There is quite a bit of Buggy that is original, as in idea wise, but there were a number of projects that inspired me to do this.
I believe the first was an article in Make Magazine about “LED Throwies”. It involves using a single LED, a coin cell battery, and a magnet to make something glowing that you can stick to something metal. I did up a couple for my girls without the magnets, and they seemed fascinated by it. They are beautiful in their simplicity.
What really got me thinking was Alex Weber who added a small programmable microcontroller chip and a photocell so that it interacted with light. I was already working with an Arduino type microcontroller (same chip family), so it sounded like something I could do. The shaped copper wire has a wonderful techno-sculpture quality, but doesn’t seem too practical for kids to play with.
The final piece of the puzzle came when I saw Blinky Bugs. Using a simple wire loop as a switch, the bug’s antenna act as a touch sensor. An insect with LED eyes! I was interested in the sensor part, but the loop system sounded a bit delicate to work reliably with kids playing with it.
So, I started out with the goal of creating a platform for a “craft-type” bug project for my children that would interact with them in as many ways as possible. My hope was to come up with something original enough that other people might want to build it and improve upon it!