I’ve been really intrigued by various Etch-A-Sketch automation projects out there (here’s a few.) I’m excited by the prospect of a large, diy, low energy display. I’d love to use one to make a web-synced wall calendar. I can see two major hurdles in the The Etch-A-Sketch route though: You can’t lift the pen, and you need to shake it (or redistribute the powder somehow,) to erase the drawing.
I went around and around in my head, trying to figure out how to overcome these issues, when my girlfriend says, “Why not use a Magna Doodle?” Why not indeed! The erasing process is just a swipe of a magnet, and there’s no aluminum dust to contend with. Much easier. (I should mention here that while I have always known this toy as “Magna Doodle,” that’s a discontinued name. Fisher Price bought it and renamed it “Doodle Pro.”)
There’s a wrinkle though. Unlike the Etch-A-Sketch, the Doodle Pro needs the pen to be on the viewer’s side of the screen. That would probably be ok, but ideally I’d like all the display hardware to be hidden from view. What to do, what to to?
Well, I got some cheap Doodle Pros today, and upon taking one apart, it looks like that may not be an issue. It turns out that when you draw something on one side, you get a decent negative on the other! So I’m going to try, at least at first, to create a display with the pen hidden from view. The user will see a black (gray, I guess) background with white lines. The lines are a little fatter than I’d like, but there may be some improvements that can be made to the pen that will fix that.