loading

And Yet Everybody wants one?!!???

AKA: The Ultimate Machine! AKA: Leave-Me-Alone-Box

We manufacture the Best Useless Machine Kit out there:

Frivolous Engineering's Useless Machine Kits!

"Weird Al" Yankovic Sez:"I never realized till now how much I needed one of these."

AS SEEN ON TV! Make Magazine's amiable editor-in-chief, Mark Frauenfelder demonstrated The Useless Machine on the Colbert Report!

Useless Machine Featured in Vol 23 of Make Magazine!

Marvin Minsky, the man who created the Useless Machine passed away on January 24th, 2016. A giant in the world of artificial intelligence and computers. Rest in peace, Mr. Minsky.http://news.mit.edu/2016/marvin-minsky-obituary-0125

Thanks everyone for all the cool comments, suggestions and all the videos! Keep 'em coming.

Step 1: Background

Also known as The Ultimate Machine: Claude E. Shannon built the first one based on an idea by Marvin Minsky.

After seeing a video of such a machine I just had to have one of my own.

The only design I could find uses a PIC microcontroller but I consider this to be overkill (not knowing how to write code for micros may have had some influence on my humble opinion...).

Additionally, the microcontroller version really doesn't shut itself off. It's circuit remains powered even when the switch is in the off position.

Knowing a little bit about servos and basic electronics, I felt sure that I could build the machine using a simple analog circuit.

My main goal however was to have the machine REALLY turn itself off.

The machine in THIS instructable accomplishes that!

<p>It is not totally useless.</p><p>It is fun to watch and very cool.</p>
<p>Here is mine!</p>
<p>nice box! maybe i can buy?</p>
<p>The case looks sweet, box joints it looks like. Did you make the box from scratch? </p>
Thank you! Yeah these are box joints. Everything is from scratch, but carpentry is my big hobby so it was an easy challenge.
<p>Thanks for posting the pic!</p><p>I've been slowly learning to work with wood, and starting to get better. Much more satisfied with the results compared to building things with acrylic. &quot;Back to nature&quot; I guess is what is happening with me. </p>
<p>Here's an animated schematic of the switch-only version (without crossed wires!!!) that explains how it works:</p>
useful...
ONE of my favorite instructables ever!!!
This is the second one ive made. $1 thrift store box a few bucks for hinges. Recycled motor, wires and return switch inside the box. Toggle and battery holder from radioshack closing sale so probably less then 6 bucks total :D <br>the only problem with making these, is then everyone else wants you to make THEM one. Lol
<p>Here's the one I built:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/MUWtEr7Ee9A" width="500"></iframe></p>
<p>I've seen videos of this machine many times before. Well, it might be useless, but it's still plenty of fun.</p>
<p>I made this for a &quot;evil Santa&quot; gift at a family get together. It was a big hit. Thanks for the instructable! </p>
<p>My pleasure, tbillingsby!</p>
<p> I just recently saw one of this with a row of switches and the arm would go and switch them all off in the exact same order before settling down. </p>
<p>The &quot;troll machine&quot; sounds like a pretty good name for this device. I think it would make a great prank present for a close friend.</p>
I found something similar. Make sure you watch until the end.<br> <object style="height: 390.0px;width: 640.0px;"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/UmQ5LsNMXZ4?version=3"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></object><object style="height: 390.0px;width: 640.0px;"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/UmQ5LsNMXZ4?version=3"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/UmQ5LsNMXZ4?version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640"></embed></object>
<p>Ok, that's an awesome mod!</p>
<p>This one is cooler XD</p>
<p>what happened there, AI!!!!!!!+ wheels.</p>
it's the useless-inator... i thought doofenshmirtz gave up.<br>ah well...
LOLOLOLOL
get the sledgehammer<br>
haha saw this a couple months ago, still funny!
dude this thing is sico!!!
RAGE!!!!!!
nice video<br>
I saw this video two days ago, and made one yesterday using Lego Mindstorm, and saw this instructable today
The exorcist meets the most useless machine ever. lol<br><br>Thanks for the nightmare :)
lol
<p>I used to have one years ago. It was a coin bank. If you laid a coin on the box the door would open, the fingers extend, grab the coin and slide it into the bank and the door would shut. </p>
<p>We have one on Kickstarter if anyone interested. It's kit with 45 pieces that you assemble without soldering to create the mechanism. Not everybody has a soldering iron. ;)</p><p><a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/67279121/useless-machine-in-a-can-fun-kit-for-everyone" rel="nofollow">https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/67279121/useless-machine-in-a-can-fun-kit-for-everyone</a></p>
<p>very, very good, usless it might be, amusing definately!</p>
<p>Just saw this. You've officially &quot;made it&quot; when your ideas are being knocked off overseas....</p><p>http://www.dx.com/p/neje-wooden-useless-fully-assembled-machine-box-toy-w-logo-brown-2-x-aa-365899#.VKtghyvF98E</p>
<p>This is interesting. I will try this out</p>
Hi, my servo is going only &quot;forward&quot; until it's stopped by mechanic lock. I dont know what is wrong. And sorry for my english.
<p>Hi, I just built one from the schematics as well and it does the exact same thing as yours: wherever the switch is it keeps on going on one direction and on one side of the switch if you press the button it stops. so did you find the solution ?</p>
<p>LOL!</p>
<p>Not really useless.</p><p>It can be used as e Cat-Toy.</p><p>but add a small, but noticeable wooden plate to the small lever-switch, then the cat can better punch it to activate the box.</p><p>in this video at 2.07 a cat plays with something like this:</p><p><br><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PEykiwFg39k" width="500"></iframe></p><p>in that version the arm and the area around it are covered by plush.</p><p>That looks like a small kitten in the box</p>
<p>What are the advantages of the dead bug?</p>
I want to try to make this!!
<p>Same here!</p>
We simplify a circuit in the machine. Only a switch with two points is used. No chip, no servo, no spring and no additional switch are used. The movie below shows its structure and action. <br>http://youtu.be/3Pl0nNj8Q4s <br>
Newbie question: Why are there no resistors in the wiring (referring to the design which doesn't use the 555 timer)? Are the internal resistances of the servo, batteries, switch, and wires enough to prevent an overly large amount of current from running through the circuit? <br> <br>If that's the case, then is there a way to get the numerical values for these internal resistances?
You are correct. If wired correctly it is limited mostly to the resistance in motor, and it's only a few ohms (it will vary from motor to motor, but lets say 5-6 ohms). <br> <br>Ideally, the switches and wire should have no resistance, but in the real world they will add a tiny bit too. <br> <br>The battery, you don't worry about it's internal resistance. <br> <br>To measure the actual resistance, take the batteries out and measure the ohms across the + &amp; - of the battery-holder. <br> <br>So if the whole circuit is 6 ohms and you're using 3 volts, that's half an amp of current. Extra points if you can figure out how many watts that is!

About This Instructable

1,552,974views

1,742favorites

License:

Bio: Frivolous Engineering is the end result of a hobby that got out of hand.
More by Frivolous Engineering:The Bloody Nail-Through-The-Head Costume The Turn-Me-Over Stone The Most Useless Machine EVER! 
Add instructable to: