The problem with the etch-a-sketch? Other than a city skyline it’s tough to make much of anything, unless you are a practiced master with the dials. Some students at Cornell are correcting that little kink:
This nostalgic toy is recognized by many generations and we decided to put a new spin on the device. Most Americans are familiar with the two knob design which allows a user to control the movement of a stylus by turning each knob. The left knob controls horizontal motion and the right knob moves the stylus vertically. Turning both knobs at the same time causes the stylus to draw out a diagonal line. We decided to mount a stepper motor on each knob and control those with the Atmel Mega 32. By connecting a serial mouse to the microcontroller and using our line drawing algorithm, we could move the stylus directly by moving the mouse. The ability to record movements and play them back is available for creating more interesting designs.
I wonder what this will do to those ‘etch-a-sketch artist’ folks who make portraits by grinding away for hours on end.