There’s just something very appealing about taking a childhood toy and giving it electronic controls.
Many of us have memories of using an Etch A Sketch as a child and being frustrated that our drawing skills with it weren’t really up-to-par. Sure, there are a few people that are able to manipulate these devices to an artistic level, but for those that are instead well-versed in electromechanical arts, the other option is to create a machine to draw for you.
Instructables user “GeekMomProjects” did just that, and outlined how to replicate her device in a very detailed write-up. Her machine uses three servos controlled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a stepper driver. Two steppers to spin the knobs in a coherent fashion another tips it over when a new drawing needs to be started. This function is also useful for defining where the “pen” should start, which can certainly be frustrating for amateur ‘Sketch artists.
The mechanical frame is cut out very nicely with a laser cutter, and simply bolts together. According to the article, “There is no glue, cutting, drilling or soldering required. Anyone with a basic knowledge of breadboard wiring and Arduino programming can construct and run it.”
You do apparently need access to a laser cutter (or possibly another type of cutting tool), but given the mechanism’s excellent capabilities shown in the videos below, it might be worth it to have the components cut out!
In addition to the functions shown, it also has the ability to draw either raster or vector images from a computer, though it’s better suited to produce vector graphics (graphics composed of lines). Code and mechanical designs are available on GitHub, which should allow things to be updated as improvements come.