x1 Mark I – Useless Machine

A useless machine is a device that performs a mostly useless task.

x1 Mark I - Useless Machine
x1 Mark I – Useless Machine

Some of these machines just blinks a light, others turn axes infinitely, and there are others that switch off itself.

For sure there are a overstatement in stating that a useless machine is totally without purpose, because some of them are at least curious and even fun.

Those kind of machines existed for at least a half century, but a peculiar model that emerged six years ago has turned into a very popular device in nerd culture. The Most Useless Machine Ever is already sold in several stores and there are also kits with pieces for people who want to build your own machine.

I have created my own project based on The Most Useless Machine Ever with some differences in relation to market models.


Since this is a very simple project, my main goal is to create a slightly more interesting machine, with features that provide a spread compared to market models.

When observing existing implementations, I realized that usually this kind of device does not have a good finish and are built with simplistic materials such as porous wood, plastic raw or even scrap.

So my goal is to build a machine with more sophisticated materials, excellent finish and a nice look.

In addition, it used a microcontroller core to add some intelligence to the device over the most common implementations.


Based on the operation of The Most Useless Machine Ever, I designed an original project called x1. I believe the mechanics, electronics and software are probably unique in this project because I made sure to create everything from scratch.

I also did an extra effort to use beautiful parts made with anodized aluminum, stainless steel, brass, matte plastic and some polished surfaces.


x1 Mark I - Visão traseira (Interface de programação e conector de recarga da bateria.)
x1 Mark I – Back view (UART interface and rechargeable battery connector.)

This device uses a Arduino Uno and the power source is a rechargeable battery module.

I also have used a Prototype Shield, a relay module, a servo motor and a power switch.


Common useless machines always have the same behavior. When pressing the switch, the motor rotates at the same speed, tur off the key and immediately back to the original position.

I have added some cool features in x1 programming to make your operation more interesting. For this reason, the engine will always respond by different speed and some pauses were added for a period of “suspense” were added to the course of play.


Working sequence:

  1. When switch is turned on:
    1. The Arduino is turned on and performs startup sequence;
    2. The relay module is triggered to ensure that the controller continue to receive power;
    3. A rotation speed is given to the motor;
    4. The engine is driven and the mechanic “finger” is moved toward the switch.
  2. When realizing that the switch has been turned off:
    1. A new speed is given to the engine;
    2. The engine is driven in reverse direction to return to original position.
  3. After closing the lid:
    1. A twenty second timer is started;
    2. If the twenty seconds timer is exceeded the entire system is turned off.


Despite a very simple design, the x1 project is an interesting and curious device.

I had a lot of fun showing it to people and seeing the unusual reactions of each one to realize about the machine has the unique purpose of auto turn off. Some people thought it was pure bullshit, but others had a lot of fun.

You cannot please everybody. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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