I work for a research lab that is working on a project that needs some control. We have traditionally used National Instruments LabView systems as that is what has always been used and its got a reputation as "easy" since its not "real" programming. Anyway, were using 1500+ dollars of electronics to essentially flip switches.
My back ground is in process automation, and mechanical engineering. I am not afraid of learning a little code, and I know my basics with electronics and such. Yea, I am one of those people that knows just enough to be dangerous... Anyway after much heckling over the purchase of yet another 1K+ NI purchase my punishment is the task of coming up with something cheaper. (I am so glad my PI has not learned stuff like this isn't punishment.)
Now my question: I need to drive a combination of 12V and 5V valves (apply 12V=open, 0V=closed). I can drive the 5V ones straight from the Arduino board, but I was wondering how you all would recommend an easy way to drive 12V outputs. Is there a chip that essentially has a bunch of relays that is compact?