Wednesday, November 28, 2007


From the it's-a-weird-ole-world department: the computer-controlled Etch-a-Sketch.


Alex said...

One thing that immediately leaps to mind here is how it was done.

This guy must be an old school toy geek. He also seems to be a Brit.

He uses stepper motors with a PC on a chassis built from Meccano (not Erector Set).

A total toy geek would probably have used Lego Mindstorms as the controller, though admittedly they are not stepper motors, and would be harder to mount on the Etch-a-Sketch.

Anonymous said...

A total toy geek

It's weird how any interest in anything seems to make someone a geek if they cross that invisible line. You'd think that sports was safe, but hardcore baseball fanatics who are too heavy into the statistics side of things can also be geeks.

It's probably just to do with the usual anti-intellectualism in (seemingly) all societies.

Alex said...

Lay out 20 Hotwheels sized toy cars and I could pick out, virtually at a glance, which ones are

Mattel Hotwheels
Lesney Matchbox
Mattel Matchbox
Johnny Lightening

Does this make me an expert, an enthusiast, collector, geek, or any combination of the above.

I think adding some engineering behind the toy knowledge bends it to geekiness. If you know how the toy works ( eg "Gearation has a simple two speed gearbox, and a reversible motor" or "Etch-a-sketch relies on aluminum powder to coat the inside of the glass, and the stylus is simply on two rails with a loop of wire wrapped around the axels under the knobs") then you are definitely in the geek category.

Anonymous said...

Well I know I'm not a toy geek, then but I'm sure I've got to be some kind of geek!

Anonymous said... I have a Graphire Tablet, the USB model, not the latest Bluetooth - and this is the thinking man's Etch-a-Sketch.
Trust me - Have I ever lied to you?

Alex said...

I used a tablet about 12 years ago. We were doing a prototype GPS system, and were digitizing our own maps from admiralty charts (ECDIS was an emerging technology at the time).

It had an ADB interface!

I'd like a BT Wacom, 8 1/2 * 11 would be fine for my needs.

Then again, what about a tablet PC! Right/write on the screen!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

The Wacom Cintiq is right for that. Albeit expensive.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

No offense, Alex, but if you can do that you're OFFICIALLY a miniature car geek, by definition. And one of the top geeks at that, I'll reckon.

Heck, I can tell the Majorette Fiction line cars at a glance, but that's because there are only 20 of those sci-fi models, and I have them all. (Even got me the big truck recently.)
I just like original-looking cars. And basically all original and creative-looking stuff.

I liked the way "Sketch" did speed-drawing in Toy Story. Draws faster than cow-boy extraordinaire Woody! :-)