The Christmas Machine: the Walkthrough

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About: Old Soul and endless Tinkerer. Maker of Things!

Hi "D" here. This is a walkthrough of sorts for the Instructable "The Christmas Machine". If you have not read through it please do so first. And, if you have time please read through "The Christmas Box ll" before that. I promise after you do this will make a lot more sense.

Step 1: Prologue

It is finished, I think. The last of its kind. The last of my work.

The others, all well and grand in their own way, have seemingly brought me here. Each of them adding in their own way to this final creation.

I have been asked to leave a record of what it is, as well as to give insight into its mechanisms and secrets, but these are not for me to say. This would be best told by those who have taken up the quest. Two will come after me. I am but the creator. They are the ones who will discover, they are the ones who will tell the tale.

"D" Maker of Things

Step 2: Every End Has a Beginning...

The crate came today. It's getting to be expected about this time every year. When we were younger, dad had us believing that other people had sent us things. Now we know better, although we're actually still not sure about the first one. But that's OK. These things seem to make him happy, and they're cool and make us think about things. We weren't sure exactly what to do with it. All his other boxes came to us locked. This one was open and he said we could check it out all we wanted as long as we didn't break anything. That kinda took the fun out of it. well, we thought so at first. He said he could send it back if we didn't want to bother with it. But we said it was OK. Mom just sat it in the living room by the front door.

Step 3: ...at First Glance

At first we were kind of stuck. The dial turned and we could rotate the magnifying glass. I liked the little sword and claimed it, but Dad said not to take it far because we would need it later. There were two wires hanging on the side along with a speaker of some kind. The other side had a round opening but it was locked. There was a candle holder mounted close to the round opening. The back had a thick wire making a trail across the rear of the thing. We found each area had a number 1,4,5,6 but no 2 or 3?

My brother asked if we could open the metal cover on the front and he said yes. There was a number 3 on a plate under it along with some switches and a round piece. we couldn't figure out what it was.

The front drawer was open and there were a few things inside.

Step 4: Power Up

One of the things in the drawer was an electric cord. We'd never seen one like it before. We saw that it fit into a plug on the back of the box and we plugged it in. We couldn't find another plug on the box to plug the other end into. Our Dad had told us that everything we needed to solve the box was in the house somewhere. He said nothing was hidden and we would need no tools. We found a box marked "Drive 2" and it had a matching plug for the cord. We plugged it in and turned the two switches on. A light began to flicker in the drawer handle. If we turned the dial on the upper disc it would make each of the numbers on the box blink with a small red light but we still could not see a number 2. Nothing else happened yet.

The small box was originally used to transmit wireless audio signal back in the 1970s. Once removed from the trash I removed the original components and installed a 12 volt gel cell battery along with a re-setable circuit breaker. I then chose a microphone cord to transfer power to the Machine

Step 5: Thanksgiving...

We're used to getting a gift on Thanksgiving, and it usually has something to do with the box. This year we went to the market to get sodas when we ran out at my Aunts house and when we got back there was a wooden box in one of the bags. It had a weird knob thing in it, and we knew what it was for.

The knob was originally mounted to a hand operated grinding wheel used to sharpen knives. Once I removed it, it was mated to a shaft with various spacers that were used to properly affix the pinion gear to the shaft.

Step 6: Task 1

When we got home we looked for where the gearknob went, and we found a small hole next to the round cover that the shaft would fit into. If you pushed in until it clicked and turned it, The round piece opened and we found something marked number 2.

The "Rack" or straight gear was soaked in steeping hot water until it
was flexible enough and then was sat around the inside edge of an appropriately sized cooking pot until it cooled and retained the proper curve it needed to sit correctly on the outside surface of the Iris. It was then epoxied into position.

Pushing the key in place released a U shaped spring lock behind the Iris that would stop the Iris from moving if someone attempted to turn it without the proper key being inserted. It was not visible from the outside of the Machine.

Step 7: Task 2

We didn't know what to do with the disc for a week or so. Later at school my brother found a note in his locker that said, "...sometimes there's no reason, sometimes there's no rhyme, but you may find an answer {somewhere in time}". The next day we found an old picture stuck on the big metal tray on the back of the box with a brass magnet. It had a man in a top hat pointing to a clock.

It took a while but we figured it out. Four of the clocks in our house were not working. They had been stopped at different times so the hour hands set at 2,6,6,and 7. If you placed the dials on the disc to the same positions as the numbers on the clocks, the disc would open. A stick drive would pull out once you opened it.

There were a bunch of clues and codes on the drive. There was also a folder with a bunch of Christmas pictures of us when we were little.

