February 13, 2015

Automating Etch-a-Sketch drawing toys with Arduino

In the previous century you may have enjoyed drawing images with an Etch-a-Sketch - and some of us were more successful than others. However now there's a way to create excellent examples using an Arduino, PC and a couple of stepper motors thanks to the work by Evan Long.

His example uses a pair of stepper motors to control the X- and Y-axis dials on the Etch-a-Sketch, with the motors being controlled by an Arduino. The instructions to control the motors are generated by python code running on a host PC, which can take a .png file and convert this into vectors which are then translated by the Arduino into motor commands - and thus images. A great demonstration is shown in the following video:

A very well-executed project that is interesting and fun. You can find all the details on Evan's interesting website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking to develop CNC machines on a larger scale, or control two stepper motors for the Etch-a-sketch in a project similar to the one mentioned above - you will need to control full-sized stepper motors and a servo or two. To simplify the process you can use our new Freetronics StepDuino board:

The StepDuino is a complete, self-contained Arduino-compatible board with 2 onboard stepper motor drivers, 2 servo outputs, a 20x4 LCD, a micro SD card slot, and more! It's a fantastic general purpose board for any project that uses stepper motors. You can use it as the brain of your next robotics project!

The StepDuino uses the same processor architecture as the common Arduino Uno, so you can program it right from the Arduino IDE simply by selecting "Arduino Uno" as the board type. Everything simply works out of the box, just as it would with a regular Arduino - but now you can also drive steppers directly and display feedback on the huge LCD. For more infromation, tutorials and to order - visit the StepDuino page.

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