Useless Box

Introduction: Useless Box

About: Berry College Creative Technologies Major

This project was again created for my hackathon class. My topic was terrible technology and my challenge was to make it bright. I made a useless box with a toggle switch and LED strip. Every time you flip the switch to turn off the lights, an arm comes out of the box with a servo an switches the lights back on. Therefore you can never turn off the lights unless you unplug it from power.



  • Plywood or any small box will work
  • Screws
  • Toggle Switch
  • Arduino
  • Wires
  • bread board
  • Servo
  • USB power bank (preferably one with 2 outputs)
  • Acrylic


  • Circular saw
  • Soldering iron
  • Hot glue gun
  • Dremel

Step 1: Initial Setup

The first thing I did was lay out the electronics and wire them up to run some test code. After I figured out the code, I soldered all the components together. The RGB light strip was wired to a USB plug so the Arduino would not have to power it. The servo is powered by the Arduino by plugging into 5 volt.

Here is my code:


const int buttonPin = 2;

int buttonState = 0;

Servo myservo;

long timeDelay;

#define red 5

#define green 6

#define blue 3

void setup() {

pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);


pinMode(red, OUTPUT);

pinMode(green, OUTPUT);

pinMode(blue, OUTPUT); }

void loop() {



void control() {

buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin);

if (buttonState == HIGH) {


for (pos =; pos >=5; pos = 1) {




} else {


timeDelay = 1;

for (pos =; pos <=140; pos += timeDelay) {






void lightsOn() {

analogWrite(red, random(0, 255));

analogWrite(green, random(0, 255));

analogWrite(blue, random(0, 255));



void lightsOff() {

analogWrite(red, 255);

analogWrite(green, 255);

analogWrite(blue, 255);


Step 2: Building the Box Base

After I laid out the components, I figure out the box would need to be around 7.5" x 4.5" x 3.5" (length, width, height). I measured some ply wood and cut it to size using a circular saw. Then I screwed the box together by first attaching the sides to the bottom of the box. The top would need to be split in half in order for the servo to hinge it up and down. I also left a small gap in the back of the box in order to run wires for the RBG strip out the back.

Step 3: Making the Servo Half of the Top

Making the arm for the servo was the most challenging part of the build. Because I did not want the arm to be super thick, I decided to use some acrylic I had left over from another project to make the arm. This would also allow me to make adjustments by adding small scraps that I shaped with the Dremel. The toggle switch was mounted in place which is an inch back from the center. I hot glued the servo in place and attached all the included arms to it loosely with screws so I could bend and shape the arm. After Getting an idea, I decided to shape several small pieces of acrylic with the Dremel sanding bit. I worked by section in order to make adjustments so it would hit the switch every time. I also attached each section together with hot glue which makes it uglier than it should be. If I am to improve this project, I would simply make the arm out of one solid piece. After getting this section of the top perfect, I attached it to the box using hot glue. I also mounted the electronics inside the same way.

Step 4: Making the Hinge and Adding Lights

To make the hing part work well, I made this part of the box about 1/3 of the full length of the box. This ensured that my 5 gram servo could life the entire half no problem. Since the servo arm sat almost level with the other half of the box, I had to use the Dremel to thin out the center portion of the box. This esured that the top would sit flush with the other side. Attaching this side to the box was easy as I just used a small hinge.

When I was cutting the box before, I mention that I left a small gap to run wires out of for LED lights. I used this hole to run a strip around the box as many times as it could. The lights are programmed to be flashing in order to get someone to try and turn the lights off.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

The last thing I added to the box was some wooden grips on the bottom so the exposed screws would not drag on the surface the box is on. I simply attached these using hot glue. Also as seen in the first picture, I drilled a hole into the side of the box for the power button of the power bank.

Step 6: Enjoy the Most Useless Thing You Have Ever Created

I have gotten positive reactions from this device. People find it really funny and pointless. Overall I would say that it was a success. To speed the build up and maybe add more features (such as another switch) you can use a small box that you already have on hand. I would like to improve the look of the device by maybe sanding and painting it. I would also like to add some ports so I can plug into the Arduino without removing the top or charge the USB power bank.

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