A Useless Machine with delay and howl

The useless machine or ultimate machine originates from Claude Shannon, the scientist who figured out how to find the channel capacity in a communications system. I bought the basic machine as a kit from Solarbotics.

But then I added a few features:

  • A delay circuit that makes it look more alive as it gives the impression of doing some thinking before it responds to the switch.
  • Sound that varies with how open the lid is and the amount of light that hits the photosensitive resistor. It was inspired by the design of the Growl and Scream Altoids of FightCube.
  • A couple of LEDs, a red one when it opens and a blue one when it closes.

The circuits were built on small pieces of veroboard and the circuit diagram can be downloaded from here. In retrospect I’m not completely happy with the sound, it could have growled and screamed even more, but then how much effort can one really justify putting into a project which is – useless – anyway?

Sverre Holm, LA3ZA, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Norway. Contact him at [email protected].

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