What do you get when you cross a Turtle with an Etch-a-Sketch?
This is the first programming language designed specifically for the world famous toy from Ohio Arts - the Etch-a-Sketch. If you've never seen an Etch-a-Sketch, you owe it to yourself to go out and get one now. It's one of half a dozen essential toys in everyone's life - regardless of age. It's a simple design - you turn the knobs, and it draws on the screen. But the simplicity of the design doesn't mean that it's easy to draw on, in fact there are very few people who can make good art with the Etch-a-Sketch!
But instead of drawing on an Etch-a-Sketch by hand, we've built a system that lets you write a simple computer program to do the drawing for you! The programming is easy and uses the LOGO programming language that was designed to be used by 10-yr olds - hence the name, EASiLOGO!
Step 1: What is an Etch-a-Sketch?
(Image courtesy of GeekDad on Wired)
The Etch-a-Sketch is a toy that was invented in 1955 by a French electrician, André Cassagnes. You use two knobs to move an internal stylus across a screen to scratch grey powder off the screen's under-surface. It's entirely mechanical technology - no electronics at all. Horizontal and vertical lines can be drawn easily but diagonals and curves take a lot of practice.
As a maker I suspect you may be more interested in the mechanics of the Etch-a-Sketch than the art it produces, so check out this teardown for the inside scoop. It's actually pretty cool how the axes are connected to the knobs and it's a technique that you might be able to use if you're building a homemade pen-plotter or a laser cutter etc, as Super Awesome Sylvia did with her watercolor bot...
By the way if you feel the urge to strip one down yourself, do it outdoors - the aluminium powder inside the device clings to everything!