Playing with a classic Etch A Sketch toy is a lot of fun — for about 3 minutes before you make a mistake that forces you to start over, and you throw the stupid hunk of plastic away in frustration. Some people are able to create genuinely good art with an Etch A Sketch, but you’re probably not one of them. Luckily, you can replicate that knob-turning experience in a far more enjoyable way with YouTuber Potent Printables’ 3D-printable Etch a Sketch mechanism for you phone.
This video starts with an explanation of how an Etch A Sketch actually works. Underneath the screen is a bed of powdered aluminum, and the particles naturally stick to the the underside of the screen. When you turn the knobs, a stylus is dragged across the screen and scrapes off a line of powder. That stylus is always pushed up against the bottom of the screen, which is why an Etch A Sketch can only produce frustrating continuous lines.
Potent Printables’ design provides a more user-friendly experience. All of the parts are 3D-printed, so you can easily make one yourself if you have access to a 3D printer. You place your smartphone on the platform, and a stylus rests on the screen. Turning the X-axis knob moves the platform left and right, and turning the Y-axis knob moves the stylus forward and back. Both axes rely on rack-and-pinion mechanisms. The benefit of this setup is that you can use a modern drawing app to change line size, change color, save your work, and use tools like erasers. It’s a great way to get your Etch A Sketch nostalgia fix with a fun little 3D printer project.