So this machine I came up with is useless, but unlike the original “useless machine“, it’s not only useless, it’s not even that clever! All it does is open a lid on a box when a button is pressed or when the lighting changes around it. On the other hand, it’s quite inexpensive to make, and it works automatically; so it’s got that going for it.
All you really need to make this is a Glade Sense and Spray unit (see my previous post about taking these apart), some sort of battery holder, and a small box available at a dollar or hobby store. All this should be under $10. Here’s a video of the “machine” in action, I’ll discuss how it was made and show an early prototype later in the post:
As can be seen from this early prototype shown to the right, there’s really not much more to it than a box and air freshener parts. I added a nice battery box from Radio shack, but if you really wanted to cheap out, you could just solder the wires together. Speaking of cheap, you may be thinking about building your own box. This is fine, but if your objective is to save money, these are available at hobby and dollar stores for under five dollars. I actually put two together (both were a dollar each) that were the exact height of the motor unit. This made for a really easy installation as I just had to press the motor unit into the box. It stayed there nicely.
You’ll also need something to attach to the motor to push the “door” open.
For this, I cannibalized a piece of another Sense and Spray unit, but a thin scrap piece of wood or metal would work. The gear attached to the motor is a bit over 1/4 inch in diameter, so I drilled a hole in the actuating arm with a 1/4 inch bit. I then used a file to make it into a tight press fit.
Once you’ve got he motor in place and the arm working, stuff the other insides of your Glade Sense and Spray unit into the box with it. Also, you’ll need to solder the 3 volt battery pack to the unit to replace the mount that came with it. If you cut the bottom of the hinged door off as shown below, you should be able to do a rough test to make sure everything works correctly. As can be seen in the final video, the arm can get stuck. To prevent this I added a spacer (brown thing), and put a radius on the end of the arm so it would slide smoothly.
With the bottom of the hinged door, cut out the bottom sensor/button window. Allow enough room for both the sensor and the button to be accessed from the outside. Use the built in holes on the sensor unit and wood screws to attach it to the back side. If done correctly, the sensor and button should work without accessing the inside of the unit. Glue this piece back on to the box and you’ve got a box thing that opens seemingly at random.
Useless? Yes. A fun and cheap project? Absolutely. I may turn this into something else, so if you have any suggestions, let me know! For another “box based project”, check out Boxie The Creepster, a creepy remote control face thing with moveable eyes!