I would like to learn more about electronics (FPGAs, programming them, interfacing with analogue circuitry etc.), so I have decided to get an FPGA.
At first, I want to play with it to see how it works, and then I want to implement some "personal interest projects". These will require two-way communication with my PC, and if possible, my Ethernet network.
I want to do things like drive an array of LEDs to be a VU meter, send/receive IR signals (using an integrated IR IC which I have currently rigged up to my PC's serial port to receive, and a much simpler circuit to send), read from (up to 2) temperature and humidity sensors, and hopefully (ultimately?) drive an LCD of some sort. I am thinking of starting with a basic 16x2 and later moving onto driving a small colour screen (which I have not chosen yet).
This is only what I currently want to do, and I expect my wishes to grow as I gain experience with the hardware and software, and I will probably need to be able to interface to many devices at once.
Now, I now some people will be reading this and thinking that I should get an MCU instead because it's cheaper, easier, ... . I wouldn't mind getting an MCU, but since I am doing this for fun, and not for profit, I am willing to try and kill two birds with one stone and learn about the hardware and software at the same time.
What I am after is a product, or someone's idea of a good collection of products that would make this possible, workable, and fun. I don't mind spending more money than one normally would on the parts since this is not for mass production. Something reasonably priced and easy to build on would be ideal.