|Scanning electron crayon image of actual electricity|
PICAXE is a company that does lots of work with the education system in the United Kingdom, which is run by a queen, and is programmed in a computer language called "BASIC". [the chip not the queen]
She's also the queen of Australia.
Which is odd.
I'm not normally a fan of non-democratic state organization, and the queen is far from democratic. But I'll buy stuff from her country in spite of all that. As far as I know the people of PICAXE don't actually know the queen or have anything to do with her. And she does seem like a nice enough old lady.
So I'm going with PICAXE.
Another reason I'm going with PICAXE is they were the first people I found, and I've already read a lot of their manuals and things. They are also cheap (to buy bits from, not as individuals (well maybe, I have no idea)), have a good reputation for prompt delivery, and the big seller from my point of view, they make a board called a shield base that is open source compatible. I think that means I can use the best of both worlds.
A shield is a pre-built device that talks to, and plugs into, the main device. So if you want to control something like a fan in a glasshouse, you can use a thermometer connected to your main device (that might be called a shield base), then plug the motor control shield into it. This way you could perhaps turn the fan on in the glass house if the temperature got over 30c or something. The bit that controls the higher voltages of the fan, can be all dealt with without me having to reinvent the wheel.
I'll be reinventing the wheel though, as I want to learn electronics. I'll probably end up using a bit of everything.
A lot of people have made a lot of different things that already do interesting stuff, so you can plug that interesting functionality straight into your project.
But doing something like using a shield is a long way off. I have to learn to solder, and make pickles first. I suspect my first real world project will be to revisit my automatic fish feeder, that the fish operated by pressing a lever.
So, in short, PICAXE seems to be able to do whatever it is that I think I might want to do, and wont cost very much. Cost is important, because my entire 120 Things in 20 years have to be self financing. I borrowed the set up cost of the aquaponics system from myself, and roughly work out savings based on the supply of vegetables etc. coupled with some advertising revenue and my aquaponics pump and other goodies I won from the photographic competition, After buying my glasshouse and some extra plumbing, I have just enough left to refill the sugar bowl after making my first marmalade, and start on my new electronics "thing".