Useless device kit

A useless machine is a device which has a function but no direct purpose. Typically it is an amusing engineering “hack“, or as an intellectual joke. The most well-known “useless machines” are those inspired by Marvin Minsky‘s design, in which the device’s sole function is to switch itself off by operating its own “off” switch.

Here is one very classic version of “useless device” box:

There has been also kits for sale for making such devices like this:

Having the basic parts around to build such device. The basic electrical parts would be easy, just two switches and one motor. To get the mechanical construction right is the harder part. To get over mechanical design challenge, I ended getting a ready made kit: Useless Box DIY Kit Useless Machine Birthday Gift Toy Geek Gadget Fun Office Home Desk Decor.

The contents of the box are the electrical part, plastic parts, screws and instruction leaflet.

The motor part was ready built module on my kit. It just needed the batteries to be added and was ready to test outside the box.

The next task was to build the box from many plastic parts and many screws. It was a bit of mechanical challenge to get all the parts aligned so that you can nicely tighten the screws.

When everything was installed right, the case seemed to be quite stable construction.

Here is the “useless device” box in operation. It is useless but funny work table gadget.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Multi-switch Useless Box Is Useless In Multiple Ways

    We’ve probably all seen (and built) a useless box, in which you flip a switch that activates a servo that pops out a finger and flips the switch off. [Coffeman500] decided to take this a step further by building a useless box with multiple switches. Flip one, the finger pops out to flip it back. Flip several switches, and the finger pops out and flips each back in turn.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Complicated And Useless Cancel Each Other Out

    We all know what it means to procrastinate, but what about actively spending time building a useless machine? You have undoubtedly seen the ornamental boxes with a tempting little toggle switch on the top. When you inevitably flip the switch, an actuator pops out from one half of the enclosure with the sole purpose of undoing its own power switch. [Paz Hameiri] took it a step further by adding some [Rube Goldberg] flavor, and with the help of a microcontroller, his levers take their sweet time powering themselves down.

    A Rube Goldberg inspired useless machine


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