I built the project using two mindstorms large motors and a pressure sensor. There are two halves to the mechanism - the "useless box" half, and the half that controls the lamp. The lamp in particular I used had a wheel switch that I had to to try three different ways of operating, finally taking it apart and reworking it as a button. The box decorations are made of vinyl and fabric I had lying around the house. I'm only going to talk about the mechanisms involved in making your own useless lamp. The rest is up to you.
Note: I used both NXT and EV3 pieces in my project, but you should be able to find all the pieces used in an EV3 kit.
You're going to need:
2 Large Motors
1 Pressure Sensor
5 Blue Crossbar Connecters
5 Blue Long Connecters
XX Black Connecters
5 Length four L pieces
1 Length five L piece
4 Gray Double connecters
1 Length two bar
1 Length two bar
3 Length five bar
1 Length three crossbar
1 Length five crossbar
4 Long Double-Bend
2 Length nine angled bars
1 Length three double sided bar (top left)
1 Computer with Mindstorms software
1 EV3 brain
3 sensor/motor cables
1 USB/Mindstorms cable
1 Lamp with a switch
1 roll of duct tape/gorrilla tape
1 roll of masking tape
Part 1: Building the "Useless Machine"
First, attach the sensor to the motor using the double-bend bars
The long connectors should go through the two rows of bar shown on the motor in the picture and the sensor's bar (beneath it in the picture) so that the sensor is held between the two bars.
The 'switch' should swing freely. It's attached to two length 4 L bars by a long connecter, and the bars are attached to the double bend arms, so that the switch, when pushed forward, presses on the pressure sensor.
This is the arm that pushes the switch back into position after its been pressed. It's attached to the motor.
Part 2: Controlling the Lamp
This section is specifically for lamps that are controlled by a spinning switch. However, lamps controlled by buttons or flick switches could probably use a similar set up.
First, use a screwdriver and take out the screw that holds the two halves of your switch together. It should look something like this:
Tape down the cord in its half of the switch with thin strips of masking tape. Be careful not to cover the holes for the pegs or the slits in the cord.
Attatch the two long bars to the bottom of the motor using black connecters, and a double gray connecter on each side right behind them.
Next, we assemble the 'base' the switch will sit on.
The mechanism has to be pretty solid, so the table should be connected to the top of the motor as well.
And the arm that will press down on the switch
The switch slips into the mechanism like so
Push the two sides together underneath the L bars, but DONT SCREW THEM ON. Instead, use masking tape to attach the power cord to the base to hold it in place and roll up small balls to attach the top of the switch to the pressure arms.
Wrap duct tape around the mechanism to hold the base to the motor. This will keep the pressure arms from breaking apart the legos.
Next, you position everything in the box. You can cut holes to feed the lamp's cord wherever you please. Use the duct tape to fasten everything down. You may have to recalibrate the switch.
IF you want, you can decorate the moving "useless box" arm with tape and paper.