Let me show you my etchings

That ubiquitous fixture of garage sales, the Etch-A-Sketch, has finally been turned into something useful (did anyone ever manage to create a recognisable image on one of those things.. er yes, sort of.)

Here it is, the Electr-O-Sketch, the computerised, adaptively reused Etch-A-Sketch. Two Cornell University engineering students, Jason Levin and Chris Hopkins, replaced the knobs with stepper motors

so that the Etch-A-Sketch could be controlled with a mouse. When that worked they added record and playback that meant it could be used like a printer, although you would need one Electr-O-Sketch per page – at least it doesn’t need refills. One printer per page is only marginally worse than the average inkjet printer where the ink refills costs more than the printer and only print a few hundred pages. We can see banks of these connected to raptop computers, clunking away to determine the meaning of life. This is the peripheral that the internet made of a series of toobs has been waiting for.

We were told about it by our friend Ben Denham

whose marionette spray guns are themselves masterpieces of adaptive reuse and arguably the world’s trickiest writing device.

Check out the videos. It adds a whole new dimension to the idea of hand-eye co-ordination. Thanks Ben.

2 thoughts on “Let me show you my etchings

  1. Pingback: carlsonmilliss on adaptive reuse » Blog Archive » Sketchy transport

  2. Joe Cochran

    Standing on the shoulders of the students from Cornell, I made a device that converts BMP images to Etch-A-Sketch creations. It uses an arduino microcontroller instead of a serial mouse, and I wrote the software to convert the BMP image to a continuous line drawing.


    I wish I had these guys’ emails so I could thank them for the excellent writeup they did.


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