A curious device encountered in the laboratories of the Transylvania Polygnostic University, seen for the first time , and named shortly thereafter. It's not what it seems to be.
This thing was built, or at least almost built, at the direction of none other than Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Tarsus Beetle, tyrant of Beetleburg and big kahuna of TPU, couldn't be bothered to work on it himself, being preoccupied with surreptitious study of a resource that he hoped to use against the Baron sooner or later. He accordingly set his underlings Silas Merlot and Hugo Glassvitch the task of making it work -- whatever "work" means in context. At story time they've been slaving over it for three months, but the final design never seems to fall into place.
At least that's the story they give when the Baron pays an unexpected visit to TPU to see what's going on, accompanied by an entourage that includes his son Gil. The timing is inauspicious, as bumbling student Agatha Clay (who doesn't know yet that she's actually the arch-über-mega-Spark Agatha Heterodyne) has just rushed into the lab distraught at the loss of her locket, which upsets Beetle almost as much as it upsets Agatha herself. (This seems out of character for Beetle, but as will become clear, he has his reasons.) Following an exchange of pleasantries, Klaus sets Gil the challenge of figuring out just what's going on with the thing.
After a brief, unsatisfying exposure to Agatha's improvised, Gil figures it out: the Dihoxulator simply isn't going to work, at least not according to the plans that Klaus gave the good professors. This provides the opportunity for one of those father/son bonding moments that Klaus relishes so much (Gil less so), explained by Merlot: the whole thing is a test devised by Klaus to see whether the Spark burns as brightly in Gil as it does in himself. Gil passes with honors: he's sufficiently sure of himself that he's willing to face his father's wrath and stand on his convictions that the Dihoxulator is a piece of junk, as Klaus knows that it is. Klaus commends his son for his strength, and all is on the way to a sweetness-and-light ending ...
... Until Merlot hive engine instead of the Dihoxulator -- in direct contravention of the Baron's orders to turn over artifacts of The Other, as they both know hive engines to be. Merlot is so angry that he calls this little indiscretion to the Baron's attention, and all manner of merriment ensues, at the end of which Professor Beetle has become the late Professor Beetle, Merlot has been as his reluctant successor as the head of TPU and the town (with a visit to Castle Heterodyne awaiting him if and when he screws up), and Agatha has been whisked off to Castle Wulfenbach to start the rest of the story. Not bad for an invention that was never supposed to work, eh?over the way he and Glassvitch have been treated while the Dihoxulator was being assembled. His wrath, however, isn't directed at Klaus, but rather at Beetle, because unlike most of the people in the room, he knows that Beetle has been spending his time studying the
Relevant outside information
The Dihoxulator and some of Beetle's lab has been rendered in CG by Ziggy here.