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Etch-A-Snap: The Raspberry Pi Powered Etch-A-Sketch Camera
Etch-A-Snap is the result of mashing together a Pocket Etch-A-Sketch, a Raspberry Pi Zero, and onboard camera module, a couple servo motors and a number of other goodies to create what is ‘probably’ the world’s first Etch A Sketch camera.
The Etch-A-Snap is programmed first to reduce the image to 240 by 144 pixels since the tiny drawing toy at the back doesn’t need all that data. Of course, the Etch A Sketch doesn’t need color either, so the image is further downgraded to black and white.
The low-res image is 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.
Etch-A-Snap is completely portable, but it’s probably the last thing you’d want to bring along to capture vacation memories.
As the maker Fitzpatrick says, the image takes between 15 minutes and an hour to “develop” the image, depending on just how many elaborate lines are needed to recreate the photograph. Much of that time is spent computing to translate the image, and the camera tends to perform the slowest right after the image is snapped.
While the practical applications are limited, the cool factor is that the system can also be used to draw manually processed images, which can improve results when images are chosen carefully.