# home brew hardware

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u235    359
I could've sworn I asked this here before, with no replies, but I can't find it in this forum, so I suppose I will ask it again. I've been toying around with idea making some peripherals for my computer and was wondering how I would go about doing it. I don't have anything specific in mind right now, but if I had an idea hit me, I'd at least like to know where to start [smile]. I'm sure it's probably a pretty involved process, but any pointers or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. -AJ

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hplus0603    11356
There are a few ways to go.

These days, there are some enthusiast USB I/O attachments that give you some digital and analog I/Os, sometimes a timer and counter on the device. Then you write software to some simple API they provide to twiddle those bits. Expect to pay <$200 to start. Before that, there were some libraries for the parallel port, and various devices that would plug into parallel or serial ports. Expect to pay <$200 to start.

Another option is to get a PCI I/O card, which will be similar to the USB mentioned above, but a little more cumbersome, and perhaps slightly more expensive. Expect to pay ~$200 to start. Last, there are various microcontrollers with USB built-in, where the manufacturers have kits with a microcontroller EEPROM programmer, sample code, sample controllers, and often even an I/O board for the controller in question. Expect to pay ~$500.

If you had a better idea of what you want to do, better suggestions could be made :-)

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u235    359
With the whole Guitar Hero thing going on (I think it is still at least a fairly popular game), I was thinking of doing something similar, but with other instruments. Then I guess I could toy around with building my own versions of stanard input devices (mice, keyboards, etc.) just for the fun and experience. I'm sure if I actually sat down and did a real brainstorm, I could up with other, more unique ideas, but your statement:

Quote:
 If you had a better idea of what you want to do, better suggestions could be made :-)

got the wheels turning a little. Once I know where to start, though, I'm sure it will be fairly easy to find the resources to do other projects. Thanks for the info to get me started.

-AJ

 Last, there are various microcontrollers with USB built-in, where the manufacturers have kits with a microcontroller EEPROM programmer, sample code, sample controllers, and often even an I/O board for the controller in question. Expect to pay ~$500. While a full set of professional dev tools, programmer, debugger, printed manuals etc can easily cost$500 or over, you can use something like a PIC with a simple homebrew programmer and freely available tools. There are also cheap unofficial programmers/debuggers which will do the job nicely. So you can do things with microcontrollers and spend well under \$500.