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The World’s First Etch A Sketch Camera

Self-taught programmer Martin Fitzpatrick of Two Bit Arcade has created the world’s first Etch A Sketch digital camera. It captures digital photos and then outputs them by drawing them onto the Pocket Etch A Sketch “screen” found on the back.

The camera is powered by Raspberry Pi Zero. After a digital photo is captured, they’re processed down to a 240×144 pixel 1-bit black-and-white line drawing using Pillow and OpenCV. The drawing is then translated into plotter commands by creating a network graph representation with NetworkX. Those plotter commands are carried out by physically moving the Etch A Sketch wheels using two 5V stepper motors built into a custom 3D-printed frame Fitzpatrick created.

Fitzpatrick calls his creation the “Etch-A-Snap.”


The back of the Etch-A-Snap.

The front of the Etch-A-Snap.

If you’re used to “chimping” your photos, you’ll need a great deal of patience to do so with the Etch-A-Snap: it takes up to an hour for the photo to be processed and then sketched onto the rear screen (depending on the complexity of the photo).

And when you’re ready to shoot a new photo, you simply “delete” the previous one by pointing the camera’s screen down and giving it a good shake.

Here’s a short 1.5-minute video in which Fitzpatrick introduces the camera and shows it shooting and displaying a photo (thankfully, as a timelapse):

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