TV Turned Automatic Etch A Sketch With Raspberry Pi

Considering one of the biggest draws of the original Etch a Sketch was how simple it was, it’s always interesting to see the incredible lengths folks will go to recreate that low-tech experience with modern hardware. A perfect example is this giant wall mounted rendition of the iconic art toy created by [Ben Bernstein]. With a Raspberry Pi and some custom electronics onboard, it can even do its own drawing while you sit back and watch.

At a high level, what we’re seeing here is a standard Samsung LCD TV with a 3D printed Etch a Sketch shell mounted on top of it. That alone would be a pretty neat project, and had [Ben] just thrown some videos of designs getting sketched out onto the display, he could have achieved a similar end result with a lot less work. But where’s the fun in that?

It took hundreds of hours to print the shell.

To make his jumbo Etch a Sketch functional, [Ben] spent more than a year developing the hardware and software necessary to read the user input from the two large 3D printed knobs mounted under the TV. The knobs are connected to stepper motors with custom PCBs mounted to their backs that hold a A4988 driver chip as well as a AS5600 absolute magnetic rotary encoder. This solution allows the Raspberry Pi to not only read the rotation of the knobs when a person is using the Etch a Sketch interactively, but spin them realistically when the software takes over and starts doing an autonomous drawing.

Several Python scripts pull all the various pieces of hardware together and produce the final user interface. The software [Ben] wrote can take an image and generate paths that the Etch a Sketch can use to realistically draw it. The points that the line is to pass through, as well as variables that control knob rotation and pointer speed, are saved into a JSON file so they can easily be loaded later. Towards the end of the Imgur gallery [Ben] has created for this project, you can see the software working its way through a few example sketches.

We’ve seen several projects that motorize an Etch a Sketch to draw complex images, but this may be the first example we’ve seen where everything was done in software. This digital version doesn’t need to follow the traditional “rules”, but we appreciate that [Ben] stuck to them anyway. Incidentally this isn’t the first Etch a Sketch TV conversion to grace these pages, though to be fair, the other project took a radically different approach.

Continue reading “TV Turned Automatic Etch A Sketch With Raspberry Pi”

Blackboard Becomes Tidy Pen Plotter

Printers are all well and good, but they’re generally limited to smaller paper sizes and use expensive ink. If you instead want to produce art on a larger scale, a plotter can be a great way to go. [tuenhidiy] built a tidy example using an old blackboard as a base.

These days, such a build is quite easily approachable, thanks to the broad DIY CNC and 3D printing communities. The plotter consists of a pair of stepper motors, driven by an off-the-shelf RAMPS 1.4 controller and an Arduino Mega 2560. The motors are mounted at the top corners of the blackboard, and move the pen holder via a pair of toothed belts, counter-weighted for stability. The pen holder itself mounts a simple permanent marker, and uses a servo to push the holder away from the paper for retraction, rather than moving the pen itself. Control of the system is via the Makelangelo firmware, an open-source effort capable of driving a wide variety of CNC motion systems.

The final result is a simple plotter using readily available parts that can reliably plot large graphics on a piece of A1 paper. We’re particularly impressed by the clean, continuous lines it produces – testament to a sound mechanical design.

We see plenty of plotters around these parts; even rotary types that can draw on curves. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Blackboard Becomes Tidy Pen Plotter”

Remoticon Video: Making Glowy Origami With Charlyn Gonda

Hacking is about pushing the envelope to discover new and clever ways to use things in ways their original designers never envisioned. [Charlyn Gonda]’s Hackaday Remoticon workshop “Making Glowly Origami” was exactly that; a combination of the art of origami with the one of LEDs. Check out the full course embedded below, and read on for a summary of what you’ll find. Continue reading “Remoticon Video: Making Glowy Origami With Charlyn Gonda”

Solar Pi Zero E-Paper Photo Frame Waits For The Right Moment

One of the biggest advantages of electronic paper is that it doesn’t require a constant power source to display a static image. Depending on the application, this can lead to a massive energy savings compared to more traditional display technologies. Of course, the electronics that actually drive the display are another story entirely. You need to reduce the energy requirements of the whole system if you really want to stretch your battery life.

So when [Giacomo Miceli] wanted to put together this solar powered e-paper photo frame, he had to come up with some creative ways to curb the energy consumption of the Raspberry Pi Zero that runs the show. While the 10.3 inch 1872 × 1404 panel would only require the occasional burst of power to flick over to a new image, the Pi would be a constant drain on the internal battery pack. Considering he wanted the frame to recharge from ambient light with an array of small solar panels, that simply wouldn’t do.

