Impressive: Man Builds An Etch-A-Sketch Camera That Automatically Draws The Photo Image

April 16, 2019

This is a video demonstration of the Raspberry Pi powered 'Etch-A-Snap' camera built by Martin Fitzpatrick that automatically draws (in 20 minutes to an hour) the image it detects and processes after its button is pushed. Some more info while I tear open and eat all the metal filings in a Wooly Willy magnetic toy to spite my mom for not cutting the crust off my PB&J two days in a row, presumably to spite me for not making my bed two days in a row. Classic circle of life:

Fitzpatrick built his Etch-A-Snap around a Raspberry Pi Zero upgraded with stepper motors, a custom 3D-printed frame and gearing to control the miniature Etch A Sketch display, and a basic digital camera on the back. There was no reason to go overboard with the megapixels as every photo snapped is reduced to just 240 x 144-pixels in size, and then downgraded to a 1-bit color palette--black and white.


The low-res image is then processed and converted to plotter commands, which is a type of printer that works similarly to an Etch A Sketch; physically drawing out an image by moving a pen along X and Y coordinates. But in this case, the commands are sent to the stepper motors which spin the Etch A Sketch's upgraded knobs to move its drawing tip accordingly.

Man, if you can build an Etch-A-Sketch camera, what can't you build? I bet Martin has the skills and knowledge to get me to the moon. Or past the moon, I don't care, just as long as I escape earth's incessant gravity. I hate it. Do you know what the scale said I weighed this morning? "What?" Nothing, it pretended its batteries were low so I'd get off. "Sexually?" Ha, that scale would never be so kind.

Keep going for the video, as well as one of the camera drawing in real time, but if you want to build one yourself Martin has step-by-step instructions (including downloadable scripts and code) on his website HERE.

Thanks to James R and hairless, who agree there's no way the Etch-A-Snap won't be the new standard for family portraits.

  • Ez

    What does the finished picture look like? Youtube doesn't work for me today and your gif is too short.

  • Tigerh8r

    Lol! My Youtube working fine, but that video was sloooooow!

    (Didn't watch).

  • sizzlepants

    Music is decent in the first clip. Very 80s synth / electro pop. Image is like a bad machine version of what the dudes looked like in Ah-Ha's Take on Me video. The second video should just be ignored.

    While the example result might not be that good - this is a fantastic proof of concept / engineering project. It's terrible at making detailed images of abstract things (like a face) but it would probably be surprisingly effective at more inanimate things. I'd like to see both skyscrapers and a landscape / horizon on that thing.

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