We’ve seen our fair share of unique DIY cameras powered by Raspberry Pi, with the latest one coming from a self-taught programmer Martin Fitzpatrick. He has created a camera that’s basically a hacked Etch A Sketch. He named it Etch-a-Snap, and it will turn your photos into quite precise Etch A Sketch drawings.
Etch-a-Snap is powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero (or Zero W). Martin writes that it snaps photos just like any other camera, but outputs them by drawing to a Pocket Etch A Sketch screen.
“Photos are processed down to 240×144 pixel 1-bit (black & white) line drawings using Pillow and OpenCV and then translated into plotter commands by building a network graph representation with networkx. The Etch-A-Sketch wheels are driven by two 5V stepper motors mounted into a custom 3D printed frame.”
The Etch-A-Snap is powered by 4×AA batteries and 3×18650 LiPo cells. It’s entirely portable, but you probably shouldn’t one them when you want to capture the perfect moment quickly. The sketches are as detailed and accurate as they can be, but the process is quite slow. Depending on the complexity, the developing time for a single photo can last between 15 minutes and one hour. Martin writes that, in early tests, the Etch-A-Snap ran at only 2 pixels per second, but now it achieves a “lightning fast” 20 pixels per second.
Here are a few examples of the Etch-a-Snap’s works of art.
I think that Etch-a-Snap is a pretty awesome project. It may not be the best solution for capturing the colors of a sunset, but it seems like a fun toy to play with in your free time. If you’re up for a challenge and want to make one yourself, Martin gives a full write-up of the build on his website, along with all the necessary resources such as the code and the STL files for 3D printing. So, make sure to visit Martin’s website to learn more.