How to build another useless machine: easy to make, and hard to use!

Picture of How to build another useless machine: easy to make, and hard to use!
So many useless machines are built, why building another one? Simply, it is really fun :), fun to build and fun to play with.

I tried to give this version a character, as I always felt there is somebody  "thinking inside the box", so here I tried, I hope I succeeded to give "her" a life!

I am really happy to share with you all the steps, with all hopes that you will be easily building yours and giving it a bitter or better character! My version is based on Arduino, you may think it is an overkill, but given the flexibility it gave me, I think it is worth it.

Here is a video of everything  put all together. Later, we will move into the parts, steps, schematics and code

Let me know your comments and/or questions if any.

Hope you enjoy!

Step 1: How it works?

Everything is connected to an Arduino board, the board waits till the switch is set to logic HIGH , that is, when you flick the switch, the board signals two servo motors to move in a specific way (more on that later), after which, the servo connected to the "hand" will flick the switch back to OFF-position, and return back into the box, followed by the "door" servo. then everything repeats.

If you saw the above video, each time the switch is toggled, the machine responds in a different way, and this is done by simply writing different functions with different timings in the Arduino code, (I am calling them "Moves"). Each time the switch is toggled, I am calling a new move until all are done, I start over. note that in step 9, I provided another version of the code that picks random moves instead of sequential. You can add as many moves as you want, as long you have enough memory on the Arduino.

The Arduino is always ON, this is why I added a switch for the battery to save some power when the machine is not in use. I am already planning to use an interrupt on the switch, instead of the current simple HIGH/LOW detection, and coupling it with sleep mode. This shall save power when the machine is not in use ,and also allowing it to be always ready (but this will also complicate the code) So, for now, it is just a simple ON/OFF switch, and the board is always powered.
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areyoutrying9 months ago

Thanks for this! I made my first Arduino project based on this instructable: a useless dragon!

riachi (author)  areyoutrying9 months ago

You are awesome :) !!!

Great personality for a Dragon! I wish you can redo the video while having the dragon directly facing the camera (top-view), I feel this will be hilarious, so see the tongue sneaking out!

Thanks for sharing your video and glad my i'able has helped

I tried top view in an earlier stage but it didn't work (saw too much of the messy insides) so I dismissed it when I took this video. I think you are right though: in the final stage it would've looked great! Unfortunately I already gave the dragon away... So on to the next project!

melton1313 made it!7 months ago
Code helped a lot. Thanks
riachi (author)  melton13137 months ago

AWESOME!! :) would be great if you an post a video too :)

melton1313 riachi7 months ago
br1pro8 months ago
Very fun! hard job fixing the servos and design the hand. Thanks for this instructable!
riachi (author)  br1pro7 months ago

Great work man! really nice :) any video?

clincoln1 year ago
Watch the video on it first then laugh you ass off
TobiasV clincoln9 months ago

I know I did ! :D

rileyw1 year ago
Super cool the video made it seem like it had a mind of its own
My useless machine with arduino and riachis code! Made into a tardis from Dr.who. :)

riachi (author)  Elitekilla1171 year ago
LOVE IT!!!! :)) really well done man, so happy to see your bombbox alive! I also the dramatization and the music :p just can't stop myself to suggest 3 small modifications if i may:)?

- it would be great to put the machine in standing position, i know that this will make lose the help of gravity to close the door, but a simple solution is to put 2 rubber bands attached to the inside of the door on one side and to the inner side of the box for the other end, this will make the door close when the door servo is closing...check my build steps,you will see the rubber band in Step 6...

- also what about painting the hands in black, it will be more sneaky and slick
! Also the hand tip can be painted in bloody red or decorated with a crazy face or something like that..

- remove the last move as nothing happens in it(supposed to be the one the moves the box) and write your own move...

