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Implementing an Etch-a-Sketch using an e-Paper Display Scott Baker,


An Etch-a-Sketch is a popular toy that uses two dials to move a plotter and draw lines on a screen. The device does not use electricity, but rather a physical plotter that displaces aluminum powder.

This project attempts to replicate an Etch-a-Sketch using modern e-Paper displays and optical encoders.

Blog post


Required equipment

The project makes use of the following parts:

  • Raspberry Pi - CPU. A Pi model 3, or a Pi Zero (or Zero W) should do fine.
  • 4.2" e-Paper display (or other display capable of fast refresh, with the appropriate python libraries)
  • Breakout board for the display
  • Two encoders. I chose optical encoders, ENS1J-B28-R00128, due to the high number of pulses per revolution. If using a 5V optical encoder like I did, make sure to add resistors to the encoder outputs.
  • Miscellaneous wires, dupont-style connectors, etc.


  • Waveshare, e-paper display libraries
  • Ben Krasnow, techniques for fast refresh on 4.2" e-Paper display
  • "Etch-a-Sketch" is a trademark of Spin Master LTD