We have never opened Etch-a-Sketch, but we did scrape out a window large enough to really check the mechanism inside. [MrLangford] Bringing Etch-a-Sketch into the 21st century At the same time, at least for ordinary people, it brings a greater atmosphere of mystery.
Instead of driving a stylus on an xy rack with a pair of knobs to scrape off the aluminum powder on the plastic, the bad boy uses a rotary encoder to move the cursor and drop the colored light square. The familiar actions are there-the left knob moves the cursor left and right, and the right knob moves up and down. But this will not be a 21st century toy without novel features. Push down on the left encoder and it will cycle through eight colors, or push down on the right encoder to traverse them backward. We hope that one of the colors can be reset to dark, just in case you mess up. Although we are dreaming of improvement, it is great to add an accelerometer so that you can shake it clean like a standard Etch-a-Sketch.
Inside the necessary red housing with white knobs is an Arduino Nano and a 16×16 RGB LED matrix. The shell is four pieces of 6mm MDF glued together. We like to use a prototype board to distribute GND and 5 V to keep it slim.
If you are not an artist, here is a TV-sized Etch-a-Sketch build, which can paint by itself.