Niche expansion cards

Mention your most wacky expansion card ideas for those people who want something niche.

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A little DC output one with screw terminals that can cycle through various voltages with a little button


Aw hell, if you’re gonna remove limits:

A laser projector - out the/either/both side(s) of the laptop.

RGB (not that wacky, and not something I really want, but I bet it’d sell) - either make the card glow, or maybe an RGB output like controllers used in flashy desktops?

Multichannel logic analyzer - plug a 16-lane octopus into the card.

Live audio in - 1/8", 1/4", (mini-)XLR. Don’t ask me how.

An LCD display. Either on the edge or the bottom. Why? Dunno - just wacky…

RC transmitter.

Some sort of optical fiber interface - TOSLink is probably pointless, so data. Maybe to a networking standard?

Create a standard interface to some or all of the Raspberry Pi GPIO pinout, and develop an efficient high speed protocol to integrate SBCs.

Gimme a litte more time… :wink:


Not sure what it would look like, but maybe some connector to go directly to a breadboard?

Ooo, people do have wacky ideas!

I would love to do a multi channel logic analyser but the issue is I would have to find open source software or make my own which I cannot do as I just cannot learn scripting but I can learn electronics!

The sigrok project aims at creating a portable, cross-platform, Free/Libre/Open-Source signal analysis software suite that supports various device types (e.g. logic analyzers, oscilloscopes, and many more).


MIDI in and out.

DMX in and out - picture a string of intelligent lights out each side of the laptop, pointing at it, shifting colors and patterns. (Earlier in life I was a stage lighting technician.)

FM transmitter - Framework Microstations!

7.1 audio out (or, y’know, more), with all the trademarked bells and whistles.


Watercooler. A tiny li’l pump and reservoir, perhaps a hole in the back wall to get the fluid over to the CPU. With really thin tubes.

Wireless charging - in or out. Could have a stand which has a coil under a card bay. Maybe a card with a flip-out bottom that a device could sit on and charge.

Ok, I’m done for now.


Wireless charging isn’t hard, if it’s for charging a phone but if you want to charge the laptop oo, that’s intresting.

Yeah I started thinking more about that. I know nothing about wireless charging, but I wonder if one coil under one bay would be enough. I got to the point of having receiving coils as a sort of flat add-on to regular cards. Then put 'em in all four bays, plunk the thing onto a stand with 4 charging coils, and…

@Jake_Richter unfortunately sigrock is also absolute trash when it comes to the documentation. I’ve been digging deeply through it and there is no way to add an unsupported device yourself.

Oh that’s too bad. I suppose - given that we’re dealing with fantasy expansion cards at the moment - a supported circuit could be used…?

Or if you wanna go back to reality, maybe there’s some other similar open-source effort that Josh could make use of. I’d heard of Sigrok in passing, so I knew it was out there.


Output to model railroad track for DCC command control using JMRI, turning the laptop into a self-contained command station connecting to a booster.

That used to be one of my hobbies…


How about a little lamp?


I’ve been thinking recently about a charger card with an integrated power cable. It could be disastrous in normal use, but for a stationary laptop that needs constant power, I could see a charger that locks in be very useful. I also 100% agree with a DMX output card, and while I think it would be hard to fit the electronics inside the card, either a larger card, or a card that leads to a larger dongle would be awesome. I feel like a lot of people think of the plug in cards as alternatives to dongles, but having dongles that lock into the laptop are great for situations like a live theatre show where you REALLY don’t want your DMX dongle coming unplugged halfway through a performance!


Gameboy Color IR port.


Here are some adaptors that would be useful in my line of work.

RS232 port
RS485 port
DMX test port
gbic/sfp port for fo throughput testing (adapor for singelmod dual, adaptor for singelmod single, adaptor for multimode)
optical audio
bnc analog video input (for testing security cameras and automation line ameras)
bnc analog video output
mini display port

For now i have a suitcase full of usb adaptors. :slight_smile:

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An SDR would be fun. Probably could make it fit given the format of things like RTL-SDR or Airspy Mini.

I wouldn’t have to have the thing sticking out the side all the time then. Antenna could just screw right in.

Since the RTL is just a TV tuner card, you could also make one of those. Hook up a TV antenna and watch broadcast television.


RS-232 is being prototyped and miniDP is being developed aswell as RS-485.


As a musician, an audio interface is perfect.
The idea of being able to plug and play any instrument in a moments notice is a freaking game changer. Hardware and cables can really limit what you can do, where you can do it and when. So this could be a viable solution.
I’m sure the content creators and podcast communities could also see advantages to it also. Just plug in an input. Put some earphones on and start. Easy. We all like easy.

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