Step 8: Special Delivery

A few days later we got a UPS box in the mail. Inside was another box with a couple of new things to figure out. It was locked when we got it and couldn't get it open until a friend at a Christmas party gave us two keys. One was for this box and we didn't know what to do with the other one.

Step 9: The Photobook

There was an old photo inside the box with a note on the back that said, "wouldn't it be nice if you filled this photobook with pictures of you from Christmas past and gave it to your Mom? We printed the pictures and had Dad cut them to fit the book. The note said we couldn't go on to the next step until we did. We didn't mind at all.

I believe the book is from the early 1900s. I had hoped they would print the pictures in black and white, but they were so into it that I didn't want to get in the way!

Step 10: The Brother's Box (carousel of Knowledge)

The only other thing in the box was this wooden container. We liked how the outside had things on it that we had connections to. A watch, a turtle, a Tiki. It was cool. So we figured it was for both of us. If you put your fingers on the two large bumps on top and turn the top knob, the sides rotate and you find the things that are on the inside. It had notes with even more clues and six test tubes inside. Two had fluid in them and the others had powder. The top of the container had numbers that seemed to match up with what we were supposed to do with the big box.

The test tubes housed chemicals and fluids to be used to make an electrolytic fluid for one of the Machines locks. The notes were clues for each step of the Machine.

Step 11: The Crystal and the Little Japanese Box

We were at the mall and we stopped to get a pretzel. When the lady gave me my change she handed me a box too. I told here it wasn't mine but she just smiled and said "yes it is". We looked to see if Dad was around but couldn't see him. There was another box inside the first one and inside that one there was a white crystal. It looked like it was broken. When we got home we found a little box sitting by the TV. It Was locked somehow. Once we figured how to get into it we found the other two pieces of the crystal and we put them together with two o-rings we found in our Dad's stuff. Later we received text messages that told a story about a tiny bird and a garden. We were able to figure out how the crystal fit into the box and we put it in.

The story they're referring to is one I made up about an old couple that moved to a house in a forest. Behind the house sat a beautiful meadow and the lady of the house tended to it every day. Her husband found a crystal in the mine where he worked and brought it home for her. She placed it in the garden in the meadow and from that day on the trees bore fruit year round and the flowers bloomed every day. One day a little finch carelessly knocked the crystal from its perch and broke it into three pieces. From then on the trees would grow no fruit and the flowers wilted. The little bird felt so bad that he flew as fast as he could, over ten miles, to the house of a cobbler and flew and shrilled around his head until the man followed it back to the garden. The bird could not speak but somehow the old cobbler knew what he had to do. He repaired (healed) the crystal and made a special mount for it so that the same thing would never happen again. And once again, the meadow was filled with beauty and song. And the little finch sat guard on it every day until his death. The cobbler then erected a small statue above the crystal in his memory.

Step 12: Task 3

We turned the dial on the box and the light above the metal box up front lit up. We played with the switches a bit and when we moved the far right one a siren went off and a light began blinking. It was annoying so we turned it back off. We were stuck again. The next day at school we each got a text message with three words. Binary Code Decimal. We figured Dad wanted us to look it up and we did. It still didn't help.

Step 13: Trapezoidial Box (thats What They Called It!)

We were still stuck and Dad wouldn't help. He just kept saying we had everything we needed. My little brother was getting a bit mad when he spotted a box we had never seen before sitting on a shelf above the TV. When he brought it down he said he could hear it talking. It wasn't loud enough where we could understand it. We saw the lock and ran to get that other key we had. It fit. We got it to open and found a really old phone. When you listened you could hear a British man talking. All he was saying was a list of numbers. So we got one of the small notepads we found in the drawer and wrote them down.

The (Phantom Phone) is an old tranceiver that I came across at an antique store. I found the trapezoidial box at the same time and they seemed to go together well. I wanted it to work but couldn't bring myself to hard wire it to the machine. I went on Ebay and searched for the smallest bluetooth speaker I could find and when it arrived I created a new coverplate for the earpiece and fitted the speaker into place. Something I learned. Brass pieces that have been screwed in place for a hundred or so years really don't like coming apart! I almost broke it trying to open the speaker section. It wasn't until I heated it up that I was finally able to break it loose, and then, only as it began to cool.

Step 14: The Addometer

Dad wouldn't let us use anything to help figure out the box unless we had found it along the way or a friend or stranger had given it to us. I was gonna add up the numbers from the phone myself to see if it was a clue when my brother pulled this addometer out of the drawer. Turns out it's an old calculator. Lucky thing because there were a lot of numbers. But, it takes some getting used to. We added the numbers from the phone and got 101001923. Looking into binary we found that this didn't work out. Binary has eight digits or four. So we were stuck again. Dad said we had all we needed. So we went back. We added the numbers again and got 10100110. We used that number to put the switches in the right positions. When we turned on the master switch the buzzer stayed off and the crystal lit up. After about a minute or so, we started hearing music coming out of the little speaker on the right side.

