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'E-paper' drawbot uses old school analog data recorder

Evan Blass

It's no secret that we're big fans of completely impractical mods; sure we like the ones that look good or do something useful, but at the end of the day, all we really want to do is watch a cool video that doesn't make us think too hard. Take "Evil Mad Scientist" and atomic physicist Windell Oskay's DIY "e-paper" drawbot, basically an Allen Plotomatic 715 analog X-Y data recorder directed by an off-the-shelf microcontroller to sketch letters and shapes on a stripped-down Fischer Price Doodle Pro. The video below describes this build much better than we ever could, although the lack of specific programming instructions makes this less of a how-to and more of a mini-documentary. Oskay refers to his creation as e-paper, and though it is based on magnetics and not electronics, he points out that it does indeed share many of the same qualities as the Sony Readers and iRex iLiads of the world: high-contrast, daylight-readability, flexibility, and the ability to erase images or maintain them without electricity. Still, even though this rig is hundreds of dollars cheaper than commercial e-books, we'd rather spend the extra loot in exchange for pages that render in under five minutes.

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