Monday, December 15, 2014

The Useless Machine

Once upon a time, I accidentally designed and built an electronic circuit that turned itself off, therefore accidentally re-inventing the Useless Machine. My nephew saw a YouTube video of one, and fell in love with the concept. So I got one:

It's a quite elegant machine, in that it is completely powered off when closed, and runs on two switches, with no other logic, no ICs, no nothing. It's circuit is a DPDT toggle switch, which appears to be the "on/off" switch but is more accurately referred to as the "forward/reverse" switch. It also has a microswitch inside which trips when the arm pulls all the way in. When the switch is forward, the motor runs forward until the arm pops out, collides with the switch, and puts it into reverse. The reverse circuit switch is in series with the microswitch, so it only runs until the arm retracts completely. It's kind of an interesting logic problem: How do you arrange the switches to do what is desired?