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Ink Bug

By LEG (leg@telekabel.at)

This is a small, mobile robot that can print or draw on paper or other suitable surfaces. Ink Bugs are a common substitute for computer printers when only a few pages must be printed, and a printer would be too large.

An Ink Bug receives data from a nearby computer via radio or infrared, but it can also store the equivalent of 20 pages (double for ever TL above 8) and print them when a tiny button is pressed or when it is placed on paper. This is very practical for standard form and contracts; businessmen and civil servants may carry several Ink Bugs instead of an attache case full of forms. Many small computer have a housing for an Ink Bug from TL8 on.

Several Ink Bugs can work on the same print job, but this requires a computer to coordinate them below TL9. A handful can print even a large poster or map quickly.

For practical purposes, assume an Ink Bug requires negligible amounts of energy. It recharges from a base station that also replenishes the ink. A base station costs $20 at any Tech Level and can be built into a computer; offices have "Bug Houses" for a dozen Ink Bugs. An early TL8 base Station is the size of a cigarette pack, all more advanced models are matchbox-sized.

Bigger Bugs

The charm of an Ink Bug lies in its small size. Bigger versions are always possible, but must compete with regular printers. Large ink Bugs are the size of a modern cellular phone and are most likely specialized for jobs where printers fail, such as printing on irregular surfaces (T-shirts, stickers), very large surfaces (posters, flags) or three-dimensional objects (statues, mannequins). They are also very good for the military, or guerrilla fighters, because they can give ordinary clothing a camouflage pattern.

Adventure Ideas