-01


In the link below is translated code. I'm just changed the name, but I'm not sure the code is working.

BrunoReis123 (author)mysior1032017-12-04

Can you put the code up again ?

BrunoReis123 (author)2017-12-04

Hello, someone has the code pls ?

edwardthed (author)2017-11-07

Very nice machine. The link for the code is not working anymore. Do you still have the code thanks

laxap (author)2017-10-31

Insanely cool!

SuperTech-IT (author)2017-07-07

For power saving (if wanted)
Replace power switch with a push-button. Push button bypasses a relay contact to give power to the microcontroller. Fist thing the microcontroller does is power on the relay, which now becomes the "power on" switch. After delay, arduino powers off the relay, disconnecting it from power completely (ZERO power draw). I did this in my "vampire killer" project - there is a schematic there for this complete power off / push button to start" circuit.

SuperTech-IT (author)2017-07-07

Nice twist on a classic creation!

ThanhD6 (author)2016-08-30

Link code is die, please give me new link code. Thank you

mysior103 (author)ThanhD62017-03-01

Here is a link with the code:

carlos66ba (author)2016-03-31

Wondeful. Thank you.

M. A.G (author)2015-10-26

Thank you that is the most awesome thing I have ever seen.

M. A.G (author)2015-10-26

Thank you that is the most awesome thing I have ever seen.

gawada (author)2015-10-21


I'm trying to build your machine using and arduino uno board that uses the atmega328p microcontroller along with an arduino motor shield. i'm having some trouble translating the connections from your schematic to the arduino board. can you help me with that please?

thank you.

mysior103 (author)gawada2015-10-24

Hi, If I good understood your qustion, I think it would be usefull for you!

gawada (author)mysior1032015-10-24

thank you very much!

8Core (author)2015-10-09

Great project. Made me laugh. However, in your opening instructions you mention about having "to adapt the stepper motor to the transtainer" What is a transtainer? Its not something that I have come across before and Google didn't help me.

vincent.nylin (author)8Core2015-10-16

I believe that he means transformer.

mysior103 (author)8Core2015-10-09

track by which finger is moving:)

cepterbi (author)2015-10-14

hahahaha, best upgrade ever

turtleturtle (author)2015-10-11

hahaha lol

SushruthS (author)2015-10-10

lol It's alive...and annoyed !!

PatriciaD18 (author)2015-10-08

You have way too much free time, but you use it well. Good Job.

mysior103 (author)PatriciaD182015-10-10

I did it in my free time between work:) my girlfriend wasn't happy;)

Dale409 (author)2015-10-09

I love this but it is, I think, beyond my capabilities. Would you build me one, or perhaps make kits available?

Robboberty (author)2015-10-08

This is great! Now how about someone making one with two arms that are constantly fighting to switch them all the other way. :)

mysior103 (author)Robboberty2015-10-09

You mean this?

Gadget93 (author)Robboberty2015-10-08

That sounds awesome!

Zaacharia (author)Robboberty2015-10-08

It has been done:

Robboberty (author)Zaacharia2015-10-08

Awesome! The name makes it even better

LenaTom (author)2015-10-09

This is so great!!!!!!! I have a normal useless machine and if it would be possible to buy a set of all necessary parts I would buy them!!!!!! :-)

Olav AlexanderM (author)2015-10-09

maybe you can make a "knock box". If you knock on it, it knocks back :-)

TonyA3 (author)2015-10-08

Superb project for our Leicester Hackspace to build - plenty of old printers and servos to use. Thanks for posting.

dushyantahuja (author)2015-10-08

love it.

bd5 (author)2015-10-08


oilitright (author)2015-10-08

Very nice and fun for a useless machine. When I was young and there was lots of surplus electronics available cheap we use to put huge 'Do Nothing Machines" together. Mostly lights, bells, gauges, nixie tubes and an occasional small oscilloscope CRT making 'Outer Limits" patterns. This was prior to personal printers so nothing of that mechanical nature. We did incorporate some Erector Set parts. Different signal generator frequencies sweeping around. We had a blast building and watching them do absolutely nothing. Use to put different warning signs on them "Tune For Maximum Smoke" and the best one ever read

ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen peepers!

Das machine control is nicht fur gerfinger-poken und

mittengrabben. Oderwise is easy schnappen der springenwerk,

blowen fuse, und poppencorken mit spitzensparken.

Der machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur

geverken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseenen

keepen das cotten picken hands in das pockets,

so relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.

srilyk (author)2015-10-08

zomg I love this. The classic "bzzzzt" of a dot matrix printer as your stepper motors drive is so delightful. This is just cool

MiriamK1 (author)2015-10-08

There is an artform in Japan that is about making something that looks useful but is actually not useful at all. I once saw a small book showing a number of items that had been submitted. Forget the name of the artform but it really intrigued me. This useless box would fit right in! Well Done.

Noram27 (author)MiriamK12015-10-08

MiriamK - It is Chindogu! Very humerous!

wobbler (author)2015-10-08

"It's alive!!!!" (<<you have to use your best Dr Frankenstein voice). Love it!

Laral (author)2015-10-08

That's really hilarious. The only thing I could see added would be a hand with a pointing finger, like those joke machines of old.

Laral (author)Laral2015-10-08

This is what I was referring to. It is not just using a finger but the whole hand.

Laral (author)Laral2015-10-08

Here's one I found that does use the index finger.

Zaacharia (author)2015-10-08

I want something like this but I want Rube Goldberg to do it (and I want it on my apt wall)!

slippyblade (author)2015-10-08

It's soooo useless. I am in awe.

ManuelA9 (author)2015-10-08

Not useless enough. And it lacks a spoonful olive oil. I'm not building it.

boocat (author)2015-10-08

This is very cool.

TheGeekPub (author)2015-10-08

This is absolutely fantastic!

PyroMonger (author)2015-10-08

awesome...but no one shows videos of their creations working anymore...?

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