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Forums BUGmodules Some ideas for modules.. (a rather long list!)

Subscribe to Some ideas for modules.. (a rather long list!)  15 posts, 10 voices

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  • Josh
  • Bug Labs team mcaric
  • rdpatr01
  • mr.grue
  • paulurban
  • Subway
  • Bug Labs team kschultz
  • Tgeahre
  • g0pher
  • turn.self.off

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Jan 8, 2008 2:40pm
Img_missing_medium Josh 6 posts

I was a bit bored one night and thought up a few things that i thought could be fun to put on a BUG :)

Environmental Input Device:
A module that has a few basic sensors such as temperature, humidity, light, air pressure, etc (seems a waste making extra modules for each one). Also the module could ideally include ports that allowed sensors to be extended - say for temperature probes. The module could be used for things like doing some output at a certain temperature, logging conditions in say a greenhouse, measuring light for photography, etc.

Perhaps a more useful device would be one with say three "probe ports" to which could be added sensors that the user desires.


A great addition to the GPS module, so that not only can you show *where* you are, but also how high up, and so on. This could even be used for sports like skydiving - measuring your descent rate, coupled with GPS so that you can plot a 3D graph of your movement. Although this would ideally mean that it would have a range of around +15000 feet.

Or, pop your bug on a kite, altimeter hits X height, bug starts taking pictures - possibly a parachute module would also be astute.

Memory Expansion:

If you're going to implement speakers, then obviously people are going to use the BUG as an MP3 playback device, so more memory - say a compactflash, SD, etc card reader would be a useful expansion.

In the same vein, you could add modules that increase the base unit's functionality, such as RAM modules, modules that add extra processing functionality (say for graphics, sound etc.) or a module with a more powerful antenna for wifi, etc.


Presumably this IS in the pipeline, but basically a module that has an omnidirectional microphone and an output port. It could also have a mic in port so that you could extend the range of the mic.

Circuit Development:

Possible things ideas include a digital multimeter that can output a log to onboard memory, slots for programming integrated circuits like PIC, a breadboard like module (ie stream a design to the LCD screen and then build and test on the breadboard module which takes power from either the BUG or a built in battery).

Or possibly even a function generator with basic outputs like Sine, Square and Triangular waves.

Lighting module:

Something simple like an array of LED's that can be controlled individually or as a single bright light, connect it up to my previously mentioned function generator and you've got yourself strobe lights, connect it up to a microphone and you've got a rave box that can pulse in time to the music, connect it to a light sensor so it goes on when it gets dark - the list goes on!


Mentioned before, but this would be very cool, using your BUG as the ultimate media remote, streaming pictures from your phone to your BUG to save or stream to your PC, etc.


Something like those old business card scanners you can get, the scanner "bit" would be on one of the edges so that you sweep the bug along one of it's vertices across the text or whatever you want to scan.

In the same sort of idea, a printer attachment - perhaps the same size as the bug but with a single module "bridge". It would easily work as a thermal printer so you can take pictures, print them off, have a calculator print off your calculations, fetch your emails and print them, etc.

Button Inputs:

A vision of the old Gameboy comes to mind, LCD screen on one module, buttons on the bottom.. and so on! But yes, buttons for extra input, maybe even a way of customisable locations - such as a breadboard type design with pin style buttons.

Solar Power:

This one actually might just work! Like a spare battery, put the solar panel on so you can power your BUG on the move - i imagine it doesn't need an excessive amount of power, even then, it'd be pretty cool/useful.

Also, battery modules - i assume they're in the works too?

Hot/Cold pads:

More of a fun idea than anything else, but modules that either heat up or cool down - i'm sure there's a use for them somewhere!

Have a laser module for some reason or another, face it, if it has lasers, you get +10 coolness however useless it is!

Motor mounting:

Just a module containing maybe a couple of servos or something to that effect, linked up to the lcd screen to control. Or for use as a motorised tripod (again, already mentioned!). Another thing that springs to mind is robotics, so motor housing to control legs, etc.

Radio module:

Transmit or recieve - your choice! A module containing a radio transmitter that you could use to control another BUG with a radio reciever - say with the above robotics ideas.

Force Feedback:
A module that provides tactile feedback based on what's going on, perhaps linked to an exeternal device or to the accelerometer.


Swipe Card Reader - A basic magnetic swipe reader/writer
RFID Tag Writer/Read - Already mentioned, but would be very cool!
Fingerprint Scanner - Same sort of deal as the RF and Swipe readers.