Once they got the math right they figured out that the binary code represented the position of the switches in basic form. 1 stood for on and 0 stood for off. When they positioned the switches in this way and threw the main switch, all was as it should be and the little bird's crystal came to life.

Step 15: Task 4

We turned the switch to 4. We got text messages telling us to go to a shop my dad really likes. While we were looking around we were told to look out for boxes that looked like Aladdin would have used them. We found three and the lady at the desk said they were on sale because they were locked and they didn't have the keys. We bought them and took them home. We were able to open the locks and found three gears with letters on them. It took us awhile but we figured how to put them on the box and set them in order to get the correct information we needed. We got a clue that read, T2B 675 T2B DAD We noticed that each gear had a different number of arms and put them in place top to bottom 6 spokes, 7 spokes, 5 spokes. We found that each gear had a small screw sitting next to it and tried setting DAD Next to the screws going top to bottom. Then we tried solving a code clue we had gotten earlier. It worked. But it didn't work for the second one.

They had to wait for another message reading T2B567MOM to decode the other coded message.The magnifying glass was built into the box so that it could be moved to the top and bottom gears and make the decoding process easier, keep an eye on the miniature sword it will be important later...

Step 16: Task 5

We turned the dial to 5. dad is an electrician and has told us that electricity flows through a wire kind of like water through a hose. We figured that the wire on the back might work that way. We got another text about electric fluids and used it with another clue from his carousel to figure out what we needed to do. We mixed some of the things that were in the test tubes and poured in just enough to fill the little cup on the back. I was just going to use a test wire I found in Dad's bag to connect the wires, but he told us in the clues not to cheat. Nothing happened. We found that he hadn't finished the wiring in back and used a test wire with clips on the ends to take the place of the piece he forgot. Still nothing happened.

Step 17: Even a Snowflake Can Be a Switch!

We got another text that said, "...even a snowflake can be a switch". Mom had finished putting here Christmas decorations up and there were at least 20 snowflakes in the house. We checked them all and only one looked like it would fit in with the box somehow. It was gold colored and felt metallic. We noticed that two spots on the snowflake had the paint taken off so we started looking for where those spots could go. And it matched up to two points on the speaker that just happened to have wires going to them. It took a bit of force to make it fit but when we got it in place and connected the wires to the box a glass flower shaped cup started to glow. We didn't notice until the next day that it also made a red laser shoot up at the ceiling.

The snowflake was a switch I added late in the project. I thought it would make a nice decorative piece and be a nice segue into the final lock or switch. The two wires coming from the machine to the speaker were electrically isolated from the metal speakermount by inserting nylon flange washers between the mounts and the screws on the back of the brass arms that held them in place. Once that was accomplished the metal of the snowflake would be able to complete the circuit, kind of like a knife switch, when it was installed.

Step 18: Task 6

We made sure everything was connected and turned the dial to 6. Nothing. It was Christmas Eve and we were opening our other presents. I opened a card addressed to my brother and me. It talked about a boy who grew flowers in the desert. These flowers came to help the boy when the townspeople said he was the reason there was no water. The flowers shot light into the sky and it rained glowing water and that water filled the town's Well. And, there was a coded message again. We had to use the wheels on the side of the box again. But when we tried to read it it didn't make sense. We used Google translate and found out it was in Latin. It said," As the currents feed the flowers, the flowers feed the Well".

Again, Dad wouldn't help. We stopped opening our other presents and decided to finish it. We checked and opened every one of Dad's things in the living room and found two mirrors in two small boxes above the couch. We figured out that we had to redirect the laser into the piece that was called the Well. We found the Well piece in his things months earlier but didn't think it did anything. The Well was supposed to sit where this small metal piece had been sitting on top of a car amp gauge next to the glow flower. After we swapped it out we tried making the laser go through the hole in the Well. It was not easy at all. we didn't know what it was suppose to do. Our mom saw a few lights come on on the front of the box while we were fiddling with it and we kept trying the laser until they stayed on.

