Useless Box

We’ve all seen those boxes with a single switch – you switch it on, causing an arm to come out of the box and flip the switch back off. Well, I wanted to make one of those for fun 🙂

This time I was a bit lazy, so instead of making the box myself, I ordered a ready to assemble kit.

You can find a ready to assemble kit on Amazon. There are a number of similar boxes available, but I went with this one (one of the cheapest, but good quality).


Who created this contraption?

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.


How does it work?

There are various ways to make it happen – you can use 555 timer, or an Arduino (a bit of an overkill for what we need), but the simplest circuit looks like that:

You can find more detailed information i.e. in this Instructable.


It’s a simple project, that is guaranteed to get people curious.

I kept mine at my desk at work, with a note that says “don’t flip the switch!” 🙂




Animation (gif – click to watch):


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *