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The Useless Machine: Now Even More Useless!

January 15, 2016

The Useless Machine: Now Even More Useless!

We love our SpikenzieLabs Useless Machine, but we were thinking...it isn't quite as useless as we'd like it to be.

So we started by adding the Counter Upgrade Kit which adds a useful(less) counter that goes all the way to 9999!  It is an easy to build kit that lets you know just how many times you've pressed that useless switch.

 

That was fun and all, but we did not stop there.  The stock machine comes with a 3x AAA battery holder, which is fine, but when the batteries run out the counter resets!  Oh the humanity, how will we ever get to 9999?

So, we were going to add an Adafruit PowerBoost 500C and a big LiPo battery which would give us a nifty way to recharge the device and never lose our all important count.  But then we thought, what this thing really needs is a microcontroller! 

 
Enter Adafruit's new Feather 32u4 M0 proto board, which is basically a tiny Arduino with some prototyping space and a charging circuit.  This would give us a charging circuit, and for good measure we added an individual Neopixel in the box so we could see all that useless action.  Handily, we were able to solder a Neopixel directly onto the proto section of the Feather.

 

To trigger the Feather when the Useless Machine was doing its thing, we probed its circuit board with a multimeter to see where voltage changed upon pressing the button.  We found that the solder joint next to the went to ~5V when it was in action, so we ran a white wire from A0 on the Feather to this circuit on the Useless Machine's board.

 

Here is a video of the upgraded Useless Machine in action.  We programmed the NeoPixel to change color on each button press.

 




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