Etch-a-sketch is billed as a toy with a fairly simple design. It’s been around for 60 years, and remains a favourite among children and adults. You use two knobs to move a stylus in the toy that displaces aluminium powder on the back of a screen to create lineographic images. Some people have truly mastered the toy, but for the rest of us, it’s a skill that we haven’t quite acquired. Fortunately, there’s a way to cheat.
The Etch-A-Snap just might be the world’s first Etch-A-Sketch camera. The device combines the classic toy with a modern Raspberry Pi Zero to create the lineographic image you want. Here’s how it works. Using the mounted camera, the Etch-A-Snap lets you take a photo, then it processes that photo using Pillow and OpenCV to create a low-res version of the photo. That low-res version is translated into a series of plotter commands using networks. Two 5V stepper motors control the knobs. Then, within 15 minutes to an hour, you’ll have an Etch-A-Sketch version of the photo you just took.
You can create your own Etch-A-Snap using the write up for the project. You can even download all the scripts and codes needed for the program. Just remember, unlike a Polaroid, you don’t want to shake this photo.