Make: Inventions “Etch A Sketch”

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Make: Inventions “Etch A Sketch”
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We’ve got a great new video series debuting today–MAKE: Inventions. You’re going to love it.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 3.35.50 PM
Steve Hoefer.

In each episode, host Steve Hoefer tells the story of a landmark invention–from airbags to tumbler lock– by trying to build it. Steve starts with the original patent and along the way solves the problems of inadequate and sometimes misleading descriptions to hopefully end up with something that works.Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 3.50.10 PM

Steve has been making (and destroying) things since he could figure out which end of the hammer to swing. Over the years he has been a writer, programmer, animator, and video game designer, but now settles for the title “creative problem solver.” He has contributed projects to the pages of MAKE, including his Indestructible LED LanternsSecret-Knock Gumball Machine, and Haptic Wrist Rangefinder. We’re thrilled to have him doing this video series for us. It will air on the second Thursday of the month.

In his first episode, he take a look at the Etch A Sketch, the enduringly popular kid’s toy invented by the recently departed Andre Cassagnes. Have a look.

22 thoughts on “Make: Inventions “Etch A Sketch”

  1. Goli Mohammadi says:

    Yay Steve! Stoked to have your maker brilliance on our site in video form! Love the Etch A Sketch video and looking forward to more.

  2. Henry Milk says:

    And if you use anti-reflective glass with the rough side facing the aluminium powder?

  3. raster says:

    Ahhh, this is that ‘secret project’ Steve mentioned to me last month. It sounds awesome… can’t wait to see it!

  4. Helicomatic says:

    Brilliant. Encore!

  5. Norton O. Rodriguez says:

    Awesome! great video.

  6. clide says:

    Great concept for a series. Looking forward to more.

  7. amolyneaux says:

    where can you get the patent design

    1. Steve Hoefer (@Grathio) says:

      The US patent office has all of its patents online ( )but the interface is pretty clunky. Google has a much better interface, you can see this patent here:

      I’ll try to add links to the show notes for future episodes.

  8. Sridhar Rajagopal says:

    Wonderful video – really enjoyed it, and looking forward to checking out more! Fine stranded beading wire was a great tip!

    I am a relative newbie to the Maker world, especially mechanical stuff, so pardon my ignorance, but where can I find the floating pulleys (and knob) that you show in your video?

    Thanks a bunch!

    1. Steve Hoefer says:

      Thanks Sridhar!

      Small, affordable pulleys can be hard to find. If you do an internet search for Tamiya Pulley Set you can find the ones I used in this video.

  9. Kevinrs says:

    2 things that might improve it, get chemistry grade aluminum powder, it won’t be oxidized, and look at what you can do with the glass, test with different glass, how smooth the surface is and any coatings will make a difference. try cleaning with alcohol, soaking with vinegar, etc see if you can get any change in the surface properties to attract the powder better. As someone said, toner has some possibilities, including an illuminated etch-a-sketch.

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Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook


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