You may want to consider looking at Microchip PICS. They are friendly, easy to use, simple microcontrollers with relatively inexpensive development tools. On top of all of this, you will need access to tools, such as an oscilloscope and a logic analyzer, probably as a minimum.
Aside from the microcontroller, to design a system as complex as you describe will require a broad understanding of both analog and digital electronics. Obviously this is no simple task. I would recommend that you start with a book on electronic projects, geared towards your present skill level, and work up from there.