Etch-a-Sketch 3D Printed With Cell Phone

Most of us have fond memories of the Etch-a-Sketch from childhood. [Potent Printables] wanted to update the designs so he 3D printed an XY carriage for a stylus that works with a cell phone drawing program. You can see the video below and the 3D model details on Thingiverse.

The design is fun all by itself, but it also gave us a few ideas. For one thing, if you motorized it you could make some pretty clever drawing toys. But there could be a more practical use, too.

You’d have to automate the Z-axis as well, but if you did, this wouldn’t be a bad test jig for mobile application developers. The stylus could simulate finger poking and dragging while screen captures verified proper operation. Of course, there are other ways to do this, but it would be pretty neat to see a mechanized finger tracing out tests on a new user interface.

Besides that, it’s just a fun project that should be easy enough to scale up to use an old tablet that’s gathering up dust and make it useful again. In addition, the first part of the video shows how the real McCoy works, which is always fun.

We recently saw another modern Etch-a-Sketch using electronic paper. If you want to automate a proper Etch-a-Sketch, we’ve seen that several times.

13 thoughts on “Etch-a-Sketch 3D Printed With Cell Phone

  1. Lifting the head, that’s cheating!

    This would be a cool freebie to hand out to people at an event or something. I’ll print a couple out once I modify it to have an adjustable phone cradle, maybe like a spring-loaded piece that pushes different sized phones all towards the lower right corner. I think that would be a good feature.

    1. As in, you would not have clicked this article if the word was “for” instead of “with”, and everything would have been right with the world? Or you still would have clicked and provided different inane commentary?

      1. Actually, I probably would NOT have clicked on it if I understood it was just what it was. I was intrigued by using a smartphone to control a 3D printer. Or, if it was a smartphone-based SLS printer, it would have been interesting to see an actual project made with one of those. Inane or not, I don’t find every little 3D printed widget to be worth my attention.

        1. Controlling a 3d printer with a smartphone is really old news. I wouldn’t have clicked on that link.

          If you are interested, you can control a 3d printer from a smartphone indirectly using Octoprint on a Raspberry pi. There are several phone apps available for talking to Octoprint, or you can just use the phone’s browser. A similar commercial product exists called Asroprint.

          If that’s cheating and you prefer to control the printer directly from an Android phone just search the Play store for the word “gcode” and you will find several apps to do the job. I don’t know if you will find such a thing in the Apple store but I am guessing not. That would require the app to have access to the USB port and Apple is kind of a dick about that sort of thing.

          If you really want to go whole hog and keep your entire 3d-printing toolchain on your phone I am not sure about the slicer. It’s hard to search for that because all the stupid fruit slicing games gum up the search results. I did find one app that kind of does it but the actual work of slicing gets offloaded to a cloud server somewhere so not really. There are definitely plenty of CAD programs available on Android though. Personally I have used one which is a nearly complete clone of OpenSCAD.

  2. “You’d have to automate the Z-axis as well”

    Would you? Do you even NEED a Z-axis?

    I am looking at that little orange wire that sticks up out of the stylus. I’m guessing that goes to ground or something. I suppose that to the capacitive touch screen that little stylus doesn’t really even exist unless it is electrically connected to something.

    So… perhaps some form of switching could be added to that wire.

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