I would like to get back into electronics to build some projects. Back many moons ago in HS I did some stuff with electronics simple stuff with555 timers and things. I'm hoping I can find someone that is familiar with building digital circuits that could use some help programming, there's nothing I do better than programming. Let me describe the project I have in mind now so I can get some input on what I need to buy to get started.
I would like to be able to use a microprocessor of some kind that I can program via RS232, that will turn on or off a large number of lights. I was thinking I could have the processor output the number of the light it wanted, and if it wanted to turn on or off. Maybe it would just toggle the light, so every time a lights number came up, it would just alternate it between on and off. My first project will have about 30 lights, but I would like the design to be expandable. Since an 8 bit number gives us 256, I was thinking that would be the limit. Maybe have modules that will control a group of, say 8 lights, that can plug into the output of the processor, then another module can plug into the previous one. . . For now the lights are just going to be 20mW LEDs, but I have plans for projects that will need either around 5W lights, or gangs of 10 to 20 LEDs. So I will need some kind of relay, I guess a solid state relay of some kind would be best. As I glance through my mouser catalog I see several different programmable controllers that look like they would work for something like this, but I have no idea which one to use. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
If this isn't the best NG for this please let me know which one is. There seem to be a lot of electronics NGs.
Also I recently purchased a few prototype boards on ebay and one came with several IC chips and things. Where is a good reference that will tell me what they all are and what they do? Back in HS we had a reference book that told all about various common IC chips and gave some sample circuits. Surely these days there is some on line reference like that.