Logging Temperatures With An Etch-a-Sketch

What do you do if you’re given a gigantic ancient printer? If you’re [IronJungle], you throw that printer on your workbench and salvage all the parts you can. After coming across a few stepper motors in an old Oki printer, [IronJungle] decided to automate an Etch-a-Sketch with the help of a PIC microcontroller and H-bridge chip to log the ambient temperature on an Etch-a-Sketch display.

After [IronJungle] was finished figuring out his stepper motor circuit, the only thing left to do was to add a thermometer. For this task, he chose a very cool one-wire digital thermometer that carries power and data over the same wire.

In the video after the break, you can check out [IronJungle] playing with his new Etch-a-Sketch temperature logger with a shot glass of hot water and a cold can of holy water. There’s no scale or graph lines drawn on this Etch-a-Sketch temperature logger, but [IronJungle] has a few more things planned for this rig. We can’t wait to see those plans come to fruition.


9 thoughts on “Logging Temperatures With An Etch-a-Sketch

  1. Cool. I have a little Dickson mini templotter I recently picked up for a buck. Very neat and simple mechanism where the disc turns slowly with a sheet of circular paper with time/temp denoted. In the upper corner there is a bimetal spring that moves the little penhead on the tip according to expansion and contraction of the spring. I love it but am having a hard time getting it running as I have no experience with clockworks and the spring is seized. I love the use of the stepper motors in your project and will have to keep an eye out for some next junky printer I get :) The etch a sketch is a hoot! Keep up the good work :)

  2. Cool!

    I seem to love anything that uses an etch-a-sketch to visualize data or motion.

    I’m also wondering about ways to clear the EaS display. Maybe an air source that blows the powder around? Perhaps a small fan inside at the bottom that agitates it until the screen is re-coated?

  3. I like the idea a lot. And once the image is there, the system doesn’t require much energy to keep it displaying. But iirc, in order to clear it, one has to shake that thing, wasn’t it?

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Clearing the display would be as simple as creating a “fork” mount and controlling a servo motor to rock the display back a forth several times. Straightforward; maybe a dozen lines of code or so.

  5. Why not have a lie detector? Could you imagine the next spy movie with a cut to the straight-faced expert watching an etch-a-sketch wiggle about and he looks up saying “He is lying”.

    Or a seismo-graph. Balance it on the edge of the table. If it is on the ground the next day, you’ve had an earthquake. If the screen is split it was a big one. Mmm. Sorry, no electronics in that one.

    How about a watch where you draw the hands, wait a minute, shake it, and draw the next time.

    I will mention this in my blog next week at http://www.onsolution.com.au (feel free to comment out the shameless link).

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