Some kind of module that you detach, it takes in data of some description stores it on onboard memory - it could take memory cards as well - and then you dock it with the BUG and it downloads it's data ready for processing. Not sure what exactly you could do - and it would have to be powered somehow, but it could be used say with temperature? Or even as a spy bug, it records audio data and then you return it to "base" and it downloads it for you.


The best way i can think of for linking two Base stations together as a way of expanding the ports would be to have a way of "snapping" them together. I initially though of just using 2 double width modules and bridging it along the top, but you then use up four ports so you're not really expanding. Either that or make modules with sides that can clip onto each other (whilst preserving the aesthetic) or.. use one of the ports on the sides as a way of clipping 2 bases together. Although it would be possible i suppose to put a sort of extra flat bit on the top that still accepts modules so that you get 2 units that's just a little higher than normal. Linking generally then i suppose wifi would be easiest.

MIDI Keyboard:

An small keyboard for messing around on, keys could light up when pressed (or for tutorial style learning). It would only need to be an octave (with maybe 1 note either side) and with maybe a pitch wheel.
Jan 8, 2008 4:32pm
Medium Bug Labs team mcaric 64 posts

Hi Josh,

There are some great ideas on here! I’m a big fan of the laser module, myself.


Jan 8, 2008 11:57pm
Img_missing_medium rdpatr01 1 post

Preferably one capable of upgrades through firmware upgrades

Video Cam-
Capable of taking video on the fly and some kind of video editing module

maybe some kind of skype or Voip support as well

Jan 9, 2008 2:16pm
Img_missing_medium mr.grue 1 post

Compass + Level (or some other global orientation tracking system):

As long as you’ve got your position with GPS (and possibly your altitude with the altimiter), it would be really useful to know which way your Bug was pointing. For example, combine position + rotation with the camera, and you can reconstruct your photos in a 3d environment.

- grue

Jan 9, 2008 2:30pm
Img_missing_medium Josh 6 posts

Video Cam is provided in the camera module i believe, Wifi is included in the base unit (802.11b/g supported at any rate) – which i assume has flashable firmware and Skype or VOIP will probably be enabled once they release a microphone module :)

Jan 9, 2008 3:07pm
Img_missing_medium paulurban 2 posts

I’d like to add a GPRS module to the list. This opens up a huge list of applications for remote sensing.

Jan 16, 2008 3:16pm
Img_missing_medium Subway 6 posts

Compass + Level (or some other global orientation tracking system):

As long as you've got your position with GPS (and possibly your altitude with the altimiter), it would be really useful to know which way your Bug was pointing. For example, combine position + rotation with the camera, and you can reconstruct your photos in a 3d environment.

- grue

A precice altimeter with a temp sensor so you can adjust the sensor would be cool, together with the GPS, display and speaker module it would allow me to create a great vario for paragliders and other thermal pilots. Btw, the compass should be part of the GPS unit.
Jan 16, 2008 4:16pm
Medium Bug Labs team kschultz 107 posts

A software compass should not be hard to make based on the change in GPS coordinates over time. It would not be as perfect as an actual compass module but it would be 90% there. I have an older Garmin marine chart plotting GPS and it definitely does this because it does not matter the orientation of the device or the receiver, it figures it out based on your track over time. It seems to be within 2 degrees of our real compass. I’ll see what I can do once I start playing with the gps unit.

An altimeter is a good idea, I know a lot skiers and snowboarders that already carry an altimeter to keep track of how many vertical feet they do in a day, as well as a camera, IPod, and a cell phone. Considering many will spend hundreds of dollars to shave grams off of their equipment here and there consolidating all of those devices would attract a lot of those people to the Bug. I don’t know if it would be possible to do vertical location with the GPS, an altimeter module is probably necessary, but I do think some way of keeping track of your vertical position would be nice to have.

And a lot of skiers right now post their stats online and compete for most vertical per day, per run, per season etc so I could see an app that would upload your stats live to the sites. The same goes for other sports, like climbing, paragliding, sky diving. There are a lot of sports that would benefit.

Jan 16, 2008 6:56pm
Img_missing_medium Subway 6 posts

Btw, the altimeter would have to be very responsive and precise, anything else would’nt help a paraglider (like myself), thermals can be tricky.

