Thanks to tablets like the iPad, teens and adults alike have begun to shy away from simple toys like the Etch-A-Sketch. Fortunately, there are still quite a few geeks out there with the skills to give this classic toy a modern makeover. Continue reading to see five of the coolest examples.

5. Etch-A-Laptop

Thanks to Arduino, the Hack-a-Sketch has become a reality. Simply put, “an Arduino board reads the inputs from two potentiometers (the knobs), and sends the information via USB to a processing sketch which displays the path of the stylus on the screen.” Unfortunately, creating masterpieces on this is even harder than the traditional toy version, since a laptop is required to even use this.

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4. PropEtcher

Dubbed the PropEtcher, this Etch-a-Sketch is powered by a Parallax Propeller chip and controlled with a computer. While it can’t produce any complex drawings…yet, the custom creation is still being tweaked. As it happens, there is some appreciable mechanical slop, also known as backlash, in the system. At first I thought the backlash was in the tubing between the stepper motors and the Etch-a-Sketch, but in fact it’s mostly in the Etch-a-Sketch mechanism itself.


3. HD Etch-A-Sketch

Etch-A-Sketch enthusiast Jeri Ellsworth used a projection television, along with “some tent poles, a golf tee and gear-reduced motors,” to create a 52-inch version. The sketcher uses aluminum powder, just like in the traditional toy, and they plan on eventually enabling it for IRC bot control.


2. World’s Largest Etch-A-Sketch

First shown at Siggraph 2006, this gigantic Etch-a-Sketch let all who attended the demonstration control the screen with two-sided paddles that signal sensor cameras. To use it, one half of the audience controlled the right knob while the others piloted the left knob. Simply put, “this technology allows audience members to control (in real-time) the two famous Etch A Sketch drawing knobs and use them interactively; functionality also includes the audience’s ability to “shake” the screen clean and start again with a blank canvas.”


1. Etch-A-Sketch Clock

This unique Etch-A-Sketch clock, based on Scott Ferguson’s CNC EAS and the Arduino platform, uses stepper motors to power the device, which is then connected to a laptop for drawing purposes. Best of all, the device erases itself each and every minute. Though we’d like to see the ability to draw portraits, its time displaying function is more than enough to get us through the work day.

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