Halloween “Useless Machine” Coffin

Make a Halloween “Useless Machine” coffin. Switch it on and the occupant reaches out of the coffin and switches it off again. See the CS4FN blog post for more on Useless Machines.

Instructions are in the following pdfs

The detailed instructions include a parts list and where to get them. The laser cutting template is an A4 sheet which should be cut in any 3mm material. CS teachers may wish to make friends with the DT departments for help!

Putting it together will involve a whole load of problem solving and tweaking. If you like the “perfect” logic of programming then you may find this kind of practical “making” frustrating. However, the core skills such as the need for attention to detail and debugging skills are not too dissimilar or at least relatable. Here are some tips to help

  • don’t glue the last “undead/dead” panel on until mechanism is working and tested
  • remove all the nuts and washers from the toggle switch
  • may need to cut off the bolts that hold the motor (use cutters on a set of pliers)
  • when testing, just hold on battery clip so if there is an issue you just release to stop
  • make sure cam is bolted on the right way (which a QMUL student described as the duck with beak looking down!)
  • no.1 problem is that the cam overshoots the limit switch
    • twist up switch and motor to better “stop” the cam from overshooting

Halloween Puzzles and Activities

Design and plans thanks to Kok Ho Huen