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The EtchABot uses an Arduino to turn an Etch A Sketch into a self-erasing CNC (Computer Numerical Control) drawing machine. It's far from the first motorized Etch A Sketch on the internet. Other projects have used stepper motors to turn Etch A Sketches into simple CNC machines that can draw portraits, patterns and even tell digital time.

What’s original about the EtchABot is its easy-to-build frame and the Arduino library provided to control it. There is no glue, cutting, drilling or soldering required. Anyone with a basic knowledge of breadboard wiring and Arduino programming can construct and run it. It's also very versatile. The example sketches allow you to run EtchABot with a variety of functions - as an analog clock, Spirograph, joystick controlled doodler and image replicating CNC drawing machine. Using the EtchABot Arduino library, you can program it with other functionality too.


I really do hope that people will be able to build and program their own EtchABots, which is why this Instructable has gotten so long and detailed (sorry!) I've gotten a lot of ideas from reading about other people's projects, so I hope that you'll find some inspiration, or at least something interesting to look at in this Instructable. Enjoy!

Adapted from my blog posts:

http://www.geekmomprojects.com/etchabot-a-cnc-etch...

http://www.geekmomprojects.com/etchabot-part-2-vector-and-raster-images/

Step 1: Getting Started

You can build an EtchABot with either the pocket size (small) or the travel size (medium) Etch A Sketch. The only mechanical difference between the two versions is the size and scaling of the wooden frame. The pocket size frame is somewhat more stable and easier to rotate due to its lighter weight. Otherwise, the assembly instructions are identical. The image above also shows that you can personalize your EtchABot with 1" round Avery labels or by etching your name/logo on the wooden frame.

Once you pick a size, you can get the design files and code from https://github.com/geekmomprojects/EtchABot. I'm linking to GitHub rather than including the files because EtchABot is a work in progress, and that's where you'll find the most up-to-date files.

This is a long Instructable, so here is a table of contents if you'd like to skip to a topic:

  1. Components: Step 2
  2. Assembly: Steps 3 - 15
  3. Arduino library: Step 17
  4. Analog clock software: Step 22
  5. Spirograph software: Step 23
  6. Joystick control software: Step 24
  7. Image software: Step 25

<p>Very nicely done!</p>
<p>Thank you! It was a lot of fun to create and build.</p>
I'm sure. We're going to feature it on Atmel's blog - hope that is OK with you :)
<p>Wow! Of course that's OK - I'm thrilled! Thank you so much!</p>
<p>I love your project and I'd like to give it a try. One thing that often trips me up with Instructables projects is access to specialized fabricating equipment. I live in a rural area of Northern California. I don't have access to a community makerspace with a laser cutter. Can you recommend another source for the MDF laser cut parts? I suppose I could try cutting the parts out with a jig saw but I don't think that your files include a suitable template for that. Any help would be appreciated.</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>I'm so delighted that you want to build an EtchABot. You're right that a jig saw won't have nearly the precision needed for the small parts. I do have two possible solutions for you. <br><br>First of all, I don't know if I'm allowed to promote this on Instructables, so I'll take down the link if I have to, but I've literally just opened a store on Tindie (<a>https://www.tindie.com/products/geekmomprojects/et...</a> to sell EtchABot kits. They contain all of the parts necessary to build a pocket size EtchABot, except for an Etch A Sketch and an Arduino Uno. My intent has always been for this project to be open source hardware and software, but I think it lends itself well to a kit (and would make a good Christmas present!)<br><br>A different solution for just the laser cut MDF parts is to order them custom cut through Ponoko (www.ponoko.com). They're actually quite affordable, and based in Northern California, I believe, so shipping to you should be fast. They have dozens of different kinds of materials, so I'm sure they'd have 1/8&quot; MDF. I used to order all my laser cut parts from them before I joined a makerspace with a laser cutter (shout out to Hexlab!) It might take a little while to figure out how to upload the files in Ponoko's format and order them, but they have very clear instructions on what to do on their site.</p><p>Good luck with making the project, and if you have any more questions I can help with, please ask - I'm happy to help out and excited to see this project take off.</p><p>Debra (aka GeekMomProjects)</p>
<p>Hey that is fantastic and really very innovative! Your Tindie link got truncated and doesn't quite work but it at least gets to the Tindie web page and if one enters &quot;EtchABot&quot; into the search box it goes right to your store page. The price is right but I'm still more interested in building the larger medium sized Etch-a-sketch project. So, I'll check out ponoko.com. I should be able to source the other parts and pieces myself. Maybe you might consider offering just the laser cut pieces for the mini and medium sized projects as an alternative to the full kit? I wish you all the best in your enterprise. Thanks for sharing your great project!</p>
<p>Thank you for your kind thoughts. If there's demand I might consider selling just the laser-cut parts. For now, I'm just selling the pocket size kit. In your case, I think that Ponoko will work well for you.</p><p>You should know that because the Travel Size Etch A Sketch is bigger and heavier, it's a little more difficult for the motor that does the erasing to rotate it. It still works, but you have to be careful of the placement of the wires that connect the stepper motors to the ULN2003 drivers. If they are too taut, or bunch up in the wrong way then can stop the EtchABot from rotating (the motors that turn the drawing knobs work just fine). Just something you should be aware of. With the Pocket Size Etch A Sketch it's not really a problem.</p><p>Anyhow, good luck with your project. I hope you have fun with it!</p>
<p>wow!!! innovative idea</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>I've just finished CNC training, so as soon as I saw THIS, I HAD to look!!! Now all I've got to do is find my kid's etch-a-sketch (JK) A nice weekend project for me!!</p>
<p>Well it is a good way to upcycle an old EtchASketch. Have fun with the project!</p>
<p>I've seen these before and even built one myself but the third motor for an erase is simply awesome......</p>
Thank you!
<p>Very nicely done!</p><p>Best wishes!</p>
Thank you!

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Bio: Mom, maker, tinkerer, technophile.
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