Drawing masterpieces on an Etch A Sketch is not easy. The challenge of scribbling only with a single line may be why it has been a popular toy for almost 60 years. Martin Fitzpatrick doesn’t need to make his own drawings on his Etch A Sketch. Instead, he uses hist to take pictures and lets it draw by itself.
Fitzpatrick built his Etch A Snap around a Raspberry Pi Zero used to control stepper motors, and a custom 3D-printed frame and gearing to control the display. There’s also a basic digital camera on the back. Every photo is just 240 x 144-pixels in a 1-bit color palette of black and white. The image then gets processed, then motors turn the knobs to draw out the image by moving a pen along X and Y coordinates.
It does take between 15 minutes to an hour to process and draw an image, so it’s only good if you have some time to kill. If you want to build one yourself, Fitzpatrick has detailed all the steps of the Etch A Snap camera on his website.
Sure, it may be slower than every other camera out there, but I like it. If cameras had evolved differently, this may have come from Kodak or Polaroid along the way.
Curious to see what’s going on inside of your Etch A Sketch? Curiosity is a good thing, but be warned, if you take apart that Etch A Sketch, you will have metal shavings everywhere, and probably fill your lungs with toxic dust. So you might want to enjoy this experiment from afar.
YouTubers What’s Inside? and Grant Thompson wanted to know what the guts of the classic drawing toy looked like. So naturally they dissected some so we can all enjoy it. Turns out it is mostly very fine aluminum powder. This is what coats the glass screen and gives it that grey color. Aside from that, it is basically just the metal pointer, it’s position controlled by strings attached to the knobs. Moving the knobs scrapes the aluminum powder away, creating your drawing.
Check out the video below to see what secrets this toy has within it’s red box. You can skip ahead to 3:02 to see the mess:
Seriously, don’t do this at home. You will never clean up all of that metal powder. And your wife will kill you.
And now for your moment of zen. This Etch a Sketch Zen Garden Coffee Table is a great way to channel your inner calm. Friend of Technabob Caleb Kraft created this fun project that combines a coffee table, an Etch a Sketch and a zen garden. It is a great piece of functional decor that you can play with while having your morning coffee..
Caleb’s goal was to create a table that would have two knobs to move a ball bearing through a bed of sand, sort of like a giant Etch a Sketch. He accomplished this by scaling up and tweaking a previous “tracing device” project.
You can check out the build in the videos below if you want learn to make your own. It looks like a fun toy to have in your home. This would definitely impress your friends.
To celebrate the 10th birthday of Arduino, the folks at laser cutter shop Just Add Sharks decided to make a laser cutter run by an Arduino Pro Mini. To make things more fun, they made it so their laser cutter is controlled using two knobs just like an Etch A Sketch. They even made the controller look just like the toy.
As with the Etch A Sketch, one of the knobs moves the laser vertically while the other makes it move horizontally. The laser cutter can not only etch, it also has a high powered mode that actually cuts through an object. That sounds awesome, but on the other hand you can’t erase or undo the process – no matter how hard you shake it.
This clock by Instructables member dodgey99 uses an Etch A Sketch to draw the time, then flips over to erase the markings and update the time. It’s the kind of clock you would expect to find in one of Doctor Who’s TARDIS rooms, along with other strange and cool stuff. However, this one is right here and now on Earth.
Its creator adapted a pre-existing body of code that used stepper motors to write random lines on an Etch A Sketch. He rewrote the program so that it would not only compose specific lines, but reset the stylus on an analog device. The motors are directed by an Arduino. Pulleys connect the knobs to a pair of overpowered stepper motors mounted on a frame of acrylic sheets. Despite being a bit slow at drawing the time, it’s still genius.
Check out the video. Great job dodgey99. I want one.
The Etch a Sketch has been used for many things in the past, but I think this is the first time that we have ever seen a TV show recap drawn out on one. Hey, drawing on the Etch a Sketch sure beats cooking meth.
Well, it is not nearly as lucrative of course. Not nearly as adventurous. But it’s an honest toy, that won’t get you into any trouble. I don’t think. Anyway, I present to you this awesome Breaking Bad recap of seasons 1-5 as told by Etch a Sketch drawings and narration. And it goes without saying… SPOILER ALERT…
Todd’s Sketches is a web series that draws everything “from pop culture to news to whatever happens to be on his mind” using his Etch a Sketch.
When I was a kid, I never thought much of the Etch-A-Sketch. But a tool is only as good as the one using it. Did I just insult myself? I think I just praised Jane Labowitch, who calls herself Princess Etch-A-Sketch. And for good reason.
Now that’s Pokémon Black-and-White. Below are her other Pokémon Etch-A-Sketches:
I wonder how long it would take to animate one battle sequence on an Etch-A-Sketch. Check out Jane’s deviantART page for more of her work, including her awesome business card.
The Etch-a-Sketch reminds me of the days when I was a kid and didn’t have the day-to-day worries that I have right now (like how I’m going to find time to write two papers for this class I’m taking when I have to work for the most part of the day, among others.)
So when I saw this Playtime Belt Buckle on Etsy (aka the Etch-a-Sketch Belt Buckle), let me say I did more than just do a double take.
While I’m not in the market for a new buckle, you might be.
As its name obviously suggests, you can now wear a miniature and fully functional Etch-a-Sketch around your waist. It might be hard to draw stuff while you’re wearing it and it might be weird if someone else were using it to draw stuff while it’s around your waist, but hey, it’s still a pretty cool and funky belt buckle.
The Playtime Belt Buckle is available from iFind Industries’ Etsy shop for $80 (USD). Of course with a hot glue gun and one of these, you could DIY one for a whole lot less money.