The solution came in the form of a PiJuice HAT and some scripts that decide how often the Pi is to be powered on based on the current battery level. If there’s enough power, it might be every hour or so. But the lower the charge, the longer the delay. When the energy situation is particularly dire, the Pi might only be turned on every couple of days. With the Pi off and the e-paper not drawing any power, all of the energy produced by the solar panels can be devoted to recharging the frame’s 1,000 mAh battery.

When the Pi does get booted up, it quickly connects to a server to download a new image and update the display. After that, it ascertains the current battery level and determines how long the PiJuice should wait before turning it back on. After these tasks are complete, it will turn itself off until the next scheduled event. All told, [Giacomo] says the Pi is only up and running for about a minute each time the image is refreshed on the e-paper. He says the system has been running for six weeks now, with the battery level occasionally dipping down to 40% or so before it climbs back up.

Admittedly the energy consumption of the frame could be cut drastically by replacing the Raspberry Pi with a simple microcontroller, but we appreciate the creativity. Besides, the power and flexibility afforded by the Pi means this frame could be taught quite a few new tricks with some updated software.

Bringing Full Colour PCB Art To Production

One of the Holy Grails in the world of electronic badges has been full-colour PCB art as a logical progression from the limited palette of traditional PCB artwork. In the progression towards achieving this goal there have been a variety of techniques applied, and it’s become an expensive commercial possibility rather than an unachievable dream. Has it become practical for mere mortals then? [Tom Clement] has put together a write-up of his progression towards achieving full-colour PCB artwork on a limited production run , and it makes for a fascinating read.

The board in question is the Pixel badge, an improved commercial version of the CampZone 2019 I-Pane badge we reviewed last year. It’s a very bright large multicolour LED matrix that has caught the eye of campgoers at events ever since the original, and has generated enough demand for a new production run. As well as a few electronic enhancements it replaces the original’s dithered monochrome silkscreen rear art with a full-colour design, and it is that with which the write-up is concerned.

It starts with UV printing, and goes through the various iterations of the process until a satisfactory result is achieved. We learn about the effect of reflow temperatures on UV printing inks, it seems that white ink discolours with temperature and the inventive solution is to transfer all the whites to the PCB silkscreen layer. He closes with a discourse on alignment, and we start to appreciate the achievement behind producing this badge. A colour print isn’t necessary for the Pixel’s eye-searing light show, but the point of badges is as much to show off the cutting edge of the art.

As the regular Hackaday reader will know, colour PCB art is a long-time topic of interest here at Hackaday.

A Bullet For The Digital You

Harkening back to a not-so-distant past where duels settled arguments, [Joris Wegner] put a twist on the idea of quarrels with a gun that damages your online persona rather than your physical one. The controversy of social media is nothing new, but most people today have a large percentage of their lives online. A gun that can destroy your social media by deleting your account feels far more potent than most would like to admit.

At the heart of this build, each gun contains a battery-powered ESP8266 that connects to another ESP8266 in the gun case, which in turn is connected to a computer. When a trigger is pulled, the computer deletes the Facebook account with the credentials stored on the gun. It offers a new look at the importance of one’s social media presence. While the concept of being attacked on social media is nothing new, the idea of digitally dying on social media is perhaps something new. This particular project was put on hold when [Joris] realized that Facebook accounts can be reactivated after 30 days, which renders the gesture less potent.

Playful and interesting twists on the idea of a gun are nothing new here on Hackaday. We’ve seen also [Joris’] work before with a MIDI-controlled video distortion box.

Tunes You Can Eat

This week retro-gadget collector and video blogger [Techmoan] featured perhaps the most delicious audio recording format that we know of — a chocolate gramophone record. (Video, embedded below.) Compared to his typical media format explorations, the chocolate record is of quite recent vintage. He first heard of them back in 2015 when Tasmanian artist [Julia Drouhin] offered chocolate recordings as part of her art project. The one that [Techmoan] finally obtained was from a UK chocolatier who offers them with custom labelling and your choice of two songs. There are some pointers in the video about how to playback your chocolate disk without ruining it (use the lightest stylus tracking force as possible). These disks are recorded at 45 RPM on one side only, and are about the same size as a standard single. But being about five times thicker, they pack a lot more calories than your typical phonograph disk.

No reflection on the Tewkesbury Town Band, but this is probably the lowest fidelity recording media ever, but at least you can eat it when you’re done listening — label and all. We hope the Mission Impossible movie producers are paying attention so we can see the secret audio briefing being eaten instead of going up in smoke next film.

Continue reading “Tunes You Can Eat”