Feb 9, 2008 3:23am
Img_missing_medium Tgeahre 8 posts

I gotta say that some of these are things that should be DIY projects instead of actual produced modules. part of the beauty of this device is the Build it yourself aspect. I don't think things that are simple really shouldn't be made into modules. things like the suggested motor, button, lighting, and laser modules sound like they could be made pretty easily at home using products that you can find in most any fry's, radioshack or hardware store.

On the other hand though I would love to see some of these as build it yourself module kits produced by bug - similar to the build it yourself radio kits or preamp kits. maybe include a software disk with tutorials on programming your newly soldered module. not only would it get some of these simpler modules out to the public but it would also help teach people that are new to hardware design how to build and program new modules for the bug. it would help them to move onto more complicated module design.

on a side note, I think that these modules would be great for Bug Labs to produce:

TV-out Module:
Something Allowing the programmer to send the videos/pictures that people will inevitably put on their BUGs to a TV using either component or composite (maybe one module for each or if possible one that has both).

Module Multiplier:
A hub like thing for modules. donno if this will work due to the devision of power but it is an interesting concept for for those of us who might like to have 5 or maybe 6 modules. maybe the tripod mount could be used as stabilization.

Modu module:
I don't know if you are making this already but I think that there could be SO MANY beautiful possibilities.
For those that don't know what Modu is, goto modumobile [dot] com (it would be a link but they won't let me link yet due to spamming rules)

Cam Module with neck:
This might be a DIY project by modifying a standard Cam Module to have a long flexible neck for hiding in clothing. I'm weird with the fact that I can't have a camera in the open sometimes but still want pictures (I am a renaissance fair participant).

Laser Heat/Distance Module:
having a laser diode put into a module is easy and so is a burning laser diode but the harder one would be a heat sensing laser or a laser that can read distance. this might be in the DIY category but I am not familiar with the internal workings of those lasers so I don't know how difficult it would be to send the data back to the base.

Multi-touch Display:
preferably double wide but maybe one that is single and one that is double.

Industrial Infrared:
instead of commercial infrared, these can basically bounce around walls and down hallways for greater distance. I have had nice Universal remotes with this type of Infrared. use this with the double width touch screen and you could have a freakishly awesome universal remote control

Vibrator Module:
I am thinking of the alerting abilities - not the... pleasurable ones.

Retinal Scanner:
Hell why not. there is a finger print scanner, I thought I would mention this just for the hell of it even though I don't know who would buy it or why you would need as much security as retinal can provide. though cataloging retinas would be pretty cool.

Rotational Sensors:
for things like tilt or most anything that the wii-mote can do.
Feb 9, 2008 3:50pm
Img_missing_medium Subway 6 posts

I don't think things that are simple really shouldn't be made into modules.

I have to disagree. If a module isn't easely available, if that's through buglabs or another company, than any application written for it can only be used by a small fraction of users (if this ever gets past the critical mass needed to be of interest for regular consumers).
Feb 9, 2008 8:12pm
Img_missing_medium Tgeahre 8 posts

What do you think of the kit idea though?

because you have to admit that somethings are just too petty for Bug labs to have to make. spending money on machines to mass produce gamepad style buttons for linux and java programmers is somewhat cost in-efficient and tedious.

from the sound of it, the lighting module that was suggested is mostly a matrix of LEDs. with the LCD screen and the double wide coming, how many people are going to buy that even if there is eventually a great demand for this product. if the regular consumers become interested in BUG, do you think that there will be a big enough percentage of people wanting the lighting module to make it’s production cost efficient?

on the other hand having kits for teaching how to make the connections or how to make the connections work better with the base is still giving these hardware and software programmers what they want and teaching them to make better ones themselves. I could easily see the more-technically-minded-average-consumer buying that product just to learn more. someone really should produce good instructions on how to make the modules comply to the BUG Base’s ability to instantly shift power needs and who better then the people at Bug Labs themselves.

(PS: don’t get my wrong, I think a laser module, lighting module, gamepad module, and some of the others I have mentioned in this and the last post are great ideas and I know that I will make a gamepad module and a motor module myself. I am just using them as examples, please don’t hate me)

Feb 10, 2008 3:04am
Img_missing_medium Subway 6 posts

Maybe it would be a good idea to have polls for each new module idea. Those with the highest demand will be made first and those with almost no demand will become DIY modules with guides posted on the buglabs site.

Mar 31, 2008 8:00pm