What am I looking for? I don't even know what to call it. But it would sense temperature (or light or sound level or electrical current or ... ) and input data (through serial or USB ports?) for capture into a database. Presumably I would graph the results with Excel. Input data would be captured once per second, or minute or hour or whatever. And I'm talking hobby level stuff, not precision grade. Radio Shack parts would be great. (Cheap is good.) Is there a name for this? Where can I look for solutions? Could I build/program it myself?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.