The story they're speaking of was another of mine. "The Light Flowers and The Light Well" It was about a young boy that lived in the desert. His village was running very low on water but he used some of it to try to save a small bunch of flowers he had found near his home. The flowers responded to the love shown by the boy and sprang to life blooming a beautiful silver green. When the villagers saw the flowers they became angry at the boy for wasting their precious water on such silly flowers while they and their animals were at risk of dying of thirst. The boys father reluctantly agreed to beat the boy as a punishment to keep the villagers from burning down their house. The father didn't want to but had no choice. He stalled as long as he could, and just as he was to give his son the first lash, The flowers began to sing. Beautiful sounds began to come from the flowers and they began to glow. They continued to get louder and brighter until they each shot a bright red beam of light into the sky. Clouds began to form and soon it was raining cats and dogs worth of bright glowing rain that fell over the village and filled the Well at the boys home. The villagers felt blessed and realized how terrible they had been to the boy and his family. They built a fortified wall and cistern to protect the well and the flowers from harm.

Once they read this, my boys figured out what they needed to do.

Step 19: Now What?

We finished all six steps. We checked with Dad to make sure. Nothing happened. The front piece lit up. But that type of piece was on a lot of Dad's projects and they didn't say anything or do anything, they just sat there. The piece was held on with tiny screws. Dad said we had all we needed but there was no screwdriver in his case of parts for us to try to remove it. After we finished opening our other presents it hit us. The little sword. Really! We used it to take off the screws holding the decoration piece on and found a key, a little key.

To give a bit of backstory. From my very first Christmas box I always included on of these decorative finials. Originally it was meant to light up and say something festive like "Noel" or "Happy Holidays", but I could never figure out exactly what it should say. It was just as well as everyone who saw it came up with their own idea about what should be there. And do you know what? They were all right!

When my boys tried to open my other boxes they always thought that some secret was hiding behind the finial, but there never was. I was lucky that by now they had overlooked the little thing altogether. A bit of misdirection can go along way. If played well.

Step 20: Epilogue

"D" again. And so we reach the end of the Christmas Machine. So much to have gone through. The planning, the building, the endless rebuilding. Was it all worth it? For a small iron key?

Well, that little key opened another box, in another room, and there were no more tricks, or locks to be opened from there on. And I got to see my boys open the presents that I had been hiding for them all year.

And, in return, I received the best present I ever could have gotten. I got to see my boys work together, enjoy holiday shopping, take pictures with Santa, go out for a good meal, do good deeds for others, learn new things, and watch them become truly excited and happy lost in one of my adventures one last time.

I have not listed all the things they did over the course of their journey, it would have taken too long for you to read. Suffice it to say that they never let me down, and I think I almost had more fun in all this than they did.

When I started all this, they were 10 and 12, and now they are 16 and 18. And in all respects they have grown into fine young men. Again, if any of these little adventures cause them to look back on things and smile, then it has all been worth it.

Please hear me when I say that it is surely true, they grow up way to fast. Take the time to do something fun with your kids before the years fly bye. They are only young once.

Step 21: P.S.

If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading along. As always if I've made too many errors in grammar, had too many misspelled words, been too long winded, or just gone off track, I most sincerely apologize.

...and to all of you who have been supportive and have had kind things to say about my work along the way....... THANK YOU!

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    4 Discussions

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    mycroftxxx

    2 months ago

    That is... amazing. There are few things worth more than adventure, and an adventure that comes from the love of a parent is a gift that will last a lifetime.

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    Mimikry

    3 months ago

    absolutely stunning work! Such talent and creativity!
    thank you for all the writing work to share this fantastic journey with us!
    I really dream for such a great box to appear in my room someday :)

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    OculumForamen

    3 months ago

    This has to be a awesome example of a Father's Love for his children! I never had the kind of skill and knowledge base to do this kind of fun with my children, but I have always wanted to help my children learn and grow, I wanted to be a channel through which true knowledge flowed from me to them, and I have always done my best to be that for them! A Father's Love is so very much different than a Mother's. They need both to be healthy, but you sir, have exceeded all expectations as a "Cool Dad"! Well done sir! I salute you! However, if you think your fun with your boys is over, you might be right, but when your grandchildren start coming, the fun you'll have them will beat the fun with your sons, hands down! Being a grandparent is super awesome, so keep yourself fit and healthy, because Grand children who grow up with a healthy relationship with their grandparents become more adjusted and more stable in our society, because they learn love and respect for their elders and that they also learn that grandparents are a deep well of stories inside them so when they come over for sleepovers, telling them bedtime stories from your life is an awesome way to send them to bed! Yes sir, grandkids are awesome, can't get enough of them!!!

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    Lorddrake

    3 months ago

    Thank you so much for writing about this journey. As a dad I can totally agree with you. Even when your kids think they are too old for something or you are just being "Dad the Doofus", Keeping giving them the opportunities to make these wonderful memories, they will last a lifetime!