I finally got around to doing my arduino project. I am new to the whole Arduino experience, and although I have been lurking these forums, I haven't done a lot, and am still learning.
I ended up doing a basic setup on a breadboard. It doesn't have all the fancy stuff on it yet, but I will once I get a small prototype board, then I will do a more permanent one. Since I didn't want to spend money on a programmer, I did the parallel port DIY kind. It looked a little sloppy, but it works. It took me a bit to get it to interface with my family's computer, but it works great, and I uploaded the blink hello world program on it too. That was what really stumped me; getting a sketch uploaded. But I found out all I had to do was change once parameter in the preferences.txt file.
I look forward to learning more with this, and probably tomorrow I will stick some LED's on it and mess with that. Pretty damn fun though. 8-)
Congratulations on your successes so far. Many have tried and failed to get the parallel programming function to work, present company included. I finally settled on the this programmer: http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=16&products_id=46
Works great and will burn a bootloader from within the IDE.
Sounds like you will be contributing back to the community before you know it. ;)
Welcome to the wonderful world of Arduino! :D
One thing you could look into for the permanent board would be a MAX232 chip for your programming. MAX232 just turns RS-232 Signals (Computer Serial port, +12/-12v) to TTL Compatible Signals (UART, just 5v). That way, you could use a Serial Port on your computer (if your computer is less than 5 years old, it probably won't have a serial port) or, buy a USB to RS-232 cable for $2 on eBay.
You need 4 capacitors with the chip, size of which depends which chip you get.
There are also USB-to-TTL converting chips.. but I haven't seen any that are DIP format (bread-board kind of chip, like Arduino's) most of them are the flat.. hard to solder, small chips. (For example, the chip on the Arduino board that says FTDI232R, that's one of em:D)
Thanks for the replies guys! I am glad to be getting the ball rolling.
CaptainObvious, thanks for the recommendation, I am going to look into that, it sounds good to me.