Raspberry Pi: 5 Weirdest Robots, Ranging From Useless to Downright Bizarre

Maybe don't try this at home.

Raspberry Pi

Bought a Raspberry Pi, but don’t know how to put it to good use? Judging by some of the creations on the internet, you’re not alone.

The $35 machine received a fourth-generation update last month, giving it more power than ever before. But while the credit card-sized computer has powered some fantastic creations, like magic mirrors and video game consoles, it’s also produced some less fantastic machines. Ever wanted a robot that can spin a butter knife, or roll a dice for you? The answer is probably “no,” but that didn’t stop some people.

The art of making useless machines is nothing new. Chindogu originated in Japan with the goal of creating bizarre and sort of pointless machines, like a butter grater and an umbrella tie. One of the earliest viral videos on YouTube, uploaded in 2007, involved two “Heinz Automato” bots badly dispensing ketchup. Simone Giertz, a Swedish inventor, was crowned by The Guardian as “the queen of shitty robots” in 2016, with her work covering gadgets like a breakfast machine and an automatic hand clapper:

Thanks to the Raspberry Pi, home tinkerers can now partake in this noble tradition. Here’s what they have developed:

5. Spin a Butter Knife Fairly Fast

Ever wanted to spin a butter knife? Even if the answer is “no,” you’ll probably struggle to look away from Reddit user “Hazzamig”‘s creation:

In the immortal words of Jeff Goldblum, “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

4. Shake a Snow Globe

Do you like looking at snow globes, but hate having to shake them first? All that gripping, lifting, raising and lowering. Boring!

Fortunately, a Reddit user called “ibangedstacysmom” has a solution. They hooked up their Raspberry Pi to a machine that puts the “fun” back into “fundamentally pointless”:

The project uses a Raspberry Pi connected to a driver board that powers a stepper motor. It’s paired with an Android Wear-powered smartwatch to bring the magic to life. On the watch, Tasker is used to send a command via the SSH protocol to run a script and ask the computer to turn the motor.

The result is festive fun with none of the work!

3. A Machine That Can Hit a Gong

Gong! Ottawa-based Reddit user “dennislun” hooked up their Raspberry Pi to a gong. The machine uses “python-slackclient” to wait for a command in a Slack chat channel. When the command arrives, gong!

Although “dennislun” shared their robot in a subreddit dedicated to rubbish machines, they’re perhaps being a bit hard on themselves. It’s huge and makes a din, but it’s also possibly the coolest notifications system ever. The “Gongbot” straddles a fascinating line between “why would anyone want this” and “who wouldn’t want this?”

2. A Robot That Sort-Of Stops Sometimes

Lukas Grasse has built a little machine that could: a robot that moves until it sometimes sees an obstacle. Grasse, who shared his creation on the “shittyrobots” subreddit, uploaded a video of his sort-of-stopping bot in action.

The setup uses Robot Operating System, a Raspberry Pi, and two Arduinos to control the movements. Why use two Arduinos when one would have probably done the job?

“If I did that it would’ve been less shitty,” Grasse explained on Reddit.

1. A Box That Can Roll a Dice

Take a chance on this dice-rolling robot! Reddit user “DelfinGuy” built this machine for reasons that remain unclear.

The machine uses a Raspberry Pi linked up to a servo motor. That’s paired with a $7 camera, cable, and LED light. The self-made box keeps the dice contained as they flail about, helping the owner decide if luck is on their side tonight.