The Hands-Free Etch-a-Sketch

A class project pairs a microprocessor and some accelerometers with the classic drawing toy

Etch-a-Sketch in Operation
SparkFun Electronics

SparkFun Electronics is showcasing a recent class project from Alex Dow at the University of Colorado. Derived from a box full of SparkFun widgets, Mr. Dow was able to concoct a digitally controlled Etch-a-Sketch.

Unlike the more conventional analog version, Mr. Dow's model uses a pair of ADXL322 accelerometers attached to two human wrists for driving two separate stepper motors. These motors, in turn, driven by a couple of EasyDriver PCBs, spin two rubber bands that have been independently looped over each of the Etch-a-Sketch control knobs.

The real "brains" behind this creative endeavor is the beloved Arduino. The result is yet another frustrating variable added to one of the American toy industry's most enduring and almost impossible to master artifacts. Add a Slinky to the mix and you'll have a great pastime for whiling away those dreaded semester final exams.