Buying hardware for a self-contained project

Hi OpenFrameworks community. I have a project that I’d like to get some advice on before investing in (or possibly breaking) some hardware. Basically the idea is to have an etch-a-sketch with a transparent screen over the surface that people can interact with through the knobs. It’s sort of an expansion of this project: http://www.eamaemirkin.com/site/etch/ .

It would be awesome to have the computer, screen and etch-a-sketch workings all in the same housing, rather than having something that plugs into a computer, but that might end up being the only feasible solution. I have a few general ideas for how to do this, but your feedback would be much appreciated.


Idea 1

Buy a cheap small notebook an disassemble it. Mount the CPU and such behind the etch-a-sketch. Then cross my fingers and try to strip out the reflective back of the LCD and mount it over the front over the glass. Then, probably using a microcontroller to read values, interface with the knobs with basic potentiometers or encoders. If you have any ideas on doing this directly out of a usb port or something, that would be pretty cool.

The big question on this one is what model to buy. I have almost no experience with netbooks and so I’m not really sure where to start. Since I don’t need a color screen, wireless access, cd drive, or significantly high storage capacity, CPU or RAM, I’m looking for something pretty bare-bones. Solid-state memory (shake-resistant), built-in accelerometer (shake-detecting) and small size would definitely be big pros though. Also the screen would be roughly 16cm (6.5 in) x 11.5cm (4.5 in) or slightly larger.

Also any tutorials on disassembling LCDs would be great.


Idea 2

Buy just the basics and build a machine from scratch, more or less. This would probably be cheaper, but it sounds a little daunting. If anyone knows and resources that could figuratively hold my hand through the whole process from buying through installing Linux, let me know.


Idea 3

Buy a small external monitor and hack as above. Monitor the knobs and shaking with an Arduino and connect everything to an external computer to actually manage the software.


Idea 4

Scale back the monitor setup and find a way to build this whole thing on an Arduino or Wiring board. If anyone has any ideas on scaling the project to accommodate this, speak up.


Idea 5

Last ditch effort. Buy two usb dials and just run a simulation on my laptop.

Thanks ahead of time for your help and decisiveness. I’ll try to post some process updates on this as we go, in case anyone else wants to build one too.

hi Eamae,

what springs to mind is projects that people have used to make DIY video projector, using an LCD screen, bright light + fresnel lens. usually they disassemble their LCD screen to get at just the LCD matrix; but i think it only works with particular brands/models/types of LCD. google ‘diy video projector’ and some interesting links should show up.

good luck!
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it’s pretty easy to take lcd’s apart, actually. I’ve done it to a dell monitor and a laptop screen, both went well. Get yourself a nice set of small screwdrivers. The key is to take it slow and look for all of the screws/snaps before you get frustrated and start yanking on stuff. They generally come apart pretty easily one unscrewed. Also, the diffuser sheets are pretty cool depending on the make.

Good luck! I totally dig that radio etch-a-sketch project, and I’d love to see what you have in mind for a computer interface.