Telecran (Etch a Sketch) + Arduino = Telecranduino !




I came across a bunch of stepper motors and I have since been looking for a project to do with the kids.

An old Telecran (French for Etch-a-Sketch) later, we are in business !

What I used for this project:
- an arduino Uno
- 2 stepper motors
- 2 easydrivers v44 (by
- various Fishertechnik parts (
- a push button.

Optional parts:
- a sensor shield + 2 push buttons
- a Nintendo Wii Nunchuck
- a WiiChuck adapter

And also:
- hot glue gun

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Step 1: Mechanics

The mechanical part has been done with some Fishertechniks parts.

I had to drill into the stepper cogs as the axis of the steppers were 5mm where the FT standard is 4 mm.

The other cogs were simply hot glued onto the Telecran (Etch-a-sketch) knobs.

The rest is best explained in pictures...

Step 2: Steppers

Some details of the motors and the final assembly.

Step 3: Arduino

To drive the steppers I used a couple of easy driver board from Sparkfun.

Very straight forward. Note the emergency button that allows to put the motors to sleep in case of a runaway sketch.

I added a sensor shield to the arduino for convenience as I have a couple of push buttons (with a pull-up resistor) already cabled.

WiiChuck adapter is one of my favorite. Although the Nunchuck is a little more difficult to program than it may first appear.

Step 4: Schematics

Step 5: Code - Sketch

If NUNCHUCK is defined then the code will be compiled with Nunchuck support.
The motors are then controlled exclusively with the Wii Nunchuck.

if NUNCHUCK is not defined, then a pre-defined drawing is executed.
Said drawing is controlled by the 'mode' variable modified at compile time.

This calls for a proper menu, an LCD screen etc... I leave this as an exercise to the reader.

Step 6: Calibration - Backlash

1. backlash

Backlash has been the most annoying part of this project.
It comes from all the mechanical parts involved, the biggest culprit being the Telecran itself.
I finally took backlash into account programmatically and I designed a calibration routine.
Said routine draws a cross several times using various values of backlash.
One can visually decide which value gives the best (most aligned) cross.

In my case 14 is the magic number.

2. nunchuck

When the nunchuck is activated in the code, one can open the serial interface and note the magic numbers for said nunchuck.
Mininum and maximum X and Y.
X and Y values when nunchuck is still.

Nunchuck is active when either 'c' or 'z' is pressed. 'c' is slow, 'w' is fast.

Step 7: Voila

Here are:

- some nunchuck art by one of my kids.

- a sin(x)/x 2D plot.

- a sin(x)/x 3D plot.

- a checker (challenging the backlash algo).

- some 'maisons' (houses in French) teaching programming to my elder : a function, a parameter, a loop...



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19 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction

HI would 12v 4wire stepper need a transistor? 2N2222? I'm keen on making this to control x and y tracks.

any help would be appreciated :)


8 years ago on Introduction

Ohh Great Idea, Perfect project for an introduction into CNC.

Have you tried running G-Code through the Arduino chip onto the Etch-a-Sketch?

3 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I have... just posted:


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Sounds like a good extension of the project indeed !
I like those arduino projects to be not connected directly to a PC though (otherwise it's cheating, isn't it ? ;-) )

So I'd probably use a SD card and a LCD to navigate through the G-Code files to print... and I'd support *very* basic G-Code as well !

A good suggestion for a follow-up Instructable... thanks !


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

I look forward to seeing it, make sure you post the code when you do it.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

They alternate taking small steps.

int i;
for(i=0; i<=abs(den); i++)
move(mot0, len * res * sign(num));
move(mot1, res * sign(den));



Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I'm impressed by how smooth the lines appear. Just really small steps I guess.


Just found one of these at the car boot, but it is leaking a bit.

It appears that the mystery powder is either brass or gold, not sure which..

Might be useable as a conducting adhesive?

Stupid yes, a-hole not as much, it was a project for a class and we were partners and i had to respond to a family emergency and he forgot to disconnect the motors from the shafts for transport and broke the coupling and one of the motors

Nice i made one of these in the past sadly my roommates destroyed it but i'm glad i'm not the only one who still does this kind of stuff

2 replies

Sadley no i didn't have a camera im a poor college student cant afford it. but he it a picture of it half rebuilt (one motor back on with rootmate resistant coupling) waiting to get second coupler in
darn image upload thing not working


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Yep. Also google etch-a-sketch + arduino to get more projects like this one.