Nevertheless, forget the suggestions,i loved your machineeee! And thanks for the so many thanks man, please you can reduce them and keep the video focused on the machine :)

Hope your gf liked it!
Hahah Thank you for the compliments :) I actually wanted to do much more to it but because of the time crunch I couldn't fit in a lot of the details i wanted to. I would like to add some color to the arms but didn't have time for those. And I wanted to draw a face on the arm with a sharpie but its already wrapped up and ready to give to her for Christmas. Hehehe. I think she'll love it. I also did want to have it stand up but was afraid the rubber bands would put too much weight on the servos. The door is already pretty heavy. The last move I kept because it keeps you in suspense waiting for it to pop out. Hahaha but I appreciate all the help my friend! Definitely worth it!
This I have to make...it's awesome
wrs7151 year ago
This is the first project I've seen using an Arduino where I thought, "Yeah, that's worth it. Now I have to get one." Fantastic job!
Wow, awesome take on a common project! Love your spin on making it more interesting!
bob30301 year ago
One man's useless device is another's totally awesome, out of this world, we'll thought out, fun to have, coveted by many, useless device. Thanks for your updates to the project. Thanks for posting.
wobbler1 year ago
Thought 1: Using an Arduino for this is just ridiculous overkill
Thought 2: After watching the video-Using an Arduino for this is just pure genius!

I bow down to your creativity!
stumitch1 year ago
Thats seriously great! Kind of reminds me of a Wall-E personality. Thanks for such a great project!
Truly useless! Nice 'ible. I'm inspired and need to build one for my desk. Thanks.
robot7971 year ago
i realy realy want that thing
makendo1 year ago
Glad I watched the video to the end. It was already entertaining, but the twist was brilliant.
alzie1 year ago
Ha, i nearly pissed my self watching the vid!
Got some personality.
Way cool, well done.
rpotts21 year ago
Finally! A Christmas present my in-laws will enjoy! I love thus!
jpow1 year ago
Best useless machine I've seen! It is on my build list... for sure! I have lots of RC stuff, so all I need is an arduino now :)

thanks for sharing!
diy_bloke1 year ago
lowpro1 year ago
So awesome!
This is useless...
I like it !! ^.^
nice job, like how you make it "come to life"
chaosrob1 year ago
This is awesome. Can't wait to see all your improvements and (maybe) a new video. This is a great candidate for a halloween candy bowl... thingiee! Instead of physical switch, a photo resistor to detect candy removal. KEWL.... keep it up!
riachi (author)  chaosrob1 year ago
go for it chaosrob! let me know if i can help!
bob30301 year ago
Cool. Very creative adding the "taunting" and "side" moves. You have inspired me to add this to my list of projects . Thanks for posting and sharing.
riachi (author)  bob30301 year ago
Please let me know when you build yours! thanks
Patrick S1 year ago
I like the personality! Very funny
KåreN21 month ago

Thank you for sharing this with us. I started making my box. But instead of the rc engine i have a 5v smoke generator. I ordered the same parts you listed eaven the engine shield. Can i just change the dc engine with my smoke and change the code a little in the end? Eaven if its not nessesary will it work? And also will my batteri be okei to use?

KåreN21 month ago
thecrazylol1 month ago

problem: the code works, but it does th emoves over and over, even if the switch isn't on. i think that is a problem with the debounce, i don't understand how i implement a software debounce? can anyone help me?

zaphod543 months ago

Well, it's finished. The hardest part is definitely the woodworking to create the mounts for the servos, and mostly the fingers to lift the lid and turn the switch off, and affixing it all to the box/servos.

BUT, I'm having an issue with the code. The moves work fine individually when I set TestMove to a single move, but when I turn it back to sequence through, the sequence doesn't progress through as I expect. It seems to mostly do the main move, and occasionally throw one or two of the other moves in, yet never hit a couple of the later moves at all.

zaphod54 zaphod543 months ago

Well, I figured out WHAT is wrong, but haven't figured out WHY yet. I noticed that almost every time the switch is thrown and the unit operates, the yellow light on the board flashes like the Reset button is being pressed, or the power switch was turned off and back on. But every now and then, it does NOT reset (the yellow light does not flash) on an operation, and then it transitions to the next routine correctly. But it never makes it beyond about the 3rd routine before the board resets again. So I've got to have something in the electrical circuit that's causing the board to reset. OR, I wonder if the board has enough power that maybe the power dips low enough when the servos are moving that it resets the board. I'm powering it off of 8 AA batteries. Eventually I'll used rechargeables but right now they are just alkalines.

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