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Ioan Ghip's Arduino-Powered CNC Etch-A-Sketch Project

Gareth Halfacree

Ioan Ghip's Arduino-powered Etch-A-Sketch

When you think of computer numeric control (CNC) - if, indeed, you do at all - you likely think of entirely practical applications: mills, routers, laser cutters, 3D printers, and even homebrew projects like plastic injection moulding machines, pick-and-place machines, and even PCB manufacturing. Sometimes, though, CNC is used for fun: we've previously covered the Piccalo drawing robot and Arvid Jense's spirograph machine, and now there's a new one for the list in the form of Ioan Ghip's CNC Etch-A-Sketch.

Built using a classic Arduino Duemilanove connected to a pair of stepper motors, Ioan's creation provides an interface between a computer and a traditional, physical Etch-A-Sketch. With the program running, the user can draw patterns using an on-screen interface and have them transferred - slowly, admittedly - to the Etch-A-Sketch using a clever toothed pulley system. Impressively, no modification is needed to the Etch-A-Sketch bar the attaching of the toothed pulley mounts through an easily-removable screw.

Ioan's initial build simply transfers a freehand illustration created using the mouse into a real-world Etch-A-Sketch, but he has indicated that he's actively investigating the ability to import vector images and have them automatically sketched - a process similar to more productive CNC applications, such as LaserWeb. Sadly, Ioan hasn't yet shared his source code or schematics for the project.

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