The Ultimate Machine Box Kit

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UltimateMachine 01.jpg


Cross- generational; for young people and adults

In memory of Claude Elwood Shannon (1) we reconstruct the famous toy: „The Ultimate Machine. The well-known visionary of the digital age used to have a little, wooden box on his desk featuring an ON/ OFF switch. Switching to ON made the box come to life: it communicated, made noises and vibrated until the lid opened and a mechanical hand appeared, turning the switch back into the OFF position.

You are asked to reconstruct the profound toy inspired by Shannon’s information theory (2). The "Ultimate Machine" Kit leaves space for individual designs as regards casing, mechanics and- by instruction- programming of the electronics.
The “The Ultimate machine” delivers an easy and very vivid introduction to the world of digital data communication. On offer is an introduction to programming requiring no previous knowledge. The electronic comprises of LEDs and a speaker that may also be used as a sensor. The programming is executed via the open source platform “Arduino”. For the individual design of his or her box the kit builders should have access to handicraft materials, tools, and colours.

(1) Claude Elwood Shannon (* 30. April 1916 in Petoskey, Michigan; †
24. February 2001 in Medford, Massachusetts) was an American Mathematician. He is considered to be the founder of information theory.

(2) 1948 revolutionary thesis „A Mathematical Theory of Communication”

The Parts

The Ultimate Machine Box.jpg

  • Laser-Cut-File Download as Eps
  • Screws 2 mm x 20 mm
  • Dip-Switch (Kippschalter) (Gehäuseausschnitt: Ø4,95mm, 1xU 28VDC 3A stehend löt) (Schukat SKS04S)
  • Terminal Clamp (Anreihklemmen) (Schukat: CZM5-2SQ)
  • Servo: MINI-SERVO-ES-05 ( O-Nr 230500)
  • Battery Box for three AAA batteries ( O-Nr 651041)
  • Board: Arduino Pro 5V (ATMega328) 16 MHZ


Download the assembling instructions. (Alpha-Version German) PDF


  1. Install the Arduino software (Open source programming tool for Mac, Linux and Win) LINK
  2. Install the hardware driver for your programming adapter LINK (You can buy the "FTDI Basic Breakout 5V" at Watterott)
  3. Download the example ZIP

The main part of the code example:

void loop() 
  // the hand goes to start position deep inside the box
  // moveServo(Speed 0 - 180, Angle 0 - 180)
  moveServo(180, 175);

  // wait until someone turns the switch ON!

  // play a sound 
  //  beep(Frequency, Duration)
  beep(500, 1000);

  // move the hand to open the box flap
  moveServo(20, 100);

  beep(100, 1000);

  // turn the LED on
  // twinkle('Colour only R available', Duration)
  twinkle('R', 1000);

  // turn switch OFF
  moveServo(5, 30);


Pictures from the first "The Ultimate Machine" workshop at Casino Luxembourg LINK

Video from the first "The Ultimate Machine" workshop at Casino Luxembourg LINK


"The-Ultimate-Machine" is also famous as "The-Most-Useless-Machine" or "Leave-Me-Alone-Box". One could find lots of projects and instructions around that idea!

On by

On thingiverse by gadgetguydk

Heiko Pirsch is selling "Leave-Me-Alone-Boxs" on