PLC and Hardware Control
Aha! Thank you, Dad for my new Arduino hardware controller (and the partially-outfitted Craftsman toolbox to make my life simpler when building stuff)! Easy easy to program, and easier to wire up!
There was a time a few years ago that we were playing with a Seimen's PLC at my old job, and the process to program it via their development package was more confusing than anything. I've seen Lego Mindstorms being programmed: VERY complicated. Arduino has taken these shortcomings of other PLCs and simplified -everything- to make these things easy to understand. All you REALLY need to know is basic electronics and basic programming structure (preferrably in C) and you too can program up one of these things.
The interface is amazingly simple. No frills, no complicated menus, no toolboxes or hundreds of buttons to hunt for in some confusing tree structure of some far-off galaxy of a development suite. Open the development software and you get a single window with a single text box and a base menu. Open one of the examples from this window (simply File>Examples), and you get another window with some predefined text in the textbox. Simple.
So really, the only things keeping me from creating some amazing electronic system now is 1) lack of resources, and 2) a blockage in my own mental creativity.
If I wanted to create a mobile robotic system, I would need motors and drives for them: something which I simply do not have at the moment. But I don't know if I WANT to make a mobile robotic system. Or a light fader. Or a garage door opener (actually, NO I do NOT want to make this. It's been overdone), or something else. So for now I just have to settle for IBBLs in random or pseudo-random or extremely predictable patterns. Fun stuff though! More to come, maybe!
I want ideas. Perhaps if I open a poll, or something similar, I can get your feedback (and mine as well). I have about 25 minutes, so let's see if I can get something set up in that time...
Edit: See big fat link above (or QR below).