Electrographic Enlarging Sketchifier does your drawing for you


Back in the 80’s, there used to be a kid’s toy that would allow you to replicate an image by tracing a pre-drawn picture in one panel, while a mechanical arm laid down ink in another. We’d be hard-pressed to remember what the thing was called, but this Electrographic Enlarging Sketchifier would be a wonderful modern day stand-in.

flickr user [Imajilon] constructed this cool motorized pantograph out of tongue depressors, rivets, foam core board, and a handful of electronic components. Despite its bargain basement bill of materials, this thing is pretty darn cool. An optical sensor “views” an image and drives a simple FET circuit, replicating the picture automatically using an electrically driven pen mechanism.

Looking through her flickr stream, we thought the results were quite impressive. She does plan on making a second version of the Sketchifier with a smaller light sensitive area, which should allow her to resolve even smaller features of the source drawing.

[via BuildLounge]


  1. Cubby says:

    I believe they were called, “Pantographs”.

  2. Warren says:

    The machines were called Pantographs

  3. Mike Nathan says:

    Right, I know that the “technical” term is pantograph, but we all swear that they had some catchy 80’s name attached to them, which no one can recall.

  4. featheredfrog says:

    Pantographs are FAR older than the 1980s.

  5. YT2095 says:

    yeah, it was called a sketch-a-graph ;)
    my wife still has hers!

  6. Laura Harris (Imajilon) says:

    Hey, cool, you guys picked this up!

    I just searched and found the toy mentioned up thread (“vintage pantograph toy”)- and lo, it was called the ‘Sketch-a-Graph’ and made by Ohio Art way back when. Same basic idea but without the all-important sketchification factor. ;)

    Thanks for the post!

  7. Lew says:

    It was and is called a Sketch-a-graph. You can still by them – mostly overseas though.

  8. Paul says:

    Very well executed. The sketchiness is a cool effect. A second color would certainly add to it.

  9. Laura Harris (Imajilon) says:

    Thanks, Paul!

    Based on the post over at the BuildLounge, I want to to clarify a key point about the way this works- you manually scan the pickup head over the original. I left the scanning as a manual function so I could use similar techniques to regular sketching.

    Not to say hooking up some servos or steppers to the linkage and driving them with a computer or microcontroller wouldn’t be cool- I’d love to see something like that myself! Maybe one of these days . . . :)

  10. gmcurrie says:

    Nice – like the fact that the human hand is involved & the result is not ‘robotic/perfect’ – each one will be unique.

    Interesting way of detecting colour at a single point here: http://profmason.com/?p=1413

    A bunch of pens each triggered by its own colour band might make for ‘posterised’ pix

    & could maybe do pointillism-style stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointillism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,405 other followers