Giant pencil used as an Etch a Sketch stylus

The gang over at Waterloo Labs decided to add a team-building aspect to a plain old Etch a Sketch. Instead of just twisting the two knobs with your own mitts, they’re converting this giant pencil’s movements into Etch a Sketch art.

The challenge here is figuring out a reliable way to track the tip of the pencil as it moves through the air. You may have already guess that they are using a Microsoft Kinect depth camera for this task. The Windows SDK for the device actually has a wrapper that helps it to play nicely with LabView, where the data is converted to position commands for the display.

On the Etch a Sketch side of things they’ve chosen the time-tested technique of adding gears and stepper motors to each of the toy’s knobs. As you can see from the video after the break, the results are mixed. We’d say from the CNC ‘W’ demo that is shown there’s room for improvement when it comes to the motor driver. We can’t really tell if the Kinect data translation is working as intended or not. But we say load it up and bring to a conference. We’re sure it’ll attract a lot of attention just like this giant version did.

[Thanks Maegan]

Comments

  1. N0LKK says:

    Did Jerri ever get her giant etch a sketch controllable via the web?

  2. Hirudinea says:

    How do they sharpen that thing!?

  3. Robot says:

    INTERNS!

    The explanation and illustration of how the Kinect calculates depth from an array of IR laser spots was excellent.

  4. trikeit says:

    How about a tricycle interface to the etch a sketch?

    That would be more entertaining, I think.

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