I've tinkered with other MCU's (mainly the Parallax Basic Stamp, in 3 different forms.. the TAB Sumo-Bot kit, was the 1st. Parallax's BOE-Bot 2nd, and the Homework Board 3rd). I later began tinkering with the Innovation-FIRST VEX platform, but when they began losing interest in the experimenter community, everything sat to the side for awhile.
About 7 months ago, someone mentioned about MAKE: Magazine, and one of the subjects of their podcast I had picked-up on, was the Arduino. Once I got my 1st Debit card, I placed an order for one from Adafruit Industries, along with the Proto-Shield, and a bare minimum of parts.
Now, packed into a small tupperware box, I have the Homework board, all the parts I initially had when I was tinkering with the BS2 platforms, a Duimilinov, and a Mega-2560 w/Protoshield. I'm now awaiting a LCD and 2nd Duimilinov I just ordered off EBay today, (within the next few weeks, I hope.. Just had a mini breadboard I ordered 1.5 months ago, arrive today.. >
) I've found the front-end Java window an easy to follow User interface, and the programming is fairly simplified to make even the 1st time experimenter feel at ease.
The cost is definitely well within the accessible range for just about anyone! Especially the heavy-duty Mega versions! Massive power, the price even a pauper can afford.
Stephen Griswold (gelfling6)